Hamilton Hall was built in 1972 to house the departments of history, political science, and sociology. The Research Laboratories of Archaeology occupies the basement. When it opened the university celebrated the fact that they had managed to preserve an old oak, located on the building's southeast side, throughout the construction process. That tree still shades Hamilton's entrance.
The building is named in honor of Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton. Hamilton chaired the history department from 1908 to 1930 and then turned his attention to the collection and preservation of personal papers and historical records from throughout the Southeast. Equipped with the selling point of the new university library building (now Wilson Library, Hamilton and his wife and colleague, Mary Cornelia Hamilton, traveled widely and convinced many families to donate their family and business papers to UNC. Dubbed "Ransack" by those who claimed he was robbing their states of their history, he gathered materials that would be the foundation of the newly established Southern Historical Collection. Hamilton was an avowed white supremacist whose own historical works helped construct the "Lost Cause" version of American history and justified Ku Klux Klan violence and Jim Crow segregation. Yet he was a meticulous scholar who preserved the primary sources that a younger generation of historians would use to challenge and eventually discredit the work of Hamilton and other Confederate apologists.
Date Established: 1968
Date Range: 1968 – Present