by Alex Dowrey

This month, the exhibit case in our search room features records related to emancipation and Juneteenth celebrations in North Carolina. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of Texas slaves on June 19, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived to occupy Galveston, Texas and issued General Order Number Three. This occurred almost two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and is “considered the date when the last enslaved Americans were notified of their new legal status” as free Americans.[1] Although Juneteenth started as a Texas holiday, the celebration spread to other states including North Carolina.

Those who visit the exhibit in the search room will note that we have included two Juneteenth proclamations from our holdings, one given by Governor Perdue in 2010 and the other by Governor McCrory in 2013.  The 2010 proclamation declares June 19, 2010 as Juneteenth Day in North Carolina [2] and the 2013 proclamation announces June 19, 2013 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in North Carolina .[3] Records of the current governor’s administration are not yet in the State Archives.

These proclamations are only one example of the resources available for users seeking information on Juneteenth in the State Archives of North Carolina.

Juneteenth also appears in records from the North Carolina General Assembly. The General Assembly passed a joint resolution in 1999 and a bill in 2007, the former to commemorate and honor “the memory of the hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who were enslaved in this country,” and the latter to recognize the nineteenth of June as a state holiday, “Juneteenth National Freedom Day,” pending recognition of Juneteenth as a holiday on the national level.[4]

Users can access information about these pieces of legislation in the Session Laws and Resolutions Passed by the General Assembly in 1999 and 2007, as well as trace the passage of legislation in the published Journal of the Senate of the General Assembly volumes. These are available online in North Carolina Digital Collections.

The General Assembly Record Group (MARS Id: 60) also contains session records of the General Assembly. These records, however, currently stop at the year 1999. More information on legislation and bills from the General Assembly can be found on the North Carolina General Assembly website, where users can search legislation going back to the 1985-1986 session of the General Assembly: https://www.ncleg.net/Legislation/Legislation.html.

For more information or research assistance, please contact the reference staff at archives@ncdcr.gov or (919) 807-7310 and be sure to stop by and see our exhibit case in the search room.

[1] North Carolina General Assembly, “An Act Recognizing Juneteenth National Freedom Day in North Carolina,” House Bill 1607, https://www2.ncleg.net/BillLookup/2007/H1607 (Accessed 4 June 2018).

[2] Perdue, Bev. Proclamation, 2010-06-09, Juneteenth Day: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll5/id/10812/rec/4

[3] McCrory, Pat. Proclamation, Juneteenth National Freedom Day, June 19, 2013:  http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll5/id/20701/rec/5

[4] Session Laws and Resolutions Passed by the General Assembly, 1999, p. 1970: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p249901coll22/id/376295/rec/23; Session Laws and Resolutions Passed by the General Assembly, 2007, p. 1331: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p249901coll22/id/478857/rec/1