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What's a Tar Heel?

Andy and the Ghost

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Carrboro

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Manning Drive

Horace Williams House

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Mount Mitchell

Sherman

Swim Test

Need a Ride?

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If it ain't Broke...

Joy in the Morning

Hinton James

A Noble Tradition?

Painting the Town Blue

Di and Phi Societies


Carolina Tarheel Logo

Take a look around town and you can hardly miss the sight of a “Tar Heels” logo on T-shirts, bumper-stickers,coffee mugs, and everything else for that matter. Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are known as “Tar Heels,” but they are not the only ones. A Tar Heel is really anyone from the entire state of North Carolina, which is also known as the Tar Heel State. Ever wonder how North Carolina got such a nickname?

One version of the nickname's origin has the moniker first being applied to North Carolinians during the Civil War. One record talks of a battle in Virginia, where their supporting column retreated, leaving the North Carolina troops to fight alone. The victorious troops were asked in a condescending tone by some Virginians, who had retreated, “Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?” The response came quickly: “No, not a bit; old Jeff's bought it all up.” The Virginians asked: “Is that so? What is he going to do with it?” The reply: “He is going to put it on you'ns heels to make you stick better in the next fight.”

According to another version of the tale, the name was originally an insult, alluding to the production of turpentine, pitch and, yes, tar in the Eastern part of the state. The slur became a badge of honor when Robert E. Lee reportedly said during a battle, “God bless the Tar Heel boys.” [10].



The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill

All Text and Photos © 2004.