The Scary Truth Series, Pt. I

This is the first of three entries in a special Halloween-inspired blog series highlighting a collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore, and facts from North Carolina. Like sweet tea and college basketball, folklore is a major part of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Legends and stories passed down from generations keep the state’s history alive and ultimately help us remember life as it once was.

The Murder Mystery of Nell Cropsey

On November 21, 1901, Nell Cropsey mysteriously vanished from her family home near the Elizabeth City waterfront. Her body was discovered nearby in the Pasquotank river 37 days later, a mere 130 yards from where she was last seen. The first glaring suspect: Jim Wilcox, her suitor. Despite two trials and the subsequent conviction of Wilcox, many questions about her death remain unanswered. Some say her spirit haunts her family home to this day.


Portraits of Jim Wilcox (left) and Nell Cropsey (right), courtesy of the Museum of the Albemarle.

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Hispanic Heritage Month 2017

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we will be highlighting a few records from the State Archives regarding Hispanic populations, a growing proportion of North Carolina’s residents. The United States first began celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, a development which coincided with a marked increase in the Latino population in North Carolina. To be sure, there were residents of Hispanic heritage in the state long before then, dating back to interactions with Spanish colonies and the Spanish government in the eighteenth century, and influxes of immigrants in subsequent centuries. The population has grown more rapidly since the 1980s, initially fueled by migrants coming for seasonal farm work. Many came from Mexico and Central America, but the majority moved to North Carolina from other states in the US.[1] Three decades later, they are the fastest growing minority group in North Carolina, and more Latinos have been born in the state than immigrated. In 2010, the Hispanic population was approximately 800,000 or 8.4% of the state’s population.[2]

Page from Alamance County Alien Registration Records, 1940

“Alamance County: Alien, Naturalization and Registration Records: Alien Registration Record,” State Archives of North Carolina. The left page is the record of Leopold Riloba y Ruiloba from Havana, Cuba, filed August 6, 1940.

The State Archives and the State Library of North Carolina have several collections which document the experiences of Hispanic residents. The Spanish Records are copies of eighteenth century colonial records from the Papeles de Cuba at the Archivo General de Indias, the Archivo General de Simanacas, and the Archivo Historico Nacional and Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid that pertain to the southeastern colonies and North Carolina, documenting the state’s early history from the perspective of the Spanish colonial government. The Alien Registration and Naturalization Records contain county records relating to the naturalization of foreign-born citizens, including Hispanic immigrants, and often include pictures, country of origin, family names, and profession. They provide a snapshot into the lives of many people who chose to make North Carolina their home in the first half of the twentieth century, such as Leopoldo Riloba y Ruiloba, a cotton mill worker who came from Havana, Cuba to Alamance County in 1940 with his four children.

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For more recent information, modern governors’ records include proclamations and executive orders. In 1998, Governor Jim Hunt issued Executive Order 136 to create the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. He also started the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs to coordinate state programs to serve the Latino community, including migrant health, cultural diversity, community forums, and domestic violence training. Records from Governors Easley and Purdue include proclamations to observe Hispanic Heritage Month and documentation of the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs. In 2013, under Governor Pat McCrory, the office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was absorbed into the Community and Constituent Affairs Office, which serves as the point of contact for all constituents.

Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation by Gov. Bev Perdue, 2012

Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation by Governor Bev Perdue, 2012.

Other publications show state agencies’ desires to tailor their services to North Carolina’s changing constituency. For example, in 2001 the Department of Labor created a volunteer Hispanic Task Force to “identify the unique safety and health hazards that the state’s Hispanic population faces in the workplace and to determine what measures DOL could undertake to reduce fatalities and injuries among Hispanic workers.”[3] In 2006, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety conducted a study to improve services to Hispanic residents, such as providing language assistance to individuals with limited fluency in English.[4]

This is only a small sample of North Carolina records that point to the rich and interwoven stories of our state’s Hispanic heritage. You can explore our full digital collections here, or search finding aids and the online catalog to begin exploring non-digitized records. If you need assistance, our reference staff are happy to help! They can be reached by emailing them at

What have you found out about Hispanic heritage in the state archives?


[1] Alan K. Lamm, “Latinos,” NCPedia, 2006, accessed October 5, 2017,

[2] Gabriela Zabala and Steven Mann, “Demographic Trends of Hispanics/Latinos in North Carolina,” 2012, accessed October 5, 2017,

[3] “2001 Annual Report of the N.C. Department of Labor” (North Carolina Department of Labor, 2001), 10,

[4] Keith Dowd and Erin Collins, “New North Carolinians: Doing Justice for All in the Criminal Justice System: Providing Services to a Rising Hispanic and Latino Population in North Carolina” (North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission and Criminal Justice Analysis Center, 2006), 22,

Home Movie Day 2017

[This announcement comes from Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Attendees watching a Home Movie Day eventWhat hidden treasures lie in those old home movies that you have in the closet? Come to Home Movie Day and find out the value of these unique cultural and historical documents and how to save them for future generations. Spend the afternoon watching old films and playing Home Movie Day bingo. Go home with prizes and get a free digital transfer of your screened film!

Raleigh Home Movie Day

Brought to you by A/V Geeks, NCSU Film Studies, and State Archives of North Carolina.


Saturday October 21, 2017

1pm 4pm

Free and Open to the Public



State Archives of North Carolina in downtown Raleigh.

109 East Jones Street, First Floor Auditorium.

Free & easy parking in lot across the street or street parking.

For more information, see our flyer: 2017HMDFlier

A film being played during Home Movie DayWhat is Home Movie Day?

Home Movie Day was started in 2002 as a worldwide celebration of amateur home movies, during which people in cities and towns all over would get to meet local film archivists, find out about the long-term benefits of film versus video and digital media, and – most importantly – get to watch those old family films! Home movies are an essential record of our past, and they are among the most authoritative documents of times gone by.

How Can People Participate?

It’s simple: rifle through your attics, dig through your closets, call Grandma, and discover your family’s home movies (8mm, Super8mm, 16mm, Video8, or VHS). Then come on down to the State Archives with up to two old reels or video tapes, and we will screen at least one of them for you and the audience to enjoy! Point out people and places you recognize! As a BONUS, you’ll later get a digital transfer (downloadable file e-mailed to you or DVD mailed to you) of the home movie that you shared with us on the screen.  If you don’t have any home movies of your own, come to enjoy the memories your neighbors bring. It’s fun and educational! Raleigh HMD will also be featuring Home Movie Day Bingo with prizes for the WHOLE FAMILY!

A Brief History

Home Movie Day was started by a group of film archivists concerned about what would happen to all the home movies shot on film during the 20th century. They knew many people out there have boxes full of family memories that they’ve never seen for lack of a projector, or fears that the films were too fragile to be viewed again. They also knew that many people were having their amateur films transferred to videotape or DVD, with the mistaken idea that their new digital copies would last forever and the “obsolete” films could be discarded. Original films can long outlast any film or video transfer and are an important part of our cultural history! For more information about the other Home Movie Days around the world, visit the Home Movie Day site


Skip Elsheimer, A/V Geeks,, 919-247-7752;
Kim Andersen, Audiovisual Materials, State Archives of North Carolina,, 919-807-7311; Devin Orgeron, NCSU Film Studies,, 919-802-5026

Electronic Records Day – Text Messages as Public Records

This entry is cross-posted from the G.S. 132 Files, the official Records Management blog of the State Archives of North Carolina.

In recognition of Electronic Records Day 2017, sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), the State Archives of North Carolina presents the short film “The Texting Club.” This video was created for educational purposes only.

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State Archives Celebrates Archives Month with Free Public Programs

Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed October 2017 as North Carolina Archives Month and the State Archives of North Carolina presents several programs exploring the relevance of historical records in our lives today.

Home Movie Day

Saturday October 21, 1– 4 p.m.
State Archives of North Carolina; 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh; First Floor Auditorium

Home Movie Day is an international celebration of amateur films designed to showcase home movies and other forms of amateur media, and to provide a forum to discuss best practices for film and digital media preservation. Hosted in the State Archives’ building auditorium, this annual event invites attendees to bring in their own films to screen and share with all. A/V Geeks Transfer Services will transfer film to digital formats (file to download or DVD) on-site for free. An archivist from the State Archives will provide film preservation tips for films, photographs, and digitized and born-digital documents. Bring in your family’s home movies (8mm, Super8mm, 16mm film, VHS and Video8/Hi8 video tapes) to share or just show up and watch the films of others and play Home Movie Day Bingo.

Virtual Family History Fair

Saturday, November 4, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Streaming online

Winding down the activities of Archives Month, the annual virtual Family History Fair, with its theme, “Start @Home,” focuses on practical tools used to research family history. Experts from the State Archives, the Government and Heritage Library, the N.C. Digital Heritage Center, and the State Historic Preservation Office will feature ways to search and use newspapers, government records, maps, directories, and digital collections to uncover community and family connections. Explore the genealogy of your own home in the “Genealogy of a House” session.

These sessions will stream online for free, so log on to your own laptop or desktop, or join a local participating public library for the presentations.

For details on streaming, a presentation agenda, and a list of participating libraries, see the online flyer. For additional information please email or call (919) 807-7460.

Extended Research Hours

Friday, October 27, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

State Archives of North Carolina

Government and Heritage Library

109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

To accommodate those attending the N.C. Genealogical Society’s annual meeting on October 28, the State Archives Search Room and the Government and Heritage Library will extend their service hours for Friday, October 27. This is a rare opportunity to continue family research later into the evening.

State Archives Collection Documents Military Service of Col. Richard Hunt

Photo of Col. Richard Hunt in an airplane
[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases here.]

The State Archives of North Carolina is excited to announce the availability for research of a new, rare collection documenting the distinguished U.S. Marine Corps career of Col. Richard M. Hunt, who served in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War with high distinction.

The Richard M. Hunt Papers are housed in the Military Collection at the State Archives, and are freely accessible for research in the public Search Room at the Archives. Colonel Hunt’s photographs are available for viewing online through the State Archives’ Flickr page.

“The Hunt Papers contain some of the rarest correspondence from the Vietnam War belonging to a Marine Corps commanding officer in the country,” says Matthew Peek, Military Collection archivist at the State Archives. “We hope to use the materials in the collection to add to the dialogue on the role of the Vietnam War in our country’s cultural memory and its lingering effects on those who served in our military.”

Photo of Richard HuntIn January 1940, Richard Hunt moved to Raleigh, N.C., from Maryland and began work as a reporter for the Raleigh News and Observer and the Associated Press (AP), working under the byline “Dick Hunt.” Hunt stayed with the AP until May 27, 1942, when he chose to enlist in and train in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in North Carolina.

Richard Hunt served in WWII from 1942 to 1945 as a Marine Corps pilot, including with the Air Liaison Unit, Headquarters, 1st Marine Division, in the Pacific Theater. Hunt also served during the Korean War as a Marine Corps pilot from 1953 to 1954.

Hunt’s most distinguished military service was his time as the commanding officer of the Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, from March 1966 to October 1966 in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Mostly a Marine Corps helicopter unit based out of the Marble Mountain Air Facility in Vietnam, Colonel Hunt held tactical command of Task Force Delta, including fixed-wing and helicopter support, during Operation Hastings against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces in the summer of 1966. Operation Hastings was the largest combined U.S. military operation of the Vietnam War to that time. He also was involved in numerous missions with the South Vietnamese forces in 1966.

Photo of Col. Richard HuntAfter his Vietnam War service, Richard Hunt would be named as the military aide to U.S. Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey, serving from 1967 to January 1969. In this capacity, Hunt liaised between the vice president, cabinet members and their representatives, foreign government representatives, and other important government officials. Hunt assisted in keeping Humphrey fully informed and advised in sensitive military matters of the United States’ international involvements. Hunt advised the vice president on the United States’ expanding involvement in the Vietnam War, and issues such as underground nuclear testing in Nevada in 1968. Following his death in 2007, Colonel Hunt was buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Hunt collection at the State Archives contains over 800 letters from Hunt to his wife during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, numerous photographs of Vietnam War combat and activities, Hunt’s original Marine Corps pilot flight logs from 1942 to 1967, and original Vietnam War U.S. State Department briefing books on the Vietnam War.

The most important materials in the collection are Hunt’s more than 350 letters from 1966 to 1967, with details about his unit’s combat activities and losses, his perspectives on the war, and opposition attitudes to American forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The letters offer unprecedented levels of mission details on important 1966 operations, such as Operation Hastings, Operation Kansas, Operation Colorado, and Operation Prairie.

New Veterans Oral History Collection Online

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

1st Lt. Bennis M. Blue (third from right) pictured during parachute jump training for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1978. Blue was the first female officer of the 82nd Airborne. From the Bennis M. Blue Papers, Cold War Papers, Military Collection.

1st Lt. Bennis M. Blue (third from right) pictured during parachute jump training for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1978. Blue was the first female officer of the 82nd Airborne. From the Bennis M. Blue Papers, Cold War Papers, Military Collection.

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina is excited to announce the launch of the digital Veterans Oral History Collection through the North Carolina Digital Collections. The interviews, conducted since 2015 as audio interviews, are part of the Military Collection’s North Carolina Veterans Oral History Program, whose goal is to capture and provide access to the memories and experiences of the military servicemen and servicewomen from North Carolina, preserving them for the future scholarship. The collection is comprised of more than 1,100 oral history interviews, the majority of which are in analog formats and scheduled for future digitization. These initial 25 interviews—all conducted with state-of-the-art digital audio recorders used by the State Archives—document veterans from World War II to the Iraq War, as well as individuals serving during peacetime.

The interviews include: a U.S. Army helicopter crew chief who flew missions in Cambodia during the Vietnam War; women who served during the integration of the Women’s Army Corps into the regular Army in 1978; a U.S. Air Force Russian language specialist conducting radio communications surveillance by aircraft of Soviet Union radio communications from the northern Arctic coast of Russia during the 1970s; and a woman whose family farm was taken under eminent domain for the creation of Camp Butner in 1942. There are also interviews with Vietnam War intelligence officers, U.S. Air Force communications specialists during the era around the September 11th attacks and the early days of the Iraq War, and a U.S. Army Air Force as a tail gunner with the 14th Air Force in China during WWII.

Additional interviews will be added as they are conducted in the coming years. The audio is available for streaming only through the Internet Archive, linked through pages on the North Carolina Digital Collections. In the future, interview summaries with subjects and time dates will be uploaded, to increase access to the interviews. Digital copies of the interviews can be ordered through the State Archives’ Reference Unit under the duplication services for audiovisual materials.