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Primary Documents Arranged by Subtopic:
Individual Faculty Members
Student-Faculty Relations

When the university opened its doors in January 1795, its faculty consisted of a single professor, David Ker. Within a few months he was joined by Tutor Charles W. Harris, and the two of them led the institution through its first year. Slowly new professorships were added, but at no time in its first hundred years did the university's faculty number more than fifteen men. Most of the antebellum faculty members did not remain long in Chapel Hill. A few of them, however, stayed for decades; several are fairly well known—Joseph Caldwell, Elisha Mitchell, James Phillips, David L. Swain. Others with equally long tenures, such as Manuel Fetter and Fordyce Hubbard, are relatively unknown.

The majority of the early faculty received their educations outside the South—Ker at Trinity College, Dublin; Harris and Caldwell at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton); James Phillips in his native England; Mitchell at Yale; Fetter at Columbia; Hubbard at Williams College. They were joined, in time, by several sons of the university—Archibald D. Murphey, who taught only briefly; William Hooper, the grandson of one of North Carolina's signers of the Declaration of Independence; John DeBerniere Hooper; and Charles Phillips, the son of James Phillips. David L. Swain, who had practiced law and served as governor, was the first native North Carolinian to head the university.

These men did not possess subject specialties as present-day professors do. Their educations were in the standard classical curriculum of their day. Many of them were also ordained ministers—a useful credential since the duties of the professors prescribed by the trustees in February 1795 included performing morning and evening prayers and examining the students on the "principles of morality and religion." The faculty was also responsible for maintaining discipline among the students and for punishing those who violated the regulations of the institution.

The professors were assisted by the tutors, who tended to be recent graduates of the university and, in the early years, taught the students of the Preparatory School (also called the Grammar School). After the Preparatory School closed in 1819, tutors continued to be employed to teach the lower classes. The professors treated them in a collegial manner and always included them in faculty meetings.

Materials in this section pertain to the faculty as a whole and to individual faculty members. Included are early university catalogs, links to biographical sketches, letters from and about members of the faculty, minutes of the trustees containing the duties of the faculty, and lecture notes for classes taught by Denison Olmsted and James Phillips. There are also a few items illustrating the recruitment of faculty as well as the relations of the faculty with the students.

The documents in this section are arranged chronologically within the subtopics.

General | Top of Page
Individual Faculty Members | Top of Page
Recruitment | Top of Page
Student-Faculty Relations | Top of Page