Women’s History Month 2018 – Gertrude Weil

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

Gertrude Weil (11 December 1879 – 30 May 1971)


Suffragettes, including Gertrude Weil, far left, May Borden Graham, fourth from left, and Rowena Borden, far right, circa 1920. General Negative Collection, State Archives of NC. [source]

Humanitarian, feminist, and social activist Gertrude Weil was born in Goldsboro, NC, in 1879 into a prominent family of Jewish merchants.  Gertrude Weil attended local public schools before enrolling at Horace Mann for secondary education.  While at Mann she became friends with teacher Margaret Stanton Lawrence, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the founders of the woman’s suffrage movement.  Already drawn to public service and philanthropy by the example of her mother, Mina Rosenthal Weil, Gertrude was inspired in part by her associations with Lawrence and Staunton to dedicate her considerable energies to the fight for gender equality and later racial equality. Continue reading


See World War I Materials at Alamance Community College on March 29

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

Isham B. Hudson's war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Isham B. Hudson’s war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

One of the most rewarding experiences as State Archivist is the development of special exhibits utilizing a few unique original materials from our collections.  We develop these special exhibits on occasion to partner with a local historical society, museum, or historic site, often to promote a specific anniversary or event.  This year we are thrilled to offer a special exhibit with one of our favorite partners, Alamance Community College.  We invite you to join us March 29 for a full slate of programming around the centennial of World War I.

Held at the main building on the Carrington-Scott Campus of Alamance Community College (1247 Jimmie Kerr Road in Graham), the special exhibit will be held from 9 a.m.—5 p.m. on March 29.  Due to the number of school groups scheduled for the morning, the public is encouraged to consider an afternoon visit, if possible.  During the event, you can see some World War I materials from our military collections, a traveling exhibit about North Carolina and the Great War, and speak with costumed living- history specialists interpreting military service from the period.In addition, there will be soldier, nurse, and Red Cross uniforms on display from the Haw River Museum, Alamance County Historical Association, and the Women Veterans Historical Project from UNC, Greensboro.  Kids can join in the fun by coloring their own WWI poster and participating in other activities throughout the building.

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

We enjoy taking our treasures out to locations outside of Raleigh.  It is fun to share our collections and explain a little more about what we do at the State Archives.  North Carolina has a rich military history and our World Ward I materials are among the most prized.  Come visit Alamance Community College on March 29 to learn more about that history from 100 years ago.

A Major Move in Manteo

[This blog post comes from Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]

Donna working with maps at the OBHC

Donna Kelly inventorying maps at the OBHC

During February 19–23, Bill Brown (State Archives registrar) and Donna Kelly (head of Special Collections) traveled to the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) to help Samantha Crisp (director of the OBHC) and her staff renumber, relabel, and shift records. This effort was part of a larger one to standardize the numbering of archival records within the Special Collections regional facilities. In addition, collections were shifted to provide easier access and provide uniformity to records storage at the OBHC.

On the first two days Donna renumbered 162 maps, incorporating a new call number system used at the main office of the State Archives in Raleigh. For the last three days she inventoried and reorganized 20 of 40 map drawers, which included approximately 874 maps. Folders within each map drawer were labeled A to Z.

Over the course of five days, Bill shifted and recorded shelf locations for 154 renumbered collections (including the Manteo Coastland Times bound newspapers). He moved 657 cubic feet of material from the back of the stacks to the front for better access. (A cubic foot is approximately the size of a box of copier paper.) He also cleaned five rows of shelving with ethanol.

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Samantha shifted approximately 735 cubic feet of materials, including photographic collections, periodicals, and unprocessed records. She also assigned new call numbers to 150 collections and relabeled 200 boxes.

Stuart Parks relocated all of the framed artwork and renumbered digital files of scanned items. He also helped move shelving and cut folders that were used to rehouse many of the maps. Tama Creef covered the front office.

All in all it was a productive, albeit exhausting, week!


Did everyone have a goat cart in the 1930s?

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

PhC.24.21 An unidentified boy is seen in a goat cart c. 1937

PhC.24.21 An unidentified boy is seen in a goat cart c. 1937

These two photos initially presented a bit of a quandary to my colleague, Ian Dunn, and I when processing the C. H. Jordan Photograph Collection here at the State Archives of

North Carolina.  Evidence within the collection suggests these children are related, and the goat appears as if he might be the same individual goat in both pictures, yet the carts are different and bear these different numbers.  We asked ourselves “What do these numbers mean?”  And “Why are these children in these goat carts in the first place?”  We looked for evidence in the other photos in the Jordan material, but no more goats or carts or related photos were there.  Reluctantly we put down this small mystery and Ian completed the arrangement and description of the collection.

Not long after the Jordan Collection was finished, though, it seemed to us as if goat cart pictures were popping up everywhere we looked, and despite our best efforts to stay on task and proceed with our prescribed work, we simply had to take a brief detour down the goat cart rabbit hole!  And what a fascinating little journey it has been.  In short order simply through Internet research, we learned not only what the seemingly strange numbers mean but also quite a bit about a relatively short-lived but wildly popular fad of itinerate photographers using the cuteness and novelty of a goat and a little cart to boost their business.

Itinerant photographers were common in the US in the early 20th century.  They traveled from town to town in rural and urban America and for the most part took informal photographs.  Some specialized in portraits and set up temporary studios in tents or at local fairs, some documented businesses and churches in the towns they visited, some took “man on the street” type photos, and some employed props like goat carts or “billy carts” as they were also known.

PhC.24.22 An unidentified girl is seen in a goat cart c. 1939.

PhC.24.22 An unidentified girl is seen in a goat cart c. 1939.

A goat cart was typically like a magnet to children in any town, and at the instigation of the photographer, the curious children would be invited to approach the spectacle coming down the street and pose in the little cart – with or without parental permission or oversight.  And the photographer would snap picture after picture as delighted children took turns in the cart, squealing with delight, and drawing the attention of more and more children and adults.  The carts were often colorfully decorated, and many were numbered on their sides as if they were part of a fleet.  Each cart usually had a plaque on the front as well with the year and often the name of the town painted on it, thus making a photo of a child in such a cart an instant precious keepsake.  The simple genius of appealing to the universal instincts of children to love cute furry animals and rides, and preying on the sentimentality of parents to indulge their children and want pictures of their children, especially when they are doing something adorable, guaranteed the goat cart racket to be a nearly fool-proof revenue generator for photographers through the 1930s.

Even as the Great Depression raged, photos of children in goat carts continued to be popular throughout the country, bringing much needed levity to otherwise dreary lives.  With the advent of the Second World War, however, itinerate photographers became less prevalent.  Everyday people began having cameras of their own and became accustomed to taking their own informal pictures, and the era of the goat cart as ubiquitous photographic prop came to an end.

Fortunately, the State Archives of North Carolina has a number of these strangely common yet not-widely-understood photographs of happy children in tiny goat carts.  If any of our readers here can help us identify these children, this goat (!) and/or the location where these photos were made, we welcome your input.  If any of you have photos depicting goat carts like this in North Carolina or by North Carolina photographers, we would very much like to know about them, too.  The State Archives of North Carolina is always interested in learning what is out there and how we can best serve our public both as a source of information and as a repository for the long-term preservation of records documenting the history of the state.


Images from the C. H. Jordan Photograph Collection, PhC.24, State Archives of North Carolina; Raleigh, NC.

PhC.24.21 An unidentified boy is seen in a goat cart c. 1937.

PhC.24.22 An unidentified girl is seen in a goat cart c. 1939.

Jordan, C. H., Photograph Collection, 1870-1940 – Collection of 25 photographs and two greeting cards. The photographic material consists of tintypes, card photographs, cabinet cards, silver gelatin prints and photo postcards. The photographs are mainly portraits and are purportedly of the Ruffin family of the Nash, Edgecombe, and Wilson County area of North Carolina.


Treasures of Carolina: Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

13th Amend

Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Transmittal Letter, 1865, Vault Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

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.

On December 4, 1865, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery. For a state to be readmitted to the Union following the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson required states to approve the amendment. Ten days following North Carolina’s vote the requisite three-quarters of the states had approved its ratification and thus it became law.

This action by the legislature in 1865 came almost three years after the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the southern states. Following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the freedmen’s convention met a few blocks northwest of the State Capitol. That assembly was the first effort by the state’s African Americans to press for full political rights.


African American Education Spotlight Series: Charlotte Hawkins Brown

This month we are highlighting our African American Education Digital Collection in celebration of Black History Month. Currently, this collection contains materials from the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum as well as materials from the Division of Negro Education of the Department of Public Instruction.

Today’s post features Charlotte Hawkins Brown. As an educator, civic leader, and founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute, she was a pioneer in education and demonstrated unwavering dedication to helping her students reach their greatest potential.


Charlotte Hawkins Brown, top center, is seen photographed with four other Palmer Memorial Institute faculty members, ca. 1902. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. African American Education Digital Collection. State Archives of NC. [source]

Continue reading


Support the Conservation of Our Archival Treasures

[This blog post comes from the Friends of the Archives.]

The Friends of the Archives is a non-profit organization that privately funds some of the services, activities, and programs of the State Archives of North Carolina not provided by state-appropriated funding. Some of our most treasured documents are in critical need of preservation and restoration.  After careful evaluation of these materials, the Friends has set their funding goal for 2018.

Detail of a portrait of King Charles on the first page of the Carolina Charter of 1663

The first page of the Carolina Charter features an elaborate drawing of King Charles. Learn more about this document in the North Carolina Digital Collections: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/10

The Carolina Charter needs immediate attention.  The Carolina Charter of 1663 is considered the “birth certificate” of North Carolina. The document consists of four vellum sheets and details the granting of land in what is now known as North Carolina. It has been more than twenty years since the Carolina Charter has been examined for treatment. The document will be exhibited in early spring and repairs are needed immediately.

North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights serves as an example of North Carolina’s involvement in the ratification of the United States Constitution.  The one-page document was presented to North Carolina after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

The Papers of Peter Carteret, Governor of the County of Albemarle. The county of Albemarle is the oldest county government in North Carolina. Peter Carteret served as governor of the Precinct of Albemarle from 1670 to 1673 and his papers document his influence and actions from 1666 to 1673 in Albemarle County.

We have already raised $3,500 of the approximate $12,000 needed for the preservation of these documents.

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789. Part of the Vault Collection. Available online at http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/29.

These precious documents are exhibited for special occasions but even the slightest exposure to light can be harmful to them.  With improvements in preservation technology, we will be able to conserve these documents for an extended period.

To donate to this preservation fund, join the Friends of the Archives, or renew your membership, visit the Friends of the Archives  website and click on Become A Friend of the Archives Today!  If you are already a member you may donate on that same page. Benefits of membership include discounted registration to public programs and on some publications, DVDs, and posters. Please note that The Charter is now available only electronically, so please don’t forget to include your e-mail address.

If you’ve already renewed for 2018 or made donations to preservation, thank you. As a member of The Friends your support is an important part of our success.