Registrar’s Intern: Chandler Foster

We have been fortunate this summer to have an intern to assist in the Registrar’s office at the State Archives of North Carolina. Chandler Foster, a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G), took time out of his summer to work on several projects pertaining to the older accession records within the office. Initially, he focused his attention on the filing of newer accession records pertaining to recent state agency and county transfers to the State Archives. Once that project was completed, Chandler reorganized the older accession records relating to the newspaper microfilm.


Chandler also worked on rectifying one of the biggest challenges in the accession records, the separation of the accession records of the map collection into new and old completed accession sheets. The existing system prevented any quick determination of the copyright of a map for publication. Chandler took these separated accession records and merged them into a new unified filing system under the map classification codes. In addition, he also worked to clean up the filing of gubernatorial accession records within the Registrar’s office.

As the State Archives creates a repository for digital records stored onsite, it is necessary to determine the accession number of digital copies of maps stored in that repository. The accession numbers are used as the unique identifier for electronic file naming system. To assist in that work, Chandler reviewed the recently compiled map accession records generating a listing of accession numbers that can be now used for electronic file naming.

Chandler’s final project focused on creating an Excel spreadsheet for an accession ledger dated from 1946 to 1957. The accession records of the State Archives date back to 1903, and consist of documentation recorded on different formats such as commission reports, ledgers, card catalog, and an access database. Unfortunately, this makes a quick search across these varied formats challenging. Chandler started the transcription of one of the older accession ledgers, which will prove to be a boon to the staff as they search for older accession entries.

Chandler’s work has proved to be invaluable to the services of the Registrar’s Office at the State Archives of North Carolina. His dedication and willingness to tackle difficult projects improved the accessibility of a variety of accession records. We have been extremely fortunate to have Chandler to work with us this summer, and we wish him the best as he attends his final year at UNC-G.


New Additions to African American Education Digital Collection, part 1


“Memorial Services on the Passing of Mr. Julius Rosenwald”, page 17

As an ongoing project new items will be added to the African American Education Digital Collection on North Carolina Digital Collections site. These materials will be taken from the Division of Negro Education of the Department of Public Instruction record group. The selection of materials will include Speeches and Articles by Nathan Carter Newbold, the Director of the Division of Negro Education from 1920 to 1957; Division of Negro Education: Special Subject File from 1898 to 1961; and General Correspondence of the Director from 1907 to 1960.

Taken from the Department of Public Instruction finding aid: “In 1913, the State Department of Public Instruction appointed an Associate Supervisor of Rural Elementary Schools. The special duty of the supervisor was to promote Negro education. In 1917, his title was changed to State Agent for Negro Schools. As a result of the progress of this program, the Legislature in 1921 (Public Laws of 1921, chapter 146, section 17), created within the Department of Public Instruction a Division of Negro Education. This Division continued until November of 1959, when it temporarily was made a section of the newly-organized Division of Instructional Services. In June of 1960, the personnel of the former Division of Negro Education was absorbed into the various other sections of the Division of Instructional Services and the Division of Negro Education passed out of existence. In the first years of its existence, the Division of Negro Education undertook to promote the building of better schoolhouses, to provide better training tor and to supervise school teachers, to develop the normal schools, and to develop a state-wide system of Negro high schools. The salary of the State Agent for Negro Schools and later the Director of the Division of Negro Education was paid by the General Education Board until June 30, 1943, when the legislature appropriated funds for this purpose. Schoolhouse building was aided by the Julius Rosenwald Fund and teacher-training was supplemented by the Jeanes Foundation. In addition to these funds, financial assistance was received from the Slater Fund, the Phelps-Stokes Fund (it did not contribute through the Division), and finally the Southern Education Foundation. In 1934, the Department of Public Instruction, together with the University of North Carolina and Duke University, sponsored the Division of Cooperation in Education and Race Relations. The Director of the Division of Negro Education was also Director of this joint project until it W&B ended in 1946.”

The first selection of items, Speeches and Articles by N.C. Newbold, the Director of the


Pamphlet “Community School Plans”

Division of Negro Education, have been added to the African American Education Digital Collection. Articles and speeches by Newbold come from conferences and committees, they deal with negro education and include topics such as race relations, salaries, education opportunities, comparative information from different states, information on enrollment, number of graduates, and the output from teacher training programs. The items range from 1922 to 1948.

The second selection of materials are the Division of Negro Education: Special Subject Files, have been added to the African American Education Digital Collection. Special Subject Files include materials such as correspondence, reports, minutes, agendas, budgets, maps, photographs, etc. These materials relate to subjects such as the Jeanes Fund, the Rosenwald Fund, Slater Fund, school buildings, normal schools, and more.

More items will be added to the collection on a rolling basis. A list of items added to the collection by our summer intern will be posted next week.

Rare Irving Berlin WWII Play Photographs Online

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

Photograph of songwriter Irving Berlin, wearing his U.S. Army uniform, standing against a wall next to a poster advertising the only civilian performance of Berlin’s traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army at the Teatro Reale dell’Opera in Rome, Italy, in June 1944. The play was in Rome performing for U.S. military personnel during an international tour in World War II (June 1944) [Photograph by: Zinn Arthur].

The State Archives of North Carolina’s Military Collection is excited to announce the availability online of 416 original photographs documenting the international tour of American songwriter Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. Army play This Is The Army was performed from October 1943 through October 1945 during World War II. Developed from the 1942 Broadway musical play and the 1943 Hollywood film of the same name, This Is The Army (abbreviated by the cast and crew as “TITA”) was initially designed to raise money for the war effort in the United States, and featured one of the most famous wartime songs of the 1940s “This Is The Army, Mister Jones.” TITA became the biggest and best-known morale-boosting show of World War II in the U.S.

Beginning in October 1943, TITA left the U.S. for England, where it remained through February 1944. From there, they traveled to North Africa, Italy, Egypt, Iran, India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Guam, Mogmog Island, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Hawaii, and numerous other locations in the Pacific Theater. The play traveled with makeshift stages that they set up on numerous locations and U.S. military installations/camps. The play’s cast played to hundreds of thousands of U.S. service individuals, including women’s bases and camps such as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) camps in the Pacific. They traveled by troop transport ships, rented cargo ships, and landing crafts.

View of African-American dancer, soloist, and comedian James “Stumpy” Cross introducing the song “Shoo Shoo Baby” during a performance by cast members of Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army the hospital at Camp Huckstep in Cairo, Egypt, in August 1944. Part of the play’s “jam band” is pictured playing in the background. Photograph taken while the cast was stationed at Camp Huckstep to perform for U.S. military personnel in Cairo, Egypt, during an international tour (August 1944) [Photograph by: Zinn Arthur].

This Is The Army was the only full-integrated military unit in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII, with African American men eating, performing, and traveling with their fellow white cast and crew members. Many of the men were not just performers before the war, but also recruited to perform in the cast from the U.S. Army ranks in 1943. The cast was all-male, which required the men to dress as women in drag for the women sketches in the play. In all, the play would prove to be the beginning of the eventual desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces under President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 Executive Order 9981.

This particular collection of photographs was mostly taken by singer and later celebrity photographer Zinn Arthur. Arthur would select and send these photographs to fellow cast member and singer Robert Summerlin of Tarboro, N.C. Both men would add identifications to the images over the years, resulting in the collection currently held at the State Archives. This collection of the This Is The Army photographs is the only known, publicly-available collection of these images in the United States.

The complete set of photographs is available online in an album through the State Archives’ Flickr page. Original programs and tickets for the play are available for viewing in-house in the State Archives’ public Search Room.

Photograph of singer Robert Summerlin from the cast of Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army, standing in front of a lifeboat on the deck of the small freighter El Libertador, which carried the cast and crew of the play around the South Pacific in May 1945 during World War II. The ship was in Manila, the Philippines, when the photograph was taken. Photograph taken while the play was traveling throughout the South Pacific to perform for U.S. military personnel during their international tour [May 1945] [Photograph by: Zinn Arthur].

Treasures of Carolina: Petition for Emancipation, 1788.

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery, enslaved persons could petition for emancipation; sometimes owners or others would petition for freedom on their behalf. The State Archives holds petitions for emancipation dating as early as the eighteenth century. Other documents were filed attesting to the freed status of persons of color. This petition reads,

“I James Elliot of the County of Perquimons [sic] State No Carolina having under my [sic] a Negro woman named Patience aged about twenty three years which I manumit & sett [sic] free and do for myself my heirs hereby Release unto her all my Right in trust or clame [sic] s to her person or any Estate she now have or shall here after acquire & witness where of I have here unto set my hand & seal this 24th day of the 6th month 1788.” James Elliot.

10-11 CR_077_928_2_01
Petition for Emancipation, Records of Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Perquimans County, CR.077.928.2.01.






Processing the Bill Harris Papers

[This post was written by Taylor Wolford, a summer intern at the Outer Banks History Center.]

When I began working at the Outer Banks History Center, I was familiar with the name Bill Harris. In 2014, I was a high school student and budding historian in Dayton, Ohio researching the history of flight. My history teacher suggested that I contact local historians in North Carolina to expand the scope of my research. I researched local historians to contact, including Bill Harris, as word had gotten out among researchers regarding his extensive collection of local photographs, oral histories, and documents.

As a graduate student in Archives and Records Management, I am now processing the Bill Harris Papers at the Outer Banks History Center for future researchers. My internship involves processing the collection according to current archival standards and creating a descriptive online finding aid for the collection.

In order to process the collection, I developed groupings, known as series, for the organization of the documents. A notable series in this collection is the Wright Brothers First Flight, which is beneficial for researchers interested in a variety of related topics, including the construction of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Anniversary of the First Flight, and the First Flight Shrine. Bill worked for the Wright Brothers National Memorial as an expert on local history, and documents throughout the collection showcase his work with the National Park Service and First Flight Society. Additional topics covered by the collection include Dare County, N.C. and the U.S. Lifesaving Service Stations.

Bill Harris (right) at the Wright Brothers National Memorial for the unveiling of the Barnaby Plaque on December 17, 1963. The plaque was a gift from the Soaring Society of America.

Perhaps the most impressive series, however, is Local Genealogy. This series contains a large number of oral histories, documents, and photographs that highlight the juxtaposition of an evolving yet deeply rooted Outer Banks community. The Local Genealogy series poses the most difficulties in terms of organization, for local families often intermarried until it was challenging to separate the Baums from the Harrises. As locals tend to say, “Genealogy in the Outer Banks is not a tree, but a vine.” For those interested in researching family histories in the area, the collection provides many opportunities to answer questions and delve deeper into the familial vines that constitute the Outer Banks community.

After two months processing these documents, I can verify that this collection extends far beyond my initial research in aviation history. Bill spent his entire lifetime immersed in the unique culture of the Outer Banks, and the collection certainly reflects his knowledge of the area. As the collection covers a wide range of topics and geographic regions, I am confident that it will continue to contribute to the research community long after it is properly stored in boxes and folders.

Members of Bill Harris’s family explore his newly processed collection with Taylor’s help, July 2018.

Completion of “The Mount Olive Tribune” project

The Imaging Unit of the State Archives of North Carolina has completed a microfilming project of the regional newspaper The Mount Olive Tribune.  A total of 128 reels of microfilm were created from the original newspaper.  The microfilm includes scattered issues starting in 1906 with a more complete run after that year and ending with the year 2014; there were no extant issues for 1921 at the time of filming.  Most of the reels are available to researchers in the microfilm reading room [through 1962] but, due to space limitations, not all 128 reels are in the reading room. However, all 128 reels are available for duplication from the State Archives.

For duplication contact Chris Meekins – chris.meekins <@>

McCrory, Hunt, and Martin Papers added to Governors Papers, Modern

We have added new materials to the Governors Papers, Modern digital collection. The executive orders and proclamations of Governor Pat McCrory are now available, as are the executive orders of Governors James B. Hunt, Jr., and James G. Martin. Governor McCrory’s first executive order was to establish a procedure for the appointment of justices and judges, while his final order at the end of December 2016 was to extend the Substance Abuse Task Force. Governor Hunt’s first executive order establishing his North Carolina Board of Ethics and the rules under which it would operate. Governor Martin’s first proclamation also dealt with the North Carolina Board of Ethics, and is strikingly similar to that of Governor Hunt.

These documents, and more modern governors’ papers can be found in the North Carolina Digital Collections: Governors Papers, Modern.

The online collection contains only a small percentage of the total governors papers in the holdings of the State Archives, which include papers from Richard Caswell (1776 – 1780) through Pat McCrory (2012 – 2016).

For biographies of North Carolina governors and colonial governors, consult NCPedia at

For finding aids for many governors’ papers collections, see the Guides to the Governors Papers on the State Archives website.