The Friends of the UNCG Libraries was created at an organizational dinner in April of 1959. The first chairperson, distinguished alumna Martha Blakeney Hodges of the class of 1918, was the wife of the then-current North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges. The first meeting featured a talk by Gerald W. Johnson, prominent Baltimore editor and author and member of an illustrious North Carolina family.
One of the primary objectives of the Friends of the UNCG Libraries was to bring prominent speakers to the campus for the annual dinner each spring. This program has become the Friends' best-known contribution to the University and to the Greensboro community. The list of the speakers at the Friends of the UNCG Libraries dinner reads like a who's who among writers, journalists and scholars of the past forty years. The list includes such people as John Crowe Ransom, Doris Betts, Willie Morris, Tom Wolfe, Tom Wicker, Charles Kuralt, George Will, James Reston, John Hope Franklin, T. Harry Willliams and William J. Bennett.
The Friends of the UNCG Libraries dinner continues a campus tradition begun long before the Friends organization was formed. University founder Charles McIver brought his friend William Jennings Bryan to speak in 1894. Other public figures who have spoken on the campus over the years include Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Jeannette Rankin in 1918, George Washington Carver in 1933, Robert Frost in 1955, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who came in 1931, 1945 and 1953.
The Friends of the UNCG Libraries also supports the efforts of the University Libraries to fulfill its mission of providing support to teaching and research. Membership money provides support for Special Collections and University Archives and for other projects, including the acquisition of books and other materials for the Libraries' collections.
This presentation, prepared for the 2009 annual dinner, offers a perspective on the Friends' history and current activities.