New book details 125-year history of The Daily Tar Heel
As The Daily Tar Heel celebrates its 125th anniversary this month, UNC Press has released a book detailing the history of the newspaper in honor of the occasion.
Print News and Raise Hell: The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University, written by public historian and department of history lecturer Kenneth Joel Zogry, explores the history of the University since its reopening in 1875 through the lens and legacy of The Daily Tar Heel.
The book covers—as the title suggests—Carolina’s evolution into a modern research institution, as well as key periodic battles over academic freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of the press and how the University dealt with issues of race, gender and sexual identity. The book also traces the largely unknown early development of intercollegiate sports at Carolina.
“I weave all of that together in a way that’s not been done before,” Zogry said. “So many of the stories in the book were lost to current generations of alumni, students, faculty and administrators.”
Zogry’s background is in public history, and he worked in museums for more than 10 years earlier in his career. After spending the early- to mid-1990s at museums in New England, he returned to his home state and earned his doctorate from Carolina.
While Zogry was in graduate school here, the Carolina Inn approached him to see if he could determine whether many of the Inn’s pieces of furniture were genuine antiques—one of his specialties as a public historian.
At the time, the Inn was not on the National Register of Historic Places. Impressed by his work with their furniture, the Inn hired Zogry to research and publish a book on the history of the iconic hotel and to write the nomination placing it on the National Register. When the Inn underwent a major renovation from 2010 to 2013, Zogry served as the official historian and created the extensive exhibits on Carolina and Inn history now seen throughout the building.
His work with the Inn led to other projects, including becoming the official historian for the Campus Y and later The Daily Tar Heel, where management approached him with the idea for Print News and Raise Hell in 2011.
As Zogry set out to write the book, he quickly realized that the project would require more detailed research than originally thought. Instead of just scanning the newspaper’s coverage of important events—such as the civil rights movement or the Speaker Ban Law—he found that he needed to at least scan all of the 20,000-odd issues of the paper to rediscover dozens of lost stories, as well as significant new information on well-known events.
“I didn’t read every word of every issue, but there was no other way to do it,” Zogry said. In hindsight, Zogry realized that one of the most valuable parts of his research was to get a tactile sense of the paper itself during different eras.
“They were different sizes, and the font and point sizes varied,” he said. “I would never have known, for example, that several of the early issues of the paper were printed entirely in Carolina blue ink to commemorate baseball victories had I not handled the actual papers, because microfilms are in black-and-white.”
The new University
“The creation of what is today The Daily Tar Heel was rooted in two events,” Zogry writes, “the reopening of the University of North Carolina in 1875 and the school’s first intercollegiate football game in the fall of 1888.”
The first edition of The Tar Heel—as it was named before daily publication—was printed in 1893, 100 years after the cornerstone was laid at Old East. Football was a catalyst for the newspaper because it was originally an off-campus publication of the University Athletic Association.
The newspaper’s development was also shaped by the “Battle Plan,” a new post- Civil War academic model that emphasized “research over oratory” introduced by alumnus and trustee Kemp Plummer Battle when the University reopened in 1875, Zogry writes.
This revolution in higher education, he continues, “brought entirely new curricula in applied and social sciences, marking a sharp break from the antebellum classical education,” replacing it with a structure “far more effective in preparing students to meet the challenges of the industrializing postwar South.”
The Tar Heel was not originally staffed by journalism students, beginning publication 16 years before the University’s first journalism class. But as the newspaper evolved in becoming part of a progressive “New South,” it became a driving force behind the creation of a journalism school—just one example of the paper’s influence during its 125-year history.
“From the very first issue, freedom of speech and freedom of the press were ferociously guarded,” Zogry writes. “In addition, a number of The Tar Heel’s early editors and staff would go on to play key roles in creating and nurturing a nascent school of journalism at Carolina and in building the modern university.”
The book follows the University through major historical periods, including the Cold War and the civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights movements, using the paper as its narrative framework. Zogry uncovered editorials and articles throughout the 125-year history of the newspaper that cover many of the same types of issues the University faces today.
“All of this impacts higher education and the University. You can’t separate one from the other,” Zogry said. “Although I’m a historian, not a journalist, one thing I learned studying the paper’s 125 year evolution is that while the media format has undergone major change—especially during the last two decades—the fundamentals of strong and sound journalism remain the same, and the independent voice of The Daily Tar Heel remains a vital part of preserving democracy and free expression at the nation’s oldest public University.”