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Desegregation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Archival Resources

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University Archives

The UNC- Chapel Hill University Archives, located in Wilson Library, collects, preserves, and provides access to the historically valuable, unpublished records of the institution. The records held in the University Archives span from the chartering of the university in 1789 to the present. A number of collections held by the University Archives document desegregation at the school and the response of school administrators to the controversy. The following are just a few examples.

Division of Legal Affairs of the University of North Carolina System Records, 1927-1999. Collection # 40015.

Includes records related to the University's plan for desegregating campus after the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare notified the school in 1970 that is was in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for maintaining a racially dual system of public higher education.

Office of the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Robert Burton House Records, 1914-1957.  Collection # 40019.

Includes records on the University's efforts at integration from the 1930s through the 1950s as well as related newspaper clippings. Also includes files from University committees tasked with studying race relations at the school.

Office of the Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina System Records, 1923-1972. Collection # 40011.

Includes records related to the integration of the University of North Carolina System schools as well as files related to desegregation lawsuits and the integration of athletics and health care.

Office of the President of the University of North Carolina System: William C. Friday Records, 1957-1986. Collection # 40009.

Includes records on campus unrest and protests related to desegregation,  studies of minority enrollment within the UNC system, and the desegregation of the North Carolina Memorial Hospital.

Southern Historical Collection

The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) is a vast collection of distinct archival collections. These collections are comprised of unique primary documents, such as diaries, journals, letters, and photographs. The SHC holds a number of archival collections that document desegregation at UNC-Chapel Hill and the experiences of the individuals involved. The following are just a few examples of what can be found on this subject at the SHC. 

J. Kenneth Lee Papers, 1949-1994. Collection # 4782. 

Papers relating to Lee's ultimately successful suit to attend the University of North Carolina School of Law School.  Lee was one of the first African Americans to attend UNC.

LeRoy Benjamin Frasier Papers, 1955-1980. Collection # 4375-z. 

Papers, clippings, and photographs related to the 1955 admission of LeRoy Frasier, Ralph Frasier and John Brandon, the first African American undergraduates at UNC.

Karen L. Parker diary, letter, and clippings, 1963-1966. Collection # 5275-z.

Parker was the first African American woman to attend UNC as an undergraduate. The diary documents her experience while a student and her involvement in civil rights protests in Chapel Hill. 

Harvey E. Beech Papers, 1939-2004. Collection # 054-65-z.

Beech was one of  the first African American students admitted to the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1951. 

Southern Oral History Project

The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) is an effort to collect the many voices that have contributed to southern history. Over 5,000 people have been interviewed by faculty and students at UNC. The interview database can be accessed online. Many of the interviews can be found online while those that are not can be accessed at Wilson Library.

The SOHP collection contains a number of interviews related to desegregation at UNC-Chapel Hill and desegregation more broadly in North Carolina. For instance, interviewees include J. Kenneth Lee (J-0068), Harvey Beech (J-0075), and Karen L. Parker (U-0211; U-0212). 

You can search this resource in three ways:

  1. The interview collection is connected to the UNC Library catalog. Searching for certain subject headings or keywords may bring interviews into your search results alongside books and other materials.
  2. The SOHP interview database can be searched by keyword or browsed by interviewee, interviewer, interviewee occupation, interviewee ethnicity, and project name. For research on Latinos in North Carolina, the "browse by ethnicity" option may be particularly useful. After choosing browse by interviewee ethnicity, you will be taken to a page where you can select "African-American/Black." 
  3. You can also search the SOHP finding aid which provides an organized list of the collection's contents. You can easily search the finding aid using CTRL+F or simply browse through its contents. 

Integration at Carolina Law

Kathrine R. Everett Law Library’s digital collection “Law School First – The African Americans Who Integrated UNC-Chapel Hill.”