1860s Signature Book from Xi Chapter Enters University Archives

1863 signature bookThe UNC University Library is pleased to announce the donation of a precious artifact from the Xi Chapter of St. Anthony Hall (Delta Psi) and the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina, their associated alumni organization. This artifact is an autograph book that includes the signatures of members of Delta Psi from the 1860s, many of whom were killed in the Civil War.

The Xi Chapter of St. Anthony Hall was founded on November 20, 1854, making it the second oldest fraternity still in existence at UNC. The chapter was dormant for some years during the University’s post-Civil War ban on all fraternities and secret organizations. In 1926 Grahame Wood (U. Penn 1895) organized efforts to revive the Xi chapter at UNC.

Xi has thrived since that time.

William C. Prout, brother in St. Anthony Hall, sole graduate of UNC’s class of 1865 and the original owner of the autograph album, presented the signature book to the re-founded Xi chapter in 1927. It has since been kept in the Xi Chapter’s extensive archives and was professionally restored in recent years under a grant from the St. Anthony Educational Foundation. St. Anthony Hall and the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina moved to gift this item to the University Libraries due to its uniquely personal and historically valuable nature as well as its appeal to the University community as a whole.

The autograph album includes the signatures of students who attended UNC from 1862-1865, as well as other biographical data: the names of their girlfriends, their major area of study, the titles of courses taken, and their hometowns. Brothers Prout and Wood later added death dates and annotated some of the entries to identify those killed in
the Civil War.

In addition to signatures of St. Anthony Hall members, the book was passed around to other fraternities at UNC for their signatures. Among the names from these other fraternities are M. A. Curtis, Jr., son of the Episcopal priest and noted mycologist whose family’s notes, diaries, correspondence and other papers are housed at the University Library.

St. Anthony Hall is a literary, artistic and social fraternity comprising a diverse group of writers, artists and performers. Brothers and sisters of St. Anthony Hall are highly active in student life, working at times as editors and staff of the Daily Tar Heel, Phoenix magazine, Cellar Door, LAMBDA magazine, Shakespeare’s Sister, The Sixty-Niner and Yackety Yack; as elected and appointed members of all branches of Student Government; as competitors in intramural and Carolina Athletics sports programs; as performers in a variety of choral and musical groups; and in productions by PlayMakers and The LAB! Theatre.

Sisters and brothers of St. Anthony Hall have also been a part of many literary and artistic organizations in the larger community, including Paperhand Puppet Intervention, The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, The Performance Collective, Internationalist Books, The Somnambulist Project, The People’s Channel and many others. St. Anthony Hall hosts
a Xi Chapter alumni reunion weekend called Swingout every Spring.

Rush and pledge periods are held every semester on a schedule independent from most other fraternity rush periods. Fall ‘12 rush is going on at this time. For information on rush activities, contact rushsta@gmail.com.

Notable members of the Xi chapter include Charles Kuralt ‘55, Anson Dorrance ‘74, Jonathan Yardley ‘61, Peter Gammons ‘67, Jeff MacNelly ’69, and Charlie Scott ’68, the first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC and the first African-American to join a fraternity at UNC.

Known for its support of progressive causes, St. Anthony Hall was one of only two fraternities to sign a pledge not to patronize businesses and restaurants in Chapel Hill unless they desegregated. It was active in the fight to end the Speaker Ban and in the spring of 1971 became the first UNC fraternity to go co-ed.

St. Anthony Hall has eleven chapters around the country, the first of which was founded at Columbia in 1847. In addition to UNC and Columbia, the other schools with chapters are University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, Brown University, University of
Mississippi, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Trinity College, Princeton University and the University of Virginia.

This autograph album is a significant acquisition for the University Archives and does much to help its efforts to document student life at UNC.

“We don’t have many records of fraternities at UNC and only a few from this early in UNC’s history, so this album is a great addition.” said Jay Gaidmore, University Archivist. “Not only are the signatures and information about UNC students during the 1860s fascinating, but the representation of other fraternities reveal important aspects about fraternity life at UNC in the its early years. We really appreciate that the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina has donated such a valuable item to the University Archives and are honored to preserve the album for future generations of Tar Heels to enjoy.”

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