Champney Sketches Added to NC Digital Collections

We are constantly adding new materials to the North Carolina Digital Collections, but one recent addition of note includes the Civil War sketches of soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney, from the Outer Banks History Center.


Juniper Bay, Hyde County, N.C. Civil War sketches by Edwin G. Champney, Civil War Collection, NC Digital Collections

This collection includes sixty unpublished pen-and-ink sketchbook drawings of coastal North Carolina between 1862-1863 illustrated by soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney (1843-1899). Champney was a native Bostonian and Union soldier. Champney enlisted as a private in the 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, Company G at the time he sketched the drawings. He arrived in Eastern North Carolina in October 1862 and took part in the Goldsboro Expedition. Champney was stationed at Cape Hatteras from February 23, 1863 until the close of his North Carolina tour on June 22, 1863. The original artwork include scenes showing landmarks, landscapes, and Union military activity from or in the vicinity of Hatteras Island, New Bern, Kinston, Plymouth, and Hyde County. The sketchbook was donated to the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo, which is the permanent home for the drawings.

These materials are now part of the Civil War Collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Screenshot of the new functional schedule web page

New Functional Schedule for State Agencies

Visit our records management blog to learn more about the new way that the state agency records schedule is being created and organized.

The G.S. 132 Files

The State Archives of North Carolina is happy to announce the culmination of an innovative years-long project.  As of December 2017, state agency officials have just one 16-part retention and disposition schedule to assist them in the management of their public records: the Functional Schedule for North Carolina State Agencies. This revamped schedule will supersede both the General Schedule for State Agency Records and the program-specific schedules that state agencies have relied on until now.

In 2015, the Records Analysis Unit of the Government Records Section at the State Archives of North Carolina (SANC) began a project to revamp the retention and disposition schedules for state agencies in North Carolina.  Our overarching goals of the project were to simplify records retention, make the assignment of records dispositions more transparent, and ensure the retention of records with permanent value, either within the creating agency or at the State Archives, which…

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New State Archives of North Carolina Website

Read more about the redesigned State Archives of North Carolina website at our records management blog.

The G.S. 132 Files

Recent visitors to the main State Archives of North Carolina website,, may have noticed that things look a little different.  That’s because on November 16, we launched a redesigned version of the website that brings it in line with the design of other State agency websites, creating a uniform look and feel and allowing for consistency in navigation.  (Check out the announcement post on the NC Archives blog for more details.)

SANC_Website_Screenshot_20171205 Screenshot of the new State Archives of North Carolina website

That said, those who are used to navigating the Government Records portion of the website will find that the link structure and architecture haven’t changed that much.  Records retention schedules are still divided into Local, State, and University, and all of our digital records policies and guidelines are still gathered in one place.  One advantage of the new system is that each of our…

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New Camp Butner German POW Collections Available

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

German prisoner of war postcard from World War IIThe Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina is excited to announce the availability of two new collections documenting German prisoners of war (POWs) and one Italian POW at Camp Butner, N. C., during World War II. By the end of 1943, nearly 50,000 Italian POWs were held in 27 camps in 23 states, including at Camp Butner in North Carolina. German POWs would come to Camp Butner by the fall of 1943 after Rommel’s defeat in North Africa created a large number of German war prisoners. The POWs at Camp Butner built various structures, including a church, and had their own camp newsletter in German entitled Lager Fackel. Many of the POWs worked in small satellite camps throughout central North Carolina, being contracted out to farmers and other businesses for home front work.

Letter from German prisoner of war during World War II.The Camp Butner POW Correspondence Collection is composed of seventeen letters and postcards written by one Italian and four German prisoners of war (POWs) who were imprisoned at Camp Butner, N.C., from 1943 to 1945 during World War II. The correspondence is written in Italian and German, respectively, and is not yet translated. The bulk of the correspondence was written by Werner Trötschel and Friedrich Vodak of Germany. Trötschel’s correspondence includes letters and postcards from when he was initially a POW at Fort Bragg, N.C., before he was assigned long-term to Camp Butner. The collection is one of the largest-known groups of Camp Butner POW correspondence in North Carolina.

Another new collection is composed of one original 20-page issue of the German-language POW newsletter Lager Fackel (or “Camp Torch” in English), created by German POWs imprisoned at Camp Butner, N.C., during World War II. The newsletter was printed between 1945 and 1946. This issue is Volume 2, Issue 9, dated February 1946. It was owned and read by German POW Ernst Lüers while he was imprisoned at Camp Butner in 1946. The newsletter was subtitled in German “Wochenzeitung der deutschen Kriegsgefangenen des Lagers Butner und seiner Nebenlager,” translated as “Weekly newspaper of German prisoners of war Camp Butner and its subcamps.” The newsletter had such columns (loosely translated into English) as “From the Historical Consciousness,” “Press Review,” “Reconstruction in Germany,” “Free Time Design,” “The Green Light,” Sports at Camp Butner,” Letter Cold [?],” and “Riddle Corner.”

Engaging Students in North Carolina’s Coastal History

[This blog post was written by Samantha Crisp, Director of the Outer Banks History Center.]

On November 14th, the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) was invited to have a staff member present at a meeting of the PATH OBX homeschool support group to help the group’s students learn about local history. This session served as preparation for a presentation that each student gave at the end of the month on a local history topic of their choice. PATH offers the opportunity for homeschool students in the Outer Banks to gather once a week for a full class session with their peers, during which time students socialize, complete assignments, participate in lessons, and hear from local speakers. Classes are broken into four groups: kindergartners, 1st-3rd graders, 4th-6th graders, and 7th-12th graders.


PATH students create postcards to send to friends and relatives.

I planned a unique session for each group designed to help the students learn about working with primary sources and to introduce them to the OBHC’s holdings, which include manuscripts, archival materials, and published resources documenting the history of the North Carolina coast. I opened each session by asking the students if they’d ever been to an archives or met an archivist. All four groups indicated that they hadn’t, so I followed up by asking them to talk about museums or libraries they had been to. Every student had either been to a library or a museum (or both), so we discussed the ways in which archives are related to—and different from—museums and libraries.

I then passed around several examples of material from our collection to demonstrate the kinds of sources they could encounter if they visited the OBHC. First was an “old” book—an 1856 edition of Joseph Esquemeling’s History of the Buccaneers of America. We talked about how we could tell it was old (worn bindings, browning pages, foxing, and historical typefaces). Then we looked at a letter written by a local man in 1867. I asked the students how they could tell it was a letter, and several of them noted distinct physical features (an address at the top and on the back, opening with “Dear…”, and creases indicating that it had been folded up). I also asked them if they could read it, and most of them stated that they couldn’t, but they did recognize that it was written in cursive. We discussed what it would have been like to live in an isolated community like the Outer Banks during a time when the only real means of communication would have been writing letters. I then showed them a roughly 100-year-old photograph of a group of local children gathered around a horse and cart. We talked about how a researcher could date the photograph, and several of them pointed out the children’s clothing, hairstyles, and the fact that we don’t typically use horses for transportation. Finally, we looked at an 18th-century map of the Carolina coast and talked about some of the interesting things they noticed (such as a lack of roads, fewer town names, disproportionate geography, and the fact that nothing beyond the Appalachians was mapped). Older students also looked at a current map of the same area and discussed similarities and differences between the two maps.

Carolina Newly Described by John Seller, 1682. MC_150_1682s.

Each group then participated in a project related to a specific local history topic. The kindergartners learned about pirates. We read a pirate story written by a local author, and then I passed around a famous illustration of Blackbeard from A General History of Pyrates (1724) by Capt. Charles Johnson (likely a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe). I asked them to point to things in the picture that indicated we were looking at a pirate, such as his ships, a sword, guns, and clothing. We talked about who Blackbeard was, and ended by using an online pirate name generator to make nametags with our “pirate names.”

The 1st-3rd graders learned about the Wright Brothers. We talked about the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, and several students shared things they’d learned when visiting the memorial. I told them about the Wright Brothers’ childhood and their famous first flight in 1903. We then looked at a picture of the Wright Flyer beside a picture of a modern airplane and talked about the similarities and differences. At the end of the class, each student was tasked with “engineering” a paper airplane, and we held a paper airplane contest. I asked those students whose planes didn’t fly very far to think about how the Wright Brothers might have felt when their early designs failed, and how they might have dealt with those problems.

Wright Flyer during the first flight, 1903.

The 4th-6th graders talked in detail about the process of sending letters. I asked if any of them had ever gotten a letter, and most of them responded that they had received Christmas cards and birthday cards. We talked about how communication has changed over time from being done entirely through the mail to being done on computers, social media, and telephones, reserving letters for special occasions. We talked about postcards, and I passed out vintage Outer Banks postcards (duplicates from our collection), which they filled out and addressed to a friend or relative to drop in the mail after class.

The older students talked in more detail about the local history topics they were interested in researching and the relevant materials that might be available at the OBHC for them to use. We then worked as a group to analyze a primary source document—a government memo related to “Project Nutmeg,” a military operation designed to determine whether the Outer Banks was a suitable location for nuclear tests in the 1940s. We talked about how to evaluate and interpret the document, where to look for more information on Project Nutmeg, and how the students would have felt if they had lived on the Outer Banks in the 1940s and learned that it was being considered as a nuclear test site.

Overall, it was a great experience for the students, their parents, and myself. Several students and parents indicated they’d like to come to the OBHC to work on their projects, and the older students asked for more information on how they could submit their projects to this year’s National History Day competition. Several students also approached me after class to tell me about their topics and ask me questions about the OBHC. In the weeks that followed, about a dozen students visited the OBHC to conduct research using our collections.

This session was a reminder that repositories like the OBHC are uniquely situated to serve as laboratories for young people to engage with historical inquiry, research, and hands-on work with unique pieces of documentary evidence of their ancestors’ lived experiences. Engaging with primary sources helps students become more emotionally connected to their personal history and creates a stronger sense of belonging and identification with the communities in which they grow up. I hope to work with many more students like these in the future.

The Samuel Patrick and Ella McGuire Family Papers, PC.2061

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina.]

Ella McGuire or her mother, Martha Miller Buffaloe (ca. 1837–1916)

Ella McGuire or her mother, Martha Miller Buffaloe (ca. 1837–1916)

An essential goal of Private Collections is to add to its holdings the papers of minorities and under-represented groups. It is a pleasure to recognize a set of such papers available for research in the Search Room: the private papers of Samuel Patrick and Ella [née Buffaloe] McGuire (PC.2061). Additionally, this collection serves various valuable purposes, including providing a unique educational resource for students, researchers, and the wider community.

Patrick and Eleanor (Ella) Buffaloe McGuire, both born into slavery, were married around 1881. Although not the first settlers after the Civil War in the Oberlin Village settlement outside Raleigh, the McGuires were surely part of the growth of this successful community. Increasingly, the area is recognized for its founding by former slaves who came to own their own homes and achieve middle class status. Patrick (1853–1906), born probably in Chapel Hill, Orange County, could read and write. This was true also of Ella (1861–1946), born to James and Martha Miller Buffaloe, natives of Wake County. Sometime during the Reconstruction Era, Patrick moved to Wake County and worked first as a laborer, then for the Gaston & Raleigh Railroad, and eventually as a depot freight driver for the Seaboard Airline Railroad.

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Apply Now for the Traveling Archivist Program

The Traveling Archivist Program is Now Soliciting Applications


The State Archives of North Carolina can help with the preservation of and access to your historical collections

Plan of a tract of land situated in the counties of Franklin and Wake, NC, the property of William M. Jeffreys, Esqr.

Plan of a tract of land situated in the counties of Franklin and Wake, NC, the property of William M. Jeffreys, Esqr. [Call number: MC.039.1832b]

TAP provides hands-on preservation assistance to cultural and heritage institutions that house archives, papers, and records at risk of deterioration and damage. The purpose of TAP is to help improve preservation of and access to collections that document the culture and history of our state.

Institutions chosen to participate in this program will receive an onsite visit from to:

  • Conduct a collections assessment of your collection
  • Discuss your policies and procedures
  • Provide suggestions for collection processing
  • Deliver supply catalogs and some basic supplies
  • Present a final report of the site visit with full recommendations for improving the care and management of your collection

The application is open to all North Carolina cultural and heritage institutions that house and maintain active historical collections, and whose collections are accessible to the public.  Those institutions housing solely objects or artifacts are ineligible for this program.

The guidelines and application may be accessed online and application deadline is January 5, 2018. Questions relating to the application process may be addressed to Andrea Gabriel, North Carolina State Archives, 919-807-7326,, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.