UNC Charlotte Administration, Faculty, and Staff

Michael Blondo oral history interview , 2021 May 20
WARNING This interview is an eyewitness account of 9/11, the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and may be emotionally disturbing for some people. Michael Blondo, Security Officer for Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte, who retired from the New York City Police Department after twenty years of service in 2013, discusses his personal experiences on and after September 11, 2001 (9/11). [All times approximate]. Introduction [00:00]. Generational family background in Brooklyn, New York, early career, and pursuing an interest in law enforcement [01:07]. Discussion of his motivations for joining the police force, his career path within NYPD, and working as a police detective on housing patrol in the Bronx in 2001 [03:45]. Description of 9/11 as the day unfolded, starting with the shock of watching media coverage with his colleagues of the initial impact of planes hitting both World Trade Center towers, his horror at the images of people jumping from the towers, and his disbelief as the towers collapsed [05:44]. Being posted on the roof of his precinct building to surveil the area, his mounting fears as military planes flew low over the building, and frustrating inability to contact his family due to the volume of calls overwhelming communications [10:58]. Detailed account of driving his superior officer into Manhattan, the eerily empty roads and skies, digital signs indicating that the city was closed, and his growing feelings of foreboding as he reached Ground Zero [12:56]. Detailed description of conditions in New York City, streets buried knee deep in dust, buildings continuing to be impacted by the destruction of the towers, twisted metal at Ground Zero was glowing hot, and an overwhelming and unique smell of destruction and death [15:00]. Notes his growing anticipation of the loss of lives as he reached the scene where usually many thousands of people would be present during the working day [16:33]. Outline of how the NYPD organized police units following the disaster, the work of his own precinct that was divided between manning the precinct and helping to clear debris at Ground Zero, working twelve hour shifts without leave, and the messages of gratitude received following 9/11 [18:50]. Description of the huge outpouring of generosity towards police and other workers on the scene, including delivery of food and supplies, and the expressions of mourning at Ground Zero where flowers, photographs, and tender notes were pinned to the fence [20:25]. Description of his work stationed at Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island where debris was dumped for forensic investigation, how he combed through the debris looking for signs to identify victims, and his thoughts at this time [22:00]. Description of the heroics of the first responders who went into the towers, how 9/11 demonstrated human bravery, compassion, and gratitude, and the continuing deaths associated with health conditions resulting from 9/11 [24:10]. The Charlotte 1013 Club, a group of retired NYC police living in the South who gather to honor the sacrifice of fellow officers and attend funerals, and the inadequate equipment provided to Ground Zero workers [25:34]. Detail about the adoption of his son at the time of 9/11, the emotional impact of becoming a father, and anxiety around taking leave to travel to Kansas City to get full custody of his child [28:44]. Further description of his work at Fresh Kills Landfill [33:00]. Reflections on sacrifices of police families, and his wife 's support for his career [37:43]. The impact of 9/11 on his life, the necessity of blocking out certain memories, the reactions of New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11 that ranged from gratitude for first responders, police and workers at the site, to anger and discrimination towards racial groups [39:40]. His thoughts about the 9/11 memorial and his gratitude towards activists who fought to continue the 9/11 Commission and the fund to support those who are still suffering the effects of working in dangerous conditions at Ground Zero.
Robin Brabham oral history interview 1, 2012, July 12
Robin Brabham, rare books librarian, archivist, and founding head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses the development of the archive's oral history collections. [All times are approximate]. [00:00 -10:00] Mr. Brabham attributes the initial interest in collecting oral histories at the J. Murrey Atkins Library to the library director, Joe Boykin and history professor Dr. Ed Perzel in the early 1970s. He relates how the earliest interviews he recalls were focused around a refusal by faculty to agree to award North Carolina Governor Dan K. Moore an honorary degree. He also speculates that Jim Ramer, who was Atkins library director from about 1964, and who left the library to pursue a PhD at Columbia University, may also have had an interest in oral histories, and certainly in collecting manuscripts. Lack of funding, however, meant that no serious oral history program got underway until later in the library's history. [10:00-14:50] He talks about the involvement of local journalist and author, Legette Blythe, who had been conducting oral histories and donating them with his papers to UNC Chapel Hill. Mr. Blythe donated copies of some of these interviews to Special Collections in addition to conducting interviews for the archive as a consultant in the early 1970s. [14:50-17:18] Mr. Brabham describes how Dr. Ed Perzel got involved with oral histories as a social historian and was awarded a grant by local media company WSOC to conduct interviews with elderly Charlotteans. [17:18-24:48] He briefly talks about the involvement of English professor Dr. Boyd Davis who launched a large linguistics project using oral history as a platform for recording language. He notes his regrets that oral histories were not routinely recorded in conjunction with the acquisition of manuscript collections in the initial history of the department due to a lack of resources. [24:48-29:10] He describes how Special Collections compared with other similar departments in universities across the state in the early years. [29:10-40:30] He discusses the influence of librarian Pat Ryckman, who joined Special Collections in the late 1990s as a reference librarian after working in various library positions in the region. Ms. Ryckman's technical background enabled her to make significant progress with the oral history holdings in Special Collections. Mr. Brabham describes the collaboration between Ms. Ryckman and Dr. Boyd Davis, whose linguistics project was a catalyst for utilizing the relatively new Internet to publish oral histories for access purposes. Discusses how Ms. Ryckman developed the structure for the oral history program and how she worked with students to accomplish much of the processing work and attended oral history conferences.[40:30-46:30] Discusses connections with the community in regard to oral history including the Levine Museum of the New South, faculty members, and the Jewish Community Center among others. [46:30-58:32] Discussion of interviews conducted in-house. Reflections about the differences between collecting manuscript collections and oral history collections and opportunities to have oral history supporting manuscript collections. Discussion of the complexity of changing technology to preserve and document oral history [58:32-1:01:30] Discussion of Katie McCormick who took over responsibility for oral history and eventually became the head of Special Collections. [1:01:30-1:07:00] Discussion of a collaboration with UNC Charlotte Development to create a project honoring UNC Charlotte founder Bonnie Cone. Reflection on the significance of Bonnie Cone as a leader in education, and the lack of published literature documenting her life. [1:07:00-1:11:46] Discussion about Harry Golden and the documentation of his life.
Robin Brabham oral history interview 2, 2018, November 1
Robin Brabham, founding head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses his family background, the educational path that brought him to archives, and the early years of his career at the J. Murrey Atkins Library. Mr. Brabham describes how Special Collections began with the need to establish a university archive, and the coinciding interest among librarians and academic faculty in starting a rare book collection. Although Mr. Brabham was originally hired as an ordering librarian in 1969, he was named Special Collections Librarian in 1973, fulfilling a passion he had developed in library school at Emory University under the guidance of his professor, the former UNC Charlotte librarian, Dr. James Ramer. Mr. Brabham details the growth of Special Collections' rare book collection, which began as a combination of donated volumes, including an anonymously donated collection of erotica, numerous books from the library of local celebrity Herschel Johnson (US Ambassador to Sweden), and a collection of English drama formerly owned by Princess Augusta Sophia, (daughter of King George III) that was donated in honor of Harry Dalton in 1971. Following a $25,000 personal donation by Harry Dalton in the same year, a book committee was formed to plan and oversee purchases. The committee, which was chaired by Mr. Brabham included English professor Julian Mason, geography professor Douglas Orr, and other faculty members who were interested in using rare books in their teaching. Mr. Brabham describes how the rare book collection continued to develop, with an emphasis on American literature. He also outlines benefactor Harry Dalton's personal history, his passionate interest in rare books, and his close associations with Chancellor Dean Colvard. Mr. Brabham concludes with a reflection on faculty interactions with Special Collections, noting a building interest among professors in giving students a first hand experience of archival research.
Robin Brabham oral history interview 3, 2018, November 27
Robin Brabham, founding head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, continues to reflect on his forty-year career with the J. Murrey Atkins Library. During this interview Mr. Brabham focuses on the papers of Harry Golden, which were collected in several parts between the 1960s and early 1980s. He notes the research value of this manuscript collection, due in part to Harry Golden's national stature as a journalist and civil rights activist, and also because the collection represents Mr. Golden's wide interests that intersect with many aspects of local and regional history. Mr. Brabham relates that university faculty initially solicited the collection, describing how Robert Wallace, the chair of the English department, approached Mr. Golden with the idea that his papers should be donated to a research institution. He describes Mr. Golden's association with UNC Charlotte and the interest that faculty had in honoring him by declaring a "Harry Golden Day" after the UNC Board of Trustees refused their request to award him an honorary degree. This event was followed by an annual lecture series at UNC Charlotte in Mr. Golden's honor starting in 1969 that included such speakers as George McGovern. Mr. Brabham also describes how Mr. Golden's partner, Anita Stewart Brown willed their house in the Elizabeth neighborhood to the university, relinquishing her dream of turning it into a museum in favor of providing a valuable endowment for Special Collections, and that this continuing fund has financed various scholarly researchers as well as a museum quality Golden exhibit on the main floor of the library. The interview continues at the Golden exhibit where Mr. Brabham talks about the concept for the exhibit, the way the exhibit was realized, and the intention of the exhibit to remind students that great human achievement can and has happened in Charlotte.
Robin Brabham oral history interview 4, 2019 March 22
Robin Brabham, founding head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses the development of the rare book collection at Atkins Library, focusing on the significant involvement of particular UNC Charlotte Professors, generous benefactors, and the development of the department over time. [All times are approximate]. [00:00 -13:00] Mr. Brabham describes meeting UNC Charlotte professor of English Julian Mason who joined the university in the mid 1960s and became an important and ambitious advisor in regard to the rare book collection. He talks about how resources were sparse, but that benefactor Harry Dalton donated $25,000 for rare book acquisitions in 1971 when the Dalton library tower opened. He talks about the creation and composition of a rare book advisory committee composed of faculty from various disciplines, and also about particular professors who assisted with advising on children's literature and other collecting areas. Mr. Brabham mentions in particular Anita Moss, Sarah Smedman, Ann Newman, and Sandy Govan, all English Department faculty members. [13:00-27:00] Describes how the rare book committee operated, the range of value of rare books, and the significance of Mr. Dalton's donations from his own rare book collection, including a first edition of Moby Dick, which was donated as the 500,000th volume by Mrs. Dalton upon Mr. Dalton's death. Mr. Brabham talks in detail about the increasing donations from Julian Mason and Dr. Mason's particular interest in African American literature, including Phyllis Wheatley. [27:00-36:00] Describes the rare book collecting policy, which built on the existing strengths of collections. These included first editions of Eighteenth and Nineteenth century American Literature, following Dr. Mason's interests; a collection of Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and early Nineteenth century English drama and literature, which was originally owned by Princess Augusta Sophia, daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte, and was purchased to honor Mr. Dalton by the American Credit Company; a collection of architectural books to support the Architecture Department; urban history books; and botany publications, including Humboldt's works about South America. He describes how these collecting emphases changed over time and how they continue to change. Discusses the financial challenges of purchasing rare books with no specific budget. [36:00-41:00] Discusses Dr. Mason's donations, including The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, donated as the two millionth volume, T.S. Elliott's The Wasteland, donated as the millionth book, and a first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird among others. [41:00-52:00] Discusses the financial donations of Margaret Holt, whose husband served as the President of Cannon Mills. Addresses the need for preservation funds for repair, binding, and archival containers. Discusses changes in the location of Special Collections within the library over time, and environmental controls that were put in place. [52:00-58:00] Describes how he was the only employee with Special Collections from 1973 to 1976 when he hired his first employee. Talks about how University Archives became part of Special Collections unintentionally as the administration approached Special Collections about university history. [58:00-1:22:00] Describes the additions that were made to the Atkins library over time and changes in the usage of spaces over time. Describes the design and creation of the Dalton Reading Room in 1983. Discusses the elevators in the tower, the issue of ceiling leaks in the Reading Room, the usage of the area behind the Reading Room as a viewing gallery, and the carpentry in the Reading Room which was accomplished by campus carpenters. [1:22:00-1:47:18] Talks about the Sumarian clay tablets donated by Julian Mason. Discusses the Julian and Elsie Mason Fund and issues with restrictions on how funding is utilized. Discusses the creation of the children's literature collection, and the artist books collection. Talks about his favorite books.
Robin Brabham oral history interview 5, 2019 June 26
Robin Brabham, founding head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses the development of the manuscript collections at Atkins Library, focusing on collecting strategies, building trust in the community for the archive, particular collections of significance, and the challenges of building collections. [All times are approximate]. [00:00-04:00] Introduction and discussion of the archives field in the early 1970s with respect to how archivists approached collecting manuscript materials. Mr. Brabham notes that there was surprisingly little discussion about methodologies at the meetings of the Society of North Carolina Archivists and the Society of American Archivists that he attended. He was therefore mostly following his instincts when he started collecting Charlotte Mecklenburg history in the early 1970s. [04:00-12:00] He details how he approached collecting papers surrounding the Swann v Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board of Education case. Resulting collections included the Julius L Chambers papers (lead attorney on the case), the Benjamin S. Horack papers (attorney hired to represent the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board), and the William Waggoner papers (regular attorney for the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board at the time). He reflects on the technicalities of collecting lawyer's papers and concerns about confidentiality. [12:00-16:40] Mr. Brabham reflects on the the politically charged time he arrived in Charlotte in 1969 as a factor in his collecting decisions. [16:40-19:28] He describes the Manuscript Advisory Board that was established in about 1969 and chaired by library director Joe Boykin. The group established a collecting policy that focused on the post-World War II history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. He notes that there was a consideration at the time that libraries at UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, and Duke University had already collected much local history relating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. [19:28-23:00] Discusses the collecting of Charlotte mayoral papers, starting with the papers of Mayor Stan Brookshire. Describes how a system was eventually established by a working committee of former mayors and faculty to have mayoral papers transferred from the city approximately four years after a mayor left office. Describes how some mayoral papers prior to Mayor Brookshire's time in office were also obtained, including small collections for mayors Lance, Baxter, and Douglas. [23:00-28:17] Describes a missed opportunity to collect the papers of one of Charlotte's first mayors from his descendants in Florida, but also how the descendants did donate a significant though deteriorated early North Carolina map. Describes the extensive and expensive restorations made to the map. [28:17-31:00] Discusses the geographic area determined as an appropriate collecting area for Special Collections, comprising ten North Carolina counties and two South Carolina counties. Later the South Carolina counties were dropped since the Winthrop University library began collecting. Expresses regret at not collecting from neighboring Union and Cabarrus counties. [31:00-38:30] Discusses the history of cataloging rare books and manuscript collections and how this was not a usual practice until the late 1980s. Details how cataloging of rare books and manuscripts began at Atkins Library. [38:30-48:40] Discusses collecting the papers of local civil rights activists in addition to Julius Chambers, including the papers of Harry Golden, Fred Alexander, and Kelly Alexander. Describes how Jean Meacham, a staff member at the library, was able to facilitate the connection with the Alexander family which led to the donation of their papers. Remarks on the national significance of these collections and their relation to the local and national history of the NAACP. [48:40-52:00] Mr. Brabham describes how he saw manuscript collections as material for students to learn how to do original research, and how this has now become a successful practice. [52:00-1:00:26] Discusses the significance of his involvement with the Mecklenburg Historical Association for connecting with local families with long histories in the area, gaining trust on behalf of the archive, and collecting several significant local collections. Details the importance of building a relationship with Dick Banks who had inherited Cedar Grove plantation and a voluminous family archive dating back to the late eighteenth century from his Torrance forebears in Northern Mecklenburg. Describes how the Torrance and Banks papers were initially microfilmed in-house so that they could be preserved without collecting the originals, and how over time Mr. Banks decided to donate the whole collection. [1:00:26-1:11:50] Discusses how gaining the trust of Mr. Banks facilitated relationships with other deep rooted Mecklenburg families, including the Rural Hill Davidsons, the Rosedale Davidsons, and the Patterson family. Notes that he was on various boards from time to time which helped with building trust with potential donors. [1:11:50-1:37:12] Continued discussion of family papers, including regrets where collections were elusive or lost, successes where one contact could facilitate the preservation of a family collection, missed opportunities, and the delicacy of knowing when to get involved. [1:37:12-1:42:30] Discusses the pros and cons of collecting congressional papers, the decision not to pursue Jim Martin's papers, and the value of collecting Sue Myrick's congressional papers. [1:42:30-2:00:40] Discusses outside researchers who were the majority patrons in the early period of Special Collections. Discusses other collections including the Gail Haley papers. Reflects on relationships with other archives. [2:00:40-2:04:40] Mr. Brabham lists collections that he would highlight for "show and tell" situations, including the Harry Golden exhibit, the Fred and Kelly Alexander papers, the Chambers papers, the Reginald Hawkins papers, and the ledgers and account books from the Torrance and Banks papers. He discusses where he feels there were gaps in the collections, in particular relating to local businesses.
Elinor B. Caddell oral history interview, 2017 August 23
Charlotte native, Elinor Caddell, one of the founding faculty members of the UNC Charlotte School of Nursing, recalls her career in nursing education and how the profession has evolved over the years. Ms. Caddell recalls entering the newly created Charlotte Memorial School of Nursing in 1941 as a seventeen year-old student and how World War II influenced many people to enter the field of nursing. After graduating, she studied to get a B.S. in Nursing Education at Duke University, where she worked closely with Mrs. Edith Brocker who later became UNC Charlotte School of Nursing's first dean. Upon completion of the baccalaureate program, Ms. Caddell returned to Charlotte Memorial School of Nursing to teach, and later joined Mrs. Brocker to spearhead the nursing program at UNC Charlotte in 1965. Ms. Caddell recalls how she recruited registered nurses to become enrolled in the baccalaureate nursing program and how she developed an outreach program that allowed UNC Charlotte students to receive additional nursing education at UNC Chapel Hill. Ms. Caddell also developed the masters degree in nursing at UNC Charlotte, where she taught until 1989. Ms. Caddell concludes by reflecting on how she misses being an educator and how proud she is of her former students.
Ann Carver oral history interview 1, 2018 February 22
Dr. Ann Carver recounts her formative years, her college experiences, and her career at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She discusses how the tragic death of her husband served as a turning point in her life, and how her subsequent doctoral education at Emory University propelled her into a self-taught interdisciplinary study of African-American literature and history. Dr. Carver discusses her first professorial job teaching English at Morehouse College in 1968, and her move to UNC Charlotte in 1969. She describes in detail the ensuing process of establishing the Africana Studies Department at UNC Charlotte in collaboration with Dr. Bertha Maxwell. Other topics include the Charlotte Three and the Wilmington Ten.
Ann Carver oral history interview 2, 2023 April 12
Dr. Ann Carver discusses the development of the Women and Gender Studies Program at UNC Charlotte in the 1970s, illustrating the attitude towards women at the University at the time and the initiative of the female students who catalyzed the development of the program. Topics discussed include the original structure of the Women's Studies curriculum and the creation of the Awareness Resource Center, the contribution of female UNC Charlotte faculty to National and Regional Women's Studies Associations, and Dr. Carver's lasting impact on the program in her successful application for a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and the Ann Carver Women and Gender Studies Annual Essay Contest.
Ann Mabe Newman, Dona Harton Haney, and nursing colleagues oral history interview, 2017 June 6
Dr. Ann Newman, and Dona Haney organized this interview as part of their research into the history of the UNC Charlotte School of Nursing in preparation to write and publish a book to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the school in 2018, (Ms. Bonnie's Nurses: The First Fifty Years of UNC Charlotte's School of Nursing History.) The interview includes seven individuals who had significant roles either as administrators, teachers, and/or students at the school. Interviewees recall the formation and development of the school from 1965 to the current time of the interview, and discuss ways in which the school has benefited the Charlotte community. In addition to Dr. Newman and Ms. Haney, other speakers include Elinor Brooks Caddell, Lynn Brown Dobson, Joyce Ann Lowder, Margaret M. Patton, and Jacqueline Dienemann. Topics discussed include the introduction and significance of the baccalaureate degree in nursing, which coincided with the foundation of the nursing school at UNC Charlotte; the involvement of UNC Charlotte nursing students and teaching faculty in providing and structuring healthcare for the homeless in Charlotte, (Center Health Services, which expanded to serve the Safe Alliance Center for the Battered Women's Shelter); and numerous anecdotes about personal and humorous experiences with the nursing program.
Mamie Brenda Jordan oral history interview, 2021 August 27
WARNING This interview includes an eyewitness account of 9/11, the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and may be emotionally disturbing for some people. Brenda Jordan, Security Officer for Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte, who retired from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in 2007 after twenty years of service, discusses her life, her work as a police officer, and her personal experiences and reflections on the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 (9/11). [All times approximate]. Introduction [00:00]. Early life growing up in Jamaica, Queens, New York, becoming a mother at age sixteen, attending Ida B. Wells High School and Queensborough Community College, working for the US Postal Service, joining the The New York City Housing Authority Police Department (later named NYPD Housing Bureau), and her motivations for choosing a career in law enforcement [01:13]. Detailed description of her work as a housing police officer; training for this work; vertical patrol of multi story housing; promotions over time, to a training officer position, then to the narcotics enforcement unit, and then to the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms unit [07:00]. Working in the district attorney's office under Bridget G. Bennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) for the City of New York after being in a car accident while on duty [13:30]. Reflection on the work of Judge Laura E. Ward, Ward's drug interdiction efforts and emphasis on rehabilitation for people arrested on drug related charges [16:30]. Disturbing incident in the drug enforcement task force that prompted Ms. Jordan to retire at the request of her oldest son, who was also in the NYPD [20:26]. Detailed account of Ms. Jordan's experiences on 9/11, 2001, including her witnessing both planes as they hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center as she was in transit to work, gathering with her colleagues, heading down to the site of the World Trade Center to assist with rescue, working at Ground Zero into the early hours of the morning, and the outpouring of gratitude towards the police that she experienced from crowds gathered along the streets of New York [28:10]. Discussion of the lack of protective gear on the day of the 9/11 attack, the increasing provision of masks and medical support on the subsequent days, and locations near Ground Zero that were set up for supporting the rescue and clean up operations [37:00]. Reflection on commemorating the anniversary of 9/11, the loss of life resulting from working in toxic conditions that played out over time, and the lasting effects that 9/11 has had from a physical and an emotional perspective [41:48]. Description of the work of cadaver dogs, the smell of the disaster site, the resilience and diversity of American people supporting the rescue efforts [50:58]. Description of the removal of debris by bucket, arrival of steel workers with more efficient tools on the second day of rescue and clean up, depression felt by responders, considerations about the dangers of building high-rise structures which can entrap occupants [53:30]. Discussion of personal and more general societal change that Ms. Jordan has experienced since 9/11, heightened vigilance and anticipation for dangerous incidents [1:02:16]. Discussion of the NYPD 10-13 Club of Charlotte, NC (a chapter of the National NYCPD 10-13 organization); composition of the group which has over 400 former New York City police who have moved to the Charlotte area; discussion of the purpose of the group that meets monthly for mutual support, to raise money for veterans and children, to keep abreast of medical information, and to disseminate information about job opportunities [1:10:00]. Discussion of Charlotte schools and Ms. Jordan's experiences as a parent [1:13:30]. Further discussion of Ms. Jordan's role and experiences in the NYPD 10-13 Club as a member of the honor guard, honoring officers that have fallen, the meaning of the name 10-13 (named for the alert message used by New York City police when help is needed), police officers adopting children, Ms. Jordan's experience taking in foster children and adopting children, volunteering [1:15:44]. Origins of 10-13 Club, Ms. Jordan's role as a 'host' in the group, relationship of the group to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 9, Ms. Jordan's involvement with the FOP, comparison and contrast between police unions and the FOP [1:23:30]. Concluding sentiments about 9/11 [1:32:09].
Larry Mellichamp oral history interview 1, 2014 May 22
In this first of two interviews, Dr. Larry Mellichamp, graduate and long-time faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, reflects on his time as a student in the 1960s and as a faculty member from the 1970s to 2010s. He traces the history and development of the botanical gardens and greenhouse, describes the influence of professors Dr. Hechenbleikner and Dr. Matthews on his life, and explains Dr. Hechenbleikner's involvement in managing the landscaping on campus. He recounts the origin of the Van Landingham Glen, the McMillan Greenhouse, and the annual plant sale and reveals the challenges of maintaining the gardens, including financial struggles and lack of staff. He shares the purpose of the botanical gardens and greenhouse and comments on numerous rare plants grown during his tenure including the Titan Arum. Other topics include faithful volunteer Harlan Jackson, Dr. Mellichamp's family history and background, his father's occupation in silk-screen printing and advertising, his experience growing up in Charlotte, his interest in carnivorous plants, the books he has authored, and his relationship with Bonnie Cone.
Dorlan D. Mork oral history interview 2, 2014 August 25
In this second of two interviews, Dr. Dorlan D. Mork, long-time employee of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, provides contextual background for three items he donated to the university's archives. First, he explains the booklet From Query's Turnout to UNC Charlotte, which was the result of a student project in the late 1980s. He shares the motivation and process behind the volume including how he and he his students first learned of "Query's Turnout." He also shares some background information on the Query family. Second, he discusses a project conducted by himself and a graduate student concerning the UNC Charlotte Wildlife Refuge. Dr. Mork relates the research process, the history of the land and its use by the university, and personal history of Dr. and Mrs. George Leiby, who donated the property to UNC Charlotte, including Dr. Leiby's research on water pollution in Stanly County, North Carolina. Third, Dr. Mork explains his involvement in the development of the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina (MCNC), a center that initially connected experts from five North Carolina universities, including UNC Charlotte, via telecommunications for simultaneous research and collaboration. Dr. Mork, who served as the director of the Learning Resources Center at UNC Charlotte from 1972 until around 1983, also describes the purpose and activities of the center.
J. Daniel White oral history interview 1, 2018 May 10
Dr. J. Daniel White discusses his life and his 47-year tenure as professor of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte. [All times approximate] [00:00] He begins by tracing the development of his passion for studying Asia and in particular Indian culture. [05:48] He reflects on his formative years and his memories of visiting his great grandparents (surname Combs) who lived on a small farm in Eastern North Carolina; his maternal grandmother who lived as a widow on a several thousand-acre plantation between Franklinton and Louisburg North Carolina; his paternal grandfather who frequently took him along on his mail delivery route; and his paternal grandmother. [18:27] He reflects on the social fabric of Eastern North Carolina during his childhood, focusing on underlying racism and prejudices which were often contradicted by individual relationships, and which he interprets as having underlying economic causes. He also discusses the social hierarchy of the 1950s. [29:38] He talks about his immediate family, including his parents and siblings. He describes his own education and high school experiences. [36:50] He relates how he became interested in religion and theology, his decision to become an academic, and his educational path. [41:15] After a brief break Dr. White reflects on the profound influence of radical Baptist minister Dean Minton, who was the minister of the Baptist Church in Elizabethtown North Carolina where Dr. White's family lived for ten years. He outlines how Mr. Minton cemented his interest in studying religion and made him question Southern cultural norms. [47:12] He traces his path to UNC Charlotte after graduate school and outlines how he was attracted to the university because of the academic freedom it gave him to focus on researching and teaching South Asian studies, including Indian religions and Sanskrit language. [51:20] He reflects on his college years at Campbell College in North Carolina and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, including his first trip to India as a graduate student. [1:04:00] He describes his arrival at UNC Charlotte, his colleagues, his prior friendship with Myers Park Baptist Church minister, Jean Owens, and how he came to join Mr. Owen's church. He reflects on the progressive history under the leadership of several ministers at Myers Park Baptist. [1:17:20] He outlines how he met his wife at church and their many visits to India. He details his year-long research in Madras in 1985, where his wife worked as a nurse practitioner. [1:25:10] He reflects on how the study of Asian religions have changed over time, the inappropriate approach of imposing Western theological, social, or historical methodologies on Asian studies, and how he approaches his teaching. He also reflects on a movement within India towards extreme conservative beliefs about Indian history despite archeological evidence to the contrary, the lack of awareness within India of the many progressive scientific and cultural ideas that originated there, and the imposition of Western conservatism on Indian society. [1:38:52] During the last part of the interview Dr. White reflects on the strengths of the Religious Studies program during his tenure; his work building a consortium of Southeastern United States colleges and universities to promote non-Western studies in the early 1970s; his creation of the Festival of India, which was the first International focused festival to be held on campus; the UNC Charlotte campus when he arrived at the university in 1971; his digital photography projects, including photographs of many of the major shrines of the Mewar Dynasty in Northwestern India; and his oral history interview with members of the Mewar family. He concludes with references to his children and thoughts about his retirement.
J. Daniel White oral history interview 2, 2018 May 14
In this second of two interviews, Dr. J. Daniel White gives additional reflections on his life and his work as a professor in the Religious Studies Department at UNC Charlotte. [All times are approximate] [00:00] He describes a startling experience during the mid 1960s when as a rising junior at Campbell College he was asked to stand in as a summer intern for the minister at the Baptist church his grandparents attended in Eastern North Carolina. On July 4th the Ku Klux Klan marched in the small town and Dr. White decided to preach the next day about the responsibility of the congregation to respond to hate groups. As the congregation walked out of the church they made their disapproval of his sermon very clear and the next morning Dr. White was directly threatened by a stranger in the local cafe. Later that night he was apprehended by Klan members in costume who drove him to a wooded area and tied him to a tree. He was rescued the next morning by a police officer, but no record was made of the incident, which was later denied by the sheriff's office. [06:50] Dr. White also briefly discusses protests he engaged in. He speculates that rural parts of Eastern North Carolina may not have changed significantly in regard to social conservatism while urban areas have seen significant change. [10:10] He discusses the interdependency and power dynamics between white and Black people in the Southern states, where white people relied on Black people for their skills and Black people relied on white people as employers. [14:35] Dr. White discusses his experiences working as a consultant for organizations, including the Smithsonian Museum and Nationwide Insurance Company, as an Indian specialist. He reflects on how he used his knowledge of Indian culture, including funerary practices and foodways, in his role as a consultant. [23:36] He discusses how India has changed since he started studying the country, noting significant economic changes, deregulation in the business sphere and significant westernization of culture. [27:46] He relays that during the second Clinton administration he was asked by the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs to be an external adviser. He notes that he correctly warned the state Department in 1998 that India would soon begin Nuclear proliferation to threaten Pakistan. [32:24] He recalls discussions with various significant Indian leaders, including Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the early 1970s. He concludes by reflecting on what he sees as a weak relationship between India and UNC Charlotte, despite there being many Indian students who attend the university's science programs.
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 1, 1973 March 26
Loy Witherspoon was a 43-year-old man at the time of interview. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this 1973 interview, student Boone Wayson interviewed Dr. Loy Witherspoon, then chair of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte, about a decision made by the faculty governing body in 1966 to retract an earlier resolution to bestow an honorary degree upon Governor Dan K. Moore. The decision took place after the university Board of Trustees refused to ratify a faculty resolution to bestow an honorary degree upon a Charlotte citizen (unnamed in the interview) at the same time as honoring Governor Moore, which Dr. Witherspoon speculates may have partially caused the reversal. He also speculates that some of the faculty were critical of Governor Moore and were no longer inclined to grant him the honor because of his handling of the controversial Speaker Ban Law., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 4, 2010 May 18
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this first of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon describes his family history, early life, and education. Topics include how he became an orphan and his positive experience living in The Children's Home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; his college and graduate education at Duke University; friends, mentors, and benefactors, in particular, Virginia and Ross Puette of Charlotte, North Carolina; his experiences living in Egypt where he taught at the American University in Cairo; and his training and background as both a Methodist minister and an educator in religious studies and philosophy., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 5, 2010 May 25
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this second of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon describes his time attending Boston University for his PhD in the New Testament, his first academic job at Dakota Wesleyan University, and his early years at UNC Charlotte. Mr. Witherspoon describes how Bonnie Cone was enthusiastic about his hiring as head of Philosophy and Religious Studies in 1964, but that many faculty members opposed his ideas in meetings and resisted the strengthening of the philosophy and religious studies program on campus. Dr. Witherspoon also discusses his role on campus as both educator and spiritual coordinator, the university administration during the 1960s and 1970s, and faculty members who Mr. Witherspoon hired during that period in order to build a well-rounded department., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 6, 2010 June 1
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this third of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon discusses his various roles at UNC Charlotte, his personal involvement with service and cultural institutions in the Charlotte community, and his role as an ambassador in reaching out to the community to support the university. Topics include the dividing of Philosophy and Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte and key faculty appointments within these departments, how he helped secure rare books and manuscript collections for J. Murrey Atkins Library, his friendships with Bonnie Cone and Alice Tate, his association with Myers Park churches and with various leading citizens of Charlotte who supported the university, and his support for the Red Cross, the Charlotte Symphony and the Opera Association., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 7, 2010 June 3
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this fourth of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon focuses the conversation on Bonnie Cone, the founder of UNC Charlotte. He discusses Ms. Cone's long relationship with UNC Charlotte, including her efforts to make Charlotte College a four-year institution and part of the University of North Carolina system during the 1940s-1960s, her vision for Dr. Witherspoon to serve a ministerial role on campus, and her being passed over as Chancellor of the university in the 1960s, which he speculates may have been because of her gender. Dr. Witherspoon also describes his concern for an ecumenical approach to ministry on campus, and how he, Ms. Cone, and other faculty members settled in the College Downs neighborhood, adjacent to the university., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 8, 2010 June 8
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this fifth of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon describes how Bonnie Cone fought to make Charlotte College (later, UNC Charlotte) a part of the University of North Carolina system, and how the university grew once she achieved her goal. Topics include campus administration; Ms. Cone's role as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs once Dean Colvard became Chancellor in 1966; the civil rights movement and activism of African American students on campus; the history behind various buildings on campus, including the first two dormitories that were built at UNC Charlotte; and his own role in facilitating communication between Chancellor Colvard and the faculty., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 9, 2010 June 29
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this sixth of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon discusses faculty governance at UNC Charlotte and how it changed from when he began employment with the university in 1964 through the early 1990s. He describes the contentious nature of Faculty Council discussions, his experiences serving twice as president of the Council, the attendance of politically active students at Council meetings, his role on the search committee for the third chancellor of the university, and the debate among faculty about the ROTC on campus following national discussions of discrimination against gay students in the ROTC program. Dr. Witherspoon also highlights his belief that other faculty members and departments didn't believe there should be a Religious Studies department., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)
Loy H. Witherspoon oral history interview 10, 2010 July 6
Loy Witherspoon was a 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place on the campus of UNC Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Catawba, North Carolina in 1930. He graduated from Duke University with a BA and a BD degree, and from Boston University with a PhD in the New Testament. He was employed with UNC Charlotte from 1964 to 1994, where he led the Department of Philosophy and Religion, then established and chaired the Department of Religious Studies when it split off from philosophy beginning in 1972., In this final of seven interviews given by Loy Witherspoon and conducted by Christina Wright, Dr. Witherspoon discusses his involvement with student organizations and fraternities at UNC Charlotte. In particular, Dr. Witherspoon focuses on the Christian fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha and his belief in their positive influence on campus life. He describes how fraternities and sororities were first established on campus through the support of Bonnie Cone, despite opposition from some faculty members. Dr. Witherspoon discusses his role as faculty advisor to Lambda Chi Alpha and describes the organization at UNC Charlotte in detail, including their organizational structure, community service activities, and initiation practices. He also recounts stories of particular student members of Lambda Chi Alpha and other fraternities whom he mentored. Dr. Witherspoon ends his interview with a description of plans for Bonnie Cone's burial on the UNC Charlotte campus., Loy H. Witherspoon papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/233)