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The Buccaneer Sex Issue

The Buccaneer Sex Issue

The Carolina Buccaneer was a humor magazine published by University of North Carolina students between 1924 and 1939. The magazine contained jokes, cartoons, and advertisements and each issue was devoted to a theme. From its inception, the Buccaneer published slightly risqué material and often received criticism from students and faculty for its content. In November 1939, the magazine sought to publish an issue on the theme of sex. The issue was considered so offensive on campus that the Student Council ordered all 3,000 copies destroyed. A few days later, the student-run Publications Union Board decided to reuse parts of the magazine and publish a revised edition. The most notable revision was the provocative cartoon on the cover of the issue was to be concealed by a white box to make clear that the issue had been censored. Ultimately, the student legislature voted to discontinue publication of the Buccaneer.

Censored version of the November 1939 issue of the Carolina Buccaneer

Magazine cover, censored version of the 1939 issue of the Carolina Buccaneer, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The text in the white box reads, "We point with pride to the purity of our white space."

Photograph of unidentified Tar an’ Feathers staff members reading a copy of the May 1939 Carolina Buccaneer.

Photograph, Yackety Yack, 1942, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Unidentified Tar an’ Feathers staff members read a copy of the May 1939 Carolina Buccaneer.

Photograph of Carolina Buccaneer staff

Yearbook pages, Yackety Yack, 1940, Chapel Hill, N.C., North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Two-page spread on the Carolina Buccaneer from the 1940 Yackety Yack, UNC's yearbook. The pages name the publication's staff and address the controversy:

"'Sweet sixteen and never been kissed.' Created in 1924, the Carolina BUCCANEER has grown to be a reckless publication. Through the years, it had experienced all the attention afforded a growing child; it had been humored, petted, coaxed, and spoiled. Yet, it continued to have its own way.

"Thus, with the beginning of its sixteenth year, the Editor and the staff, unaware of the upheaval in store, set out to add to the lusty reputation of the publication. In this, we proved more than successful in that the November issue was condemned, and four thousand copies burned. It was not until then that the BUCCANEER realized it was no longer a child. At last, it had received its first kiss..."

Letter, Fred Weaver to Bill Stauber, 10 November 1939, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Letter, Fred Weaver to Bill Stauber, 10 November 1939, Chapel Hill, N.C. Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40124, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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In a letter dated 10 November, 1939, Assistant Dean of Students Fred Weaver expresses some concerns the controversial issue of The Carolina Buccaneer in a letter to its editor, Bill Stauber. From the letter:

"In our defense of student freedom, however, we are always called upon to justify our position in terms of some objective of the University. We cannot defend student freedom as a means of continuing the publication of indecent literature. There is no basis, student freedom, student rights, or otherwise, on which we can justify or defend it."

Letter, Bill Stauber to Fred H. Weaver, 15 November 1939, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Letter, Bill Stauber to Fred H. Weaver, 15 November 1939, Chapel Hill, N.C. Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40124, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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In this 15 November letter, Bill Stauber responds to Fred Weaver. From the letter:

"The fact that information was reported to what you term 'numerous student leaders' means nothing to me. From what I gather your idea of a typical student leader is one who has waxed and grown in the confines of some dark upper chamber of the YMCA. In my opinion they are as much at one extreme as you consider the Buccaneer is at the other.

"Reaction to the Buccaneer from those whom I consider student leaders has been altogether favorable."