Collection Number: 40134

Collection Title: General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1789-1937; 1974; 2009-2010

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 6.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 665 items)
Abstract The General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was founded in 1843 as the Alumni Association. It met each year during commencement until 1860, when it disbanded. The association reconvened in 1872 and resumed its annual meetings in 1878. The Alumni Association was reorganized in 1911 and again in 1922, when the name became General Alumni Association. The association's central office, headed by its director (formerly secretary), has always been located on the university campus and has been responsible for organizing reunions and other alumni activities, maintaining alumni records, raising funds for the university through appeals to alumni, producing periodic alumni directories, and publishing the Alumni Review. Records include minutes of meetings of the Alumni Association, 1843-1879, and of the General Alumni Association, 1923; scattered, mostly nineteenth-century, student and alumni records; and a few files, 1934-1937, pertaining to the Alumni Loyalty Fund, the predecessor of Carolina Annual Giving, and records of GAA student group Order of the Bell Tower.
Creator University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. General Alumni Association.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40134, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Periodic transfer from the offices that create these records.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online catalogs.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Historical Information

The General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was founded on 31 May 1843 as the Alumni Association. The founding members were a group of 31 alumni convened by Governor John Motley Morehead (Class of 1817) at the Commencement of 1843. The association continued to meet annually during commencement until 1860, when it disbanded. It reconvened in 1872 and has met annually since 1878. Until the turn of the century, alumni usually met at an evening banquet; but in the early 1900s, the Alumni Luncheon became the traditional annual meeting of the association.

In 1909 President Venable, recognizing the need for a more organized body, appointed a committee to find ways and means to improve the Alumni Association. The committee reported its findings at the commencement meeting of the association in 1910, and its report was adopted by the membership in 1911. The report recommended an appointive Alumni Council and a secretary to act as an administrative officer. The association was reorganized again in 1922, and its name became General Alumni Association. The association's central office has always been located on the campus and headed by the secretary (later director).

Individuals who have held the position of secretary/director of the Alumni Association have been:

1911-1916 Walter Murphy
1916-1922 E. R. Rankin
1922-1927 Daniel L. Grant
1927-1970 J. Maryon Saunders
1970-1982 Clarence Whitefield
1982- Douglas S. Dibbert

A major activity of the Central Office of the Alumni Association, in addition to organizing reunions and sponsoring other alumni social events, has been to maintain alumni records. The first published alumni directory of the university was the Alumni Catalogue, which was issued largely through the efforts of Cornelia Phillips Spencer in 1889. In 1924, under the editorship of Daniel L. Grant, the Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, 1795-1924 was published by the General Alumni Association. This was followed in 1953 by the Alumni Directory, compiled and edited by the Alumni Office of the General Alumni Association, with support from the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Fund. In 1975, an updated directory was issued by the Alumni Office with financial support from Cornelia Spencer Love, granddaughter of Cornelia Phillips Spencer. Updated editions were again issued in 1984, 1990, 1997, and 2002.

Another activity of the Alumni Association has been to provide financial support to the university. One of the stated reasons for the reorganizations of 1911 and 1922 was to provide a channel through which the university could appeal to alumni for funds. The Alumni Loyalty Fund was established in 1916 under President Edward Kidder Graham, but it lapsed during World War I and was not revived until the early 1920s. It lapsed again during the depression and was not reestablished until 1952, when it was organized as Alumni Annual Giving. The Alumni Annual Giving Office was renamed Carolina Annual Giving in 1978. It was not administratively part of the General Alumni Association and had a separate director and board of directors who worked cooperatively with the officers of the association.

A third activity of the Alumni Association has been the publication of news of interest to alumni. The first such publication was the Alumni Quarterly, which appeared in 1894 and was discontinued after its second issue in January 1895. In 1912, as a result of the 1911 reorganization, the Alumni Review began publication and has been published continuously since then.

Other activities of the association's central office have included marshaling alumni support for the university in its biennial effort to secure state funds from the General Assembly of North Carolina. During the 1930s the Director of the Alumni Office was also in charge of the Student Survey Office, which was organized to inform high school students about the university and to encourage them to enroll. That responsibility was later transferred to the Admissions Office.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Records include minutes of meetings of the Alumni Association, 1843-1879, and of the General Alumni Association, 1923; scattered, mostly nineteenth-century, student and alumni records; and a few files, 1934-1937, pertaining to the Alumni Loyalty Fund, the predecessor of Carolina Annual Giving, and records of GAA student group Order of the Bell Tower.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Alumni Association.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Alumni Loyalty Fund.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Alumni Records.

Box 2

Alumni, Lists of, 1798-1909 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

(compiled in 1909?)

Advanced and Honorary Degrees, 1799; 1810-1909 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

(compiled in 1909?)

Letter, 1908, with List of the Class of 1854 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

Alumni Lists by County, 1877 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

Alumni Information, 1878; 1883-1887; undated #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

Alumni Questionnaires, A-W, 1881-1882 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

List of Alumni at Camp Jackson, 1917? #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

Gerald Ford Questionnaire and Letter, 1974 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 2

(regarding his attendance at the University of North Carolina School of Law in summer 1938)

Box 3

Volume S-5: Catalogue of University Graduates, Faculty, and Trustees, 1789-1849, undated #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

(compiled over a number of years; also lists degrees granted and some honorary degrees; oversize, shelved separately)

Volume 6: Catalogue of University Graduates, Faculty, and Trustees, 1789-1847 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

(dated 1847; probably copied from Volume S-5)

Volume 7: Students Listed by Room on Campus, 1866-1867 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

(also includes Alumni by County of Residence, 1880?)

Volume 8: Catalogue of Students, 1875-1886 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

(compiled by Cornelia P. Spencer)

Volume 9: Addresses of Living Alumni, 1899-1901 #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

Volume 10: Alumni Listed by County, N-Z, undated #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

Volume 11: Alumni Catalogue, 1889, A-Lea #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

(Volumes 7-8 probably were the manuscripts for the first published alumni record, issued in 1889; however, they have been heavily annotated with information on later graduates, some as late as the 1920s)

Volume 12: Alumni Catalogue, 1889, Lea-Z #40134, Series: "3. Alumni Records." Box 3

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Order of the Bell Tower, 2009-2010

Acquisitions Information: RT 20110824.1.

The Order of the Bell Tower (OBT) is a student group sponsored by the General Alumni Association and was founded in 1980. Members serve as student ambassadors and promote university traditions. In 2009 the OBT began publishing a guide to campus traditions, "True Blue."

Box 3

Promotional materials, 2009-2010 #40134, Series: "4. Order of the Bell Tower, 2009-2010" Box 3

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Processing Information

Processed by: University Archives Staff

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated because of addition by Tierra Thomas and Laura Smith, March 2019

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