Posted by: Ashley | April 26, 2016

World War I Era Parades

[This blog post comes from Sarah Downing, archivist at the Western Regional Archives]

Parade, Asheville, NC, 1918Between 1917 and 1919 Asheville hosted a number of parades to raise money for the war effort and to bolster public sentiment and patriotism.  Record-breaking crowds assembled to watch the processions.  The Western Regional Archives recently received a donation of photographs documenting at least two of these events.

Four days after President Wilson declared war on Germany, 25,000 people lined city streets on April 10, 1917 to watch a succession 5000-strong that was followed by a mass meeting featuring patriotic songs sung by Metropolitan opera star William Wade Hinshaw.

On May 20, 1918, approximately 7,000 people participated in a parade held in conjunction with the Red Cross’s Second War Drive. It was reported that the marchers moved at a quick pace and the entire procession took less than an hour.  With a national goal of $100 million, Buncombe County’s portion to collect was $32,000, nearly 2/3 of which was raised at the rally that followed. According to the Asheville Citizen, “practically every organization in the city and county was represented in the procession, from two or three representatives to several hundreds, all entering into the spirit of the occasion with enthusiasm.”

Parade, Asheville, NC, 1918The War Savings Parade, a “monster patriotic demonstration,” was held Saturday June 22, 1918. No motorized vehicles were allowed in order to save gas.  In addition to military marchers were policemen, nurses, soldiers stationed at Kenilworth (some carried stretchers as a poignant reminder of those in the trenches in Europe), the Asheville Reserve Infantry, the Rotary Club and groups of the Central Labor Union. Industries of the Biltmore Estate were represented by marchers carrying pitch forks, hoes and rakes. Dairy workers carried bottles of milk. At the conclusion, a concert was given at Pack Square by the 31-piece Camp Wadsworth band from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

September 27, 1918 was the day of the Liberty Loan Parade.  The Asheville Chapter of the American Red Cross had a large representation since local organizations had been so supportive of the Red Cross. All participants were asked to display an American flag, no matter how small.

Asheville mayor J.F. Rankin declared a holiday on April 29, 1919 for the opening day of the drive for the Victory Liberty Loan.  Medical detachments including nurses, bands, ambulances and mounted staff from both Azalea and Kenilworth hospitals marched with the Asheville Reserve Infantry, Red Cross Canteen workers and 350 tannery men from Hans Rees & Sons.

Parade, Asheville, NC, 1918

Patriotic parades were also held in Hendersonville, Waynesville, Hickory, and towns across North Carolina and America.

[This blog post comes from Sarah Koonts, Director of Archives and Records for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

“A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty”

N.C. Constitution art. 1, sec. 35

Once separated from the rule of England, North Carolina—like other former colonies—found itself with no governmental structure. Before the end of 1776, the state had a constitution very different from today’s document. For example, the General Assembly—and not citizens—selected the governor for a one-year term. Only free men of at least twenty-one years of age could vote.  Only landowners could hold political office. The social structure of eighteenth-century America informed those men who drafted the constitution and North Carolina’s Declaration of Rights.

Portion of the Constitution of the United States as Approved by North Carolina, 1789.

Portion of the Constitution of the United States as Approved by North Carolina, 1789.

North Carolina continued to amend the constitution and eventually adopted entirely new constitutions in 1868 and 1971. The rights and protections of some of the state’s citizens were broadened while other rights remained restricted or hampered.  Over the years the structure of state government changed, increasing the power of the governor, providing for direct elections for many executive offices, reorganizing government departments and agencies, and eliminating restrictions to rights.

Part of the State Constitution of 1868.

Part of the State Constitution of 1868.

Throughout 2016 the State Archives is partnering with museums and historic sites to display historic constitutional materials around the state.  Called “To Preserve the Blessings of Liberty:  State Constitutions of North Carolina,” exhibit locations and times may be found on the State Archives’ Facebook page. The public is invited to view these documents while they are on display. The inaugural exhibit will take place at the opening of the 2016 General Assembly session.  It will feature North Carolina’s early constitutions, the original Declaration of Rights, and amendments to the state and U.S. Constitution that affected citizen voting rights.  The exhibit will be located on the main floor of the General Assembly building (16 West Jones Street in Raleigh) from 2 p.m. on April 25 through April 26 at 3 p.m.  All of the State Archives’ constitution materials housed in the vault collection are available for viewing any time in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Posted by: Ashley | March 30, 2016

Addition to Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers, PC.1417

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

Polk Denmark at L.L. Polk Historic Hwy. Marker, Polkton, N.C., 1948

Polk Denmark at L.L. Polk Historic Hwy. Marker, Polkton, N.C., 1948. From Non-textual Materials Unit, State Archives of North Carolina, Neg. 55.9.55

Private Collections are constantly expanding with new material and collections that encompass a range of historical periods. This posting highlights just one set of private papers recently processed, described, and made available to researchers: an addition to the Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers, PC.1417 (first installment received and accessioned in 1968).

The addition features Denmark’s correspondence, primarily of a genealogical nature, and material that pays homage to his illustrious grandfather, Leonidas L. Polk (among other contributions, founder of the Progressive Farmer). A modest but important part of the papers is a sketch of Denmark’s own life, with reference to his training as a pilot during World War I and his service in France during 1918 as an aerial surveillance instructor. Though the addition lacks letters and photographs of Polk’s service (see the first accession for letters), the Non-textual Materials Unit, has nine negatives that illustrate and document Denmark’s military service during World War I. (See listing below of all titles, dates, and negative numbers).

Polk Family Tree from Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers

Polk Family Tree from Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers. PC.1417. Addition, 2012. OS Box

Leonidas Polk Denmark (1892-1964) was a 1915 graduate of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now N.C.S.U.), in the field of civil engineering. Denmark entered military service in May 1917 and was subsequently commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Engineers, and assigned to the 105th Engineers Regiment at Camp Sevier, Greenville, S.C. Later, he volunteered for the Air Service and entered training, ultimately receiving his wings, then completing aerial gunnery training as part of the first class at Selfridge Field, Mt. Clemons, Michigan. Denmark sailed for France in July 1918, and subsequently served as instructor in aerial observation for seven months at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center, Tours, France. He returned to the United States three months after Armistice. Additionally, Denmark was one of three men selected to represent the state of North Carolina at the burial of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 1921.

Denmark’s main professional work was with the Highway Commission, from 1937 to 1960, as chief draftsman and cartographer with the Division of Statistics and Planning. A little known fact was that Denmark over many years engaged in genealogical research as a hobby and as a side-profession. This interest was undoubtedly stimulated during the 1920s when he served as land grant clerk in the office of the Secretary of State.

List of selected Leonidas Polk Denmark Photos in the Non-Textual Materials Unit, Special Collections, State Archives of North Carolina

  • 2nd Lt. L. P. Denmark, 105th Engineers, WWI, Wake Co., N. C.    1919 (1998)    N.98.1.89
  • L. P. Denmark, with Brunet Family, Tours, France, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.128
  • 2nd Lt. L. P. Denmark: “In My Office”, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.129
  • 2nd Lt. L. P. Denmark in Flight Gear, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.132
  • Ralph Jordan, L. P. Denmark, and the “Sop”, France, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.138
  • L. P. Denmark with Unidentified Aviator, Tours, France, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.141
  • 2nd Lt L. P. Denmark, et al, in Atlanta, GA    1917 (1998)    N.98.2.142
  • The “Famous 14th Squadron”, W.W.I    ca. 1917 (1998)    N.98.2.146
  • 105th Engineers Corp, Camp Oglethorpe, Georgia    ca. 1917 (1998)     N.98.3.23
Posted by: kevin | March 28, 2016

Governor David Stone’s Papers


Petition to exonerate Alfred Yeomans (G.P. 33)

Papers and correspondence from David Stone’s tenure as North Carolina’s fifteenth governor (1808-1810) are now accessible online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. The newly digitized material includes letters written by famed early Americans Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Drayton.  Perhaps the most unique record is a petition for Alfred Yeomans to be exonerated of a fine for dissecting a human body.  Reputable townspeople signed their names and sent the petition to Governor David Stone to dismiss the amount owed ($100).  Read this and more in the most recent addition to the Governors’ Papers, Historical collection.

[This blog post was written by Josh Hager, Reference Archivist in the Reference Unit of the Collections Services Section.]

The Suffragists' Calendar, a year-book for every thinking woman

The Suffragists’ Calendar, a year-book for every thinking woman,” Gertrude Weil Papers (PC.1488), State Archives of North Carolina

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the State Archives of North Carolina is proud to announce our new Search Room exhibit, “A Fight for Citizenship: The 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage in North Carolina.” The bulk of the facsimiles included come from the private collection of Gertrude Weil, a prominent suffragist from Goldsboro. She was active in organizations such as the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the League of Women Voters. Her collection spans 42 cubic feet and over one-hundred boxes of material, constituting a treasure trove for researchers into the women’s suffrage movement.

The collections of the State Archives provide a wealth of material concerning women’s suffrage, from letters and broadsides to the correspondence of state and local officials. Narrowing those choices down to the ten items on display proved difficult, but the items selected allow for a glance at several important documents and themes.

Visitors will also see a facsimile of the 19th Amendment, specifically the cover page sent by the U.S. Secretary of State to the N.C. Secretary of State which includes an official seal. The amendment arrived in North Carolina’s hands in 1919 and the General Assembly first considered it in 1920. However, legislators did not hold an up-or-down vote on the amendment in 1920; historians agree that the amendment would likely have lost the vote based on the legislators’ stated positions. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly voted for the 19th Amendment, making women’s suffrage the law of the land nationwide. North Carolina did not ultimately ratify the 19th Amendment until 1971 under Governor Bob Scott. The only state to ratify it after North Carolina was Mississippi in 1984.

Letter from Josephus Daniels to Gertrude Weil, Feb. 12, 1920

Letter from Josephus Daniels to Gertrude Weil, Feb. 12, 1920, Gertrude Weil Papers (PC.1488), State Archives of North Carolina

Visitors will also get a chance to look at the amount of work and dedication needed to make women’s suffrage a reality. Gertrude Weil’s personal efforts are on display through an organizational pamphlet where she was elected as an officer and through correspondence with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to promote the cause. Photographs show women in a campaign office as well as at a public gathering wearing sashes for equality. “The Suffragist’s Calendar: A Year-book for Thinking Women” is a day-planner with helpful tips for political organization. Finally, the exhibit includes a letter from the leaders of two organizations asking for unity as women fought for the shared goal of the vote.

Amidst the triumphs of 1920, the exhibit also includes two examples of the opposition faced by the proponents of suffrage. Governor Thomas Bickett sent a message to the General Assembly in opposition to the 19th Amendment, arguing that women should not lower themselves to the political arena. His tone of social condescension was commonplace for 1920, but others in opposition held more unique views. For example, a petition to the General Assembly sent by a concerned citizen from Connecticut argued that women voting would increase ignorance at the polling place and that it was no better than a Soviet plot.

Western Union telegram from G.L. Grosgrove to the Speaker of the House on the topic of the 19th Amendment

Western Union telegram from G.L. Grosgrove to the Speaker of the House on the topic of the 19th Amendment, General Assembly Session Records, 1920, State Archives of North Carolina

Despite the opposition, women in North Carolina and across the country gained the right to vote in 1920. We hope that our exhibit gives you a small window into the incredible people and organizations that fought for equality and succeeded. The exhibit is currently scheduled to run through the end of April, so please plan on visiting the Search Room soon.

Other archival items related to role of women in North Carolina’s 20th century history are available through the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Posted by: Ashley | March 2, 2016

State Archives Website Down

The State Archives website is currently unavailable. Both the MARS catalog and the North Carolina Digital Collections, on the other hand, are up and available for researchers. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and we’ll update this blog post with the status of the website as we learn more.

Update (11:10AM): And the website is now online again.

Posted by: Ashley | February 23, 2016

State Archives Website Down

Currently the State Archives website is unreachable – attempts to connect to the site redirect to the online store for the Battleship USS North Carolina. The MARS online catalog is also down. Our IT staff is aware of and working on the problem. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Digital Collections is still available.

We will update this post when more information becomes available. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Update (5:41 PM): And, as is so often the way with such things, MARS came back online as soon as I posted this blog post. So that tool should now be available for researchers again.

Update (2/24/2016): Both the website and MARS are available. You may see a few warning banners on the website – IT is aware of the issue and working on it.

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