Posted by: Olivia | October 19, 2016

Troop Returns Digital Collection

The Troop Returns from the State Archives of North Carolina Military Collection are now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection includes lists, returns, records of prisoners, and records of draftees, from 1747 to 1893. The majority of records are from the Revolutionary War North Carolina Continental Line.


“A list of the troop of Dragoons commanded by Captain Lawrence Thompson”. Troop Returns. Military Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

Militia records generally include the names of the officers and soldiers, and are usually organized by district or county. Continental Line records include field returns, general returns, draft records and enlistment records. These may be organized by military unit or location. When available, the commanding officers’ name is included in the item description and is searchable in the collection.

This digital collection is currently in-progress, and more items will be added as they become available. Check back for the future post on the completion of the collection.

For more specific collection information, including information on the items not yet available, please see the Troop Returns finding aid.

Posted by: Ashley | October 18, 2016

North Carolina State Fair

[This blog post comes from Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt, State Fair President of 1921

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt, State Fair President of 1921

The North Carolina State Fair, which first opened in late October of 1853, is one of the state’s premier fall attractions. In that spirit, this blog post poses to all State Fair goers: What particular interests and expectations have drawn you to the State Fair, and what special memories have you taken away?  Not surprisingly, a number of the Private Collections offer glimpses of the North Carolina State Fair that add to the breadth of our collective State Fair experience, now spanning one hundred and sixty-three years.  Four such collections are featured here. Their dates range from 1853 to 1921, with three being penned within the first three decades of that auspicious opening event of 1853.


From the Margaret Eliza Cotton Journal, PC.1977, October 3, 1853

From the Margaret Eliza Cotton Journal, PC.1977, October 3, 1853

From the Margaret Eliza Cotten Journal, 1853-1854. PC.1977:  Margaret was a seventeen-year-old St. Mary’s School student living at home on Blount Street, Raleigh. She has left us, through her journal, one of the earliest, and maybe the only surviving privately recorded comment about the State Fair before its formal opening. On the night of October 3, 1853, Margaret opined, “I don’t know when I have been to a party or anything of the kind, [and] wish someone would give a large, nice one. Our city will be quite alive in a few weeks, I hope however, with the ‘Fair.’ I hope it may not be a failure – it is high time for ‘old Rip’ [town of Raleigh] to wake up. I think we are also to have a temperance convention, or something of that kind, on the 17th.”

Margaret’s subsequent comments indicated that the first fair was indeed a success, and quite the place to see and to be seen. Evidenced by her journal and the typical mindset of a teenager, the fair and its social aspects loomed far larger in her mind than the first State Temperance Convention. Not surprisingly, Margaret made no further comments about the latter event, though she had hoped that the Temperance Convention would attract some of her family and friends from Tarboro, Edgecombe County, her place of birth.


Letter of Ida B. A., St. Mary’s School, October 24, 1877, from the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, PC.162

Letter of Ida B. A., St. Mary’s School, October 24, 1877, from the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, PC.162

From the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, 1834-1907. PC.162: These papers include a letter written by another student at St. Mary’s School, Ida B. A. [surname uncertain]. Ida was probably a friend of the daughter of Kenelm Lewis, Annie Harrison Lewis (1861-1943), a student at St. Mary’s School during the same time period. Writing probably to a male friend, on October 23 and 24, 1877, Ida described two visits to the Fair. The second time was especially “splendid,” and involved doing “almost exactly what I did the day before, only [I] did more of it. I was introduced to several very nice gentlemen and enjoyed myself hugely.” Specific events that impressed her included hearing a good band, seeing “elegant [military] drilling” and betting on “elegant [horse] racing,” and consuming delicious candy and cake. Additionally, she was pleased at “seeing so many nice folks from home,” including the New Berne boys, even though they “were not the right set,” but instead “grown young men.” Ida was also pleased that her friend, Lila, looked very stylish “for the first time in her life.” Lila apparently cut quite a figure wearing a dark brown dress and a brown straw hat trimmed with a cardinal scarf, and was “considered by a great many to be the prettiest girl on the grounds.”


From Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, PC.849: Letter of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to. L. L. Polk, September 1, 1881.

From Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, PC.849: Letter of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to. L. L. Polk, September 1, 1881.

From the Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, 1881. PC.849: The sole item in this collection is a letter dated September 1, 1881, written to L. L. Polk, 1888. It is from Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, former Confederate army commander, declining Polk’s invitation to attend the North Carolina State Fair because of prior business commitments in the Southwest. Johnston’s words express genuine disappointment: “I regret this infinitely. For I could find few gratifications in the world equal to that of meeting again the North Carolinians with whom I served in the most trying times that of their century have . . .  [ever] known.”


From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: The papers include one photograph of Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt (Edith), the year she served as president of the North Carolina State Fair.  The image shows Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt, and Mary, Alice, “B,” and Kenlon (staff from the Biltmore estate?), riding in what appears to be an open-air fire engine. A glance at the photograph suggests that the group in the truck, especially Mrs. Vanderbilt, was attracting considerable notice from fair-goers on the ground, and that people-watching has long been one of the enduring attractions of the State Fair.

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: On February 3, 1921, the News and Observer writes of Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt’s address to the state legislature and her induction as president of the 1921 State Fair.

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: On February 3, 1921, the News and Observer writes of Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt’s address to the state legislature and her induction as president of the 1921 State Fair.

Significantly, the previous November, Lillian Exum Clement (not yet married), had been elected to the North Carolina General Assembly, becoming the first woman to serve in the state’s legislature.  Her private papers indicate that she had welcomed Mrs. Vanderbilt to Raleigh in early February of 1921, and include a newspaper clipping describing the event (News and Observer, issue of February 3, 1921). The article said that Mrs. Vanderbilt had addressed a joint session of the House and Senate and subsequently attended a meeting of the Executive Committee of the N.C. Agricultural Society, where she was inducted as president of the 1921 State Fair. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s presence and address evoked the observation: “But few times in the history of the State has a woman been asked to address the General Assembly, and none has pleased them more….”

In celebration of the State Fair and its history and impact, please note the online offering through the State Library of North Carolina: There is a section entitled “Blue Ribbon Memories,” that includes comments from various fair-goers. On an added note, Private Collections invites those with extensive and detailed recollections of the State Fair to consider offering those, perhaps coupled with other historically valuable private papers and photographs, as a possible donation. Please contact Fran Tracy-Walls, for more information about donation guidelines and requirements.

Posted by: kevin | October 12, 2016

Newly added World War I material

With the anniversary of the United States involvement in World War I approaching, here is a list of material recently uploaded to the World War I digital collection:

History of the North Carolina Council of Defense: 1917-1920, v.1-3, Joseph Hyde Pratt

In an attempt to garner a united national support for the United States’ involvement with the World War I effort, the U.S. Congress created the Council of National Defense with the passage of the Army Appropriation Act (39 Stat. 649) (also called the National Defense Act of 1916) on August 29, 1916. The Council of National Defense was a presidential advisory board that included six members of the President’s Cabinet: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker (chairman of the Council); Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels; Secretary of Agriculture David Houston; Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane; Secretary of Commerce William Redfield; and Secretary of Labor William Wilson. The Council’s responsibilities included “coordinating resources and industries for national defense” and “stimulating civilian morale.” As President Woodrow Wilson said of the Council: “The Council of National Defense has been created because Congress has realized that the country is best prepared for war when thoroughly prepared for peace.” The work of the Council grew more significant when the United States entered World War I in 1917. The federal government held a conference on May 2, 1917, in Washington, D.C., to facilitate the organization of state councils of defense, to which Joseph Hyde Pratt, state geologist, was appointed to represent North Carolina. The federal government used the conference to ask state governors to create their own local councils of defense to support the national war effort, with the goal being to cooperate with other state councils and the federal government in organizing and directing the resources of states, making them available and effective for national use. The state councils would also recommend changes in state laws to state legislatures, with the goal of the changes aimed at increasing the nation’s ability to respond to the needs of the war effort. At the start of America’s entrance into the war, the Council coordinated resources and industries for national defense; stimulated civilian morale; coordinated the work of state and local defense councils and women’s committees; and later studied problems of post-war readjustment of soldiers to civilian life and reconstruction of the nation’s infrastructure. The Council of National Defense ceased its operations in June 1921. The History of the North Carolina Council of Defense, 1917-1920, written and compiled by Joseph Hyde Pratt, provides detailed information about the purpose, organization and inner-workings of North Carolina’s Council of Defense.

Red Cross histories: Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Burke, Chatham, Cleveland, Cumberland, Currituck, Gaston, Guilford, McDowell, Moore, Onslow, Orange, Pitt, Randolph, Stanly, Vance, Wake, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes.

John B. Exum, Jr. correspondence, 1918-1919

Correspondence written by John B. Exum, Jr. while he served during the war. Exum, Jr. writes almost exclusively to his mother about where he is stationed, what the conditions are like where he is, if he has seen any Wayne County boys, and what he is experiencing in Europe during his service.

Thomas P. Shinn, war diary, 1917-1918

Thomas “Jack” Pinkney Shinn, born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina and raised in Kannapolis, served in World War I as an Army infantryman. Shinn recorded his experiences and unit’s movements through the end of 1918 in this diary. Accurately capturing the life of an Army soldier on the frontline during the Great War, Shinn provides the personal insight of a North Carolinian faced with soldierly monotony and the horrors of the trenches.

James G. Lane, correspondence, 1918

Correspondence written by James G. Lane while stationed stateside during WWI in 1918. They include letters written to his sister, Bessie E. Lane, his father, and his grandfather, about his experiences in the Navy and his views on the war in Europe. Lane held the rank of Quartermaster First Class (Aviation), and was stationed stateside at various U.S. Navy training installations throughout his service.

Isham B. Hudson, war diary, 1918

Isham B. Hudson’s war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918. He notes his role in the Battle of St. Mihiel in September 1918 briefly in reserve forces, and discusses hearing the news of the Armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. More than half of Hudson’s diary details his experience in terms of weeks documenting his role with the Allied occupation of Europe from December 1918 through April 1919. The back of Hudson’s diary features short poems he wrote and those he took from other sources, as well as names and information on friends and fellow soldiers.

Posted by: Ashley | October 7, 2016

Join Us for Home Movie Day!

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

Home Movie Day 2016 flyerSaturday, October 15, 2016, is Home Movie Day!  And the State Archives of North Carolina is hosting Raleigh Home Movie Day for its 14th year!  Co-sponsored by the State Archives of North Carolina, AV Geeks Transfer Services, and the Film Studies Program at NCSU, Raleigh Home Movie Day is fun for the whole family.  Come join us! 

Participation is simple!  Rifle through your attics, dig through your closets, call up Grandma, and find your family’s home movies!   Then come on down to the State Archives with up to two old reels (8mm, Super8mm, or 16mm film) or video tapes (VHS or Video8/Hi8), 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 do not have any films or videos to bring, that’s OK!  You can just show up and watch the films of others.  It’s not just historically significant – it’s fun!

And did you know that original films can long outlast DVDs or video tape transfers if you properly take care of them? Don’t throw your films away!  HOME MOVIE DAY will not only provide a wealth of free entertainment but is also an opportunity for you to learn about the long-term benefits of film versus video and digital media.  Motion picture archivists will be on hand to answer all your questions and tell you how to properly store your films and plan for their future.

If you are still considering cleaning house and getting rid of your old home movies and videos, please just don’t throw them out yet!  The State Archives collects and preserves old moving images of North Carolina, and while the bulk of our current holdings consist mainly of films and tapes relating to state government, we have a growing body of amateur film and are looking for more because home movies can often include glimpses of important places, and historically significant events and happenings that are not documented anywhere else.   Home movies are an essential record of our past, and they are among the most authoritative documents of times gone by.

So come to Home Movie Day, learn, participate, and/or just enjoy the antics of your friends and neighbors caught on film.  THE EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC (AND parking is free)!


Saturday October 15th, 2016

1 – 4pm



State Archives of North Carolina Auditorium

109 East Jones Street

Raleigh NC 27601


Please contact Kim Andersen (AV Materials  Archivist, State Archives),, 919-807-7311, with any questions about Home Movie Day and/or film and video donations.  And for more information about Raleigh Home Movie Day 2016 in general, please contact Skip Elsheimer (Owner, A/V Geeks),; and/or Devin Orgeron (Professor, Film Studies, NCSU),

Posted by: Ashley | October 5, 2016

Disaster Preparations

[This post is cross-posted from our records management blog, G.S. 132 Files.]

Hurricane Matthew is expected to move north along the east coast of the U.S. later this week and into the weekend. Even if the eye of the storm remains offshore, hurricane or tropical force conditions could still impact North Carolina. Those in the storm’s path should prepare for possible wind and water damage.

We are encouraging all agencies to stabilize your records storage areas before the storm hits, while also making sure that your response contact lists and resources are ready to use should your records be impacted.

  • Ensure that records are 3-6 inches off the floor, if possible. Consider relocating records out of the bottom drawers of filing cabinets, away from windows, and out of basement and attic areas.
  • Compile some recovery supplies, including plastic to cover cabinets, records boxes, and bookshelves.
  • Compile information on disaster recovery vendors.

In the event that your records do get impacted, please contact the State Archives immediately.

Becky McGee-Lankford (Government Records Section Chief) 919-807-7353

Sarah Koonts (State Archivist) 919-807-7339

Jennifer Blomberg (Head of Collections Management) 919-807-7308

Below are initial steps to take in the event that records are damaged by water:

Sample Inventory Control Forms

Initial Steps Before Recovery of Wet Records

Selected List of Disaster Recovery Services



Archives Month is celebrated in archives and special libraries throughout the country. Governor Pat McCrory has proclaimed October Archives Month in North Carolina. During October the State Archives of North Carolina and many archives and libraries across the state will offer a variety of programs and outreach activities. The State Archives will present two free events Oct. 15 in celebration of archives, archivists, and records of our past.

Oct. 15 – Virtual Family History Fair

Since 2012, the State Archives and State Library have held workshops, presentations, exhibits and on-site genealogical consultations in Raleigh to celebrate the Family History Fair. For the first time, the 2016 Family History Fair will be a virtual event, with online streaming from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Anyone can participate via laptop, notebook or smartphone. Discover how to access family records at the State Archives and how the State Library can help you begin your search. Experience these and other online live streaming presentations at home or at participating North Carolina libraries.

Consult the flyer and agenda for specific topics to be covered during the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. program, and to participate. For details on streaming and more information, please email or call (919) 807-7460.

Oct. 15 – Home Movie Day

Bring a home movie to share with others and learn ways to care for your family’s collection of home films. This annual event in Raleigh is sponsored by the State Archives of North Carolina, AV Geeks, and the Film Studies Program at N.C. State University. If you don’t have any home movies of your own, come to enjoy the memories your neighbors bring. The Raleigh Home Movie Day will also feature Bingo with prizes for the whole family. Read more about Home Movie Day, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Archives and History/State Library Building, 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh, N.C. 27601.

For additional information, please call (919) 807-7326.

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on]

Rowan County Red Cross Nurses, 1918

Rowan County Red Cross Nurses, 1918. See this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Raleigh, N.C. – Letters recounting the full military experience of North Carolina Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force service members, one-of-a-kind American Red Cross chapter unit histories and a three volume history of the North Carolina Council of Defense – which managed rationing and War Savings Stamps – are among the many World War I era documents being digitized by the State Archives of North Carolina.

The initiative of the Military Collection of the State Archives will digitize original World War I historic materials documenting North Carolinians’ role in the war at home and abroad. This project is part of North Carolina’s commemoration of the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I. The materials were collected during and after the war and are housed in the WWI Papers at the State Archives.

Unique materials touching on all parts of the state’s involvement in the war effort between 1917 and 1919 will be digitized. The Red Cross records name women who served the effort in the state’s towns and counties. Reports from the horrific Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and other hardships will be recounted.

Pocket diaries and journals with dated entries from North Carolina service members that document experiences from basic training, movement in Europe and the return home will be digitized, as will draft registration posters from 1917 and other home front posters. Digitization of the previously unpublished history of the North Carolina Council of Defense, compiled by famed state geologist and WWI veteran Joseph Hyde Pratt, will make available all aspects of North Carolina’s involvement and response to the war effort.

“It is vital for the State Archives to expand the user base for materials we have held for the public’s use since World War I,” says Military Collection Archivist Matthew Peek. “Many of these have seen little use for scholarly research, and few people were aware of their existence. We hope this project will help North Carolinians gain a broader understanding of the cultural, social and economic impact of World War I on the state.”

The WWI digitization effort will continue through 2018 as part of public programming by the State Archives to bring original WWI materials to a wider audience in support of public research and to provide resources for schools.

The newly-digitized materials are online in the North Carolina Digital Collections website, under World War I collection, at New materials will be continually added.

For additional information please call project director Matthew Peek at (919) 807-7314. The Military Collection is part of the State Archives within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to

experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit

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