Today’s post originally appeared on the Spartan Stories blog and was submitted for republication by Erin Lawrimore, University Archivist, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The image above shows Petty (second row, seated in front of tennis racket) with other members of the Faculty Tennis Club, 1900, and the image below shows Mary and Annie (standing), 1952.
When State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) first opened its doors in October 1892, it did not have a library or library books. Yet, founding president Charles Duncan McIver spoke adamantly of the “Library we are to have,” and he personally donated many of his books to begin the school’s first reference collection. Other faculty members followed suit, donating or lending books from their personal libraries in order to create a collection for student use. The school’s book collection continued to grow, and, in 1896, Annie Florence Petty was hired as State Normal’s first librarian.
Petty grew up in a Quaker family in the Bush Hill community, which is now part of Archdale, NC. Both she and her sister Mary received an early education at the New Garden Boarding School (although Annie graduated in 1894, after the school had changed its name to Guilford College). Mary, who also completed a degree at Wellesley College, was the first of the Petty sisters to start work at State Normal, teaching chemistry at the school from 1893 through 1934. After a brief period teaching school in Red Springs in Robeson County, NC, her sister Annie arrived at State Normal in 1896 to manage the school’s burgeoning library.