Editor’s note: LimeLight is a regular feature from WRAL TechWire offering another means of publishing noteworthy news. Be sure to check out more LimeLight worthy news at this link.


CHAPEL HILL The University of North Carolina Press (UNC Press), a nonprofit publisher of both scholarly and general-interest books and journals, is celebrating the centennial of its founding.

Established in 1922, UNC Press was the first university press in the South and one of the first in the nation. The Press’s regional publishing program—aimed at general readers and offering engaging, authoritative work on all aspects of the region’s history and culture, its natural and built environment, its music, food, literature, geography, plant and animal life—has been widely adopted in other parts of the country. The Press has earned a distinguished reputation over its one hundred years by publishing excellent work from the nation’s leading scholars, writers, and intellectuals, and by presenting that work effectively to wide-ranging audiences.

Over the years, Press books have won hundreds of prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and those of many national and international scholarly societies. Today, the imprint of UNC Press is recognized worldwide as a mark of publishing excellence—both for what and how it publishes.

Because of its respected authors who rely on the Press to connect readers with important ideas, the name of the University of North Carolina is carried on Press books and journals across the country and around the globe, in both print and digital formats.

“The founding of UNC Press in the spring of 1922 was a visionary act that was part of a series of investments made by the state and campus leadership to transform UNC from a sleepy southern university into the center of gravity for the study of the South. UNC Press legitimized the study of the South and shared the southern way of life with the world. From the beginning, the press identified voices of the region whose stories were not being told or explained. Some were stories that were just overlooked: stories from Appalachia or about women or agrarian life. Some were stories that made people uncomfortable: books about racial injustices, or about poverty, or about lynching.”—John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of UNC Press.

Watch a short video created on the occasion of the UNC Press centennial

Sherer further states: “This is a great Press, but 100 years didn’t come easily. The Great Depression. The World War. Countless recessions. Our building once burned to the ground. And now the pandemic. But despite this, I am confident that the Press’s best years are to come. Despite the pain of the pandemic, we’ve learned to do some remarkable things. Building on the previous generations of innovators and on the enormous success of the team today, the Press will endure through the whatever the next calamity is that the Fates throw at us. We’re doing the hard work now to ensure the University of North Carolina Press remains an essential and progressive force for the university, the state, the region, and world.”

Earlier this year, UNC Press unveiled a new logo/branding design to commemorate this anniversary year.

The vast roster of UNC Press authors includes historians such as John Hope FranklinGerda LernerGordon WoodMary KelleyJacquelyn Dowd HallNell Irvin PainterGlenda GilmoreTimothy TysonGary W. GallagherTiya MilesLaurent DuboisCedric Robinson, and Louis A. Pérez Jr.; scholars of American and world religions including Carl W. ErnstAnthea Butler, and Catherine Brekus; lauded literary writers and critics such as Elizabeth Lawrence, Cleanth Brooks, Phillis WheatleyThomas WolfePaul Green, and Wilma Dykeman; prominent scholars of the American South from Howard Odum to William Ferris; food and cookbook writers, including Adrian Miller and Bill Neal; and local celebrities such as David StickBill Neal, Mildred (Mama Dip) Council, and Bland Simpson.

UNC Press operates simultaneously in a business environment and in the world of scholarship and ideas, advancing the University of North Carolina System’s triple mission of teaching, research, and public service by publishing first-rate books and journals for students, scholars, and general readers.