Posted by: Ashley | July 25, 2014

State Archives Awarded Grant to Preserve Films

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release - you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

A glimpse of a film of the North Carolina State Fair, one of the films to be restored as part of the NFPF grant

A glimpse of a film of the North Carolina State Fair, one of the films to be restored as part of the NFPF grant.

Few media formats are able to immerse one in a story or transport one into another reality as thoroughly as motion picture film.  A moving image complete with sound and color is indeed the next best thing to being there.  Captured on film, the past comes alive.  The State Archives of North Carolina preserves hundreds of motion picture films, many of which document historic events, people, and places – from Depression-era common folks in cities and towns across the state, to home movies depicting real lives of real families in the 1960s, to Governor Terry Sanford addressing the citizens of North Carolina upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Films are part of a growing and important body of historical material the Archives collects and makes available to researchers.

In July 2014, the State Archives received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve and reformat two more films, “The North Carolina State Fair” (ca. 1974), a daylong glimpse of the Raleigh-based event, including an appearance by Bob Hope; and “Scott for Lieutenant Governor” (ca. 1965), a campaign ad for Robert W. Scott’s bid for lieutenant governor. The films were produced by Century Film Productions, a Raleigh-based film studio that operated from the 1950s to the 1980s. Owners O.B. (Ollie) and Lynne Garris donated their collection of 175 films and outtakes to the State Archives in 1985. These films document mid-twentieth century North Carolina state politics and social and economic history and culture.

Volunteer and audiovisual archivist and researcher Melissa Dollman was instrumental in securing this grant. “We are so fortunate to have Melissa’s expertise in working with these films,” stated Kim Andersen, audio visual materials archivist at the State Archives. “Because of her work, the entire Century Film collection is now processed and cataloged and these specific reels will receive the preservation treatment they need and will be digitally transferred and made available online.  We are grateful to the National Film Preservation Foundation for their generosity in making this possible for us here in North Carolina.”

View films from the collections at the State Archives on its YouTube channel:


About the State Archives of North Carolina

The State Archives of North Carolina State Archives collects, preserves, and makes available for public use historical and evidential materials relating to North Carolina. Its holdings consist of official records of state, county, and local governmental units, copies of federal and foreign government materials, and private collections. For more information about the State Archives, visit


About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy.  Learn more at

New finding aids are now available on our website, including on the Private Collections Finding Aids page:

Wells, Mann, and Ledbetter Family Papers, 1795-1876 (pdf)
Newman Wells arrived in Rutherford County in the early years of the 19th century after migrating possibly from Rowan County and earlier from Chester County, South Carolina. His first marriage to Rebecca Edwards produced at least nine children, including Thomas (ca. 1794-1847); Lucretia, (ca. 1796-1851); Elizabeth Wells (ca. 1802-1863); Andrew (1804-1884); Joseph (1804-1877); and John (1810-). Lucretia was married twice, first to Anthony Harmon and second to David Mann. Elizabeth married Gloud Finley Long, whose daughter Nancy was married to Coleman Ledbetter, who enlisted during the Civil War as a private in the 25th Regiment, Company C. The family members who remained in North Carolina settled mainly in Haywood, Rutherford and Buncombe Counties. Papers consisting of correspondence (1848-1866), receipts, certifications, petitions, promissory notes, bills of sale (1795-1863), advertisements for medical treatments; two items concerning Vilet [Violet], a slave woman; and Civil War era documents including a soldier’s discharge from the 25th Regiment, N.C. Troops (1862), an agriculture bond between Coleman Ledbetter and the CSA (1864), an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution (1865). (1 box)

On the Governors Papers Finding Aids page new finding aids are available for these governors:

  • Manly, Charles, in office January 1, 1849-December 31, 1850
  • Martin, Alexander, First Administration, in office October 5, 1781-May 12, 1785
  • Martin, Alexander, Second Administration, in office December 17, 1789-December 13, 1792
  • McLean, Angus W., in office January 14, 1925-January 10, 1929
  • Morehead, John M., in office January 1, 1841-December 31, 1844
  • Morrison, Cameron, in office January 12, 1921-January 13, 1925
  • Nash, Abner, in office April 21, 1780-June 25, 1781
Posted by: Ashley | July 21, 2014

Land Grant Cake

Today we celebrated the end of the land grant indexing with, of course, land grant cake! The result was too good not to pass along on the blog.

Land grant cake to celebrate the end of land grant indexing.

Land grant cake to celebrate the end of land grant indexing.

Detail of the plat from the land grant cake

Close-up look at the land grant cake.

We hope you enjoy this bit of archival geekiness as much as we did.

Posted by: Ashley | July 3, 2014

July 4th and New Finding Aids

The State Archives of North Carolina will be closed July 4 – 6 for the Independence Day holiday. For more information about this and other news, visit our News and Events page.

While our building will be closed, our online resources are always available to you. On our website you may have noticed that we have added several new finding aids, including:

Medical Care Commission, Hospital Construction Section: Hospital Photographs, 1947-1972 finding aid (pdf)
Photographs and negatives of state and county hospitals, nurse’s schools and residences, and county health, treatment, and rehabilitation centers located throughout North Carolina. (4.4 cubic feet)

You can find that  finding aid on our State Agency Finding Aids page.

In addition, new finding aids are available on the Governors Papers Finding Aids page for:

  • William Holden
  • Thomas M. Holt
  • Thomas J. Jarvis
  • Samuel Johnston
  • William W.  Kitchin

[This blog post was written by Melissa Dollman, a volunteer with the Audio Visual Materials Unit. Melissa has a M.A. in Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS) from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a B.A. in American Studies from the University of  California, Berkeley.]

Century Film Productions (AKA Century Studios; Century Films) was a Raleigh-based film studio owned and operated by O.B. (Ollie) and Lynne Garris, who donated the collection to the State Archives in July of 1985. While we are still researching the connective tissue between the Garrises and the North Carolina political and business community, much can be gleaned about their reputation from the content of the films themselves. Film credits, and scant external information found to date, do tell us that O.B. was the cinematographer, and his partner, Lynne, played a variety of roles from set designer to director, editing and sound to production assistant. A real filmmaking duo, and a family business.

The Century Film Productions catalog spans from the late 1950s through the early 1980s, and including completed films, production elements, and outtakes–all but two in 16mm format–numbers over 175 items. A few highlights include sponsored films for Carolina Power & Light, Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the North Carolina Department of Transportation with R.J. Reynolds, the U.S. Navy, and the North Carolina Police Information Network; a North Carolina State University football game; commercials for Mt. Olive Pickles and Record Bar; short films and television spots for the political ad campaigns of future state governors Dan K. Moore and Robert W. Scott (from whose estate the State Archives recently received additional related documents), U.S. Representative Jim Gardner, and others. The films capture other events in North Carolina history such as unedited footage of a Ku Klux Klan march from circa 1965, the Pullen Hall fire at North Carolina State University in 1965, the inauguration of James E. Holshouser, Jr., and more. A finding aid for the collection is forthcoming.

My role as a volunteer was to inspect by hand, process, and research the Century Film Productions motion picture collection (MPF.122). Because I have professional training to do so, and I had a few free hours a week to dedicate to the project, it piqued my curiosity. I am so glad I did, as the films have in turn schooled me on late 20th Century North Carolina political and industrial history, campaign rhetoric, and mid-century marketing techniques.  Overall the collection is in good shape, as films will tend to be if kept in a cold and dry environment, with the exception of a couple of key films that we identified as potential candidates for a preservation grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF). Because the Audio Visual Materials Unit at the State Archives has been successful at winning funds to preserve films in the past, I combined technical data from previous grant proposals with detailed information about the significance of the Century collection both locally and in the context of media scholarship generally.  Another success! We are happy to announce that the NFPF will be funding the preservation of and digital reformatting of the following two films this year:

  •  “North Carolina State Fair’”(ca. 1974), a daylong glimpse of the Raleigh-based event, including an appearance by Bob Hope
  • “Scott for Lieutenant Governor” (ca. 1964), campaign ad for Robert W. Scott

For more information on NFPF and all the projects funded for 2014, please see

Posted by: tiffmaz | July 2, 2014

It is time to celebrate!

Example of a land grant envelope, “shuck”

Example of a land grant envelope, “shuck”

In the mid-1980s the State Archives of North Carolina started work on preserving, microfilming and indexing the North Carolina Land Grants. I have not been part of this project since the beginning, but for the past 6 years one of my jobs has been to index the microfilmed North Carolina Land Grants into our MARS database, I have now indexed 133 reels of microfilm which is 25,899 land grants and I am very happy to say that the project is now complete.

To give an idea as to the scope of this project there are over 200 fiberdex boxes consisting of 216,024 land grants which in turn became 611 reels of microfilm. North Carolina Land Grants span the years 1679-1959 and are arranged by county including the Tennessee Counties that used to be part of North Carolina. Prior to the indexing of these land grants, which consist of a warrant, plat and often a receipt, they would have to be taken out of their envelope “shuck,” flattened ,deacidified, and repaired in the conservation lab. From there they would be microfilmed and then finally indexing could take place. The indexing of the land grants required the ability to read the microfilm of old and at times almost illegible script. The information captured in this indexing was information found on the envelope “shuck” which includes the county name, name of the grantee, number of acres, grant number, date issued, warrant number, entry number, date entered, book number, page number, location, and remarks. The location field often required researching the names of the counties’, cities, creeks, rivers, branches, and other geographical locations. This process could be time consuming because not only might the handwriting be hard to read but in many cases the spelling would be wrong or the names of geographic features would have changed over the years as well. There were also times that the names of the people listed on the shuck would be spelled different ways within the documents and shuck. In those cases I would try to determine, as much as possible, the correct name. But indexing also had its upside, including finding many interesting or humorous names, such as Ice Snow or the all-time favorite among staff working on the land grant project, Bold Robin Hood.

Although the process was long and tedious, this project will now enable researchers to view the North Carolina land grant “shuck” information online. Land grants can provide valuable information for many different researchers. Recently I learned that land grants were used to help reestablish the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Genealogists may also find information in land grants useful in their family research. Just remember that the information found in our MARS online catalog is the information found on the envelope, the “shuck,” at the time of the filming. If a researcher wants more information on the contents of the shuck they will need to visit our search room to view the microfilm, because the original land grants have been withdrawn from use as a preservation measure.

Now that this project has been completed I am on to a new project. Keep an eye out for news about a new addition to the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Posted by: Ashley | June 27, 2014

How The State Got Its Shape

If you missed the June 23 Friends of the Archives talk “How did NC Get Its Shape: A History of the Boundaries Surveyed” by Gary Thompson, chief of the North Carolina Geodetic Survey, it is now available on the Department of Cultural Resources’ YouTube channel.

If you want to learn more about the Friends of the Archives, including how to become a member, please visit their new web pages.


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