The Gladys Coates Hall Lecture Series
In 2004, the North Carolina Collection hosted the inaugural lecture in the Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture Series. Complete texts of the lectures, speaker bios, and information about Gladys Hall Coates can be found in the Coates Lecture Series collection.
Gladys Hall Coates
A native of Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Gladys Hall Coates moved to Chapel Hill in 1928 after marrying Albert McKinley Coates (UNC Class of 1918). The couple immediately immersed themselves in the life of the University and community, he through his position as professor of law and she through civic and cultural organizations. In 1931, they established the Institute (now School) of Government, initially using their own funds to finance the Institute’s activities. Mr. Coates served as director until 1961, always crediting Mrs. Coates as the Institute’s indispensable “staff member without portfolio.” Today the School of Government serves as a model for other states as the oldest, largest, and most influential university-based public service organization in the United States.
During her seventy-four years in Chapel Hill, Gladys Coates not only assisted Albert in developing the directing the Institute of Government but also frequently conducted research on and wrote about various University-related topics. Her special interests included the history of women at the University; the Dialectic and Philanthropic societies, especially their portrait collections; and author and University alumnus Thomas Wolfe. In 1985, she and Mr. Coates coauthored the 435-page The Story of Student Government in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 2001, the University awarded Mrs. Coates, then age 99, an honorary doctor of laws degree. Her other honors included the William Richardson Davie Award, the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award, and the Distinguished Service Medal from the UNC-Chapel Hill General Alumni Association. In 1997, the University building at 223 East Franklin Street housed the Institute of Government was renamed the Albert and Gladys Coates Building. With the establishment of the Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Law and Government in the School of Government, the couple was the first to have separate endowed professorships named in their honor at the University. On 25 September 2002, thirteen years after her husband’s death, Gladys Coates died in Chapel Hill.
Historic Political Campaigns in North Carolina conference
On September 14th and 15th, 2012, the conference “To Gain Attention to Their Various Claims: Historic Political Campaigns in North Carolina” took place at Wilson Library, co-sponsored by the North Carolina Collection and the Southern Historical Collection. Archived lectures from that conference are available on the Historic Political Campaigns in North Carolina conference collection.
- Civil War America and the Man in the Street, 2 June 2012, by Richard Doty, Senior Curator of Numismatics for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection at the National Museum of American History.
- Mother Cotten and Crazy Daisy: North Carolina Women at the Turn of the 20th Century, 19 January 2006, by Anastatia Sims, Professor of History, Georgia Southern University.
- The History of the World, Part II, 7 September 2018, by Nicholas Popper, Professor of History, the College of William and Mary.