Monthly Archives: January 2011

Black Mountain College and the Records of Defunct Colleges

I’ve done quite a few Black Mountain College (BMC) collection blog posts over the years. Both the college itself and its records seem to be endlessly fascinating to people, especially individuals who don’t visit archives on a regular basis and who therefore may not be aware of the types of materials we have in our collections. As a result, the BMC materials have often been a wonderful way for us at the North Carolina State Archives to begin talking with people and communities with whom we rarely have interaction, for example…

Today I noticed a link to our blog from The Thread, “the blog of Duke Performances, Duke University’s premier performing arts organization.” That link originated on a blog post by Brian Howe called “The Black Mountain Archive,” which discusses the upcoming performance of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Durham. Merce Cunningham visited BMC several times and taught dance during the summer sessions of 1948, 1952, and 1953 (see the faculty and student roster in The Arts at Black Mountain College by Mary Emma Harris). Brian Howe also goes on to mention a panel presentation about Black Mountain poetry during the 2010 Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh. I attended that presentation and while talking with the participants afterward mentioned our collections, only to find out that not all of them were aware of the wealth of information available a few minutes walk from where they were standing. Brian kindly glosses over what I did then, but I’ll confess here that I went home and (in perhaps one of the geekiest ways to spend a Friday night ever) tracked down the websites and email addresses of as many of the participants as I could find and then sent them lists of our materials, websites, blog posts, and Flickr images related to BMC. But clearly all the geekiness was worth it, because Brian mentioned our resources again in his Thread post (thanks Brian).

What’s the point I’m trying to make here (besides the fact that you should all come visit us to use our Black Mountain College materials)? The point is that I bet that not all of you know that BMC is not the only group of defunct college records that the North Carolina State Archives holds in its collections. In fact, we have a very impressive list of college records in our custody on our website; the list was just updated last week when Gwen Mays, our Organization Records archivist, added a new school.

So do come to visit us or at least visit our websites and blogs to learn more about what we have. You may be surprised.


OBHC Finding Aids for Civil War Manuscripts and Letters

There are two new finding aids on the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) website:

Civil War Era Manuscripts, 1861 – 1863 – North Carolina’s Outer Banks was the setting for two important Civil War conflicts. Union victories at Hatteras Island and Roanoke Island early in the war placed the area under Federal control and extended their blockade to the Southern Coast. The Civil War Manuscripts collection contains a Confederate requisition, a receipt, and an accompanying pass issued to soldiers. (3 items)

Civil War Letters, 1861 – 1864 – North Carolina’s Outer Banks was the setting for two important Civil War engagements. Union victories at Hatteras Inlet and Roanoke Island early in the war placed the area under Federal control and extended their blockade to the Southern Coast. This collection contains a group of letters written by soldiers during the Civil War. Topics discussed in the letters include: Fort Hatteras, the Fort Hatteras garrison flag, Camp Raleigh, Camp Brightwood, provost duty, the Burnside Expedition, the victory at Roanoke Island, and army food rations. Transcripts of all letters are included. (.19 cubic feet)

“Viva the Gazetteer” Lecture

This announcement came to us this morning through the Dept. of Cultural Resources mailing list. If you happen to be in downtown Raleigh and are looking for a way to spend your lunch-break, this would be a wonderful opportunity:

Free State Capitol Lecture Jan. 31 Highlights Stories of N.C. Places

On Monday, Jan. 31, the Capitol will host a lecture by Michael Hill, co-author of the 2nd edition of the “North Carolina Gazetteer.” The free lecture, “Viva the Gazetteer!: The Making of the New Edition of a North Carolina Classic” takes place at noon in the old House Chamber.

The “Gazetteer” first appeared to wide acclaim in 1968 and has remained an essential reference for anyone with a serious interest in the Tar Heel State, from historians to journalists, from creative writers to urban planners, from backpackers to armchair travelers.

The revised and expanded edition (published June 2010) adds approximately 1,200 new entries, bringing to nearly 21,000 the number of North Carolina cities, towns, crossroads, waterways, mountains and other places identified here. The stories attached to place names are at the core of the book and the reason why it has stood the test of time. Some recall faraway places: Bombay, Shanghai, Moscow, Berlin. Others paint the locality as a little piece of heaven on earth: Bliss, Splendor, Sweet Home. In many cases the name derivations are unusual, sometimes wildly so: Cat Square, Huggins Hell, Tater Hill, Whynot.

Hill will discuss his role in updating this essential guide and how the “Gazetteer” tells us much about our own history. Hill’s talk promises to be an engaging, authoritative look at the stories behind the places that make North Carolina great.

The State Capitol’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history, architecture and functions of the 1840 building and Union Square. The Capitol is bounded by Edenton, Salisbury, Morgan and Wilmington streets. For more information, visit or call (919) 733-4994.

Archives Overview Workshop to be held in Durham

This announcement came to us from Solveig De Sutter, Director of Education, Society of American Archivists:

The Society of American Archivists has developed a face-to-face workshop, Archives Overview, especially for individuals who are near and dear to the hearts of SHRABs nationwide: historical society volunteers, local history librarians, town clerks, and others who may be the hands-on caretakers of records of enduring value. These “accidental archivists” often are committed and passionate, but may not have a full understanding of the nature of archives work. SAA was asked to bring this workshop to the Durham Academy in Durham, NC, on March 10, 2011.

Archives Overview provides a practical, one-day introduction to archival principles and practices. And it’s designed to provide a foundation on which further training and learning can be based.

First Wednesdays

Although the beginning of Civil War Sesquicentennial efforts vary across the country, with many states launching their Sesquicentennial events during the month when their state entered the war, January 2011 marks the beginning of our Civil War-themed events at the North Carolina State Archives. One of those events will be “First Wednesdays“, which is what we are calling a fifty-four month project to spotlight one Civil War-related resource (meaning a document, map, image, etc.) per month on the first Wednesday of that month for four years. We may focus on more than one item during some months and we have additional scanning projects like the Civil War letter digitization project that I mentioned over on the Civil War 150 blog recently. But during First Wednesdays there will always be at least one new online resource highlighted on our North Carolina Civil War 150 blog (Added, May 31, 2011 – if you want to see all of the First Wednesday posts, here is a shortcut).

Today Chris Meekins kicks off First Wednesdays with a blog post focused on political discussions, both pro-secession and pro-Union, in North Carolina during December 1860. The document he uses to illustrate this discussion is the Craven County December 1860 resolutions, which are provided online as a part of the North Carolina Digital Collections website.

2010 in Review

As I mentioned over on the Civil War 150 blog earlier today, WordPress sent all blog owners a “2010 in Review” stats report by email. One of the options in the email is to post the content to your blog, so I’m going to post portions of the review below. I have no idea whether this information will be of interest to anyone other than stats and metadata geeks like me, but hopefully some of you will find it worth reading.

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2010. That’s about 26 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 93 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 207 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 21st with 118 views. The most popular post that day was Andrew S. Austin Collection.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for susan weil, aycock brown, centaur costume, forest resources information, and robbie fearn.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Andrew S. Austin Collection July 2010


Additions to the NC Family Records Online Project March 2010


Container Lists of Selected County Records August 2009


About February 2010


Confederate Pension Records Available Online August 2008