Nicholas Graham, University archivist, said they already have nearly 100 pictures in the archive. The project, UNC T-shirt Archive, began Tuesday.
“They document a variety of aspects of student life too because there are shirts representing activist organizations, clubs, athletics, Greek organizations, all facets of University life,” Jennifer Coggins, records services archivist, said.
Graham said the University Archives had been thinking of ways to document student life and found the website for Wearing Gay History, which archives the T-shirts of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups around the U.S. He said the website inspired them to do something similar at UNC.
“(The T-shirts) are visual, they’re expressive, everyone wears them and they’re a lot of fun so we thought it would be something that we could try,” he said.
Graham said the T-shirts, which already go back decades, are a good way for alumni to revisit old memories. However, he said this project is meant for current students too.
“I hope that for current students too it helps them realize they’re part of a long tradition here and some of these things have been going on for a long time, and also that what they’re doing now is just as important to Carolina history as what happened 50 years ago or 100 years ago,” Graham said.
Samantha Golden, a junior Business Administration major, said she thought the idea was interesting.
“It’s like our presence on campus and off campus through these T-shirts, so I think it’s really cool that we can track our presence that way and keep a record of that,” she said.
UNC alum Jennifer Engel, who graduated in 1994, said through a Facebook message she has already emailed in photos of some of her T-shirts.
“(The T-shirts) had just been sitting in my drawers,” she said. “I was feeling a little sentimental and also wanted to share them with my friends and fellow alums on Facebook for laughs, so I snapped pics and posted them.”
The project has helped Engel reminisce about her time at UNC. She said the fraternities used to go dorm-to-dorm selling T-shirts for fundraisers.
There will be a photo day for the UNC T-shirt Archive at the Undergraduate Library on Oct. 26 where professional photographers will take photos of T-shirts people bring or wear.
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article was unclear about how students bought T-shirts from fraternities. The fraternities would go door-to-door to sell the T-shirts.