Charles Kuralt's office goes on the road

Charles Kuralt's penthouse office suite, including the reception area shown above, will become a learning center in the journalism school.

The late Charles Kuralt was known for chronicling everyday life in small town America through his award-winning "On the Road" series. And now, thanks to the generosity of his widow, Petie Kuralt, Kuralt's office is on the road, moving from a penthouse in midtown Manhattan to the UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Chapel Hill.


The suite, consisting of Kuralt's small personal office, a larger reception area with his assistant's desk and a workroom, was moved to the Chapel Hill area in December and is currently in climate-controlled storage. It will be re-created, complete with Oriental rugs, paneled walls, brick fireplace, thirteen Emmys and three Peabody awards, in Carroll Hall, which will become the school's new home in summer 1999. A fund-raising campaign is under way to raise $150,000 to cover the cost of the move.

The suite will serve as a learning center, enabling students and visitors to view Kuralt's TV programs, including "On the Road" and "CBS Sunday Morning."

"We're exceedingly grateful to Petie Kuralt for making this possible," said Dr. Richard Cole, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "Charles would be pleased to know that students could sit in his office surrounded by his mementos and ponder important issues in journalism."

Kuralt's assistant Karen Beckers agrees.

"What I'm so pleased by is that the office is going to be something alive. It will serve a purpose rather than just honoring Charles. He would have liked that," she said.

The center will have a computer link to the UNC-CH libraries' Southern Historical Collection, where Kuralt's papers are held. Archiving the 150 boxes, or 250 linear feet, of the collection's letters, scripts, awards and other materials is estimated to cost $65,000.

"It will take the better part of a year to complete because, in addition to regular print material, the collection contains audio and video cassettes," said Tim Pyatt, curator of manuscripts. "These will have to be evaluated, preservation work done and copies made for public access."

Once the collection is archived, the library intends to develop, in addition to the regular print aid, an electronic finding aid, accessible via the World Wide Web, which will allow the public to search the contents of the collection online.

The library also hopes to conduct oral histories of Kuralt's associates, such as Karen Beckers and former classmates, to enrich the documentation on the famous Tar Heel.

Born in Wilmington, N.C., Kuralt attended Carolina from 1951-55 and edited The Daily Tar Heel.

A devoted supporter of Carolina, Kuralt served as a member of three UNC-CH boards of visitors and made numerous financial contributions to the University, including a gift in his father's honor for completion of the Tate-Turner-Kuralt School of Social Work. He died on July 4, 1997.

by Karla Gower '98

For more information on the Kuralt Learning Center, call Dean Cole at 919-962-1204. To contribute to the libraries' efforts to archive Kuralt's papers, contact Michele Fletcher, director of library development, at 919-962-3437 (

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