The Julia Cherry Spruill Professorship in History was established in 1988 by a bequest from Corydon P. Spruill of Chapel Hill, made in honor of his late wife.

Julia Spruill, a teacher, author, historian, musician and church leader, was born in Edgecombe County in 1899. As a student at Rocky Mount High School, she played basketball and excelled in music and academics. She then entered the N.C. College for Women (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), where she received a B.A. in English in 1920. She returned to Rocky Mount, where she taught in the public school system. Two years later, she married Corydon P. Spruill, a Raleigh native who had just returned from Oxford, England, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Julia Spruill entered graduate school at UNC, received an M.A. and became the first woman to win the William Jennings Bryan Prize for Excellence. She then taught history at Chapel Hill High School and, supported by a two-year grant from the Institute for Research in Social Sciences, began researching the lives of Southern colonial women. In 1928, her husband, who had joined the UNC faculty as an assistant professor of economics, went to Harvard University, where he studied and taught. Julia Spruill accompanied him to Harvard and continued her research.

The Spruills returned to Chapel Hill in 1930. Eight years later, Julia’s manuscript was published by UNC Press. Women’s Life and Work in the Southern Colonies was well-received upon publication but received even more attention during the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Spruill’s book is now available throughout the United States and in many foreign countries.

Julia Spruill died in 1986.

Corydon P. Spruill was born in Raleigh in 1899. He received a B.A. from the university in 1920. As an undergraduate, he lettered in gymnastics, managed the basketball team, ran a boarding house and was president of his sophomore class. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Golden Fleece. Spruill was selected as a Rhodes Scholar; his studies at Oxford University in England led to a B.Litt. in 1922.

Upon his return to Chapel Hill, he became an assistant professor in economics and married Julia Cherry. He was made a full professor in 1932; when he retired in 1968, he was the Alumni Distinguished Professor in Economics. Spruill was appointed as the first dean of the General College in 1936 and, except for a tour of duty in the U.S. Army during World War II, served in that capacity until he was named dean of the faculty in 1955. Spruill was instrumental in setting up the undergraduate advising system.

In 1958, Spruill was appointed director of research and assistant to a General Assembly committee that studied public school finance. He held professional memberships in the Southern, American and Royal Economics Associations and was active in the town’s historical society. In recognition of more than four decades of service to the University, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1980 by the UNC General Alumni Association.

In addition to establishing the distinguished professorship in honor of his wife, Spruill provided an unrestricted gift to the Department of Economics. He died in 1988.

The Julia Cherry Spruill Professor:

Jacquelyn D. Hall