“I expect anyone who is interested in understanding more about why UNC has a Confederate monument on campus and how it’s been received through the years (to look at the website),” he said. “So it could be students, administrators or community members.”
Graham said the documents are mainly correspondence between University President Francis Venable and fundraisers and designers in the early 1910s. He said there are links to old issues of The Daily Tar Heel and Yackety Yack yearbooks.
The website includes a timeline of the monument, from its proposal to present day, and a photo gallery with pictures dating back to the monument’s dedication in 1913.
The timeline details little-known details like the process of sculpting Silent Sam — he was modeled on a 16-year-old from Boston — to the statue’s role in a 1940 peace rally opposing the United States’ involvement in World War II.
Moore said before the website was created, some information about the monument was available online, but not a lot.
“Nobody had really focused in on just that monument and really went though the archives and pulled everything related to it, and so we thought it was a really great idea,” she said.
Graham said the website does not reflect the University’s attitude on the monument.
“It reflects the way the University was thinking about it around the time it was dedicated, but it has no relation to what the University is doing now,” he said.
Jennifer Coggins, a records services archivist, searched through thousands of documents to find mentions of the monument.
“We had an event here in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the dedication of the statue where we pulled together material telling the story of its life on campus,” she said.
“We built on that list to get the more comprehensive list for the website.”
Graham said finding the documents took several weeks, and scanning them took several months. He encouraged people to come to Wilson Library to see the documents for themselves.
Graham said the goal of this project is to make archival records about Silent Sam as easy to look at as possible.
“There’s always been an interest in the Confederate monument,” Graham said. “This is to help facilitate the discussion by letting people look back at the original documents.”