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Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.

Professor Emeritus, Department of History

University of North Carolina Wilmington


Chris E. Fonvielle Jr. is a native Wilmingtonian with a lifelong interest in American Civil War, North Carolina, and Cape Fear history. He attended public schools, including New Hanover High School, class of 1971, where he was the first soccer-style placekicker in North Carolina football history. After receiving his B.A. in anthropology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Chris served as the last curator of the Blockade Runners of the Confederacy Museum. He subsequently received his M.A. in American history at East Carolina University, and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. That makes Chris a Wildcat, a Seahawk, a Pirate, and a Gamecock.


After a brief teaching stint at East Carolina University, Dr. Fonvielle returned to his undergraduate alma mater at UNCW in 1996, where he taught courses on the Civil War, Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear, and Antebellum America. His in-depth research focuses on coastal operations and defenses, and blockade running in southeastern North Carolina during the Civil War. He has published books and articles including The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope; Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear: An Illustrated History; Fort Fisher 1865: The Photographs of T.H. O’Sullivan.

In 2014, then-Governor Pat McCrory appointed Dr. Fonvielle to the North Carolina Historical Commission. Upon his retirement from UNC Wilmington in 2018, Chris was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for distinguished service to the State of North Carolina, signed by incumbent Governor Roy Cooper. He is also a regular history tour guide for Wilmington Water Tours.

Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., Wilmington, N.C. 3, August 11, 2023. Photo by Daniel Ray Norrs

On May 22, 2014 Chris was awarded the Historic Wilmington Foundation Preservation Award for his contributions for preservation of historical sites in Wilmington, NC.

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