Wilson Special Collections Library has long been the home of UNC-Chapel Hill history. Wilson Library contains the University Archives, the official records of the university, along with other collections containing publications, photos, and digital files documenting more than two centuries of UNC history.
Wilson Library archivists and librarians preserve and care for historic materials, create exhibits and digital collections on campus history, support research inquiries from students and alumni, and work with faculty to bring university history into the classroom. The page provides an overview of university history collections, guides, and resources in Wilson Library.
- Research Guides
- Digital Exhibits
- Digitized Primary Sources
- Photos of the University
- Archives and Manuscripts
- Oral Histories
- Blogs and Social Media
- Get in Touch
These guides, prepared by Wilson Library librarians and archivists, are often the best place to begin a research project. The guides include an overview of the topic, links to selected library resources, suggested search strategies, and contact information for subject librarians.
- Researching Campus Monuments and Buildings
- Desegregation of the University
- History of the Performing Arts
- LGBTQ Life at the University
- Researching UNC Alumni
- Student Protest Movements at the University of North Carolina
- Women at Carolina
- UNC-Chapel Hill English 105 Online Curriculum Module: Documenting Student Activism at UNC
Many of the digital exhibits maintained by UNC Libraries contain information about UNC history. Examples include:
- “I Raised my Hand to Volunteer”: Student Protest in 1960s Chapel Hill
- Slavery and the Making of the University
- A Guide to Resources about UNC’s Confederate Monument
- Climbing the Hill: Women in the History of UNC (Student-curated exhibit)
- A Right to Speak and Hear: Academic Freedom and Free Expression at UNC
- Law School First – The African Americans Who Integrated UNC-Chapel Hill
- Documenting the American South. The Documenting the American South digital library includes several collections of primary sources and essays related to UNC history:
- The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History. This extensive resource, originally developed in the early 2000s, includes themed exhibits on many aspects of Carolina history. While helpful, many of the entries need to be updated with more complete and accurate information.
Digitized Primary Sources
Issues of the Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student newspaper, are available online for the years 1893-2008. More recent stories are available through dailytarheel.com.
Many more UNC sources are available online through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, including course catalogs, older media guides for football and basketball, and other student publications:
- All UNC-Chapel Hill materials on DigitalNC.org
- Course catalogs
- Basketball blue books
- Football blue books
Digitized publications, many related to UNC-Chapel Hill, are also available through the Internet Archive.
Photos of the University
Wilson Library collections contain hundreds of thousands of photos of people, events, and places at UNC. Suggested starting places include:
- UNC-Chapel Hill image collection. With images spanning two centuries of Carolina history, this is often a good starting place for a search.
- UNC Photo Lab Collection. Photos from UNC’s on-campus photo lab, primarily documenting campus life in the second half of the 20th century.
- Kemp Battle Photo Album. This album, compiled by former UNC President Kemp Battle in the 1890s, contains some of the earliest known images of UNC.
- News Services photo collection. Images from photographers with the UNC News Services department, excellent resource for campus photos from the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
- Other photo collections with images of UNC
Archives and Manuscripts
- The University Archives, part of the Wilson Special Collections Library, is the home of UNC’s official records. The Archives also holds records of UNC departments and administrators and records of many student organizations.
- Manuscript Collections related to campus history can be found throughout Wilson Library, especially in the Southern Historical Collection, which holds personal papers of many UNC faculty, alumni, and administrators. You can search for collections online.
The Southern Oral History Program has worked on many projects to document UNC history.
Wilson Library holds an extensive collection of UNC’s official publications, student publications, and books and articles about the university. These are located primarily in the library’s North Carolina Collection and can be found through the Libraries’ online catalog.