The Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professorship for the Study of the South
The Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professorship for the Study of the South was established in 1996 by Newsome’s grandson, Christopher Quackenbush. Newsome was an eminent N.C. historian and former chairman of the University’s department of history.
Quackenbush’s gift of $333,000 was supplemented by $167,000 in state funds from the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to create a $500,000 endowed professorship.
The Newsome Professorship is used to recruit or retain a scholar who has gained recognition for teaching and research in the study of the South. The recipient is selected from a department affiliated with UNC-CH’s Center for the Study of the American South.
Quackenbush (B.A. ’79), who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, was an investment banker with Sandler O’Neill & Partners L.P. in New York City. He established the professorship in recognition of his family’s deep Tar Heel roots.
“The endowed professorship recognizes (my grandfather’s) legacy and will help remind all of us who have been touched by this great Southern state that no matter where our lives take us, a part of us¬—our heels, if you will—remain in the South.”
Newsome was born in 1894 in Marshville. He graduated first in his class from UNC in 1915, and taught in public schools and at a college in Georgia before earning a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He joined the UNC history faculty in 1923.
In 1926, Newsome was appointed secretary of the N.C. Historical Commission, now the state Department of Archives and History. He obtained for the state the 16-acre Fort Raleigh tract on Roanoke Island and wrote and shepherded through the legislature a bill that became the nation’s most comprehensive public records law at the time. He added thousands of N.C.-related records from English and Spanish repositories and advised local officials on the protection and preservation of records.
Newsome returned to Chapel Hill in 1935 to become chairman of the Department of History, a position he held for 16 years. Chancellor Emeritus J. Carlyle Sitterson has said Newsome believed that “sound historical research at the regional, national and international levels must rest upon thorough research of problems limited in both time and geographic area.”
Newsome edited the North Carolina Historical Review and helped it achieve national recognition. His and Hugh Lefler’s textbook, North Carolina: The History of a Southern State, introduced two generations of North Carolinians to their heritage.
As a teacher, Sitterson said, Newsome “was noted for the excellence of his lectures, which were models of organization, thoroughness and presentation. The depth and range of his knowledge was a source of constant inspiration and his dispassionate treatment of the most controversial aspects of history aroused the envy of many of his less detached students. Never too busy to listen to the problems of his students, always kindly in his criticism, Newsome was essentially a gentle person.”
Poor health forced Newsome’s retirement, and he died in 1951.
Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professor for the Study of the South
2001 – Present: Peter A. Coclanis