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Manliness and the Culture of Self-Improvement: The University of North Carolina in the 1890s–1900s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2018

Abstract

As it entered the ranks of the “modern” university in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the University of North Carolina (UNC), as did other universities of the time, embraced the development of manhood and self-improvement as part of its mission. But unlike the social and economic pressures on northern and eastern universities to emphasize a more aggressive model of manhood, UNC's southern context allowed for a more flexible approach. UNC's leaders encouraged students to find for themselves a healthy mix of the older, more restrained Victorian notion of manhood with elements of the newer one, physical fitness being one example. The school's emphasis on inquiry and investigation, and the student body's racial and gender exclusivity, combined to permit a degree of openness as to what constituted an appropriate model of manhood.

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Copyright © History of Education Society 2018 

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References

1 “A Strong Man,” Tar Heel, Nov. 26, 1903, 1.

2 Ibid.

3 Leloudis, James L., Schooling the New South: Pedagogy, Self, and Society in North Carolina, 1880–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 55Google Scholar.

4 Williams, Timothy Joseph, Intellectual Manhood: University, Self, and Society in the Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015)Google Scholar, 215fn1. On the history of UNC, see also Holden, Charles J., The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 See, for instance, Veysey, Laurence R., The Emergence of the American University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965)Google Scholar; Thelin, John R., A History of American Higher Education (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2004)Google Scholar; and Geiger, Roger L., To Advance Knowledge: The Growth of the American Research University, 1900–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986)Google Scholar.

6 Leloudis, Schooling the New South, 66, 59.

7 Prescott, Heather Munro, Student Bodies: The Influence of Student Health Services in American Society & Medicine (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Ingrassia, Brian M., The Rise of Gridiron University: Higher Education's Uneasy Alliance with Big-Time Football (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002)Google Scholar; Townsend, Kim, Manhood at Harvard: William James and Others (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998)Google Scholar; and Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz, Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1987)Google Scholar.

8 Horowitz, Campus Life, 41.

9 Ingrassia, The Rise of Gridiron University, 29.

10 For an overview of these changes, see “Men at Work: Captains of Industry, White Collars, and the Faceless Crowd,” in Kimmel, Michael, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 6186 Google Scholar.

11 Rotundo, E. Anthony, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 232Google Scholar.

12 Putney, Clifford, Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880–1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 5Google Scholar.

13 Rotundo, American Manhood, 251. Other scholars who have written formative books on the topic include Kimmel, Manhood in America and Bederman, Gail, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996)Google Scholar.

14 Rotundo, American Manhood, 222.

15 Ibid.

16 Friend, Craig Thompson, “From Southern Manhood to Southern Masculinities: An Introduction,” in Southern Masculinity: Perspectives on Manhood in the South Since Reconstruction, ed. Friend, Craig Thompson (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009)Google Scholar, ix. See also Gilmore, Glenda, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996)Google Scholar; Edwards, Laura F., Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997)Google Scholar; and Whites, LeeAnn, Gender Matters: Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Making of the New South (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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19 Whites, Gender Matters, 24; and Laura Edwards, “‘Rich Men’ and ‘Cheerful Wives’: Gender Roles in Elite White Households,” in Edwards, Gendered Strife and Confusion, 113.

20 Frost, Dan R., Thinking Confederates: Academia and the Idea of Progress in the New South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000), 49Google Scholar.

21 Friend, “From Southern Manhood to Southern Masculinities,” xi-xvi.

22 Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow, see especially 31–90.

23 Friend, “From Southern Manhood to Southern Masculinities,” xi.

24 Ibid., xvi.

25 Rotundo, American Manhood, 252. In the late 1890s, for the first time, UNC allowed five women to take graduate courses.

26 Brian M. Ingrassia points out that one of the reasons for the growing popularity of football at places like the University of Michigan is that white male students could preserve their manhood in an exclusive ritual of physical feats away from the minority and women students who were already at the university by the late 1800s. See Ingrassia, The Rise of Gridiron University, 33–34.

27 Leloudis, Schooling the New South, 58.

28 Quoted in Leloudis, Schooling the New South, 57.

29 Timothy J. Williams offers an excellent examination of the antebellum intellectual culture at UNC from the 1830s through the start of the Civil War. His analysis includes the Victorian emphasis on “emulation and hero worship.” Williams also observed that educators at UNC in the 1830s and 1840s, imbued in the antebellum intellectual culture, considered “temperament and impulsivity” regrettable hallmarks of boyhood that needed to be developed into a more honorable masculinity of “mind and restraint.” See Williams, Intellectual Manhood, 19, 21, 58.

30 Peter S. Carmichael has shown how Robert E. Lee could be put to use in both models. Carmichael's analysis of the unveiling of the Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, in 1890 includes one particular keynote address where the beloved general was hailed in “classic Lost Cause fashion” as “the rare combination of Christian virtues and the bravery of old Roman manhood.” The same speaker, Archer Anderson, a veteran of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, then pivoted and celebrated Lee as a “man of action, intelligence, and vigor who offered a model of behavior for Southerners trying to adapt to the realities of the New South.” See Peter S. Carmichael, “New South Visionaries: Virginia's Last Generation of Slaveholders, the Gospel of Progress, and the Lost Cause,” in Gallagher and Nolan, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, 111.

31 On the growing attention paid to students’ physical fitness and overall health, see Prescott, Student Bodies.

32 Both Greg Downs and Dan R. Frost have examined how the changes at UNC resulted in a new leadership for a more “New South” state. Also, UNC publications during these years highlighted the goings-on of their alumni. These lists are filled with UNC alumni occupying jobs suited to the industrializing new economy. See Downs, Gregory P., “University Man, Social Science, and White Supremacy in North Carolina,” Journal of Southern History 75, no. 2 (May 2009), 267304 Google Scholar; and Frost, Thinking Confederates.

33 “Dr. Alderman in Winston,” Tar Heel, Nov. 8, 1898, 3. On the pipeline from UNC to state political power in the state already occurring during these years, see Downs, “University Man, Social Science, and White Supremacy in North Carolina,” 267–304.

34 Cecelski, David S., Tyson, Timothy B., and Franklin, John Hope, Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35 UNC advertisement, Tar Heel, Jan. 10, 1903, 3.

36 Leloudis, Schooling the American South, 55. Peter Carmichael has shown how, even before the war broke out, college-educated Virginians of the last slave-owning generation were already moving toward a more modern notion of progress. Carmichael, Peter S., The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009)Google Scholar.

37 Editorial, North Carolina University Magazine, new series XII, no. 2 (1892), 72.

38 Wilson, Louis Round, The University of North Carolina, 1900–1930: The Making of a Modern University (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957), 3Google Scholar.

39 Wilson, The University of North Carolina, 7.

40 Ibid., 8–9.

41 “University Day,” Tar Heel, Oct. 19, 1905, 1.

42 Wilson, The University of North Carolina, 10–11.

43 Thelin, A History of American Higher Education, 127–31.

44 Horowitz, Campus Life, 42.

45 Syrett, Nicholas L., The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 2Google Scholar.

46 Tar Heel, Feb. 8, 1899, 2.

47 Tar Heel, Nov. 15, 1899, 2.

48 “Senseless Vandalism,” Tar Heel, Nov. 21, 1900, 3.

49 Tar Heel, Dec. 5, 1900, 2.

50 “An Unfortunate Mistake,” Tar Heel, Sept. 27, 1906, 1.

51 “Oldham, Merriman, and Hatch Are All Convicted of Manslaughter,” Tar Heel, March 20, 1913, 1.

52 Ingrassia, The Rise of Gridiron University, especially 1–70. See also Horowitz, Campus Life, 53–55.

53 Doyle, Andrew, “Foolish and Useless Sport: The Southern Evangelical Crusade Against Intercollegiate Football,” Journal of Sport History 24, no. 3 (Fall 1997), 319Google Scholar.

54 Ingrassia, The Rise of Gridiron University, 40.

55 “The Virginians Are the Champions,” Tar Heel, Dec. 7, 1893, 3.

56 “Football Outlook,” Tar Heel, Sept. 27, 1902, 1.

57 Leloudis, Schooling the New South, 67.

58 “Weight of Virginia's Foot Ball Team,” Tar Heel, Oct. 18, 1898, 1.

59 “Virginia Game,” Tar Heel, Nov. 21, 1900, 4.

60 Leloudis, Schooling the New South, 67.

61 “An Enthusiastic Meeting,” Tar Heel, Oct. 11, 1898, 1.

62 Ibid.

63 This point echoes what Brian Ingrassia has found as well, with a Michigan student writing in 1889 about how the virtues of football “stressed manly physique while at the same time invoking science.” Ingrassia, The Rise of Gridiron University, 37.

64 “Walk-Over for Varsity,” Tar Heel, Oct. 18, 1898, 1.

65 “Carolina Redeemed!” Tar Heel, Nov. 8, 1898, 1.

66 “Championship Is Carolina's,” Tar Heel, Nov. 30, 1898, 1.

67 Ibid., 2.

68 “Improvements in the Gymnasium,” Tar Heel, Nov. 1, 1898, 4.

69 “Work on the Track,” Tar Heel, March 15, 1899, 4.

70 “Concerning the Track Team,” Tar Heel, April 14, 1904, 3.

71 “Resolutions Passed by the Faculty,” Tar Heel, Oct. 8, 1903, 3. Again, the ease by which UNC as an institution melded the old and the new is evident. Obviously, the new gymnasium reflected the more modern view emphasizing a fit, healthy male body. But its name, Bynum Gymnasium, came from one described by the student paper in Victorian language as having “exemplary” personal character. The young Bynum “was a generous friend and a noble Christian.” A faculty resolution in appreciation of Bynum's generosity noted of the grandson, “All who knew him remember the charm of his courteous bearing and hearty good-fellowship. He was in perfect sympathy with College life. It is fitting that the memory of so noble a character should live forever, as an inspiration to all who come into the university community.”

72 “The New Gymnasium,” Tar Heel, Jan. 18, 1905, 1.

73 Heather Munro Prescott notes that by the turn of the century, many parents of college students now expected colleges and universities to exhibit the same concern for the physical and moral well-being of their sons as well as the traditional concerns for their daughters. See Prescott, Student Bodies, 62.

74 University of North Carolina Catalogue, 1904–1905, 149, North Carolina College and University Yearbook Collection, Louis Round Wilson Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (hereafter UNC Collection).

75 UNC Trustee Minutes, February 21, 1900, University Archives, vol. 10, 167, in the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records #40001, University Archives, Louis Round Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (hereafter UNC Board of Trustees).

76 University of North Carolina Catalogue, 1898–1899, 11, UNC Collection.

77 “Editor's Page,” North Carolina University Magazine (Feb. 1901), 138.

78 Quoted in James Leloudis, Schooling the New South, 67.

79 See also Prescott, Student Bodies, 30–71.

80 UNC Trustee Minutes, February 21, 1900, vol. 10, 128, UNC Board of Trustees.

81 “Small-Pox at the University,” Tar Heel, Jan. 17, 1900, 1.

82 “Here and There,” Tar Heel, March 23, 1899, 3.

83 UNC Trustee Minutes, March 1, 1899, vol. 10, 39–40, UNC Board of Trustees.

84 UNC Trustee Minutes, February 21, 1900, vol. 10, 174, UNC Board of Trustees.

85 Ibid.

86 “Chapel Exercises,” Tar Heel, Oct. 30, 1909, 1. On the history of disease in North Carolina, see http://ncpedia.org/infectious-diseases-part-ii.

87 University of North Carolina Catalogue, 1904–1905, 12, UNC Collection.

88 “What Commons Needs,” Tar Heel, April 20, 1899, 4.

89 University of North Carolina Catalogue, 1904–1905, 65–66, UNC Collection.

90 Tar Heel, Oct. 12, 1893, 3.

91 University of North Carolina Catalogue, 1904–1905, 74, UNC Collection.

92 UNC Trustee Minutes, vol. 10, 4–5, UNC Board of Trustees.

93 “A Gentlemanly Team,” Tar Heel, Nov. 30, 1898, 2.

94 “Champions,” Tar Heel, Nov. 30, 1898, 2.

95 Tar Heel, Dec. 5, 1901, 2.

96 “How Our Representatives Impressed the Georgians,” Tar Heel, March 23, 1899, 4.

97 “A Present to Dr. Manning,” Tar Heel, Sept. 27, 1898, 3.

98 “Death of Dr. John Manning,” Tar Heel, Feb. 17, 1899, 1, 2.

99 Editorial, Tar Heel, Feb. 22, 1899, 2; “Death of Dr. John Manning, Tar Heel, Feb. 17, 1899, 2; and “Funeral of the Late Dr. Manning,” Tar Heel, Feb. 17, 1899, 2. Nicholas Syrett, in his work on white college fraternities, reminds us that in this context, eulogies are often more about a particular kind of “brotherhood” than “particular deceased brothers, though they claim to be exactly that.” It is not difficult to extend that insight in this case to the entire university's mourning the loss of a beloved professor or student. Syrett, The Company He Keeps, 118.

100 “Dr. H. F. Linscott,” Tar Heel, Jan. 10, 1903, 1.

101 “Tribute to Dr. Linscott,” Tar Heel, Jan. 17, 1903, 1.

102 Editorial, Tar Heel, Jan. 10, 1903, 2; and “Dr. Linscott. What the Students Thought of Him,” Tar Heel, Jan. 10, 1903, 2–4. These accounts also give evidence that the relationship between UNC faculty and students fits what Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz describes as the “truce” established at the end of the century wherein faculty, especially if they were alumni, “saw themselves, not as their students’ adversaries, but as their supporters.” Horowitz, Campus Life, 53.

103 Tar Heel, Jan. 10, 1903, 1; and Tar Heel, Jan. 17, 1903, 1.

104 “The Death of Romy Story,” Tar Heel, Sept. 19, 1907, 2.

105 “Some Tributes to Story,” Tar Heel, Sept. 26, 1907, 1.

106 Tar Heel, Sept. 19, 1907, 2. This particular outpouring of grief over the loss of a fellow student is strikingly similar to the 1859 UNC example Syrett examines. See Syrett, The Company He Keeps, 117.

107 “Some Tributes to Story.”

108 “Resolutions of Respect,” Tar Heel, Sept. 26, 1907, 3.

109 “Some Tributes to Story.”

110 Ibid.

111 “The Death of Romy Story.”

112 Ibid.

113 Yackety Yack: University of North Carolina Yearbook, 1908. https://archive.org/details/yacketyyackseria1908univ

114 “Mr. F. M. Williams Dead,” Tar Heel, Nov. 30, 1905, 1.

115 “The Initial Alumni Day,” The Tar Heel, June 13, 1907, 3.

116 Ibid.

117 “Stonewall Jackson,” Tar Heel, Nov. 29, 1899, 4.

118 Wilson, Charles Reagan, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983)Google Scholar.

119 “The Rev. John William Jones, D. D.,” Tar Heel, Nov. 22, 1902, 2.

120 UNC Trustee Minutes, vol. 11, 257–58, UNC Board of Trustees.

121 Ibid.

122 Kimmel, Manhood in America, 83.