New Digital Collection: “Women in North Carolina: 20th Century History”

Women have been an integral part of North Carolina history as pioneers in various fields, by maintaining the home front during times of war, and by playing lead roles in political and social movements during the 20th century. As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, the State Archives of North Carolina is launching a new digital collection: “Women in North Carolina: 20th Century History.” This collection provides a glimpse into the lives of North Carolina women as they changed history in our state and the nation.

For this digital collection, we gathered documents from across the holdings of the State Archives, including Private Collections, Organization Records, and State Agency Records. Some of the highlights from this new online collection include materials from:

Annie Laurie Burton Letters [PC.1771]
Annie Laurie Burton, a native of Prospect Hill, Caswell County, began her career as an elementary school teacher. When the United States entered World War II, Burton trained as a field officer in the American Red Cross military welfare service and served in several Australia and Europe. The letters chosen for this digital collection were primarily written from Australia and addressed to her mother and sisters in North Carolina. She describes her travels, Red Cross work, living conditions in Australia, and social life. Several photographs are also included.

Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection [PC.1618]
This collection pulls together documents pertaining to the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina as well as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. It includes correspondence, magazines, circulars, photographs, and other memorabilia from the efforts of both the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina and the Southern Women’s Rejection League.

In 1913, the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina was incorporated. In 1915, a headquarters was established in Raleigh, N.C., at the Yarborough Hotel, and the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina began lobbying for the North Carolina’s General Assembly to ratify the Equal Suffrage Amendment. In March of 1920, thirty-five states had ratified the 19th amendment leaving only one more state needed. At the same time, the Southern Women’s Rejection League was formed and established their headquarters in Raleigh. On August 17, 1920, the North Carolina legislature decided to table the 19th Amendment, but on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 19th Amendment.

North Carolina League of Women Voters-Wake County Chapter Records [ORG.113]
Meeting minutes from the early years of the chapter’s history in the 1920s, shortly after women received the right to vote. The online collection also includes a summary of local programs and activities during the 1950s and 1960s.

North Carolina International Women’s Year [ORG.109]
These materials date from 1977 and include meeting minutes, reports, summaries of “speakout” events, which raised awareness of issues related to women, and a brief history of prominent women in North Carolina history.

North Carolina Women’s Political Caucus [ORG.132]
Newsletters and reports documenting events such as the effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s.

Gertrude Weil Collection [PC.1488]
The online collection includes a small part of the extensive Gertrude Weil collection. The materials available online focus on the Equal Suffrage Association, and Gertrude Weil’s efforts as president of the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina. Items included from this collection are:

  • Correspondence;
  • A copy of the July-August Everywoman’s Magazine;
  • Annual reports for the years 1914, 1919, and 1920;
  • A Calendar or Year book “The Suffragists’ Calendar, a year-book for every thinking woman.”

Women’s Forum of North Carolina [ORG.72]
An organizational history detailing goals, objectives, and projects; proceedings from a conference on topics such as women in the work force, social structure, and public policy from the 1970s and 1980s.

Women-In-Action for the Prevention of Violence and its Causes, Inc., Durham Chapter [ORG.195]
Meeting minutes, reports, and newsletters documenting the organization’s activities from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To learn more about the role of women in North Carolina history, visit the Women’s History Month website created by the State Library of North Carolina.