Spartan Stories

Tales from the UNCG University Archives

by Megan Mieure and Beth Ann Koelsch

The great “manpower” needs during World War II created openings for women in the U.S. military to replace men who were in noncombat positions. In addition to the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, for the first time women were actively recruited for military branches created specifically for them. The Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG) alumnae were among those who answered the call and signed up for military service.

One of those alumnae was Charlesanna Fox, from Asheboro, North Carolina, who graduated from Woman’s College in 1930 with a degree in History and later joined the Naval Library Service in November of 1942.

The UNCG’S Women Veterans Historical Project conducted an oral history interview with Fox in March of 1999. Through this oral history we can gain a glimpse of what life was like at Woman’s College in the late 1920s.

Fox: “I was part of the Daisy Chain my sophomore year, and we had societies. We had four societies that we were automatically part of. I was a Dikean and I was a Dikean marshal. The societies elected the marshals…I sang with some choirs. We had music at Christmas and I remember performing in one of those. And we had housemothers. That’s unheard-of now, I guess. But each dormitory was assigned a person, who didn’t really look after us but she was there if we needed her. And we had to keep our rooms clean, which is unheard-of now. We had inspection once a week, and that’s unheard-of… [In our dorm rooms] we had a hot plate and we could make cocoa after hours. We were supposed to be in bed, and we could have been chastised, but we made hot chocolate.”

Walter Clinton Jackson, who later became the College’s chancellor and the namesake of Jackson Library, was one of Fox’s instructors as well as her academic advisor.

After college Fox taught high school for four years in Maxton, North Carolina before deciding to go back to school to earn her library science degree from UNC Chapel Hill. She then worked in libraries in Washington D.C., Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee. In May of 1942 Fox took the civil service exam “to do something to help the war effort” and soon afterwards was recruited into the Library Section of the Bureau of Naval Personnel by Isabel DuBois. Fox spent her first three months at Washington D.C. where her job was to select books for Navy ships and stations. In November of 1942, she was assigned to the newly opened Camp Lejeune Marine Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina to set up the base library. Fox served at Camp Lejeune for the next three years.

In November of 1945, Fox was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to be the 14th Naval District Librarian. She sailed from San Francisco on the USS Lurline troop ship. In her oral history interview Fox recalled that: “We left in a storm, and they sighted mines. They still had mines on the water around San Francisco, so we had to be careful. I mean, it was still wartime…And when I got to Hawaii, there was still barbed wire on the beaches, some of them. The people in Hawaii had had to gear up to do the things that they needed to do to get the war over and now to start cleaning up things for themselves.”

For the April 1947 Woman’s College Alumnae News, Fox wrote: “We have been working very hard here, especially because of the drastic cut in our personnel and because of the back log of work resulting from the end of the war — the reorganization of all our service for peace time. It seems to me like 1942 in reverse!…It has been an interesting experience for me here, and I shall miss many things about Hawaii — its fruits and flowers and beautiful scenery. But it is going to seem mighty good to be back home again.”

In June 1947 Fox’s contract with the Naval Library Service ended and returned to Knoxville where she worked as the group services worker and film librarian in the Lawson McGhee Public Library. After two years, she returned to Asheboro to help take care of her parents. There Fox became the Randolph County Librarian, a position she held until retirement in 1977.

Fox remained involved with her alma mater. She participated in many Alumni events as well as Alumnae Veterans Projects. Fox received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1974 and was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Mike Easley in 2008. She died in Asheboro in November 2012.

By Scott Hinshaw

In an earlier blog post, we discussed professor and artist, Joseph H. Cox’s, McIver Building mural and its controversial lighting as well as the many changes that occurred to the lighting at the beginning of the McIver Building’s life on UNCG’s campus. In this post, we’ll follow up on what happened after the lights went off on the McIver mural in in the late 1960s.

McIver Building mural lighting as originally designed – McIver Building Mural with red and green lights, Joe Cox Papers, MC 00406, Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Sometime after the lights were changed from their original alternating red and green in 1961, the lights went dark forever. Maintenance of the lights had been a problem for years by the time that H.L. Ferguson (Business Manager of Woman’s College and Ex-Officio member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee) recalled that “sometime after I came to this campus [in 1962], the lights were out for awhile, needing repairs.” In fact, “the lights had been off for several weeks and no one had commented on that fact.” This led Ferguson and N.H. Gurley (Physical Plan Director and Ex-Officio member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee) to decide not to have repairs done and leave them off. The cost to replace the whole system was estimated at approximately five hundred dollars and Ferguson remarked that, “No one has mentioned the lights to me for the past few years.”1

That all changed in 1972, when some students approached Mr. Gurley one day and asked him about the lights. Apparently, Dr. Hollis Rogers, Professor of Biology, had directed the students to ask Mr. Gurley.2

It’s not clear what sparked the students sudden interest in turning the lights back on for the McIver Building mural, but the interest was real, and impressive. There was not one, but two, simultaneous pushes from UNCG students to turn the lights back on. A petition that eventually gained 1,187 signatures had been circulating around campus in 1972, when the Student Government Association got in on the action as well. On October 3, 1972, Senator Chris Jones asked for a vote on Resolution S-72-102. The resolution, named, “Turn on McIver,” was “urgently” presented since the SGA was aware of the petition also circulating campus at the same time, they knew how important it was to the student body. The resolution was fast-tracked to move forward on a vote of 21-6. During the discussion of the resolution, it was noted again, that the “source of many complaints considering the mural” was the use of the red light and that had been the reason for turning it off in the first place. After brief debate, the resolution was passed.* Resolution S-72-102, “Turn on McIver” stated (somewhat incorrectly in parts):

Whereas: When McIver Building was constructed an artist was commissioned to produce a moving light mural on the facade.

Whereas: It is the only mural of its kind in the United States.

Whereas: All the facilities are not being used as designed and much aesthetic value is wasted,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the mural be reactivated.

The Mandate was sent to Chancellor Ferguson, H.L. Ferguson, Dean Allen, N.H. Gurley, and Steven Underwood.3

SGA Resolution S-72-102 “Turn on McIver” as given to Chancellor Ferguson, October 3, 1972 Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

After the both the petition and SGA resolution reached Chancellor Ferguson’s desk, he referred the matter again to the Buildings and Grounds Committee. The committee reviewed all the material which had arisen from the lighting changes during the buildings infancy in the early 1960s (see earlier blog) and again turned to Joseph Cox, the mural’s designer, to “re-study” the mural and make recommendations to the committee.

At a January 19, 1973 meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Mr. Cox’s suggestions (he himself was not present) were shown, again using a model of the McIver building, as he had done in the early 1960s. The lighting changes suggested were described as a “new flood light system.” The model did bring up questions from the Committee and the overall reaction was positive. The Committee ultimately decided to defer action on the lights until “more information would be available as to cost estimates of installing [new] lights.”4

Unfortunately, the last time the proposed new lighting on the McIver mural is mentioned is in the Annual Report of the Building and Grounds Committee for the academic year 1972-1973. It is not clear from the historical records after this point whether the mural was ever lighted again, despite the significant interest exhibited from the student body in the early 1970s.5

McIver Building mural as it appeared in 1988 Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Photograph Files

Today, although the McIver Building was razed in 2018, some of the mural has been preserved in the new Nursing and Instructional Building that now occupies the same site. The enameled quadrilateral shapes from the original mural have been mounted and preserved, this time within the structure, on the front wall of the new building. Thankfully, the shapes and patterns can still be seen and enjoyed from the outside due to the large glass windows encasing these parts of the Nursing and Instructional Building. A reminder of the building that used to stand in its place.6

Original McIver mural enameled tiles installed in Nursing and Instructional Building lounge areas (photo by author)
Original McIver Building mural tiles as seen from outside (photo by author)
Close up of original McIver Building tiles as installed in Nursing and Instructional Building (photo by author)

1 – Letter dated October 11, 1972, from H.L. Ferguson, Jr. to Chancellor James S. Ferguson Re: Light on McIver Building Mural-Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

2 – Ibid.

3 – Student Government Association, October 3, 1972 Senate Minutes – Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

4 – Minutes of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, October 26, 1972; January 19, 1973; March 20, 1973 – Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

5 – Annual Report of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, 1972-1973; 1973-1974; 1974-1975 – Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

6 – Special thanks from the author to Carolyn Shankle for the reminder that the McIver Building mural tiles had been preserved and installed in the Nursing and Instructional Building

by Suzanne Helms

Dr. Charlotte Dawley decked with floral leis, as she arrived in Hawai’i, 1960s (Image: Charlotte Dawley)

An avid naturalist and world traveler, Dr. Charlotte Dawley, former Associate Professor of Biology at Woman’s College of University of North Carolina (now UNCG), took full advantage of her summer breaks from teaching general biology, mammalian anatomy, comparative anatomy, and the natural history of vertebrates. Whether on a trip to Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay to photograph flowers and birds of the subarctic or to work on the shell collections of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, Dawley was captivated by the natural world and seemed committed to seeing all of it. Though her intentions were likely exploration and pleasure traveling, her travel journals are more like lists of empirical observations refreshingly absent of interpretation or conclusions (mostly anyway).

Charlotte Webster Dawley (b. 1902- d.1990), a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, earned an A.B.1 in Biology from Carleton College in 1924 and an M.S. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1927. She continued her educational pursuits over the next several years and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1944 from the University of Minnesota. Also in 1944, after teaching for a year at Florida State College for Women and fifteen years as head of the Biology Department at Hibbing Junior College in Minnesota, Dr. Dawley joined the faculty of the Biology Department at Woman’s College. Despite her starting salary of $2300 per year (equivalent to a little over $38,000 in 2022), she took every opportunity to travel far and wide. 

Left: Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal, undated; Right: Floating restaurant, Hong Kong, undated
(Both images: Charlotte Dawley)

Among her collection, Charlotte Dawley Papers, in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, are photographic slides of her many trips abroad as well as travel journals describing the details of each journey and the flora and fauna observed, including observations of her traveling companions! On a 1977 trip to West Virginia for birdwatching, she noted about her roommate, “…couldn’t be flat because cardiac valve doesn’t close. Ate [breakfast] and supper in room. Pennsylvania Dutch, 48 yrs. old, much traveled, school librarian.” And about a family traveling with her, “Peter drove the van, is head of legal dept. of Smithsonian, interested in trees, bought land in Pawpaw, W.Va. Kathryn knitted squares, ate nutrition supplements and fruit and yoghurt (sic), had long hair. Little Peter – life of party.” From beginning to end, Charlotte Dawley was a researcher with keen interest in documenting her environment either with her camera or through copious notes in her travel journals.

Cathedral of the Dormition, Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, undated (Image: Charlotte Dawley)

Dawley visited the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Bali, Thailand, Egypt, Lebanon, Nepal, Greece, Russia and many other areas of the world. Always the observer and one step removed from the action, Dawley describes her 1972 tour of Scandinavia and the former Soviet Union, “Wed. Aug. 23. Breakfast – complaints surface about buttermilk (or yogurt), having to walk around to restaurant, lack of ice, etc. Trip to Kremlin. Beautiful and interesting. Church of the Assumption [also known as the Cathedral of the Dormition]. Go thru 2 churches full of ikons…” [sic]. Due to her often pragmatic descriptions, it is unclear what she thought about her American traveling companions exhibiting their entitlement when there was no ice to be had and they had to walk to the restaurant.

Least sandpiper, one of the birds observed by Dawley (Image: Alix d’Entremont, Macaulay Library, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Throughout her travel journals, Dawley often detailed cultural differences, unfamiliar foods, and new experiences. For example, on her 1955 trip to Hudson Bay, she described and photographed Indigenous people harvesting and carrying seal skins. A few days later, attentively observing her environment, she noted, “During lunch see and hear white-crowned sparrow. Our most unusual find was a pair of Harris’s sparrows singing in a spruce… Arctic terns pursue raven. Another pair of lesser yellowlegs protest our presence from top of spruces.” Exhibiting the careful attention and fascination of a consummate birdwatcher, a couple of days later she wrote, “I discover a least sandpiper which flies into top of small spruce just like yellowlegs. It has 4 tiny chicks, just balls of down, which run around. It is the light green legs that identify it as a least sandpiper.” Examining her journals, the reader is often left wondering what it was like for her to have these experiences–very little of Dawley’s inner life can be deduced from her writings. The enchantment with the physical world can be inferred from her notes, but what did she think and feel about what she observed? What did she think about the seal skin harvest and the Indigenous group’s connection to their land? Was she reminding herself how to identify a least sandpiper or was that information she wanted to remember to share with future students?

Air travel in the 1950s, “The Golden Age of Travel”. (Image: Boeing Archive)

Women had of course been somewhat commonly traveling independently for a century or more when Dawley, a single woman, began her travel adventures in the 1950s. Mid-twentieth century travel was considered “the golden age of travel”.2 Women wore dresses or skirts and men wore suits and ties. Meals on flights were served on china plates and with silverware, and food was expected to be of excellent quality. Flight attendants were selected for their looks and size rather than for their intellectual or physical abilities. Airplanes often featured lounge areas and much more leg room in general–golden age indeed!

It was typical for single, unaccompanied women to travel with tours rather than striking out on their own. Dawley was often placed in a hotel room with another single woman traveling with the tour, whether they were previously acquainted or not. As for official government policy, United States Passports “predate the Declaration of Independence, but the documents were issued on an ad hoc basis until the late 1800s, when the process began to standardize. By then, a single woman was issued a passport in her own name, but a married woman was only listed as an anonymous add-on to her husband’s document: “Mr. John Doe and wife.” In 1937, married women were finally allowed to obtain passports in their own names. Passports were not yet a requirement for every country, but they would allow for some protection from traveler’s own government should they encounter a problem while abroad.3 

Left: Dawley inside a yurt in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia, 1970s; Right: Angkor Wat, Cambodia, undated (Both images: Charlotte Dawley)

Despite common conventions, Dawley certainly did not allow common practice or official policy to dictate her itinerary. While many tours went to Europe, Canada, or Mexico, Dawley often opted to take the “road less traveled”.4 On a trip to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, Dawley described sleeping in a yurt, “Woman with big smile comes to make fire in our stove. Morning trip is… to a camel breeding station… Camels are beautiful and well-kept and several people have a little ride on one of them. We are invited into a yurt and served bowls of kumis (sour milk) and square fried pieces… we drive to the sand desert where there are sand dunes, which Susan climbs…”.

Left: Warrior’s Temple, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, 1970s; Right: Flying over a volcano en route to Bali, undated (Both images: Charlotte Dawley)

In between her journeys abroad, and concurrent with her teaching, Dawley was very active in her field. She was vice president of the North Carolina Academy of Science; a founding advisor of Collegiate Academy of North Carolina; a member of the Limnological5 Society, American Malacological6 Union, and Piedmont Bird Club; and, she was faculty sponsor of Beta Beta Beta, an honorary biological group for undergraduate students, which she helped bring to Woman’s College. In 1951, she wrote an article about the inception of the group for Bios Journal. She noted that a small group of students and faculty attended a regional conference in South Carolina. Describing the impact of the convention on her students, she wrote, “Meeting other members of Tri Beta, finding out what they did, and listening to the reports of their research was an enlightening experience, and we came home with new enthusiasm and a clearer idea of what a chapter of Beta Beta Beta could mean to us at the Woman’s College.”7 As noted, Dawley rarely expressed any emotion in her writings, and that was also true in her article for Bios Journal–“just the facts ma’am”8–but her dedication to supporting young women in their pursuit of an education in biology was just as evident as her fervor for the natural world in her clinical documentation of her travels–what she saw, whom she met, and what she learned.

To learn more about Dr. Charlotte Dawley and her travels, please visit the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives at UNC Greensboro.

1A.B. is the abbreviation of “artium baccalaureus,” Latin for Bachelor of Arts.
2Pantazi, C. (2017, April 4). “Vintage Photos Show How Glamorous Flying Was in the 1950s.” Business Insider.
3Knisely, S. (2017, March 27). “The 1920s Women Who Fought for the Right to Travel Under Their Own Names.” Atlas Obscura.
4Paraphrase of a line in Robert Frost’s 1920 poem “The Road Not Taken”.
5The study of inland aquatic ecosystems
6The study of mollusks
7Dawley, C. (1951). “The Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina and the Installation of the Beta Gamma Chapter”. Bios, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 211-214.
8A phrase often associated with Sgt. Joe Friday on the late 1960s television show Dragnet, though the character never used that exact phrase. In fact, a parody of Dragnet featuring actor Dan Aykroyd originated the phrase by combining two similar phrases often used by Friday.

by Kathelene McCarty Smith

Faculty Camera Club

Photographs taken by Dr. Anna Gove, the second resident “lady doctress” at the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNC Greensboro), have proved a rich source of both campus and local history. A native of New Hampshire, Gove arrived in North Carolina at 26 years of age, becoming one of the first female physicians in the state. The beauty and history of the area intrigued the young doctor, and she decided to make it her home. Although Gove did not keep a diary, she recorded her experiences and her environment through images taken with her trusty Brownie camera. She quickly found kindred spirits at the State Normal who shared her intellectual and cultural curiosity, as well as her love of photography. She initiated a Faculty Camera Club, which included several female professors who would soon become her close friends, including Edith McIntyre (Professor of Domestic Science), Melville Fort (Art Professor), and Mary Petty (Chemistry Professor). Together they photographed interesting vistas across Guilford County and beyond.

Always interested in new experiences, Gove decided to attend a traveling “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.” Although stereotypical and exploitive, these types of touring spectacles were very popular during the period after the Civil War until about 1920. Capitalizing on the country’s fascination with the romanticized West, these theatrical open-air shows included an array of cowboys, American Indians, horses, wild animals, and outlaws performing thrilling staged exhibitions. Wild West shows visited both America and Europe and were headlined by cowboy legends, such as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, “Texas Jack,” and Christopher “Kit” Carson. They also highlighted well-known national personalities like sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, and Chief Sitting Bull, who became huge draws to these traveling tent shows.

Wild West Show Program, 1896

Accompanied by brass bands and orchestras, Wild West shows featured action-packed entertainments and historical reenactments, such as the Battle of San Juan Hill, stagecoach robberies, and mock “buffalo hunts.” Brochures for Buffalo Bill’s extravaganza also boasted a parade cavalcade featuring “rough riders” from different parts of the world, including Hawaii, Cuba, Russia, Germany, and the Middle East. Also showcased were “side show” performers, allowing spectators to gawk at snake charmers, magicians, jugglers, sword swallowers, and others with unique talents or features. Buffalo Bill’s show was one of the larger ones, traveling with an entourage of over 500 people, who needed to be fed and boarded, as well as numerous animals that also had to be maintained.

The show also provided its own transportation and electricity. Traveling became an easier feat once Cody hired James A. Bailey who had worked for P.T. Barnum’s circus and was an expert in transporting large groups of performers, staff, and animals across the country.

When Gove attended Buffalo Bills Wild West show, which was touring the southeast in the late 1800s, she took her camera. Although she did not date the photographs, they are labeled “Greensboro.” It appears from examining Cody’s “route maps” and local newspapers that the show visited Greensboro in October of 1895, so it is likely that these images are from that show. Advertisements modestly promised “The Event of a Lifetime! Led by the best-known living romantic character, Col. W. F. Cody (Buffalo Bill).” Signs and ads also promoted an impressive “Cavalry of All Nations” and a portrayal of “a chain of triumphs, eclipsing the story of Caesar, Alexander, and Napoleon!” Gove took her seat under a covered grandstand, seating 20,000 spectators, allowing the show to go on – rain or shine.

Buffalo Bill Riding a Stagecoach

Not content to take photographs only from the stands, Gove ventured behind the tents, capturing more candid shots of performers and those associated with the show. These photos included a Native American mother and child, cowboys relaxing during breaks from riding and roping, and the large makeshift kitchens which fed performers and workers three hot meals per day. She even surprised a “Cossack” washing up after his performance. Although Annie Oakley was a member of the traveling extravaganza of 1895, a local newspaper advertisement for the event does not mention her appearance. One photograph appears to be a group of “cowgirls,” but without the benefit of a close-up lens, it is impossible to tell if it was Oakley. Because Gove did not leave a written account of her experience at the Wild West show, observers will never know if she found it horrific, fascinating, or both. We just know that she recorded her encounter with the “Wild West” through film.

Native Woman and Her Child and “Cossack”

In an interestingly postscript, it was in North Carolina that Bill Cody’s Wild West Show would suffer a catastrophe that would herald its slow downfall. Moving through the country on what we would consider a “circus train” filled with featured stars, performers, horses, wild animals, and scenery, the show was involved in a catastrophic wreck. On October 29, 1901, as Cody’s entourage, including Annie Oakley and her husband Frank Butler, left Charlotte for their next show in Danville, their train struck a westbound Southern Railway train near Linwood. While none of the performers were killed, the crash resulted in the death of 110 horses and the near ruin of the show. Cody’s featured star, Annie Oakley, was badly injured and was taken to a hospital in Winston-Salem. Although doctors were fearful that she would never shoot again, the woman who was billed as “Little Sure Shot” was able to continue her career after months of convalescing. As for the Buffalo Bill’s traveling show, it would never build the momentum it had before the wreck. Oakley and Butler ended their professional relationship with Cody, and he declared bankruptcy in 1913. His death, several years later in 1917, signaled the demise of the traveling Wild West show genre.

By Scott Hinshaw

Cox supervises installation – “Huge Mural Is Installed At New McIver Building” Greensboro Daily News March 20, 1960

In an earlier blog post, The Demise of the McIver Building and Its Mural, Kathelene McCarty-Smith wrote about the (at that time) upcoming demolition of the building named for the founder of our university to make way for the much needed Nursing and Instructional Building (opened early 2021). She introduced the subject of the mural over the west side (and main entrance) to the McIver Building and we’ll expand on that subject in this blog.

Professor and artist Joseph H. Cox (frequently referred to as Joe Cox) of NC State College (now North Carolina State University) was an accomplished artist and muralist well before he was commissioned by the McIver Building architects, J.N. Pease and Company of Charlotte, NC, to design the mural for the main entrance of the building.

Cox and model of McIver mural – “Hall Marks by Jane Hall” Raleigh News and Observer October 18, 1959

The design criteria were challenging, specifically with regard to the physical area for the mural (35 x 20 feet) and to the limited budget. In addition to the constraints of the small area, four supporting columns would partially obscure whatever Cox designed for the mural space. Cox accepted the challenge and incorporated the columns into the design. The mural area background used Glasweld, a new (at that time) abestos-like material -hard brittle, and water-proof- interspersed with strips of brick. Patterns were made with rectangular gray enameled steel panels attached to the background areas, but standing off the wall on three-inch supports, giving added depth to the mural. 1

In his own words, Cox described the mural, “In a sense, this is not a pictorial mural but an embellishment of the building as a ‘sculptural’ facade. This embellishment follows a recent trend among architects, searching for more color and a richer appearance, to bring the artist into the job.” “I used brick and enameled steel panels, extending the panels three inches from the wall, to give the viewer a feeling of a changing pattern of space, with a resulting change in light and shadow. The building faces west and in the morning the whole facade is in shadow. As the sun moves into the west, the extended panels will cast a changing pattern of shadows on the green background.” 2

Of course, at night, with no ever-changing sun to light the mural and create dynamic shadows, Cox had a different plan to light the mural, which incorporated those intruding support columns. The columns concealed strips of green and red lights, with cross rays to cancel each other out at certain points, thus creating green, red, and silvery light. Cox even had a model of the building and mural which he used to demonstrate the effect of lighting. He explained that, “lights concealed by the columns will cast light onto the panels and the background. The effect will be a brilliant greenish, silvery pattern.” 3

McIver Building mural lighting as originally designed – McIver Building Mural with red and green lights, Joe Cox Papers, MC 00406, Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Not even a year into the new McIver Building’s existence, controversy over the lighting of the mural reached its peak. The new building was called mockingly, “Charlie’s Bar and Grill” and Randall Jarrell was known to refer to it as the “Thunderbird Motel.” Editors for the Carolinian likened the lights to “Christmas tree lights.” Consensus on campus was decidedly against the lighting scheme as it was originally perceived. 4

Something had to be done and the Buildings and Grounds Committee were the ones tasked with coming up with a solution. An October 10, 1960 meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee (just days after the McIver Buildings formal dedication!) included Joe Cox as a guest. Mr. Cox tried to outline his vision and was disappointed in the negative reaction to his work, but was not totally surprised. He admitted that the design was experimental in nature and agreed to work with the Committee to find a solution of which all would be proud. Cox’s suggestion was to light the mural in shades of white, using one warm hue and one cool. He agreed to work on the problem and report back . During the course of October the Committee made experiments based on Cox’s suggestions. They tried three combinations of lights on their own for comparison: 1) lighting by red and green neon as originally designed, 2) additional illumination from the three fixed flood lights (not part of the original design), and 3) lighting by flood lights only. 5

Later, at the October 24, 1960 meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Mr. Cox brought a model of the McIver Building mural lighted with white light and recommended that the lighting be converted to alternate cold and warm white lighting. The Committee voted unanimously to authorize Mr. Cox to proceed with the change. Cox reported that it would take about two weeks for the neon company to fabricate and install the replacement tubes. A grateful Committee expressed their gratitude to Mr. Cox for the welcome change and his continued service. 6

Mural in daylight with shadows – McIver Building Exterior, 1965, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Photograph Files

Notes and Acknowledgements:
1- “Huge Mural Is Installed At New McIver Building” by Ola Mae Foushee, Greensboro Daily News March 20, 1960; Hall Marks by Jane Hall” by Jane Hall, Raleigh News and Observer October 18, 1959 (Both available in McIver Building, 1960- Subject File, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina Greensboro)
2- Ibid.
3- Ibid. Cox described the lighting thusly in two different ways according to the articles written in 1959 and 1960.
4- Oral history interview with Donald W. Russell, February 14, 1990, OH0003.144 Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina Greensboro; “McIver Front Lights Due For Modification Reports WC Official” The Carolinian October 21, 1960; Trelease, Allen W., Making North Carolina Literate: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, From Normal School to Metropolitan University, 2004, p. 234; minutes of the Building and Grounds Committee, October 4, 1960 UA 0053.1, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina Greensboro
5- minutes of the Building and Grounds Committee, October 10, 15, 17 1960 UA 0053.1, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina Greensboro
6- minutes of the Building and Grounds Committee, October 24, 1960 UA 0053.1, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University of North Carolina Greensboro

The author was graciously assisted by Taylor A. Wolford, Special Collections Librarian, Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries; Nick McCollister, Reference Desk Manager & Maggie Murphy, Assistant Professor, Visual Art & Humanities Librarian both of the Research, Outreach, and Instruction Department, University Libraries, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Foreign language instruction has been an integral part of UNC Greensboro throughout its history, drawing nationally and internationally recognized scholars, authors, and poets to the school.

While the school was initially created as State Normal and Industrial School, designed to instruct students on becoming teachers (normal school) or another trade or vocation (industrial school), school founder Charles D. McIver felt strongly that several liberal arts courses should be offered. During the first school year, 1892-1893, three foreign languages were taught in the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages – German, Latin, and French.

Students in language classroom, 1957.

The Department of Romance Languages first appeared in the university’s catalog during the 1915-1916 school year until the name was changed to the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Currently, the department offers courses in nine languages: American Sign Languages, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

Special Collections has a number of collections from faculty members in the department, including Dr. Ramiro Lagos, Dr. Roch C. Smith, and Dr. Mark Smith-Soto.

Dr. Ramiro Lagos, 1973.

Dr. Ramiro Lagos, who identified his scholarly focus as “Hispanoamerican literature, culture, novels, poetry” and contemporary Spanish writers, is an internationally and nationally recognized poet. Writing primarily in Spanish, Dr. Lagos published 27 books of his poetry and essays and four anthologies of poetry from Latin America and Spain. Dr. Lagos served as a faculty member at UNCG from 1966 until his retirement in 1966, although he continued to be involved in taking students to Colombia and other Spanish-speaking countries for instructional trips. To learn more about the Ramiro Lagos Papers in Special Collections, please visit this link:

Dr. Roch C. Smith.

Dr. Roch C. Smith, whose scholarly focus was on 20th century French literature and criticism, was appointed to head of the Department of Romance Languages in September 1983, after serving as acting head since 1981 and as a faculty member at UNC Greensboro since 1970. Dr. Smith was integral in directing two graduate language institutes at the university, funded by an $87,137 ($252,932.64 in 2022 money) grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The first institute was focused on Spanish language, while the second was focused on French. Dr. Smith was eventually appointed to serve as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. To learn more about the Roch C. Smith Papers in Special Collections, please visit this link:

Dr. Mark Smith-Soto.

Dr. Mark Smith-Soto, whose scholarly focus was Spanish and comparative literature, was appointed to department head in August 1986 after serving as a faculty member since 1975. Dr. Smith-Soto is also a nationally and internationally recognized poet. His awards include a fellowship in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts; he won North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Persephone Competition for his chapbook Green Mango Collage (2000), as well as their Randall Jarrell-Harper Prints Poetry Competition for the chapbook Shafts (2001). Dr. Smith-Soto was also the founding director of the Center for Creative Writing in the Arts at UNC Greensboro. Smith-Soto also served as editor of the flagship publication, International Poetry Review. To learn more about the Mark Smith-Soto Papers in Special Collections, please visit this link:

Through its different incarnations, foreign language instruction has been tremendously impactful on UNC Greensboro. The different departments on campus have been well-known for spring festivals, travels to other countries for immersive instruction in languages and cultures, language institutes, and its publication International Poetry Review.

If you live in the Piedmont Triad area, the name Cone no doubt sounds very familiar. Whether from healthcare or textiles, the Cone family has deep roots in the Greensboro area. Moses H. Cone was a successful businessman and innovator. His company became a leading supplier of denim and served Levi Strauss and Company for many decades. Cone and his wife did not have children, so they donated much of their estate to fund the private non-profit healthcare system and hospital based in Greensboro, NC.

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone sitting together at a table outdoors in Italy, 1903.
Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone in Italy, 1903. (Image: The Baltimore Museum of Art: Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collection)

Etta and Claribel Cone, sisters of Moses, were two of the thirteen children of Jewish immigrants Herman and Helen Cone (Kahn prior to Herman’s decision to anglicize his name). Raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Claribel (1864-1929) was trained as a medical doctor and researcher and Etta (1870-1949) was an accomplished pianist and managed the family household.

In 1898, Etta was tasked with redecorating the family’s parlor and she purchased five paintings by American Impressionist Theodore Robinson, which began a lifetime of art collecting. The Cone sisters established a collection of Modern Art when it was not widely known in the United States. With her older sister, Dr. Claribel Cone (1864-1929), Etta amassed one of the finest collections of modern French art in the United States.

As internationally travelled socialites, Etta and Claribel were friends or acquaintences with many artists and authors, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo. It was through their relationship with the Steins that they met many artists. Etta eventually became a close friend of Matisse who would set aside paintings to show her on subsequent visits that he thought she might like.

Charcoal drawing of Etta Cone by Henri Matisse. (1931-1934)
Charcoal drawing of Etta Cone by Henri Matisse. (1931-1934) (Image: The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA)

Following World War I, Etta and Claribel traveled to Europe on an annual basis to buy art, antiques, furniture, lace, and textiles. The sisters participated in the cultural life of the cities of Europe and at home in Baltimore, where they were considered rather eccentric and bohemian due to their unconvential dress, modern tastes in art, and independence.

The majority of the Cone sisters’ art collection, about 3000 works, was eventually given to the Baltimore Art Museum (BMA). There is a second, much smaller and lesser known collection that was given to the Weatherspoon Art Museum (WAM) at UNC Greensboro. Moses Cone built a vacation home, known as Flat Top Manor, in Blowing Rock, NC, which was also near many of the Cone family’s textile mills in the south. Encouraged by her sister-in-law Laura, wife of her brother Julius and a loyal alumna of Woman’s College (now UNCG), Etta Cone left sixty-seven Matisse prints and six Matisse bronzes as well as a large number of modern prints and drawings, including works by Pablo Picasso, Felix Vallaton, Raoul Dufy and John Graham to the WAM.

A view of the front room of Claribel Cone's apartment in Baltimore, MD. 1941. Pictured is the art collection hanging on each wall along with other textiles and furniture crowded into the room.
A view of the art collection in situ in the front room of Claribel Cone’s apartment in Baltimore, MD. (1941) (Image: Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art.)

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) holds two collections related to the Cone sisters. The Etta Cone Letters contains a collection of correspondence mostly written by Etta Cone to her cousin, Richard Guggenheimer, between 1927 and 1935.The remaining letters are written by Richard Guggenheimer to Etta Cone or to Richard from other members of the Cone Family, dated between 1931 and 1937. Topics include Etta’s focus on building her art collection, as well as her social and business activities, travel plans, health concerns, and her support of Richard Guggenheimer’s artistic endeavors. Also in the collection are newspaper clippings and a catalog of the Cone collection at the BMA.

The second of SCUA’s collections is the Etta and Claribel Cone Papers. It includes very little correspondence and is mostly comprised of clippings of artwork from magazines or newspaper articles. Likely, these were works being considered for the collection. Both collections are open for research. A much more extensive collection of the Cone sisters’ papers is owned by the BMA.

The Cone sisters, Etta and Claribel, were rareties of their time as they were two early 20th century, independent women travelling abroad regularly to socialize with artists and authors and gather a renowned collection of Modern Art. Neither sister married or had children, so like their brother Moses, they provided for their community through opening their collection for public view by donating it to the BMA and Weatherspoon Art Museum.

Posted by Suzanne Sawyer, SCUA Staff

In 1927, the building now known as UNCG Auditorium was opened as part of the June commencement exercises at the school (then named the North Carolina College for Women). The building’s primary purpose was to serve as a campus meeting space, replacing the 800-seat auditorium in the Students Building, which by 1927 could hold less than half the student body. Drama professor Raymond Taylor also persuaded campus administration to make the new auditorium a performance venue. Once completed, the auditorium reportedly had the largest capacity of any building in Greensboro – outside of the local tobacco warehouses.

UNCG Auditorium under construction,
January 5, 1927

One year and two weeks after the auditorium’s official opening, an Alumnae Committee of the Board of Directors of the College in June 1928 put forward honorific names for not just the auditorium, but also the new campus gymnasium and two new dormitories. For the auditorium, the committee recommended that it be named in honor of former North Carolina governor Charles Aycock. The committee wrote:

“For the new auditorium we propose the name Aycock Auditorium. It is almost superfluous to remind ourselves that Governor Aycock was the great apostle of public education in North Carolina, that he shared with our first president, Dr. McIver, the place that this college might have in contributing to this ideal, and that he was the constant friend in her times of prosperity and notably in one of her great crises, the fire.

Governor Aycock was preeminently a great public speaker, an orator who could and did move the people of this commonwealth to high endeavors. It seems fitting, therefore, that the auditorium of our college should bear the name of Aycock.”

1930 Commencement exercises inside the auditorium

From its opening, the auditorium also served as a major site for community events. The Greensboro Civic Music Society, which organized in 1927, made full use of the auditorium from the beginning. A number of local organizations and clubs also hosted musical and theater performances in the space. Regular chapel services on campus were moved to the auditorium – along with all student body meetings, campus performances and speakers, and every commencement exercise for the next thirty years. Guest lectures from individuals like Eleanor Roosevelt, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ralph Abernathy, and Jane Goodall were held in the auditorium.

Eleanor Roosevelt speaks at the auditorium in 1953

A renovation project funded by the citizens of North Carolina through the 2000 Higher Education Bond Referendum began in 2006. Significant “qualities of excellence” were also included in the renovation due to external funding from donors who supported the project through the campus Students First Campaign. The auditorium reopened in September 2008 with about 700 fewer seats but featuring expanded leg room, wider seats, an elevator, improved acoustics and sight lines, and many other bells and whistles.

In 2014, an ad hoc committee was formed to gather information for the Board of Trustees to use in determining whether or not to remove Governor Aycock’s name from the auditorium. This committee explored the historical connection between Aycock and UNCG, reported on renaming processes at other institutions, and collected feedback from the campus community through two public forums and an online survey.

In the end, to quote from the final report which was presented to the Board of Trustees in May 2015, “the members of the Aycock Ad Hock Committee were divided as to whether the Aycock name should be removed or retained. This division mirrors the opinions expressed in the feedback gathered by the committee. The Committee does agree unanimously that no matter whether the name is retained or removed, action should be taken by installing permanent exhibits, plaques, and/or an art installation, along with educational programs and dialogue, to explore this complicated history.”

The report also states the key points of concern on both sides of the debate. Those in favor of removing Aycock’s name argued that “Governor Aycock was not just a believer in white supremacy but was an architect of the White Supremacy Campaign that incited white citizens to participate in electoral fraud and the murder of Black citizens. Keeping the Aycock name on a prominent campus building does not foster the environment of inclusive excellence and diversity UNCG currently strives to create.”

Those opposed argued that “Removing the name is an effort to rewrite or whitewash history. Removing the name does nothing to address or ameliorate the racial injustices of the past. [And] retaining the name actually provides more opportunities to learn about and engage in dialogue about UNCG’s past, including the fact that at one time UNCG decided to honor a man whose values are at odds with those of the UNCG community today.”

The Board of Trustees in turn appointed a second committee, which, in February 2016, recommended the removal of Aycock’s name from the auditorium. They found that “while given Governor Charles B. Aycock had many accomplishments, Governor Aycock’s beliefs, actions, and resulting reputation related to matters of racial discrimination are contrary to the best interests of the University given its current mission and values.”

Physical removal of the “Aycock Auditorium” name from the building revealed that the original name, which remains visible on the building today

Current Chancellor Franklin Gilliam also released a statement on the removal of the Aycock name that point-by-point addressed many of the issues initially raised by the initial Ad Hoc Committee members who were in opposition to renaming. His statement included a personal anecdote about his feelings as a young Black faculty member at UCLA every time he saw a bust of Ralph Bunche that was next to the elevator leading to his office. No African American faculty member had received tenure in his department at that point. But he saw this bust daily and described feeling a “boost” to his “self-worth” each time he saw it. He concluded “Don’t underestimate the power of symbolism. Trivial in the minds of some? Maybe. Pivotal in the lives of others? Yes.”

The “Etched in Stone?” exhibit on the second floor of UNCG Auditorium features one of the letters removed from the building facade after the renaming

In April 2018, the University unveiled a new exhibit exploring Aycock’s legacy as well as the politics of commemoration in the second floor lobby of UNCG Auditorium. This exhibit, titled “Etched in Stone?: Governor Charles Aycock and the Power of Commemoration” was developed by students in UNCG’s museum studies program, a two-year master’s program in the history department. In 2019, the exhibit was presented the Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History, the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history.

by Stacey Krim

Mary’s senior high school yearbook photograph. 

In the many years since UNC Greensboro opened its doors in 1892, our institution has been remembered and honored by the contributions and legacies of our alumni. The school has prepared an army of students to enter the world, carving their own path and contributing to future generations. However, one of our alumna is best known for the mystery of how she vanished, leaving behind an enigma that has bewildered family and friends and baffled law enforcement and true crime aficionados for over 50 years.

Mary Shotwell came to the North Carolina College for Women (Woman’s College), now UNC Greensboro, from her family home located at 117 Placid Place, Charlotte, NC. As its name suggests, it was a peaceful, suburban neighborhood with typical 1950s one-story, box-like brick houses. A graduate of Myers Park High School, she arrived as a college freshman for the 1958-1959 school year. Mary attended our school at a time of many changes: our enrollment had just exceeded 2500 students, the Woolworth Sit-Ins occurred during her sophomore year, and the second McIver Building (located where the current nursing building stands) and Moore-Strong Residence Hall opened during her time on campus. Mary’s “Class of 1962” colors were green and white, and the class jacket she would have worn with her other classmates was a hunter green blazer with three gold buttons, and with white embroidery on the breast pocket.  

Photograph of Mary Shotwell during her college freshman year in 1959 from the school yearbook.

Mary was a tall, slim-framed, young woman, 5’6″ in height, weighing around 120lbs. She had hazel eyes and light brown hair. Mary was involved with student life on campus, singing in the college choir, serving as chairman of the Elections Board, and working in several other organizations and committees. The 1960s was a time of transformation in our country, and as a college for women, our students were interested in advancing the status of women. The motto of Mary’s class was “It’s not the gale but the set of the sail that determines the way we go,” emphasizing that this was a class of women who would determine their own future. Many of the yearbooks during Mary’s years on campus focused on the transitions of women’s roles in the United States, even titling the 1961 Pine Needles, “It’s a Woman’s World.” Women were entering the workforce in greater numbers, and Woman’s College provided its students with the training they needed to thrive. However, in many cases, women were still limited to socially acceptable careers for their gender. One of those professions was secretarial administration, which is the degree Mary chose to pursue. In 1962, when she graduated, undoubtedly, Mary felt she had a long, rewarding life ahead of her with no clue that she would become one of Georgia’s most infamous missing person cases three years later.

Senior year photograph of Mary Shotwell from the school yearbook, 1962.

Mary graduated in Spring 1962, one of among 36 women getting their diploma from the secretarial administration program. With degree in hand, Mary, was hired as a secretary for the Citizens and Southern Bank in Atlanta, GA. According to the 1962-1963 Alumnae News, she lived at 1300 University Drive, moving in as a roommate with a group of other women. It would have been a bit of an adjustment for Mary to adapt to a solitary work life in a new, unknown city compared to the protected microcosm of Woman’s College. While at school, she would have been subject to many restrictions. A strict dress code was enforced, and women were allowed only to sunbath at designated spots on campus. Walking on campus after dark was restricted, with the exception of residential areas and College Avenue. If Mary wanted to go on a date with a man off campus, she would have had to get a permission form signed. She was entering a very different world in Atlanta. All this being said, Mary made friends quickly among her roommates and coworkers. It was not long before she started to date, which would be a very different process from the highly controlled formal dances and gatherings allowed by the College. After around two years, Mary met the man she would marry. On September 4th, 1965, she married her husband, Roy Little Jr. Shortly thereafter, on October 14th, 1965, at the age of 25, Mary went missing and was never seen nor heard from again.

On October 14th, Roy was out of town on a business trip, and Mary went to work at the C & S Bank, as usual. After work, she went grocery shopping at the Colonial Grocery Store at Lenox Square in Atlanta, then she went to the S & S Cafeteria to have dinner with a coworker, followed by shopping with that friend at Rich’s Department Store until 8 p.m. After shopping, she and her friend went their separate ways in the parking lot, Mary walked to her 1965 Mercury Comet, but she never made it home. The next day, after Mary did not report into work, her supervisor became worried. After conferring with the coworker with whom Mary had dinner, the manager went to search for her vehicle. Mary’s car was discovered in the Lenox Square parking lot. Found within the car were the groceries she purchased the night before and her undergarments (including one stocking that had been cut at the toe), most of which was neatly folded. Among the missing items were her purse, keys, outer clothing (an olive green dress), her raincoat, and jewelry, including her Class of 1962 Woman’s College ring she consistently wore. There were visible traces of blood throughout the car. These are the basic facts of Mary’s disappearance, which remains unsolved to this day.

Example of Class of 1962 class ring from UNCG Archives.

Adding to the mystery, law enforcement found several tantalizing anomalies while conducting the investigation. There were two charges from October 15th on Mary’s credit card for gas stations in Charlotte, NC for the early morning hours of the 15th and Raleigh, NC, 12 hours later. The receipts appeared to have her signature, signed as Mrs. Roy Little Jr. Both gas station attendants recalled seeing a woman that night who appeared to have been bleeding and in the accompaniment of one or two men. The North Carolina license plate listed on the receipts turned out to have been reported stolen a few days earlier. Mary’s husband, Roy, kept a constant count of the mileage on the car, and it was noted that the Mercury Comet did not have enough miles on it since his last check to have traveled to and from North Carolina, but there was still 41 miles that were unexplained. When it was noticed that Mary went missing by her employer, her car was found back in the Lenox Square parking lot, but the car appeared to have been moved at some point, as the Lenox Square security kept a log of overnight parked cars and ticketed them, and Mary’s car was not ticketed through the entire night. 

After interviewing coworkers at the bank, investigators uncovered that Mary had been receiving harassing phone calls at work, and roses had been sent to Mary by an unknown person. As the investigation continued, gossip about the C & S Bank added another layer to the case. There were reports of a prostitution ring being run out of the bank, and complaints of lesbian sexual harassment of employees was uncovered, leading detectives and researchers to speculate about possible connections to Mary’s disappearance, but there was never any substantive evidence, only rumors. Another woman who worked at C & S Bank after Mary went missing, Diane Shields, was murdered in 1967, and there are many shocking coincidences between the two women’s lives. An unusual quality of the case is that there are so many potential leads to follow, but none seem to lead to an answer of what happened to Mary. While this was a highly publicized disappearance during the 1960s, modern true crime fans have been enamored with Mary’s disappearance. A quick search for “Mary Shotwell Little” on the internet will produce dozens of results featuring stories from true crime websites, YouTube videos, podcasts, and Reddit threads. Speculation on the circumstances of Mary’s disappearance vary wildly, from the disappearance being staged by Mary to escape her marriage to some level of involvement with the Dixie mafia. The indulgence of such imaginative lines of thought is not surprising, as we do not know ultimately what happened to Mary, and the scientific testing available in criminal forensics today was not available when she went missing. Some of the original evidence and files are missing or have been destroyed since the case was opened, so the exact facts are difficult to discern. There is no DNA evidence existing that can be tested. Additionally, it is easy for the public to be infatuated by the potential scandals and gossip of Mary’s story, so many decades removed from the event.

Photograph of Mary Shotwell serving on the Woman’s College Elections Board from the student yearbook, 1962.

By the time of Mary’s disappearance in 1965, our school had become co-educational and officially named the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The university student population was still predominantly female, and the women of the Class of 1965 would have been freshmen when Mary graduated, so some students may have known Mary and would feel her disappearance on a personal level. The disappearance made the front page of the October 22nd, 1965 issue of the student newspaper, The Carolinian. Whether or not there were many people on campus who knew Mary in depth, as upperclassmen may not have mingled as much with lowerclassmen, it can be expected that such a story would have been noted by our women students. The university was preparing women to enter the workforce in the 1960s as professionals, moving away from their hometowns and families, to start careers and be independent. Young women might be prepared in terms of knowledge and skill sets, but the world was still a dangerous place to navigate alone, especially in large cities like Atlanta. Perhaps, one of the attractions of Mary’s story to this day is that such an incident could happen to any young, career woman, and many women can imagine themselves in Mary’s place

Most of Mary’s family and friends have passed away since her disappearance in 1965. She is mostly remembered in association with her disappearance case, which still haunts the people of Georgia. However, in 2012, during the Woman’s College Class of 1962 50th anniversary reunion, Mary was among the 44 women remembered in the Reunion Biography Book. Unlike the other alumna who were deceased, what happened to Mary still remains a mystery; only her lack of presence could be mourned by her classmates.

If you are interested in learning more about the Mary Shotwell Little’s case, see:

Depriest, Joe. “Mystery of Charlotte woman missing since 1965 leads former Atlanta police detective to Mount Holly.” The Charlotte Observer, October 20, 2014.

Lee, Natasha. “Exclusive: A possible crack in the cold cases of Mary Shotwell Little and Diane Shields.” CBS 46 (WGCL-TV), October 24, 2019.

Mary Shotwell Little.” The Charley Project, last updated October 12, 2004.

Noll, Jessica. “5 Roses, 2 women: Did their lives collide, ending in murder?” 11 Alive (WXIA-TV), January 17, 2019.
Noll, Jessica. “5 Roses Podcast”: 

by Kathelene McCarty Smith

One of the many lost campus traditions is that of the mock wedding between the Freshman and Junior classes. This ritual was often seen in girls’ colleges during the early 20th century and involved the symbolic union between the two classes for the years that they were at school. At the North Carolina College for Women (now UNC Greensboro), these all-girl ceremonies were held in the fall and were intended to ease the Freshmen into their college life by joining them with more experienced students who could help them navigate the new environment. The “sister classes” would be linked for two years, until the Juniors graduated – then the Freshmen would move into the mentor position for the incoming class.

Freshman-Junior Wedding, 1925

Traditionally, the Juniors made the arrangements for the elaborate event, including the wedding music, decorations, and vows. In the early years, hand-written invitations were sent, but eventually more formal invitations announced the nuptials. The comic nature of the event was reflected by the humorous names used by the bride and groom, such as in 1919 when “Miss Ima Green” married “Mr. Oby A. Junior,” or in 1925, when the couple were named “Miss Evva Blue Freshman” and “Mr. B. A. Happy Junior.” Some years, only students from the Freshman and Junior classes and several others honorary guests were invited, but eventually it included the entire student body.  Occasionally, such as 1939, the identity of the bride and groom was kept a secret until the ceremony.

Hand-written Invitation, 1919

The Freshmen members of the “wedding party” would dress as maids of honor, flower girls, and trainbearers, while the Juniors served as groomsmen, ushers, and readers. Faculty took the role of the parents of the bride and groom, and appropriately, and comically, sobbed into their handkerchiefs. Although it was definitely a tongue in cheek ritual, the participants took it very seriously. The ceremony was held in the auditorium of the Students’ Building, and the large stage was decorated like a church, with English ivy, green ferns, palms, white flowers, and candelabras. White bunting and festive trimming created a celebratory atmosphere in the auditorium. The wedding party was dressed for the occasion with the bridesmaids attired in yellow, green, blue, and lavender dresses, and the bride wearing an elegant white dress and a corsage. Those who attended the events marveled at how “realistic” the groom and groomsmen appeared dressed in black tuxedos with their hair slicked back. Before the ceremony, the attendees were serenaded by the school’s pipe organ and bridal songs, such as “I Love You” and “Because,” as well as the school song. The Freshman “bride” was walked down the aisle by her “father” to the traditional “Wedding March” and a ring ceremony was performed by a student “preacher.”

In 1925, the ceremony was as follows:

“Guided hither, O happy pair, enter this portal ‘tis love that invites – Flower of beauty and youth and manhood. You have come to this sacred altar of the school tradition to form another link, strong and lasting, which will be added to that silvery chain that has been forming since the day when the world was young. It is your responsibility to keep your link pure and spotless. If it is tarnished woe be unto you. You have come to the altar of the institution of tradition, I say, to add your link to the chain. It must be one and inseparable. If there is any reason why the link should not be formed let mortal man speak now or forever hold his peace.” 

“Evva Blue Freshman, are you willing, under the laws prescribed by tradition, to tie the knot, becoming one and inseparable, and add your link to the chain, until the day when mortal joins immortal? This ring is the outward ceremony of the promise you have made. Look at it; think of it. As often as you wear it you will do it in remembrance of the link added to the silvery chain, and it has been recorded by the slowly moving hand of the god of tradition. It will last throughout the ages. Blest be the tie that binds fellow man with fellow man; friend with friend; companion with companion; and service with service. Peace, peace, peace. My peace I give unto you. Amen.”

After the “service,” the wedding party would adjourn to one of the Literary Societies’ large reception halls and join the receiving line. Then all the students danced and enjoyed refreshments, including ice cream and punch. Just like a real wedding, photographs were taken of the bridal party and a detailed description of the festive event was published in the school newspaper, including the names of the bridesmaid and groomsmen, and their hometowns. In fact, some years saw a separate student position dedicated totally to wedding publicity.

Freshman-Junior Wedding, 1940s

This tradition continued into the 1940s when the wedding ceremony was replaced by “Sister Day.” This event was sometimes held over two days, during which both classes honored each other, and were officially joined as sister classes. These festive occasions included dressing in matching outfits, fun themed events and competitions, and a celebratory dinner. In 1958, the Freshmen even wrote the Juniors a poem and served them at dinner. 

Sisters Day, 1955
Sisters Day, 1955

By 1963, the year that the school became a co-ed university, Sister Day was no longer the elaborate occasion it had once been, with the celebration mainly involving a special dinner in the cafeteria. Finally, it became one of the many school traditions that fell by the wayside to create a more welcoming environment for the male students. By the mid-1960s, the event no longer appears in campus records.