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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George Watts Hill, January 30, 1986. Interview C-0047. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Interactions between men and women at UNC

Hill describes student life at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill during the 1910s and 1920s. In particular, Hill focuses on what it was like when the first woman student was enrolled at UNC around 1921. Hill was then an undergraduate at UNC and he recalls believing that women should not be students, although he fondly recalls other "coeducational" activities on campus such as dances.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George Watts Hill, January 30, 1986. Interview C-0047. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

GEORGE WATTS HILL:
The first woman was admitted to the campus in the early '20s.
JAMES LEUTZE:
Right, I think it was '21.
GEORGE WATTS HILL:
Jonathan and I had a vote on the campus. We ran the vote and it was against co-education and the next day the trustees, my father, Josephus Daniels and old Judge Parker, I remember, were members of the board executive committee. They approved women coming to the campus and the first woman admitted was a Chapel Hill girl. I don't remember her name but she was not particularly impressive from a looks standpoint or action, a great big woman, I remember. Terrible, terrible. And from then on, slowly, they were limited at first to Chapel Hill residents and then the door opened.
JAMES LEUTZE:
Why did you not want to see it co-educational? I would think boys would want to have girls on campus.
GEORGE WATTS HILL:
Well, we weren't interested in women to start with, and we liked what we had. I can't give you any other reason.
JAMES LEUTZE:
OK. Well, what things were you interested in? Obviously, sports were a big part of life, and fraternities were a big part of life.
GEORGE WATTS HILL:
Fraternities were a big part. There were fraternities and non-fraternities. And the non-fraternities were strong. I can remember going down to Battle or Ehringhaus or whatever the damn three dormitories down on Franklin Street were called. Sam Caffey and Mary Worsham were blind and we'd go down there and read to them, read their lesson to them - they lived there. We just didn't go off campus except to Franklin Street and I used to take boys home to Durham and mother always was happy to have somebody come over for supper or something like that and she called us "some awful eaters." [laughter] And I called them "soused after light." But you carry me way back, God knows.
JAMES LEUTZE:
Now, did people put much emphasis on academics at that time? You said you had lots of other fish to fry.
GEORGE WATTS HILL:
I don't remember particularly one way or the other. They put emphasis on athletics. Basketball didn't amount to too much and then again it did. Billy Carmichael, Sis Parry, and so forth, that was before Cartwright, the younger brother, came into the picture, a beautiful player. Billy was beautiful and it was just lovely to watch him. He used to play in the old Bynum gym. And we got up in the gallery, the track was up there. That's where we had our dances. And the social life was very important and we used to bring girls in later. They stayed with Mrs. Klutz, which is now a fraternity house on Franklin Street, a sorority house. And I remember vividly as a senior, I had an old automobile. I brought down a girl from Asheville, a great lovely looking gal, and I was engaged at that time to Mrs. Hill. At law school. We went to the fall dance and, this girl I had invited before I met Anne to the dance, she came to the dance and she said, "Yes, I see what has happened." [laughter] But, such is life. No, we paid a lot of attention to the dances, the German Club, and the Fall German and the Spring German, got all dressed up. The girls had one spot and the boys went to the girls instead of the way it is now where one boy and girl dance all night. We just mixed the deal.