Posted by: Olivia | June 22, 2016

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. This month our theme will be vacations.

Summer! The magical time when the kids are home. Need something to entertain them? How about the Reed Gold Mine, located in Midland, North Carolina? This week’s item is a video, “All that Glitters”, about the history of the Reed Gold Mine, created by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Reed Gold Mine is where the first documented gold find occurred in the United States. Many people may not realize that North Carolina actually led the nation in gold production until the California Gold Rush of 1848.

In 1799, John Reed’s son, Conrad Reed, discovered a large yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek in Cabarrus County. For the next three years it was used as a doorstop. It wasn’t until three years later when a jeweler identified the rock as a gold nugget. The Reeds did not understand the true value of the nugget and sold it for a weeks’ worth of wages, about $3.50. The nugget’s true value was estimated at about $3,600. In 1803, Reed began a part-time mining operation with local men using only pans and rockers. In 1845 John Reed died a rich man from the gold mined on this property.

Did you know that the State Archives of North Carolina has a YouTube channel? Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for the announcement of the new digital collection, Links to State Archives of North Carolina Materials. This collection features direct URLs to SANC items hosted online by other sites.

Posted by: kevin | June 15, 2016

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition


Committee report to the North Carolina Senate detailing the southern boundary of North Carolina compiled December 19, 1792. (GP 23)

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. This month our theme will be vacations.

Boundaries. Those imaginary lines that slice through terrain, separating groups of people, annexing commercial areas and determining tax rates are constantly in the news. Whether it’s the creation of a new nation (South Sudan) or the fine-tuning of a state’s border (most recently North and South Carolina in Gaston and Union counties), these lines have been an obsession long before the colonization of America. This week’s item highlights a report found in Benjamin Williams’ papers concerning the boundary between North and South Carolina, designated as:

“…Beginning on the Sea side, at a Cedar Stake, at or near the mouth of Little river, being the Southern Extremity of Brunswick County, and running from thence a north west course, through the Boundary house which stands in 33 degrees 56 minutes to 35 degrees north Latitude, and from thence a west course as far as is sanctioned in the Charter of King Charles the 2d to the late Proprietors of Carolina…”

The description found in the Charter of 1663 puts the west course “as far as the south seas [Pacific Ocean] …” A vacation to Bird Island Reserve, part of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, may be worth a trip to see the river that determined our southern border. And if that’s too far for the family to travel, a visit to the House in the Horseshoe, land that Benjamin Williams once considered his “Retreat” will provide a rich historical experience.  These sites provide much to encourage thoughts on boundaries natural, political and historical.

The point of controversy eventually rested on one issue and the argument in North Carolina was vigorous, at times contentious. Conservatives led by James Iredell wanted the document left alone. Their opponents, led by Willie Jones, insisted on added protections for individual liberties.

The document protecting individual liberties that North Carolina demanded before ratifying the U.S. Constitution will be displayed Wednesday, June 15, through Sunday, June 19, in the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” at the N.C. Museum of History. Admission is free.

For a while there was heated debate about the Bill of Rights, each side rounding up more allies. The internal stalemate escalated, preventing North Carolina from taking action, but by November 1789, the state finally ratified the U.S. Constitution with the longed-for Bill of Rights as its first 10 amendments.

George Washington had a copy of the Bill of Rights created for each state. North Carolina’s copy was held in the State Capitol building when, in 1865, it was stolen by a Union soldier. Recovered in an FBI sting operation almost 150 years later, North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights resides in one of two vaults in the State Archives.

Rarely displayed because of its fragile condition, museum visitors will be able to view this document for one week in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives exhibit at the Museum of History in Raleigh.

“The Bill of Rights belongs to the people of North Carolina,” stated Sarah Koonts, state archivist. “We are the custodians of a document that guarantees freedom and liberties to United States citizens and we are happy to have the opportunity to exhibit this treasure to the public.”

Visitors to the Treasures of Carolina exhibit will discover the important role of the State Archives of North Carolina — the state’s memory bank. From parchment documents to digital files, the State Archives collects, preserves and makes accessible over 100 million treasures chronicling the Tar Heel State, past and present.

The variety of public records and private manuscript collections in the exhibit focuses on three themes: providing evidence of civil and property rights, government transparency, and the preservation of North Carolina’s history and culture.

 A sampling of the exhibit treasures includes:

  •  The earliest will known to exist in North Carolina, recorded in 1665 by Mary Fortsen. It is unusual because female property owners were extremely rare in the 1600s.
  • An 1839 petition for United States citizenship, signed by Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in Siam (now Thailand). They settled in Wilkes County and married sisters. Altogether, the families had 21 children.
  • The hand-drawn map used as evidence during the 1867 trial of Tom Dula, who was indicted and hanged for murdering Laura Foster. Dula’s fate is told in the popular ballad “Tom Dooley.”
  • A Civil War letter from Martha A. E. Henley Poteet to her husband, Francis Marion Poteet, who was away at war. She enclosed a cutout of her 4-week-old daughter’s hand with the request “write to Me what to name her.” The family lived in McDowell County.
  • A 1903 copy of the North Carolina Constitutional Reader. In 1901 rules were enacted to prevent illiterate African Americans from voting, and this book was published to help African Americans read the Constitution in case they were questioned at the polls when trying to vote.
  • Audio recordings of World War I soldiers’ oral histories.

 Treasures of Carolina will run through July 31, 2016. The Bill of Rights will be displayed June 15 through June 19.


Posted by: Kat | June 8, 2016

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of June our theme is vacations!

 It’s summertime in North Carolina, and that means vacation time! All North Carolinians know that our state has hundreds of amazing vacation destinations. From the mountains to the sea, for a long weekend or a whole month, N.C. has much to offer travelers with every kind of interest. Of course, at the State Archives, we are especially interested in the history of North Carolina, and there are dozens of historical sites, museums, archives, events, and parks around the state that cater to inquisitive minds. Our Treasure this week features the Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee, N.C., where the outdoor drama Unto these Hills has been performed for over 60 years.


Mountainside Theatre for “Unto These Hills,” Cherokee, N.C., ca. 1950s. Department of Conservation and Development Records, Division of Travel Information, Photograph File. MARS 44.47

Sponsored by the Cherokee Historical Association, and first performed in the summer of 1950, Unto These Hills recounts the history of the Cherokee people from their origins, through European colonization, the Revolutionary War, the Trail of Tears, and into the present day. The photographs featured here were created by the North Carolina Travel Information Division in the 1950s. They shows four views of the historic Mountainside Theatre where Unto These Hills is still performed every summer. The theatre is located on the Cherokee Reservation in western N.C. Additional pictures of this outdoor drama and the Reservation can be found at the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism Photos collection at NCDC. Additional information about Unto These Hills, and other historical outdoor dramas in North Carolina, can be found at this NCpedia page.

Posted by: Ashley | June 3, 2016

AV Materials Instagram

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Sherman M. Jones standing in the doorway of his shoe shop at 212 East Davie Street in Raleigh. Learn more on Instagram.

Sherman M. Jones standing in the doorway of his shoe shop at 212 East Davie Street in Raleigh. Learn more on Instagram.

The State Archives of North Carolina AV Materials Unit is happy to announce that we are now sharing photos via Instagram!  My colleague Ian FG Dunn is spearheading this initiative and will be posting a lot of fascinating historical photographs from the collections as well as photos of our work in progress, of hidden gems uncovered as we process collections, and documenting exciting new acquisitions!  If you are interested in what we have in our holdings, how our work is going, and what treasures are coming through our doors every day, then please follow us on Instagram at, and if you have questions or input please let us know.

Posted by: avgabriel2 | June 2, 2016

Why We Search for the Lost Colony

SWR over recreated Raleigh map

Plan to attend Monday, June 6 at 1:30 as the Friends of the Archives presents “‘Bring Them Home’: Why We Search for the Lost Colony.” This free presentation will be held at the State Library/State Archives building at 109 E. Jones St. in Raleigh.  

The story of North Carolina’s “Lost Colony” is a simple yet compelling one. A late-16th-century effort to establish England’s first permanent settlement in the New World results in failure with the fate of its 117 colonists—men, women, and children—remaining unknown. But while this was just one of many similarly unsuccessful colonies, only this “Lost Colony of Roanoke” still asserts its emotional pull on public and scholarly imaginations across the centuries.

In the last decade, archaeological and archival research has produced new evidence not only of what fate befell Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke Colony, but also of the enduring effects that enterprise wrought. Brent Lane has been an active participant and curious observer on these recent efforts and their often dramatic findings. Brent discusses what is known and what must yet be discovered if our generation of Tar Heels is to fulfill the best—and probably last—hope of recovering North Carolina’s “Lost Colonists.”

Brent Lane is a professor of Heritage Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School where he is Director of the UNC Center for Competitive Economies at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Brent works with several local, national, and international  organizations on the importance of natural and cultural heritage in conservation, education, and the economy.

This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Archives, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization formed in 1977 to privately fund some of the services, activities, and programs of the State Archives of North Carolina not provided by state-appropriated funding.

Posted by: Francesca | May 31, 2016

Treasures of Carolina Exhibit Extended

The Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives exhibit will be extended to July 31, 2016.

A selection of the state’s historic documents will be exhibited in Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives of North Carolina at the Museum of History, October 24, 2015–June 19, 2016. Documents from the Archives vault, unique letters, historic photographs, public records, and other media will illuminate the myriad of ways in which the holdings of the State Archives document the workings of our government, provide evidence of civil liberties, and preserve the history and culture of North Carolina. This exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of the Archives and runs through July 31, 2016. Additional funding was provided by the N.C. Bar Association Foundation, the Raleigh Times, and Wells Fargo.

These following items will be on view for a limited time:

  • Famous Signatures – on view February 15 through June 14, 2016. Exhibit visitors will see letters or documents signed by George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and Buckminster Fuller.
  • North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights – on view  June 15 through 19, 2016. This document was stolen from the State Capitol by a Union soldier following the Civil War. In an FBI sting operation, it was recovered in 2003.
  • 19th & 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – on view June 20, 2016, through July 31, 2016. North Carolina’s official copy of the 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote and 26th Amendment gives U. S. citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote.

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