University of North Carolina Press

In 1922 a group of faculty established UNC Press, primarily with the goal of publishing faculty research, under the direction of university librarian Louis Round Wilson. The first title published, in 1923, was The Saprolegniaceae, with Notes on Other Water Molds, by William Chambers Coker. The UNC Press initially served as a printing operation. The staff did not comment on editorial content, especially if it came from a UNC faculty member. In 1932 William T. Couch took over as director. The work began to reach beyond the campus, and the press took on a more traditional editorial role, with staff involved in selecting and editing manuscripts.

Inspired in part by Howard Odum and the Institute for Social Sciences, the press specialized in southern studies, a growing area of research and study at the university. It also published work by African American scholars, which was unusual for a southern university at that time. In fact, the UNC Press was publishing works by African American authors at the same time that state and university leaders were fighting to prevent African American students from enrolling at Carolina. The scope of the publications offered by the Press gradually expanded to include literary studies, African American history, and natural history, among other topics. By the 1950s and 1960s UNC Press was widely recognized as one of the leading university presses in the country and acknowledged for its work in regional studies.

UNC Press is part of the UNC System, not the Chapel Hill campus. It has always operated as an independent publisher with a separate board of governors that approves publications. It is supported primarily by income from sales, foundation and grant support, and donations. Originally located in the basement of Alumni Hall, the press moved to renovated Bynum Hall in 1939 after the gymnasium moved out. The offices remained in Bynum until 1980, when they moved to the new Brooks Hall.


Date Established: 1922

Date Range: 1922 – Present