Book details pictorial history of Chowan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 8, 2004

MURFREESBORO – If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then a new book detailing the historical images of Chowan College is more valuable than a dictionary.

As a part of its Campus History Series, Arcadia Publishing of South Carolina has released a pictorial history of Chowan College. Hertford County native Frank Stephenson, famous for his vast collection of old photographs detailing life in northeastern North Carolina, takes the readers of his newest book on an eye-pleasing tour of this venerable institution of higher learning.

Packed with more than 200 vintage images, Stephenson’s book is more than capable of capturing the people and events that have defined this college since its founding in 1848. Those black-and-white images trace the vast history of the school’s existence while also capturing the natural beauty of Chowan’s sprawling 289-acre campus.

Through the use of the vintage photographs and accompanying narrative, Stephenson takes the readers through the proud tradition of the college, providing a detailed glimpse of the institution’s athletic, extracurricular, social and aesthetic history. This pictorial chronicle also showcases the architecture of the campus and displays the familiar faces of Chowan’s proud past.

&uot;The story of Chowan College is a remarkable one of endurance, courage, strength, character and survival,&uot; said Stephenson. &uot;This venerable institution has taken powerful shots from wars, hurricanes, ice storms, thunderstorms, tornados, fires, frozen pipes, Civil War troops and financial hardships. The very fact that Chowan College is alive today is a testament to the indomitable spirit of this remarkable place and its many supporters throughout the years.&uot;

For Stephenson, a book on Chowan College was a natural fit. He is a graduate of the college and is a 36-year veteran member of its administrative staff. He is also an award-winning director of the college’s popular Upward Bound program, one that prepares new students for the rigors associated with leaving home for the first time and enrolling into a college.

Remarkably, there has never before been a published account of the pictorial history of Chowan College, a fact that kindled Stephenson’s &uot;fire.&uot;

&uot;I have been copying old photos of the college for over 20 years with the idea that perhaps one day they might be used in a photo history of the college,&uot; he noted.

What Stephenson didn’t count on as he was preparing the copy and the photos for publication was just how much of an impact Chowan College played in the development of the local area.

&uot;Some of the new things I learned while compiling the material for this book was watching how Chowan grew in different spurts and how much its graduates have impacted the communities they now call home,&uot; said Stephenson.

Those graduates, much like the college itself, learned that nothing in life comes easy.

&uot;Considering that Chowan closed at one time over a stretch of six years (1943-49) and now is one of the South’s most premier, small four-year colleges is a tribute to the vision of those responsible for reopening its doors,&uot; stressed Stephenson.

The 128-page book is available from numerous retail outlets throughout the region. It can also be obtained for $20 (plus $3 for shipping and handling) by contacting Stephenson at 398-3554 or 398-6278. Copies are also available through Arcadia Publishing at (888) 313-2665 or online at

Stephenson will autograph copies of his new book in the Chowan Room of Thomas Cafeteria (10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Aug. 11), at the Murfreesboro Historical Association’s Gift Shop (11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sept. 18) and at Walter’s Grill (10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Nov. 13).

Hailed as one of northeastern North Carolina’s most renowned historians, Stephenson has previously published books on moonshine, chitlins, Richard Gatling, Parker’s Ferry, black baseball, herring fishing, the Ahoskie tobacco market, the old Murfreesboro Railroad and Hertford County.