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University of North Carolina ball  Davie Peale Portrait  UNC seal   Column from Smith Hall

"The First Century of the First State University" presents materials that document the creation and growth of the University of North Carolina during the period 1776-1875. The manuscripts, printed materials, and images included in this collection have been selected to illuminate several topics: the circumstances that created the University, the campus and its buildings, the curriculum and faculty, student life, town and gown relations, the University's relationship to the state, and the situation of the University during the upheavals of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Most of the materials in the collection come from the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, primarily from the North Carolina Collection, the Southern Historical Collection, and University Archives.

The collection is accompanied by essays from Professor James L. Leloudis and Botany Librarian William R. Burk that provide historical and contextual information for the documents. Project staff transcribed most of the manuscript documents, though some transcriptions were taken from R. D. W. Connor's A Documentary History of the University of North Carolina, 1776-1799. Each document is accompanied by a digitized image of the original source. Current and former members of the University Library staff have created annotations for people and places mentioned in the documents to help readers with identifications. This collection was funded entirely by the University Library, using monies from the Samuel and Gertrude Willis Memorial Fund.

"The First Century of the First State University" complements "True and Candid Compositions: The Writings of Antebellum Students at the University of North Carolina." Taken together, these two projects provide a rich source of University history for students, scholars, and others who visit Documenting the American South.