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Coeds on Campus

"Coeds" on Campus

The Buccaneer controversy took place in an era when female students were matriculating in greater numbers at the University. In these decades between the world wars, "co-eds" had limited opportunities for free expression on campus, an issue that was compounded by the sometimes problematic representation of women in humor magazines and other student publications.

During World War II, women filled many of the classroom seats left vacant by male students who had left for service in the war. In 1944, they numbered well over half of the civilian student body. The Daily Tar Heel and Carolina Magazine had their first female editors in 1943-1944. When male faculty left for the armed services or transferred to teaching in military programs, women had their first opportunities to teach in departments such as mathematics.

 

Drawing, "Coeducation - As Developed at the University"

Drawing, "Coeducation -- As Developed at the University," Yackety Yack, 1907, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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When Edwin Alderman became university president in 1896, he called for women's admission in his inaugural address. The university's trustees initially restricted women's enrollment to those who had completed college elsewhere. By 1897, five women had enrolled. Female students maintained a dignified style, usually wearing hats and gloves. In classes, male students gave women a wide berth, frequently forcing them to sit alone. They did not participate in the public commencement ceremonies but received their diplomas privately.

Magazine cover, Tar An’ Feathers

Magazine cover, Tar An’ Feathers, October 1941, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The Tar An’ Feathers was a glossy humor magazine containing articles, many photographs, and some sections of short jokes and poems. The magazine included a regular feature, "Confessions of a Carolina Co-Ed," and other writings that discussed the interaction between male and female students at Carolina in the early 1940s.

Article, Tar an' Feathers, “The Carolina Gentleman"

Magazine article, “The Carolina Gentleman," Tar an' Feathers, May 1942, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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This article from Tar an' Feathers, "The Carolina Gentleman," is subtitled "(In which a representative of the coed population gives the gentleman ----.)" From the article:

"The Gentleman considers himself vivacious, brilliant, appreciative of art and music, and up to cue on world events. The coed finds him lethargic, at times insufferably stupid, not knowing a Dali painting from an overture, and so behind and non-caring about the world, exclusive of his own, he probably would not know if he were drafted."

Photograph of Carolina Magazine staff, 1944

Yearbook pages, Yackety Yack, 1944, Chapel Hill, N.C., North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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This two-page spread from the Yackety Yack, UNC's yearbook, is dedicated to the Carolina Magazine in 1944. The description begins, "With a woman as its Editor for the first time in a 100-year-old history, a wartime budget and a slice to a 28-page issue, the Carolina Mag continues to satisfy and entertain the student body.

Photograph of Hazel Katherine Hill

Photograph of Hazel Katherine Hill, Yackety Yack, 1944 North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The great shift in the male-to-female ratio in the UNC student body during World War II created new opportunities for free expression among Carolina's female students. Women took on new leadership roles with Carolina's student publications. The Daily Tar Heel and Carolina Magazine had their first female editors during this period. Hazel Katherine "Kat" Hill was the first female editor of the Daily Tar Heel, serving in that position from 1943 to 1944.