Student Newspapers

It is not known exactly when the first student newspaper was published by the predecessors of UNC Asheville. In his speech to the Class of 1929, Roy Taylor mentioned a school paper, so clearly publication started within two years of the creation of Buncombe County Junior College.

newspaper may 1930
“The Highlander”, May 1930. A photocopy is the earliest student newspaper in the University Archives.

 

The earliest edition in the University Archives is a photocopy of the May 1930 edition of The Highlander, which was, “Published by the students of Buncombe County Junior College [and] founded by the Class of ’29.” This edition is identified as Vol. II No. 8, suggesting a monthly publication, with Vol 1 No. 1 appearing sometime during the 1928/29 academic year, which would align with Taylor’s remarks.

 

 

The first original newspaper in the Archives is The Highlander dated May 1935, which is confusingly identified as Vol. 1 No.2. Since, Vol.1 nos. 3 and 4 are also in the Archives, and are respectively dated March 1935, and April 1935, the paper still seems to be a monthly publication, but the reason for reverting to Vol. 1, or even if a paper was published between 1930 and 1935, is not known.

 

1938 paper
“The Highlander”, May 21 1938. Author Wilma Dykeman was pictured as one of the graduates [University Archives]
The Archives have a further editions of The Highlander through to May 21, 1938, and from the volume and issue numbers, it seems likely the paper was published sporadically. These editions reveal the paper contained college news, letters to the editor, gossip, poems, and advertisements from local businesses.

 

 

 

 

A newspaper with no name. A contest would soon result in the paper being called “The Campus Crier” [University Archives]
Previous blogs have described how the 1940s were lean years for Asheville-Biltmore College, and lack of students and funding may explain why the next newspaper in the Archives is from October 17, 1947. This is Vol.1 No.1 of a newspaper, “published twice monthly by the Journalism class of Asheville-Biltmore College”. It was also a newspaper without a name, appearing under the banner of, ? Asheville-Biltmore ?, but included details of a contest to name the “school scandal sheet.”

 

There is no record who won the naming contest, but the newspaper was called The Campus Crier by November 1, 1947 when Vol. 1 No.2 was issued.

By 1949, financial constraints had reduced the size of the” Campus Crier” which now claimed to be “America’s Smallest College Weekly” [University Archives]
The Campus Crier continued through to the 1960s. The last edition in the Archives is Volume XV-R1 Number 2, dated November 1961, with the volume numbers suggesting the paper had been published regularly since 1947. Although in 1961 The Campus Crier was still being published by journalism students, it had seen numerous changes since 1947. These included both the size and quality of the paper, the number of pages, and the inclusion, or not, of photographs, perhaps all a reflection of the college’s financial wellbeing at any given time.

 

 

 

Throughout its run however, The Campus Crier was still internally focused with college news, editorials, and letters, supplemented by the local business advertisements.

Chronologically, the next newspaper in the Archives is Vol. 1 No.1 of The Ridgerunner, dated September 27, 1965. Again, it is unclear if this four year gap is due to missing copies, or because no paper was published.

Unlike The Campus Crier, The Ridgerunner was published by the student union, but initially it still followed the same college focused editorial style of its predecessor. However, the content soon expanded to include local and national news, record and movie reviews, and political commentary.

Although “The Campus Crier” and “The Ridgerunner” focused on campus news, they often still reflected the national political scene as these editions from 1948 and 1967 illustrate [University Archives]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last Ridgerunner in the Archives is dated February 2, 1979. Again it is unclear is this was the last issue or just the last one archived, but on February 28, 1979, Vol. 1 No. 1 of The Rag & Bone Shop was published.

This was much more of a literary paper than a newspaper, with early issues having an address c/o The Ridgerunner, as though, initially at least, it was meant to supplement, rather than replace, The Ridgerunner. By the fall of 1979, the content had become news than literary but, by 1982, it changed once again, becoming much more a glossy literary journal that was published monthly.

In addition to being unsure of its content, the publication also seemed unsure of its name, with “Shop” disappearing from, and then returning to, the title.

The Rag & Bone Shop ended in controversy. The April 1982 edition featured a drawing of a crucified Easter bunny on the front cover, leading to protests, including the burning and confiscation of the offending issue. The magazine staff claimed first amendment rights, and produced a further edition in May 1982, but with no one willing to be the next editor, The Rag and Bone Shop ceased publication.

The first issue of “Kaleidoscope”, Sept. 9. 1982. Even then,  parking was a problem [University Archives]
It was replaced by Kaleidoscope, which was first published on  September 9, 1982, and marked a return to the weekly news format of The Ridgerunner.

The focus was still campus news and events, supplemented by entertainment reviews and classified advertisements.

 

 

 

The editorial in the first issue explained the name “Kaleidoscope was chosen because it implies something that is constantly changing and showing many different views.” Production of the newspaper was open to any student who wished to participate and it was funded through student fees paid with tuition.

The final Kaleidoscope was Volume IV, Number XIV, dated April 1984. By then, non-campus news formed about half of the items, and there was much greater use of photographs.

The first “The Blue Banner”. The volume number and masthead indicated that it was “Kaleidoscope” renamed, rather than a totally new publication [University Archives]
However, Kaleidoscope did not disappear, but simply changed its name; on September 5, 1984, The Blue Banner Volume V, Number 1 was published, with the masthead proclaiming it was “formerly Kaleidoscope” and had been “Serving the Students of the University of North Carolina at Asheville since 1982.”

The newspaper gave several reasons for the name change. Students said kaleidoscope was “hard to spell,” faculty thought the name “artsy…unprofessional,” administrators wanted a name “that better reflected the campus,” and several Asheville businesses were called Kaleidoscope.

But why The Blue Banner?

Apparently because blue was “one of [the] school colors…and banner is a newspaper name that goes well with blue.”

Irrespective of the reason for the name, it still continues, making The Blue Banner the longest lasting running title of all student newspapers at UNC Asheville and its predecessors.

“The Blue Banner”, still delivering the news in March 2018. [University Archives]
However, the name is about the only constant at the newspaper over the last thirty-four years. Page sizes and layouts have changed, and changed back, color images and type have replaced black and white, the paper is published online as well as print, and social issues have a much higher profile than they did in the 1980s.

 

 

Throughout its existence, the quality of journalism featured in The Blue Banner has been frequently recognized and praised. The most recent example being in February 2017, when the newspaper earned six awards at the N.C. College Media Association’s conference.

Colin Reeve, Special Collections

Footnotes:

  1. The above is a brief summary of “official” student newspapers. “Unofficial” publications have included The Scholastic Screamer and the UNC-A Free Press, whilst publications such as The Paper and Bulldog Barker were published by university administration rather than the student body.
  2. Digitized copies of most archived newspapers through to 2015 are available online at DigitalNC
  3. The University Archives would like copies of editions of university newspapers that are not currently in the Archives. Please contact speccoll@unca.edu if you have a “missing” edition

Estate book of Col. Frank Coxe added to UNCA’s Special Collections

Col. Frank Coxe
Col. Frank Coxe

 

By Joey Harrington, Special Collections intern

Colonel Frank Coxe was born in 1839 to a slave-holding family on the Green River Plantation in Rutherford County, NC. The grandson of a prominent financier and land speculator who served in the Treasury Department during George Washington’s presidential administration, Coxe’s own career was marked by investments in the coal and railroad industries. However Coxe’s business ventures took a turn in the mid-1880s when he established the Battery Park Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina — the largest development to occur in Asheville up to that time. In a 1979 interview his grandson (also named Frank) reflects on how his grandfather ended up in Asheville’s tourism industry:

Now my grandfather, Colonel Coxe, after the Civil War, he went to Charlotte. This coal money was pretty big money in those days, and he was considered a wealthy man… He spent about half of his time there and half of his time in Philadelphia. But had always had his eye on this Asheville area, because of his feeling that this could be one of the greatest resort areas in the country. When the railroads, four of them, from four directions, came in here, and he helped finance the building of the road from Old Fort up to this. [sic] He decided that the time was ripe to invest in Asheville, and in the form of this hotel, particularly. As I say, I think that the Battery Park Hotel was the springboard for this community.

The original Battery Park Hotel, constructed in 1886 and torn down in the 1920s, was situated on a scenic hill in downtown Asheville where a Confederate battery stood during the Civil War. According to historian Richard Starnes the hotel was built, in part, to “lure northern capitalists to the mountains, hoping luxurious accommodations and a pleasant visit would lead to regional ventures” (Starnes 49).

Battery Park Hotel, Asheville NC, circa 1890s

In addition to the hotel, Colonel Coxe also accumulated large tracts of land throughout the Asheville area, to the point that “every one of the buildings that you see along College and Patton, that were built between 1900 and 1920, except for the Public Service Building […] they were all built by the family” (Coxe Interview). Needless to say, by the end of his long career Colonel Coxe accumulated a large estate which according to a 1903 Citizen Times article was worth 7 million dollars (close to 200 million dollars in 2018 money according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator).

Coxe's signature on his will
Coxe’s signature on his will
The first page of Frank Coxe's handwritten will
The first page of Frank Coxe’s handwritten will

    After Colonel Frank Coxe’s death in 1903, the Coxe Estate was bequeathed to his children Francis, Otis, Tench, and Maude. With the exception of Otis, they became the estate’s trustees, managing the properties and investments after their father’s passing.

Account book of the Frank Coxe Estate book covering the years 1908-1914
Account book of the Frank Coxe Estate book covering the years 1908-1914
A page from the Coxe Estate book
A page from the Coxe Estate book

    In 2018, a ledger book, titled the “Frank Coxe Estate,” was donated to UNCA’s Special Collections by private collector Bill Hart (the ledger can now be found in the Frank Coxe Papers). In the hand scribed book, business dealings from 1908 to 1914 are recorded in detail, documenting “Receipts” which includes income from the Battery Park Hotel, rental properties and the like, and “Disbursements,” documenting the payments to the Coxe children, land purchases, upkeep on properties, and other miscellaneous payments.

July, 1912. Monthly stipends to members of the Coxe family
July 1913. Entry showing regular income received into the estate account from the Battery Park Hotel
July, 1909. Disbursements to the Battery Park Hotel to cover the cost of fire damage, showing the estate was still tied up in the financial operations of the hotel
July, 1909. Colonel Frank Coxe was born and died on the Green River Plantation. Seven years after his death it seems the plantation was still being maintained by the heirs to his estate

It’s often the case that the estate of a deceased individual is divided up and willed off to their heirs, however it’s clear from the ledger that Colonel Coxe’s children maintained the Coxe Estate well after their father’s passing — continuing to manage the large amount of property that had been accumulated over the last half century in the Asheville area. Today, Coxe’s substantial influence over Asheville’s early development may be most easily recognized by the downtown avenue named after him. However, due to the extensive influence Coxe had in the early cultivation of Asheville’s tourism industry — George Vanderbilt stayed at the Battery Park Hotel before he decided to finance the construction of the Biltmore Estate — it would be difficult to overestimate the influence (for better or worse depending on who you ask) that the Coxe family has had on Asheville’s history and therefore on what Asheville is today.  

Joey Harrington studies History and Jazz and Contemporary Music at UNC Asheville.

Sources:

Coxe, Frank. Interview by Bruce Greenawalt. June 9, 1976. Transcript. Southern Highlands Research Center Oral History Collection. Ramsey Library Special Collections. University of North Carolina at Asheville, Ashevile, NC.

Starnes, Richard. Creating the Land of Sky: Tourism and Society in Western North Carolina. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005