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Women at Carolina: Firsts

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Clipping from Black Ink newspaper, 1972"Firsts" are the first women at UNC-Chapel Hill - the pioneers.


Mary Rudd, first Black woman cheerleader at UNC-Chapel Hill, clipping from Black Ink, September 01, 1972, Image 6



Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings, 1963-1966

The first Black woman undergraduate to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Karen L. Parker was born in Salisbury, N.C., and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C. The collection is Karen L. Parker's diary with entries 5 November 1963-11 August 1966.

Admission correspondence from Edwina Thomas (1938) and Pauli Murray (1939), in Box 13, Office of President of the University of North Carolina (System): Frank Porter Graham Records, 1932-1949

Frank Porter Graham (1886-1972) was the first president of the Consolidated University of North Carolina, which included the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina State College in Raleigh, and Woman's College in Greensboro.

Ahead of our time : Chapel Hill's first Nightingales. UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, Class of 1955, Arlene Morgan Thurstone, Bette Leon Davis, Donna Blair Booe, Geraldine Snider Laport, Gloria Huss Peele, Gwenlyn Huss Butler, Janet Merritt Littlejohn, Joy Smith Burton, Louise Norwood Thomas, Martha Yount Cline, Mary Anderson Leggette, Pat Colvard Johnson, Ramelle Hylton Starnes, Sally Winn Nicholson, Sara Blaylock Flynn, Virginia Edwards Coupe, Winnie Williams Cotton ; edited by Nancy D. Lamontagne. Alexandria, Virginia : 1955 Nightingales Corporation, [2014]

In 1951, a time when women were not admitted until their junior or senior year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill opened its doors to the new School of Nursing's small class of 27 female freshman students. In this collection of memoirs, the nurses who graduated from the program share memories of their journey through the state's first four-year bachelor of science in nursing program and how this new approach to nursing education shaped the rest of their lives and influenced the education of nurses in North Carolina.

[Diploma for the degree Artium Magistrum, awarded to Sallie Walter Stockard, June 6, 1900]. [Chapel Hill, N.C. : University of North Carolina, 1900] North Carolina Collection (Wilson Library) CbB S864u

Diploma from the first woman to graduate from Carolina, Sallie Walker Stockard

Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1937-2009: Box 1, Folder 13

Alpha Pi Omega sorority was established on Sept. 1, 1994, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As the first historically American Indian sorority, Alpha Pi Omega was founded by four college women, known by the sorority as the Four Winds: Jamie Goins (Lumbee), Shannon Brayboy (Lumbee), Christina Strickland (Lumbee), and Amy Locklear (Lumbee/Coharie). 

Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Robert Burton House Records, 1917-1957 (bulk 1940-1957)

Gwendolyn Harrison was the first Black woman to register as a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her housing application and correspondence with university administrators is in Box 2, Integration.

Materials from Nannie Louise Davis

UNC commencement marshal's sash of Nannie Louise Davis, 1937: Nannie Louise Davis (1924-2010) was born in Goldsboro. Elected UNC Marshall by the Junior class in 1936, she was the first woman (or "co-ed) to hold this position. Initially, she began her college career at Duke, but transferred to UNC as a sponsored sophomore. She graduated in 1937 with a B.A. in Commerce and lettered in basketball.

Louise Davis Photographs, 1937: Photographs compiled by white student Louise Davis, a member of the Chi Omega sorority and the first woman commencement marshal when she graduated in 1937 from the historically all male University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. Images depict student life on the campus from the perspective of a woman in a predominately male environment. Subjects include campus buildings, students, and campus life at the University.

Kappa Omicron Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, first Black Greek sorority at UNC-Chapel Hill, founded 1973 by Carolyn Bryson, Mae Israel, Rosa McAfee, Belinda Murrell, and Deborah Wilder

Some materials in Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1937-2009

Faculty and Instructors

Helen Louise McDevitt Ephemera, 1943-1945

Helen Louise McDevitt (1920-2015) came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a graduate student and was the first woman mathematics instructor at the university. This series consists of materials documenting McDevitt's time on campus and in Chapel Hill, including a letters regarding her admission to UNC and her graduate teaching fellowship, her Athletic Association membership card, a newspaper clipping, and photos.

Roberta Bowles Hodges Jackson was the first African American woman appointed to the faculty of the Academic Affairs Division of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a tenure track position. Four years later, in 1974, she was the first African American woman to achieve tenure. Her husband, Blyden Jackson, was the University's first African American full professor. Roberta H. Jackson taught in the School of Education. 

Mass of Christian burial : Roberta Bowles Hodges Jackson, Ph.D., 23 February 1920-11 July 1999. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Chapel of the Cross, 1999.

SOHP Interviews

Interviews with Hortense McClinton, first Black faculty member and first Black woman faculty member

Interviews with Karen Parker, first Black woman undergraduate

Interviews with Edith Wiggins, first Black women Vice Chancellor, long-time director of the Campus Y

Other Resources at UNC-Chapel Hill

50 Black History Firsts at UNC by Marquise Drayton, in Black Ink (online)

Endeavors - UNC Research: UNC Women in STEM Timeline

Genevieve Lowry Cole, first Native woman to graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill

First Female American Indian Graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill Returns to Reflect on Her Time on Campus

Meet Genevieve Lowry Cole, the first Native American woman to graduate from UNC