Skip to main content

Charles Duncan McIver Records

Identifier: UA 0002.0001

Scope and Contents

This description deals first with the "private" papers (Numbers 1-28) and then with the "official" papers (Numbers 29-129). There is a separate description for box 141, papers of Mrs. McIver. The letters between Dr. and Mrs. McIver are in chronological order and cover a wide range of topics. Dr. McIver's early letters were written while he was away giving Teacher Institutes, teaching summer school, and speaking at various events. Later letters are written while he was appearing before the legislature in Raleigh, attending meetings of the Southern Education Board and other organizations, touring Europe with James Y. Joyner, and while on other trips.

McIver's letters generally describe the town and his accommodations, the people he had met and any significant event or happening that might interest Mrs. McIver. Perhaps the most vivid are those early letters written while giving Teacher Institutes across North Carolina. The institutes were often held in very small, out-of-the-way towns. According to McIver, Troy, Bayboro, and Columbia were three of the more undesirable towns in the state. As a matter of fact, he felt that Bayboro had "some of the horrors of both Troy and Columbia." (March 18, 1891).

In describing the drinking water he once said (November 18, 1891): "I'm always glad tho when cold comes if I don't have good water. The varmints in it are more likely to be dead and harmless." McIver liked good food and good cigars. He mentioned many times whether or not he had enough cigars. In 1890 (November 10), he described his recent menus: "I have had my fill of oysters--fried and stewed--chicken salad, ambrosia, good cake, mince pie, the very best milk and coffee and butter, not to speak of waffles and good bread of every kind, eggs--poached and soft boiled--shad-roe, chicken and pork back, toasted cheese, smothered chicken, cranberry sauce andc. andc."

McIver found the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh to be disappointing: "The Gov's Mansion isn't what it is cracked up to be. Dan (Fowle) Jr's shoes were out at the hall. Mary's hands and face were dirty and so were many other things in the house." McIver usually attended church in the towns he visited. He made the following comment on the service held by a one-eyed minister (October 26, 1890): "What he lacked in his sight he made up in offerings and prayers--taking up 2 of the former."

In 1891, while Mrs. McIver was working in Charlotte, McIver made the following statement concerning her working, and, on women, in general, working: The fact is when we do get a house and a competency you will have done at least as much to earn it as I have. It will not be mine to give you, but it will be ours to use. I think I see more clearly than ever how galling dependence must be to a sensible woman, and while I wish I could give you all you want and deserve and ought to have now, it is a pleasant thing for me to contemplate you and me in a home that is really ours and not mine. Some sarcastic cynic might smile at my generosity in allowing you to work for your house. . . . " (March 3, 1891)

Several letters mention the progress in establishing the Normal and Industrial School; and after the opening of the school, the letters, of course, have much information concerning the affairs of the school. Letters from Raleigh during the sessions of the legislature (meeting in the odd-numbered years) describe the efforts of McIver and others to obtain funds for higher education in North Carolina. The letter of February 22, 1899, is on the back of a roll call ballot. Also found are letters mentioning the disagreement with the proponents of church supported schools. On March 9, 1895, he speaks of "sneaking performances" in the legislature, and on March 6, 1899, he speaks of ". . .'our ancient' enemy, the Baptists." Offers to become President of the University of Tennessee (June 27, 1904) and of the University of North Carolina (February 12, 1896) are mentioned in the correspondence.

Mrs. McIver's letters contain news about the children and family as well as daily happenings at the school. Renting a house, student illnesses, and visits from faculty are some of the topics. Occasionally she will mention an event in Greensboro. In 1902, she complained about the street car lines being too close to the front porch. The second group of papers (in chronological order) includes personal and business correspondence. Letters from his mother and brothers are usually personal, although his brothers occasionally comment on the political situation in North Carolina. There are also letters from prospective students and faculty members and from various friends and acquaintances, including Walter Hines Page, Josephus Daniels, Edwin Alderman, and Walter Clark. The establishment of the State Normal and Industrial School can be followed in the 1890-1892 letters, especially those from Superintendent of Public Instruction, Major S. M. Finger. The letter notifying McIver that he had been chosen President of the school is in this group (June 13, 1891).

Some of the school-related topics include the improvement of the heating system (December 20, 1893), bids for sewer construction (July, 1895), and the purchase of furniture (August, 1893). Items concerning students include a pledge by a group of girls not to form any secret organizations (March 12, 1895); the investigation of some missing money from several students (November, 1895); and the events following an April Fool's Day smoking joke (April, 1897). A letter of May 20, 1894, tells of a girl being sent home because of "her inclination to receive attention from young gentlemen," and a petition from the class of 1897 (November 24, 1896) asks that judgement on a classmate be reconsidered. (In later years, material with subjects such as these is usually found in the general student correspondence).

When McIver was away from the school, Laura Coit, Secretary to McIver, sent him a daily letter of the happenings at the school. These letters are in this group. Also found is a large volume of letters related to the typhoid epidemic at the school in 1899- 1900 and a box of material concerning the Brick Dormitory fire in 1904. Included in the material on the fire is a broadside signed by W.H. Osborn, Mayor of Greensboro, entitled "A Fearful Fire."

Letters reflecting McIver's role in statewide and southern educational circles are also found in the collection. A copy of McIver's letter to Hoke Smith (January 25, 1904) after the Brick Dormitory fire, asking that he not be considered for the position as Agent of the Peabody Fund is in this group. The church- supported versus state-supported education theme and the effects on legislative appropriations is found throughout these papers.

A letter of July 26, 1894, advises McIver not to mention the University of North Carolina in requesting appropriations from the legislature--discuss only the needs of the Normal. A series of letters (1898-1899) from Walter Clark discusses this matter. The question of local taxation for public education is another common theme of this group of letters. Other education-related topics include the admission of girls to the North Carolina A.and M. School (August 8, 1899) and the election of George Winston as President of the A.and M. (Spring and Summer, 1899).

Among the miscellaneous topics in this group of letters is a copy of a letter (January 16, 1905) from McIver concerning Theodore Roosevelt's Cabinet having a Republican from North Carolina; the reunion of non-resident natives of North Carolina in October, 1903; the purchase of the Raleigh News and Observer by Josephus Daniels (August 13, 1887); and the request for funds for a library from Andrew Carnegie (October-December, 1901 and February, 1905).

Another group of papers concerns the Southern Education Board (S.E.B.) which was established in 1901. These papers are in the filing order used by McIver--alphabetical order, usually by the name of the correspondent--divided by year. Occasionally a letter will be filed under a subject heading indicated in McIver's handwriting. The purpose of the S.E.B. was to help state organizations carry on campaigns for more liberal educational investment on the part of the people (local taxation). In North Carolina the state organization was known as the Campaign Committee for the Promotion of Public Education in North Carolina. McIver was secretary of the S.E.B. and District Director for North Carolina and South Carolina. The goals of this organization were two: consolidation of school districts and local taxation for education. Through these two actions they hoped to have better school houses, qualified teachers, longer school terms, and a compulsory attendance law. Closely connected with the S.E.B. was the General Education Board organized in April, 1902. This organization contributed money to educational institutions and would match funds raised by local school districts, either through taxation or contributions. Robert C. Ogden, a New York philanthropist was president of both organizations.

A large portion of these papers is concerned with McIver's position as district director of North Carolina and South Carolina (and of Georgia for a short period of time). He was in charge of the funds that were used to reimburse speakers and others who had contributed to the cause of education. These were usually school principals or superintendents, college professors and other local leaders of education. Letters, expense accounts, and receipts are found in this group of papers. The letters generally tell of speaking before a group of people, the number of people present and the type of reception given to the speaker and his comments. There are also quite a few letters from Ogden and other leaders of the organizations. These deal with meetings of the S.E.B., policy decisions, and other internal matters of the organization. Various miscellaneous items are in the first part of the McIver Paper, including speeches made by McIver, diplomas for Dr. and Mrs. McIver, a pardon from Andrew Johnson granted to McIver's grandfather, Evander McIver, notes from McIver's children, several papers (1855-56) of Harmon Miller, (Mrs. McIver's grandfather) various programs and invitations relating to the State Normal and Industrial School (College). (Some of these items are stored in oversize manuscripts and documents).

All aspects of operating the school can be seen in these letters. In addition to inquiries and applications from students, there are job applications from prospective faculty members (Gudger, 1893 and Hoexter, 1906); a list of books ordered for the library in 1893 (filed under Kellogg) and a list of serials carried by the library in 1906 (filed under Petty); Josephus Daniels' handwritten introduction of Walter Hines Page in 1897 on the occasion of Page's "The Forgotten Man" speech (filed under Daniels); Walter Clark's copy of his address to the students in 1899; a letter from Dr. Gove (1893) listing the equipment requirements for her office; a petition to form an Athletic Association (1898, filed under Athletic) and a petition asking for instrumental music (1899, filed under Music); reports from various faculty members, Miss Sue Mae Kirkland (Lady Principal), Mr. England (Superintendent of the Laundry during most of these years), and Mr. Brown (Superitendent of the farm owned by the College); and other similar items.

In most of the years, filed under "M" (for McIver), there are a number of items giving general information about the operation of the school and also items not completely related to the school. (In the first several years, such material is found in the "personal" papers of McIver--Boxes 1-28). Among the items are faculty salary requests (1905), copies of financial reports, fragments of speeches and copies of letters written by McIver. There is also a draft of a resolution that was to be presented at the National Democratic Party Convention in 1904 proposing Charles B. Aycock for Vice President.

Various subjects relating to the school can be traced throughout the McIver Papers. One of the most interesting is the disciplinary "problems" faced by the administration. In 1896, some students offered to pay for damages to the plaster (filed under Rogers). Twelve girls are reported in 1902 (filed under Books) because they wrote in books, and in 1905 Florence Stewart promises not to mark in her Latin book again. In 1906 a student promises not to study in the bathroom after the light bell (filed under Lucile Parker). And in 1902, Inge Lyon promised to do better if she were readmitted to the college although she realized that her conduct had been "very far from what it ought to have been. . ." An incident in 1897 concerning smoking by some of the students is recorded in great detail by memos from the students. A disturbance in the dormitory in 1905 is seen from letters to McIver written by many students (Kate Sheppard, Lucy Pannell, Flora Thorton, Della Austin, and others).

Material concerning the Brick Dormitory fire in 1904 and the typhoid epidemic in 1899-1900 are found in these boxes. (Correspondence and material about these two disasters are also found in the first 28 boxes). Bertha Lee reports on the items bought for the students immediately after the fire. A letter from the literary societies and the YWCA (filed under Students Building) gives the college permission to use the new Student Building as a temporary dormitory; several letters concern the insurance settlement resulting from the fire (filed under Murray and Young); and a copy of a letter to the Board of Directors of the college, written early in January 1904, concerns the possible addition of fire escapes to Brick Dormitory (filed under J.D. Murphy, Gattis, and Gray). The letters found in the first 28 boxes regarding the epidemic were generally letters of regret and condolence to McIver. The letters in the student correspondence reflect a student or college view of the epidemic. Found in the second group of boxes are letters from the state health authorities in Raleigh regarding tests on the college water supply (filed under Massey 1899 and 1900 and under Kilgore and Holmes 1899); letters from the Ivie family (1899) concerning the death of their sister; letters from Thomas J. Bailey concerning the Bailey Memorial Room that he established in memory of his two daughters who died in the epidemic; and an invoice from Forbis Funeral Home (1900) for a casket for one of the students who died at the college.

Information about the following subjects is also found in the papers: McIver arranging for concerts and lectures; the construction of the various college buildings--the Student Building (1903), Spencer Dormitory (Contents of the cornerstone of Spencer is filed under Spencer, 1904), the laundry (1905) and the library (Most of the letters regarding the Carnegie Library are filed under "Carnegie" in 1904). This was an arbitrary location. Actually the letters (1904-1906) were found quite by accident in the J.I. Foust Papers for 1912. The letters were returned to the McIver Papers. The announcement that Carnegie had agreed to fund the library was made in 1904 shortly after the Brick Dormitory fire. In 1905 Carnegie increased the amount. Also in the paper are forms and form letters used by the college, commencement invitations and diploma samples; correspondence regarding equipment purchased for the college; and activities of the alumnae of the college.

McIver corresponded with many people. Among the educators were the presidents of Davidson, North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical State University (now North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University), University of North Carolina at Chapell Hill, Wake Forest, Wintrop College (South Carolina), Baptist University for Women (Meredith College), University of Texas (while George Winston was president), Tulane University and the University of Virginia (Edwin Alderman was president of these two), and Tuskegee Institute (Booker T. Washington). Other educators were the North Carolina Superintendents of Public Instruction (Brooks, Finger and Joyner) and high school principals throughout the state. There are letters to businessmen (J.S. Carr and Henry Fries), to publishers (Josephus Daniels, Walter Hines Page, Clarence Poe, and A.J. Connor), to northern philanthropist (Macy, Odgen, Carnegie, Peabody, and others) and to politicians and public officials (Charles B. Aycock, Robert Glenn, John Small and Walter Clark). McIver's correspondence with N.C. State Treasurer Ben Lacy shows the special ability he had in obtaining funds for the college. The correspondence with E.M. Goodwin is interesting from another angle because of Goodwin's position as President of the North Carolina School for the Deaf and Dumb in Morganton.

Boxes 29 and 30 deserve special mention because of the manner in which the letters were originally stored. A wooden shoe box (now one of the McIver artifacts) was used by McIver to store the items. The letters were still in the original envelopes--most with notes by McIver on the outside. The majority of the letters in the letterpress books are student- related, or, at least, school-related. There are only a few copies of personal letters. As can be seen from an examination of the books (Numbers 107-129) there are some skips in the dates of the books. It is impossible to determine why some months and /or years are missing. The pages in the books are numbered consecutively and very few pages are missing. Apparently McIver or his secretary failed to make copies of some of his letters; or if copies were made they were lost or destroyed. Copies of a few of McIver's letters are found in the E.J. Forney Papers also found in the University archives. [McIver's reponses to correspondence, November 28, 1905-September 15, 1906, are found in Volume XXVII of Foust's letterpress books.]

Some of the miscellaneous items in the second group of McIver's papers are copies of "An Act to Establish a Normal and Industrial School for White Girls"; mementos from McIver's trip to Europe in 1905 (accompanied by J.Y. Joyner); and information relating to the McIver monument (erected after his death) located on the capitol grounds in Raleigh. There are also miscellaneous speeches and reports.

The collection has been digitized in its entirety. Materials can be viewed online at


  • 1855 - 1906


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information. Please see our Sensitive Materials Statement.

Biographical or Historical Information

Charles Duncan McIver was born on September 27, 1860 in Moore County, North Carolina. He was graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1881 and began teaching school in Durham and Winston. In 1886, he went to Peace Institute in Raleigh. In 1889, McIver and Edwin A. Alderman were chosen by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to hold teacher institutes across the state. An advocate of higher education for women, he was chosen President of the State Normal and Industrial School, which opened in 1892. McIver was very active in southern and national educations circles and attended many meetings, conferences, and conventions. He was married to Lula V. Martin and they had four children. McIver died on September 17, 1906.


58.80 Linear Feet (141 boxes)

Language of Materials



Charles Duncan McIver was born on September 27, 1860 in Moore County, North Carolina. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1881 and began teaching in Durham and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was instrumental in founding the State Normal and Industrial School in 1891 and would serve as its first president until his death in 1906.

The Records of President Charles Duncan McIver contain personal papers from 1855-1906 related to his life as well as the offical records of the State Normal and Industrial School from 1891 to 1906. It contains accounting ledger books, biographical materials, correspondence, diaries, entrance exams, photographs, reports, scrapbooks, speeches, and student applications.

The collection has been digitized in its entirety. Materials can be viewed online at

Arrangement Note

The first 28 boxes are generally McIver's private papers while the remaining boxes represent the official papers of the Office of the President of the College. However, in many cases, it is difficult to make a simple "private--official" designation. A letter will be marked "private" (in McIver's handwriting) and will be in the first 28 boxes; another letter, on the same subject, will not be marked private and will be in the second group of boxes. Letters received by McIver as a result of the burning of Brick Dormitory in 1904 are found in both groups of papers. The same is true for letters concerning the typhoid epidemic (1899-1900). Despite these inconsistencies, the two groups of papers have been kept separate. Although it may cause some confusion in using the papers, it was felt that papers with a different provenance should not be interfiled.

The bulk of the McIver Papers (Boxes 29-141) is the papers that remained on the The University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus or the official papers of the Office of President of the State Normal and Industrial School. McIver used a general alphabetical arrangement, usually by the names of the correspondent, in filing his papers. For example, the names beginning with "B" were separated under Ba, Be, Bl, Bo, Bu and Bw. While most years were filed separately, occasionally, more than one year would be together. In an effort to aid research and create consistency, several adjustments have been made in the arrangement of the papers.

All papers for one year are filed together. The papers have been filed in an exact alphabetical arrangement. If there is more than one piece of correspondence from or about a particular student, the pieces are filed chronologically. Correspondence from companies or organizations are filed under the name of the company, not the correspondent. Occasionally, McIver filed correspondence by topic--coal, furniture, a particular college building, to name several. This arrangement has been maintained.

Method of Acquisition

Boxes 1-28 were given to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro by Mrs. John Dickenson, daughter of Charles Duncan and Lula Martin McIver. The papers were removed from Dr. McIver's office in 1906 and taken to the McIver home at the corner of College Avenue and Spring Garden Street. After Mrs. McIver's death in 1944, the papers were taken to Maryland by Dickenson. The papers came back to the campus in 1952. The remaining boxes and volumes remained on the UNCG campus in various locations.

Other Descriptive Information

The Charles Duncan McIver Records have been digitized in their entirety and are available online at

Offensive Language Statement

The UNC Greensboro University Libraries collects, preserves, and makes accessible unique and historical materials for learning and research. The nature of historical materials is such that some material may represent positions, norms, and values that are offensive and objectionable. These materials represent the opinions and actions of their creators. By providing access to these records in our reading room and through our digital collections, we recognize that archives and rare books can play a vital role in holding those creators accountable and in helping us learn from the past.

Our finding aids and other collection descriptions may occasionally re-use language provided by creators or former holders of the materials, but we strive to place outdated or offensive terminology in context. That said, we recognize that we may not always make the right decision and welcome feedback from all sources so we can learn and adjust our practices. Please contact us at if you encounter problematic language in our finding aids or other collection description. We will review the language and, as appropriate, update it in a way that balances preservation of the original context with our ongoing commitment to describing materials with respectful and inclusive language.

Processing Information

Processed by University Archives Staff Encoded by Sean A. Mulligan, January 2011

Charles Duncan McIver Records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Repository

P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US