The Second Century of UNC Press

The Spring of 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of UNC Press. When the Press was founded as an independent not-for-profit—by faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—it was a pivotal event in the intellectual history of the South.  Prior to this, there was no secular publishing in the South. It was a visionary act, defying decades of prejudices against the region. When this Press published books by southern scholars about life in the South, it did so because no one else would. UNC Press published books about Appalachia, and folkways, and indigenous peoples, and food studies, and race because few others thought these were topics worthy of publication. 

The University of North Carolina Record, November 1925, containing the Certificate of Incorporation of the University of North Carolina Press

These founders should be credited with having the vision to create a publishing house that was affiliated with, and yet maintained clear independence from, the university. They recognized that publishers can be true to their mission but also have the courage and freedom to scrutinize and challenge hierarchies of authority. 

In our Second Century, we continue to embrace the idea that we exist to discover and amplify voices and perspectives that have been under-served by publishing. In our first hundred years, we showed the nation what it meant to live and thrive in the American South. In our Second Century, we will build on that base, revealing through our publications how the South is an evolving concept. The state of North Carolina and the South writ large are infused daily with global influences. And in turn, the globe is learning more and more about the work being done and the lives being lived in the South. UNC Press is a key participant in shaping that engagement.  

We look forward to spending this year celebrating our past and sharing our plans for the future. As publishers, we normally stay behind-the-scenes in order to build pathways connecting writers to readers. This year, we’ll ask your indulgence as we shine the spotlight a bit on ourselves.  

John Sherer 

Spangler Family Director