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Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Viewing entries by Lisa Gregory


Catamounts to Camels: College Mascots in North Carolina

Mascots are a complicated phenomenon. They inspire a spectrum of reactions: ridicule, ambivalence, or fierce loyalty. With thousands of yearbooks online, all of us here at the Digital Heritage Center have probably spent more time looking at yearbooks than anyone else you’re likely to meet. Mascots are a common theme.

I’ve been working on today’s post for quite some time; unable to find a history or comprehensive list of mascots in North Carolina I decided to compile one myself. So here’s a stab at a college mascot overview, drawn from yearbooks and other campus publications. Let me know what I’ve missed or gotten wrong!

Children

In the early 20th century, schools frequently chose children as mascots or sponsors, whether for a sports team or for a particular class. The earliest example we’ve found on DigitalNC is from a 1910 publication by Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, which shows Elizabeth Settle Caldwell as the Senior Class sponsor.

Elizabeth Settle Caldwell, First North Carolina Mascot? From the 1910 Pine Knot yearbook, Atlantic Christian College.

Ms. Caldwell was the daughter of Jesse Cobb Caldwell, the college president. From what we’ve been able to tell, children mascots were frequently younger siblings of students, teachers, or others associated with the school. Students mention that Ms. Caldwell brought “solace to many a lonely, homesick heart” and this may be why children were chosen – to foster a feeling of family and comfort among students. We’ve seen several references to mascots being elected or being chosen through competition, although what this might be we haven’t been able to discover. The trend of choosing children as mascots seems to continue through the 1960s. The latest one we found is Dawn, the Senior Class mascot at Peace College (now William Peace University) in 1966.

Animals

Animal mascots span schools across the state, whether it’s Rameses at UNC-Chapel Hill or WCU’s Catamount. The bulldog and different types of cats win out as most frequently adopted. Pictures of live animal mascots start to appear in yearbooks in the early 1900s, and continue today although much less frequently. For a variety of reasons, including concerns expressed by animal rights activists, schools have shifted away from actual animals to students dressing up like animals, as you’ll see later on in this post. 

“Buc” is described here as East Carolina University’s first mascot. From the 1959 Buccaneer yearbook.

Characters

While about half of the four-year college mascots in North Carolina are animals, most of the others are characters that are historic, mythical, or extraordinary in nature. From what I’ve seen in NC yearbooks, humans dressing up as the school mascot really got traction in the 1960s. Initially, these costumes weren’t the fuzzy creations we think of today, but rather less complicated ensembles where the mascot’s identity (his or her face and body) was often apparent. Yosef the Mountaineer, beloved icon of Appalachian State University, was created sometime around 1942 and looked like this in the 1960s:

Yosef the Mountaineer, aka James Randle Tedder (we think). From the 1969 Rhododendron yearbook, Appalachian State University.

One of my favorites has to be this picture of Duke Blue Devil, from 1950:

The Blue Devil. From the 1950 Chanticleer yearbook, Duke University.

Perhaps it was too hard to maintain a degree of consistency as students graduated over the years, and mascot anonymity seemed like a better idea. Whatever the reason, you start to see fuzzy, oversized costumes with gigantic headpieces in the late 1970s.

The Big Costumes

Whether animal or character, plush mascots that include a single piece body suit with a large plastic or cloth-covered head is something most Americans can identify with, thanks to professional sports. Colleges in North Carolina really embraced these costumes through the 1980s. Here’s what the UNC-Wilmington Seahawk looked like in 1987:

The Seahawk. From the 1987 Fledgling yearbook, UNC-Wilmington.

Some schools have developed multiple mascots dedicated to different audiences. It seems like the difficulty with these types of costumes is how to pull off a fierce facial expression that doesn’t come off as goofy or too scary for children. I think this picture from Davidson College sums it all up:

The Davidson Wildcat and … friends. From the 1983 Quips and Cranks yearbook.

I will also take this opportunity to mention a mascot that routinely makes the “wait … what?” list – the Campbell University Fighting Camels:

The Campbell Camel. From the 1983 Pine Burr yearbook.

Even the humans and human-like creatures are clothed in oversized costumes these days. Wake Forest University’s Deacon is a dapper chap:

Wake Forest’s Deacon poses with fans. From the 1985 Howler yearbook.

In addition to the Demon Deacons and the Blue Devils, North Carolina boasts a number of  other spiritual mascots: North Carolina Wesleyan’s Battling Bishops, Belmont Abbey’s Crusaders, and Guilford College’s Quakers. Meredith College’s teams are known as the Avenging Angels (formerly just the Angels). While Elon University’s mascot is now the Phoenix, before 2000 they were the Fighting Christians:

The Elon Fighting Christian mascot with cheerleaders. From the 1986 Phi Psi Cli yearbook.

Two schools break with the animal/human tradition in North Carolina. The Brevard College Tornadoes and the Louisburg College Hurricanes. Weather phenomena mascots are always difficult to pull off. I couldn’t find one for Brevard, but Louisburg, which currently has a bird mascot, had “Louie” up until 2006:

Louie, the former Louisburg College Hurricanes mascot. From the 1996 The Oak yearbook.

Who knows when the next mascot sea change will happen. Below is a list of mascots in North Carolina; let us know if we got anything wrong. Which one is your favorite?

School Mascot Notes
Appalachian State University Yosef the Mountaineer First appeared in the yearbook in 1942
Barton College Bulldog  
Belmont Abbey College Crusader  
Bennett College   Known as the Bennett Belles
Brevard College Tornado  
Campbell University Fighting Camels The Hornets in the 1920s-1930s
Catawba College Catawba Indian  
Chowan University Hawks The Braves until 2006
Davidson College Wildcats Also a bulldog (1929) and a bobcat (1939)
Duke University Blue Devil  
East Carolina University Pirates Formerly Pee Dee the Pirate
Elizabeth City State University Vikings  
Elon University Phoenix The Fightin’ Christians until 2000
Fayetteville State University Broncos  
Gardner-Webb University Runnin’ Bulldogs  
Greensboro College The Pride Formerly the Hornets
Guilford College Quakers  
High Point University Panthers  
Johnson C. Smith University Golden Bulls  
Lees-McRae College Wily the Bobcat  
Lenoir-Rhyne University Joe and Josie Bear  
Louisburg College Hurricanes  
Mars Hill College Mountain Lion  
Meredith College Avenging Angels Formerly the Angels
Methodist University Eagles  
Montreat College Cavaliers  
Mount Olive College Trojans  
North Carolina A&T Aggie Dog (Bulldog)  
North Carolina Central University Eagles  
North Carolina State University Wolfpack  
North Carolina Wesleyan College Battling Bishops Formerly the Circuit Riders
Peace College Pacer  
Pfeiffer University Falcons  
Queens University of Charlotte Rex the Royal  
Saint Augustine’s University Mighty Falcons  
Salem College Spirits  
Shaw University Bears  
St. Andrews University Knights  
UNC Asheville Bulldog  
UNC Chapel Hill Rameses the Ram Also known as the Tar Heels
UNC Charlotte Norm the Niner  
UNC Greensboro Spartans  
UNC Pembroke Braves  
UNC Wilmington Seahawk  
UNC School of the Arts Fighting Pickle  
UNC School of Science and Math Unicorn  
Wake Forest University Demon Deacons  
Warren Wilson College Owls  
Western Carolina University Catamount “Paws”
Wingate University Bulldog  
Winston-Salem State University Ram  

New Exhibit Shares Largest Collection of Digitized NC African American Newspapers

The only issue we have (so far) of a Carver High School newspaper. Mount Olive, NC, May 1950.

From our estimation, DigitalNC shares more digitized historical North Carolina African American newspapers than any other source. Contributors range from our state’s HBCUs to local libraries and museums. To help pull these titles together, we created an exhibit page through which you can search and browse eleven community papers and nine student papers. There are also links to more available on other sites.

Below we’ve re-posted the essay from the exhibit, giving you a brief history of these papers. We hope that we’ll hear from others who may be interested in sharing more of these rare resources online.

~~

Since the publication of Freedom’s Journal in 1827 in New York City, African American newspapers have had a long and impactful history in the United States. Begun as a platform to decry the treatment of slaves, the earliest African American newspapers appealed to whites, who were politically enfranchised. After the Civil War, as newly freed African Americans claimed the right to literacy, the number of African American newspapers around the country grew exponentially and the editors began addressing blacks instead of whites. Papers turned their focus from slavery to a variety of subjects: religion, politics, art, literature, and news as viewed through the eyes of African American reporters and readers. Communication about black political and social struggles through Reconstruction and, later, the Civil Rights movement, cemented newspapers as integral to African American life. 

In North Carolina, the first African American papers were religious publications. The North Carolina Christian Advocate, which appears to be the earliest, was published from 1855-1861 by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, followed by the Episcopal Methodist, a shorter-lived publication produced during the Civil War by the same organization. After the Civil War, the number of African American newspapers continued to grow in North Carolina, reaching a peak during the 1880s and 1890s with more than 30 known titles beginning during that time.

The longest running African American paper established in North Carolina is the Star of Zion, originating in Charlotte in 1876 and still being produced today. Other long-running papers in the state include the Charlotte Post (begun 1890), The Carolina Times (Durham, begun 1919), the Carolinian (Raleigh, begun 1940), Carolina Peacemaker (Greensboro, begun 1967), and the Winston-Salem Chronicle (begun 1974). Many of these long running papers powerfully documented black culture and opinion in North Carolina during the 1960s-1970s, with numerous editorials and original reporting of local and national civil rights news.

Occasionally overlooked sources for African American newspapers are North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and, before integration, African American high schools. You’ll find links on DigitalNC to newspapers from eight of North Carolina’s twelve current and historical HBCUs as well as two African American high schools.

While many African American newspapers have found their way into archives and libraries, it’s common to see broken runs and missing issues. You can find a great inventory of known papers from the UNC Libraries. If you work for a library, archive, or museum in North Carolina holding additional issues and would like to inquire about digitizing them and making them available online, please let us know.


Announcing a 6-Month In-Depth Digitization Effort at NCDHC: Underrepresented Communities

The Wilson Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Date Unknown

Here at the Digital Heritage Center we’ve been talking about what we can do to increase representation of underrepresented communities on DigitalNC.org. Serving these communities in ways that respect their priorities and beliefs has become a focus for many libraries, archives, and museums, and we hear partners and other DigitalNC fans asking us about this as well.  We have a few ideas in the works that we’ll be talking about over the next year.

I’m writing today about one of those ideas. We’d like to try a 6-month in-depth digitization effort during which we focus on working with you to share items in your collections representing traditionally underrepresented communities. This may be groups including but not limited to African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos/as, American Indians, LGBTQ. If you feel sharing those items online would be useful to your users, we’d like to make that happen.

Our goals with this idea are to (1) bring partners together in a shared initiative (2) discover new collections and (3) better represent the diversity of North Carolina on DigitalNC.org.

If you are eligible to work with the Digital Heritage Center, have something that fits with this effort, and would like to collaborate, contact us.

Have other digitization priorities? No problem! This won’t preclude other projects you had intended to plan with the Center. 

Thanks for considering participating in this effort, and please share this post broadly.


“I Said ‘NO’ in the Best Way That I Was Able”: Images of Student Protests over Time in North Carolina Student Publications

The quote in this post’s title comes from a student who participated in a 1989 protest at UNC-Chapel Hill, pictured below.

One of the most historic student protests in the United States happened on this day in 1960 right here in North Carolina. NC A&T students protested segregation by sitting down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro. The first images in this post were taken at that event and come from the 1960 Ayantee yearbook. Other images come from schools in all parts of the state, and date from 1960 through 2012. 

North Carolina college students have passionately protested a variety of issues and events over the years. Looking back through yearbooks and student newspapers, you’ll find editorials with strong opinions and photographs of students standing up and speaking out in this most public of ways. Today we’re sharing the tradition of protest by students over the years, as reported in their own media. 

 

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, 1960, Segregation (Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, Greensboro)

North Carolina Central University, 1960, Segregation (Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, Durham)

Livingstone College, 1961-1962, Segregation (Capitol Theater, Salisbury)

Wake Forest University, 1969, Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saint Augustine’s, 1970, Vietnam War

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1977, B-1 Bomber and Nuclear Armament

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1989, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Mitchell Community College, 1990-1991, Hazardous Waste and Environmental Pollution

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1993, Racism

UNC-Asheville, 2012, Hate Crimes


The Flavor Lasts! Wrigley’s Ads from 1914-1918

Wrigley's Ad 1914 The EnterpriseAfter catching sight of the bizarre Wrigley’s gum ad seen above (cools your mouth! heartburn and flatulence disappear!), I dug up a number of interesting Wrigley’s ads in North Carolina newspapers from the years before and during World War I.

Before the War, ads focused on the health-related claims made by the manufacturers:

Ads from 1914-1918 show the Spearmint/Pepsin variety, then add Doublemint (a peppermint flavor) and finally Juicy Fruit.

The “Wrigley Spearmen” brand mascots begin appearing around 1915, especially in ads that suggested the gum as a “goody” for children. You could send away for a Wrigley’s Mother Goose book, with the Sprightly Spearmen featured in favorite fairy tales and encouraging gum chewing. The book was distributed nationwide to schools as well.

Two Wrigley's Spearmen, from 1917 (L) and 1915 (R)

Two Wrigley’s Spearmen, from 1917 (L) and 1915 (R)

Wrigley's Ad 1915 Polk County News

Then, beginning in 1917, ads turn to Wrigley’s gum as a comfort and aid to soldiers abroad. One ad claims “All the British Army is chewing it” and the one shown below says it’s the “great wartime sweetmeat.”

Wrigley's Ad 1918 Brevard News

According to the ads, soldiers from the Arctic to the Southern Cross chewed Wrigley’s. The company also announced its substitution of waxed paper for tin foil to assist with the war effort.

From the Wrigley website, I learned that the company invested heavily in marketing in the early 20th century. The proliferation and variety of ads I found definitely supports this. Most of the other ads in newspapers of the time period are smaller, with the largest ones promoting local businesses like banks and stores rather than individual products. Few of the ads have the eye-catching and detailed illustrations of the Wrigley’s ads, which is probably why these caught my eye.

I’ll close with this last ad from 1916, which adopted an image of the “caveman” character that had entered American popular culture a few years earlier. This ad has a very different style from the others I located from the early 20th century. Perhaps Wrigley was trying out a different direction, only to return to more traditional pitches during the War.

Wrigley's Ad 1916 Sylvan Valley News

This post was greatly facilitated by our Advanced Search page, which helped me narrow down my search by year. Feel free to browse a variety of front pages from 1914-1918, or my original Wrigley’s search.


The Rocking Chair Marathon of 1933

Chair_marathon_headline

I was poking around in the newspapers on our site looking for mentions of “Mickey Mouse” (it’s his birthday today) and did a double-take when I noticed the headline above. Dance marathons? Yes. Running marathons? Of course. Rocking chair marathons? Do tell.

Rocking_Chair_Marathon_AdElkin, NC (Wilkes County) held a rocking chair marathon in June of 1933, billed as the “second of its kind” in one issue and the “first of its kind” in another*. Contestants had to keep their chairs rocking 50 minutes out of every hour, 24 hours per day, for as long as possible. The last person standing (swaying?) and the runner-up would each receive a portion of the gross receipts from the minimal admission price charged to spectators.

This event featured a new entertainment each evening, including Garley Foster “the human bird,” a “Mickey Mouse” circus on a tiny stage, a baby bathing beauty contest, and all sorts of exhibits. Master of ceremonies was Lippincott the Magician. Area businesses capitalized on the festivities, offering specials like the one mentioned at right (a free cheese sandwich with each bottle of beer)!

The rockers (mostly men and boys, along with a single woman) were still going strong after more than 48 hours, and the organizers decided to extend the festivities until all but one were eliminated. I really regret to inform you that I couldn’t find out who won the contest. I didn’t see any follow-up in any of the adjacent Elkin newspaper issues. If anyone has any ideas regarding where I might dig up such a small detail about 1930s Elkin, please let me know!

*Decatur, Ill. held a rocking chair marathon in 1929.


Military and Veterans History on DigitalNC: Best Ways to Search

Group of Soldiers Posed with Firestone Officials, from the Gaston Museum of Art & History.

Group of Soldiers Posed with Firestone Officials, from the Gaston Museum of Art & History.

This Veterans Day, we thought we’d mention some best bets for finding and searching materials on DigitalNC related to military history. Some time periods and subjects have better representation than others, so we’ve focused on the five wars that have the most related materials.

Tip 1: Search by Subject

To isolate materials that are predominantly about a particular war, you can use the subject specific links listed below.

search_within_resultsAfter you click on one of the links above, if you’d like to search within the results, type your search term in the search box at the top of the page, leaving “within results” selected (see screenshot at right).

You can also do a full text search that combines (1) your research interest (perhaps a name, a topic, or an event) in conjunction with (2) the name of a particular war. This may yield a lot more results, depending on your research interest, but it could also zero in on your target faster. Here’s a link to an example that you can amend to your own use.

Only interested in photographs? Try this search, which is limited to photos that contain the word “military” or “soldiers” as a subject.

Tip 2: Search by Date Range

Another tactic is to search or browse items that were created during a particular war. These don’t always have that war as a subject term, but they often deal with wartime issues or society regardless. We’ve listed date specific links here:

A list of alumni and students killed or missing in action, from the 1944 UNC-Chapel Hill Yackety Yack yearbook, page 12.

A list of alumni and students killed or missing in action, from the 1944 UNC-Chapel Hill Yackety Yack yearbook, page 12.

Keep in mind that doing a full text search will be ineffective about 98% of the time when it comes to handwritten items on our site, as most do not have transcripts. This is just to let you know that you may need to read through handwritten items pulled up in one of the searches above if you believe they may contain information you’re interested in.

Our partners have shared a lot of yearbooks on DigitalNC and, while they may not be the first thing that comes to mind for military history, many colleges and universities recognized students who served. Especially for the Vietnam, Korean, Gulf, and Afghan wars, yearbooks document campus reactions and protests. You currently can’t search across all of the yearbooks available on DigitalNC, however if you’d like to browse through yearbooks published during a particular war, you can use this example link and just adjust the dates as needed. Currently, our site has high school yearbooks published up through the late 1960s, and college and university yearbooks and campus publications through 2015.

Tip 3: Newspapers!

Searching the student and community newspapers on DigitalNC can yield biographical information about soldiers, editorials expressing local opinions about America’s military action, as well as news and advertisements related to rationing and resources on the homefront.

The Newspapers Advanced Search is your friend here! You can target papers published during specific years. You can also narrow your search to specific newspaper titles.

advanced_search_wwi

Screenshot of the Newspapers Advanced Search page, with the search phrase “Red Cross” and limiting the results to papers published from 1914-1918.

 

We also wanted to call your attention to a couple of newspaper titles on DigitalNC that were published exclusively for service members or during one of these wars:

  • The Caduceus, published by the Base Hospital at Camp Greene (Charlotte, NC), 1918-1919
  • Cloudbuster, published at UNC-Chapel Hill to share news about the Navy pre-flight school held on campus, 1942-1945
  • The Home Front News, published by the Tarboro Rotary Club for servicemen from their city, 1943-1945
  • Hot Off the Hoover Rail, published by the community of Lawndale for servicemen from their city, 1942-1945
  • Trench and Camp, published by The Charlotte Observer for Camp Greene, 1917-1918

Bonus Resource: Wilson County’s Greatest Generation

One of the largest exhibits on our site is Wilson County’s Greatest Generation, an effort by the Wilson County Historical Association to document the service men and women of Wilson County, North Carolina who served in World War II. Documentation is organized by individual, and includes personal histories, photos, clippings, and other ephemera.

We hope this information can guide you through researching military history on DigitalNC. If you have any of your own tips or questions, please let us know by commenting below or contacting us.


Call for Nominations – North Carolina Newspaper Digitization, 2016

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

It’s time to announce our 5th annual round of microfilmed newspaper digitization! As in previous years, we’re asking cultural heritage institutions in the state to nominate papers from their communities to be digitized. We’re especially interested in:

  • newspapers published 1923 or later,
  • newspapers that are not currently available in digital form elsewhere online, and/or
  • newspapers covering underrepresented regions or communities.

If you’re interested in nominating a paper and you work at a cultural heritage institution that qualifies as a partner, here’s what to do:

  • Check out our criteria for selecting newspapers, listed below.
  • Verify that the newspaper you’d like to see digitized exists on microfilm. Email us (digitalnc@unc.edu) if you’re not sure.
  • Send us an email with the name of the newspaper you would like to nominate, along with the priority years you’re interested in seeing online. Please talk briefly about how the paper and your institution meet the criteria below.
  • Be prepared to talk with the local rights holder(s) to gain written permission to digitize the paper and share it online. We can give you advice on this part, if needed.

Nominations will be taken through the end of 2016. However, don’t wait! We typically get many more requests than we can accommodate. Please contact us at digitalnc@unc.edu or 919-962-4836 with any questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Criteria for Selecting Newspapers to Digitize from Microfilm

Titles to be digitized will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Does the newspaper document traditionally underrepresented regions or communities?
  • Does the newspaper include significant coverage of the local community?
  • Does the newspaper come from an area of the state that has little representation on DigitalNC?
  • Are the images of the pages on microfilm legible, or are there significant sections where it is difficult to read the text?
  • Is the institution willing to obtain permission from the current publisher or rights holder(s) to digitize older issues and make them freely available online?
  • Is there a demonstrated demand for online access to this paper?
  • If the newspaper is digitized, will the nominating library promote the digital project through programs and announcements?

CHOICE 68, The National Collegiate Presidential Primary of 1968

The CHOICE 68 Logo

In today’s blog post I offer a break from the current election year with a trip back to the 1968 presidential election. Looking at the political landscape of 1968 is like looking at an earlier but familiar view of the same neighborhood we’re in now. It’s issues resonate today: striving for social and racial equality, debates over America’s place on the world stage. The late 60s were boiling with the turmoil of the Civil Rights Era and the Vietnam War. 1968 alone saw the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in early April and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in June.

In April 1968, Time magazine held a mock presidential primary at colleges and universities to take the temperature of young Americans during that election year. Dubbed “CHOICE 68,” the event was covered in many of the student newspapers that can be found on DigitalNC, and I wanted to see what this nation-wide event looked like here in North Carolina.

Sample Choice 68 Ballot, printed in Asheville-Biltmore College (now UNCA) newspaper The Ridgerunner, March 1, 1968.

Sample Choice 68 Ballot, printed in Asheville-Biltmore College (now UNCA) newspaper The Ridgerunner, March 1, 1968.

Every American college and university was asked to participate in CHOICE 68. The event was governed by a group of eleven students representing a variety of campuses around the country. Campus groups were in charge of publicizing the event with their peers, under the direction of a campus coordinator. Each ballot (an early draft is shown at right) asked students to rank their top three choices for president and also asked for them to weigh in on Vietnam and the “urban crisis,” the latter of which referred to pervasive concern over poverty, crime, and general unrest in high population urban environments. Write-in candidates were also allowed. Votes from all campuses were tabulated by a UNIVAC computer in Washington, D.C. and the results were supposedly announced on television, with each school’s individual totals being returned during the first week of May.

Before the vote, student newspapers urged their readers to rally against apathy, to prove that young voters could impact the national arena. One Brevard College editorial called on moderates to vote, expressing frustration that liberal and conservative activists had been “hoarding the headlines.” An accompanying editorial talked about the conservatives still being committed to rooting out Communism, revealing lingering echoes of McCarthyism from the late 50s. It predicted a 1968 election win for then Governor of California, Ronald Reagan.

Campuses with active student government associations and/or political groups tended to have more events and publicity associated with CHOICE 68. North Carolina Wesleyan College’s student body listened to speeches in support of Senator Eugene McCarthy (D), former Vice President Richard Nixon (R), and current Vice President Hubert Humphrey (D), three of the most prominent contenders in early 1968. Voting booths, borrowed from the City of Rocky Mount, housed students punching out chads of computer cards to cast their votes.

Headline from the April 25, 1968 issue of The Twig, Meredith College.

Headline from the April 25, 1968 issue of The Twig, Meredith College.

Some schools had hundreds of participants, with 500 Elon students voting in the mock election. Others had fewer; thirty students were questioned at Meredith College. The Twig quoted opinions from four of those 30 (two Republicans and two Democrats) in the issue seen at right.

Salem College appears to have been one of the most enthusiastic participants, with articles about CHOICE 68 found in issues spanning January through May and a voter turnout of 73% of the eligible student body. The February 23 issue of The Salemite talked about how President Lyndon Johnson endorsed the national mock election despite the fact that “student dissent over the past year ha[d] been directed primarily against White House policies.” The April 12 issue asserted that “massive student participation in CHOICE 68 can and will affect the course of American politics in 1968.”

Almost all articles about the vote mentioned the UNIVAC computation of results, which was seen as heralding a new era in which computers could make generating results faster and more secure. The Meredith College Twig published a photo of the computer tabulating results in its April 25 issue (shown above). Dr. Hammer of UNIVAC posited a time when “a huge data bank may contain ‘voice prints’ of eligible voters” to authenticate those phoning in their votes (“A Letter from the Publisher,” Time, May 10, 1968, page 21).

Of the North Carolina schools* whose CHOICE 68 results I could locate, McCarthy came out on top for all except North Carolina State University, where Nixon prevailed and McCarthy came in second. Nixon was the second choice for 7 schools, and Nelson Rockefeller (R) carried second choice at the remaining 3.

Choice 68 NC School Winners and Runners Up

The national CHOICE 68 vote also saw McCarthy in the lead with 286,000 out of 1.7 million votes from 1,450 campuses. Robert Kennedy (D) and Nixon followed behind McCarthy. Students voted to reduce the United States military presence in Vietnam, and saw education as the biggest key to solving the “urban crisis.”

Though he won the CHOICE 68 vote and continued to be bolstered by student support through the primaries, McCarthy was beaten by Humphrey to gain the official Democratic nomination. The November election was won by Nixon, however the CHOICE 68 voters’ preference for a Democratic candidate was somewhat predictive: Humphrey prevailed with voters under 30 in the general election.

As far as I can tell, no nationwide poll quite like CHOICE 68 has been held since, though speculation over how college-aged Americans will vote certainly hasn’t changed. If you’re interested in other historical election news and opinion as reported by student newspapers, visit the North Carolina Newspapers collection.

November 5, 1968 issue of the Louisburg College Columns student newspaper.

November 5, 1968 issue of the Louisburg College Columns student newspaper. Students picked Nixon in a straw poll held close to the general election.

*It appears that the following schools also participated in CHOICE 68 based on mentions in newspapers and yearbooks, but no results were found: Appalachian State University, High Point College, Lees-McRae College, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Queens College, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


The Wilkes Journal-Patriot, 1933-1947, Added to DigitalNC

September 8, 1941 issue of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot newspaper.

December 8, 1941 issue of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot newspaper.

The Wilkes Journal-Patriot, nominated for digitization by the Wilkes County Public Library, is one of our most recently added newspaper titles on DigitalNC. Wilkes county is located in the northwestern part of the state, and the Journal-Patriot comes out of North Wilkesboro, the county seat.

With the permission of the Journal-Patriot, we were able to digitize papers spanning 1933-1947. Some of the very first issues headline big national news, like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration as President of the United States. The paper contains a good bit of local news, covering events held by local clubs, progress in developing businesses, the implementation of social services throughout the county and, of course, crime. The earliest issues frequently discuss prohibition, like officers shutting down local stills or the legalization of 3.2 beer.

Through the forties, much of the paper is taken up by war news from abroad and at home, describing local sentiment and civilian defense efforts. Sales of war bonds, collections of valuable rubber and other scrap, and other local contributions to winning the war abound. There’s a column entitled “Wilkes Men with the Colors” or “Wilkes Men in Service” that follows local citizens serving in the armed forces.

We’re pleased to welcome Wilkes County Public Library, a new partner. You can view more items about Wilkes County on our site, or browse additional newspapers from all parts of the state in the North Carolina Newspapers Collection.