Posted by: Ashley | July 30, 2015

Archives Website Currently Unavailable

Our IT Group is working on the State Archives website. The expectation is that the website will be down for a few hours but should be available again by 10 PM.

The MARS online catalog and North Carolina Digital Collections are unaffected and are still available for researchers. We will share news about the website status via this blog and our other social media should the timeline change.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Screenshot from the H. Lee Waters film of Concord, N.C., 1930, 1940s

Screenshot from the H. Lee Waters film of Concord, N.C., 1930, 1940s, now available online through DigitalNC.

Thirty films from the collections of the State Archives of North Carolina are now available online through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s “Sights and Sounds” collection. The State Archives films join audio visual materials from ten other institutions in a digitization project funded by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the Knight Foundation. For a summary of the project, materials included, and institutions taking part, please see the recent Digital Heritage Center blog post announcing the results of the project.

The State Archives films now available through the DigitalNC website and Internet Archive include:

Several color and black and white films by H. Lee Waters Films from the Audio Visual Materials Collection, including films of:

  • Albemarle
  • Angier
  • Concord
  • Kannapolis
  • Lumberton
  • Monroe
  • Wadesboro
  • Wake Forest

Films from the Robert W. Scott II Papers (PC.1317):

  • W. Kerr Scott at Burlington, N.C., event, circa 1951
  • The inauguration of Gov. R. W. Scott II, January 3, 1969
  • U.S. Coast Guard Appreciation Day, July 15, 1970

State Agency films:

  • Tour of Spencer, N.C., 1942 – NC Historic Sites
  • State Fair Exhibit, ca. 1960s – Wildlife Resources
  • Who is Polk? – a film on James K. Polk, NC Historic Sites
  • 76 and Forward: Troublous Times: The Roots of Independence, North Carolina, 1774-1776 – American Revolution Bicentennial Committee Film File
  • These States – The South – American Revolution Bicentennial Committee Film File
  • Carolina Bright – a film on tobacco history, NC Historic Sites
  • Beveridge and Associates Clips – NC Film Board

The majority of the films were 16 mm and all of the items are now available online for the first time courtesy of the work of the NC Digital Heritage Center.

Posted by: Ashley | July 29, 2015

First Wednesdays – Cohabitation Certificates

An example of cohabitation records indexed in the MARS online catalog.

An example of cohabitation records indexed in the MARS online catalog.

Collection Services Section Manager Debbi Blake wrote this month’s “First Wednesday” post for the North Carolina Civil War 150 blog. The post discusses cohabitation certificates and how they can be useful for researchers looking for records of African American marriages.

In addition to the blog post, there are other resources related to these records, including:

  • The MARS online catalog, which includes an index for many of the cohabitation materials.
  • The three-volume reference work Somebody Knows My Name: Marriages of Freed People in North Carolina County by County by Barnetta McGhee White, PhD.
  • Family Search page on the North Carolina cohabitation records.
  • North Carolina cohabitation records are available through’s North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 page.


First Wednesdays – Cohabitation Certificates

[This blog post was written by Debbi Blake, Collection Services Section Manager for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

With the abolition of slavery came many questions about the rights of freedmen, one of which was how to validate marriages. This was answered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1866 with an act allowing formerly enslaved couples to register their marriages in the county of their residence. This act provided proof that such unions had existed, often for decades. In North Carolina, such certificates were called cohabitation records, most of which are housed in the State Archives of North Carolina. Couples were to appear before 1 September 1866, although it was later amended in order to extend the period until 1 January 1868. The overwhelming majority of couples came before the clerk of court or justice of the peace during the first targeted period of March to September. This stampede resulted in the thousands of certificates in the Archives. [Read more…]

Posted by: Kat | July 28, 2015

Summer of the Archives Series

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Fifty-five years ago this week, on July 26, 1960, the first African Americans were served at the lunch counter in the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth. Almost six months previously, on February 1, 1960, four African American students from North Carolina A & T State University had attempted to integrate the “whites only” lunch counter, but were refused service. The students had just purchased school supplies in the store, and argued that if the store was willing to take their money for goods, they should also be willing to serve them at the lunch counter. Even though they were repeatedly asked to leave by the lunch counter staff and by police, the four students stayed seated until the store closed that night. The next day, twelve African Americans came to sit at the Woolworth lunch counter.

African American men seated at lunch counter, 1960.  [Call no. NO.2.10.1960.fr6a]

African American men seated at lunch counter, 1960. [Call no. NO.2.10.1960.fr6a]

The lunch counter sit-in protests quickly spread to other cities in North Carolina and across the South, and, in the end, these demonstrations led to the desegregation of many public spaces.

This photograph is part of the News and Observer Photograph Files, State Archives of North Carolina, and can be found in the Civil Rights digital collection at North Carolina Digital Collections. The Civil Rights collection includes photographs and documents from the 1950s through 1970s related to the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina. Check out these articles at NCpedia for more information on the Greensboro Four and African American Civil Rights in North Carolina.

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications digital collection is now complete. All 35,717 pension applications have been made available online. Formally referred to as “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications,” these materials are part of the State Auditor’s records. The project began last year when the Collections Management Branch scanned the microfilm copies of the pension applications. To learn more about how the project was processed, visit the initial blog post here.

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications contain genealogical information, such as name, age, and place of residence when applying for the pension. But the applications also capture service information including company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability.  Pension applications filed by widows were filed under the name of the deceased soldier. Documents in the collection include: pension applications from soldiers and widows; documentation of disabilities by physicians; correspondence relating to the application; and witness statements, usually from men who served in the same company or regiment, attesting to the applicant’s service history. In very rare instances, the pension files may include copies of marriage and death certificates, or other supporting documentation. A majority of the applications also indicate whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry in an official statement usually located on the back page of the application.

More historical information about the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications is available in the MARS online catalog entry for “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications:”

“As first begun in 1889, those applicants eligible for pensions were divided into four classes based on disability: first class pensioners were totally disabled ($72 annually); second class pensioners had lost a leg or arm ($60); third class pensioners had lost a hand or foot ($48); and fourth class pensioners had lost an eye, or were partially incapacitated due to other wounds ($30). Widows were classified as fourth class pensioners.

All persons entitled to pensions under the act, whether previously drawing pensions or not, were to appear before their county Board of Pensions on or before the first Monday in July 1901 for examination and classification. For pension applications before 1901, see the series, Pension Bureau: Act of 1885 Pension Applications. Applications for admission to the Soldiers’ Home, however, are included with applications under the 1901 act, even though some may date from before 1901.

Certain persons were excluded from benefits under the pension acts. Applicants owning more than $500 worth of property or earning a public salary of $300 or more were ruled ineligible for a pension, and no one receiving aid under laws for relief of the totally blind or maimed was eligible. Inmates of the Soldiers’ Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were also excluded from benefits under the pension acts.

Almost every succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. The amount received was lowered and raised, the property disqualification was raised to $2,000, and the date of marriage to make a widow eligible was moved forward several times until a widow was eligible if she had been married to a Confederate veteran for ten years before his death if his death occurred after 1899. Widows could remarry and still be eligible provided they were widowed again at the time the application was made…”

The pension applications also include unexpected details about the applicant’s life:

In a few instances, widows were filing pensions well into the 1960s and 1970s. The pension system ended in 1986.

The original blog post announcing the 1901 Confederate Pension project is available at:

Posted by: Olivia | July 21, 2015

Summer of the Archives

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Tiny Broadwick in her jumping attire

Need a cool breeze this summer? Why not follow in native North Carolinian Tiny Broadwick’s path and jump out of some airplanes (safety first of course). Tiny Broadwick, born Georgia Ann Thompson in 1893 was from Granville County, and was the youngest of seven daughters. Due to her birth weight of only three pounds, she was given the nickname “Tiny”. At the age of fourteen, Tiny joined The Broadwicks and Their Famous French Aeronauts carnival act, performers who jumped out of hot air balloons. Tiny completed her first parachute off a hot air balloon in 1908 at the North Carolina State Fair. She was advertised as the “Doll Girl” due to her size and was dressed in ruffled bloomers, bows and ribbons with a little bonnet to complete the outfit. Tiny soon became the star attraction of the show. Tiny became famous for several different feats including being the first woman to parachute from an airplane and the first woman to parachute into the water.

Tiny cemented her place in history in 1914 when she demonstrated parachutes to the U.S. Army as a successful device for pilots to escape planes. On one of Tiny’s jumps the parachute line became entangled in the tail assembly of the plane, and with some quick thinking, Tiny cut most of the line and then deployed her parachute manually. This was later developed into the rip cord. Tiny became the first person to ever make a planned free-fall descent, and successfully demonstrated that pilots could safely evacuate an airplane.

To see more about women in North Carolina history, visit the NCDC Women in North Carolina 20th Century History. And to learn more about Tiny, visit NCPEDIA.

Posted by: Ashley | July 20, 2015

State Archives on North Carolina Weekend

The Collecting Carolina segment on the State Archives of North Carolina features many archival resources including the map collection.

The Collecting Carolina segment on the State Archives of North Carolina features many archival resources including the map collection.

The State Archives of North Carolina was featured on the UNC-TV program North Carolina Weekend last week. The Collecting Carolina segment includes an introduction to genealogical and historical research at the State Archives, several of the treasures from the vault collection, and the State Archives conservation lab. It is available online on the North Carolina Weekend website and UNC-TV PBS video.

UNC-TV is watched by more than 4 million viewers each week, and almost 75,000 members send in their contributions each year to keep UNC-TV on the air. During 2014-2015, UNC-TV and its partners produced more than 340 hours of original local programming, making it a leader in the public television industry in that respect. UNC-TV has received 7 Regional Emmy Awards already this year and many other honors for its programming and services over the years. UNC-TV’s programming reaches into 13 million homes including all of North Carolina, into portions of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

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