Author Archives: avgabriel2

Treasures of Carolina: Bill of Rights

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights, 1989. Vault Collection

Long before the State Archives of North Carolina existed, the Secretary of State kept important government documents in the State Capitol building in Raleigh. Among them was North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, drafted by federal clerks in 1789 and given to each of the original thirteen colonies for ratification.  The document remained in the State Capitols secure and safe for more than eighty years.

In April 1865, Union troops occupying Raleigh were encamped around the State Capitol grounds and building. Against orders, Union soldiers looted whatever they wanted, one returning home to Tippecanoe, Ohio with the Bill of Rights in hand, selling it to Charles A. Shotwell who lived in the same Ohio county.

By 1897, North Carolina became aware of the theft through a Raleigh News and Observer article that had been picked up from the Indianapolis News, where Shotwell was living at the time. Through both secretaries of state, North Carolina tried to reclaim its property—as a public record the document belonged to the state—but Shotwell refused to give it up without payment and disappeared. Another attempt was made to recover the document in 1925 when it was offered for sale by a Pennsylvania attorney on behalf of a client who remained unidentified.

Wayne Pratt, Inc. purchased North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights from two of Shotwell’s descendants in 2000 for $200,000. In the meantime, several experts had authenticated the document as the copy given to the state of North Carolina and Pratt was well aware of the findings. A couple of years later North Carolina was offered the opportunity to purchase the piece. Again, the state refused to buy its own property but later acquiesced. Unbeknownst to the seller, his agents, and attorneys, the FBI had orchestrated a sophisticated sting operation whereby North Carolina would go through the motions of offering $4 million for the manuscript. Once the check “cleared” electronically and the Bill of Rights was brought to the table, federal agencies seized the document and it remained in federal custody. After a two-year court battle, during which time a federal judge ruled that the manuscript was indeed a public record belonging to the state, North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights returned home.

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Treasures of Carolina: Pictogram Letter from Black Mountain College

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Letter, 1942. Black Mountain College Project Papers, Western Regional Archives

 The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

 Black Mountain College operated from 1933 to 1957 in Black Mountain, N.C. and attracted leading artists, both in in this country and abroad, to their faculty including painter Robert Rauschenberg, composer John Cage, choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham, sculptor Ruth Asawa, architect Buckminster Fuller, and artists Joseph and Anni Albers.

This first page excerpt is part of a four-page letter written by Lorna Blaine (later Halper), an artist who attended the college.  She wrote to her parents around 1942 using pictograms. Part of the excerpt reads, “Dear Mother and Dad, I really do not know how to thank you enough for the wonderful trip to Boca Grande. It even started off well on the train, that snappy Silver Meteor. Then all the tennis and swimming and sunbathing and loafing and food etc. Gosh but everything was so marvelous!”

 

Explore Genealogical Resources at One-Day Event June 23

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Genealogy research is a complex subject that involves finding the right resources, keen detective work, and enduring patience.

A good place to begin or sharpen your research skills is the 2018 North Carolina Genealogical Society Speakers Forum, Saturday, June 23, 8:25 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Archives/State Library building, 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh. This day-long forum will feature presentations across three concurrent sessions focusing on case studies, methodology, ethnic research, organization, online resources, and writing.

Learn from working genealogists, researchers, archivists, librarians, and others who will help you identify and navigate land records, estates, wills, and other government records. Explore what can be found in newspaper archives, in digital records, and discover what resources are available for descendants of enslaved people and native Americans. Learn to organize and present your work into something to share and enjoy with other family members.

The forum cost is $35 for N.C. Genealogical Society members and $45 for non-members. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. To view the program and register online, visit  https://www.ncgenealogy.org/.

The forum is co-sponsored by the State Archives of North Carolina and the Friends of the Archives.

Treasures of the Archives: Warrant, 1767

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.
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Warrant, 1767, Boundary Line papers, Treasurer’s and Comptroller’s Papers

In order to postpone a confrontation between white settlers and Indians, King George issued a proclamation in 1763 forbidding white settlement in America farther west than the crest of the Appalachian mountains. Some Cherokees asked that a precisely defined boundary be surveyed for their protection. The Indians preferred that the line not be run until after the 1766 hunting season, however, so that they might take game farther east than the anticipated line might permit.

In June 1766, Gov. William Tryon indicated to his council that he was ready to undertake the surveying of a line, and the council authorized him to direct the surveyor general to proceed. Since the treasury had no funds for such a project, the governor was authorized to issue warrants for the survey. He appointed John Rutherfurd, Robert Palmer, and John Frohock to be boundary commissioners, and they, together with a detachment of thirty men, completed the survey. The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Treasures of Carolina: Plan of Raleigh

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Though the seat of colonial government had been established in New Bern, a new capital city was created in 1792 when state legislators voted to purchase land from Senator Joel Lane located within ten miles of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, a popular gathering place for lawmakers at the time. This Plan of Raleigh was drawn by William Christmas, state senator and surveyor by profession.  Using a total of 400 acres, Christmas designated the axial center of the city as Union Square. It was composed of six acres and intended as the site of the future State House.

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Survey Plat, 1792, Map Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

[By Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist]

Help the Military Collection Identify WWII
CBI Theater Photos

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina needs the public’s help in identifying a set of photographs from World War II that have no identifications or descriptions. The photographs are from the papers of Raleigh native, William C. Cutts, who served in the Pacific Theater in WWII as an aircraft fabric and dope mechanic with the 69th Depot Replacement Squadron, 301st Air Depot Group, U.S. Army Air Forces. Cutts worked as a civilian at Seymour Johnson Field in Goldsboro before being inducted into military service in 1944. As a civilian and later as an Air Force mechanic, Cutts was listed as an aircraft fabric and dope worker, which involved laying out, cutting and sewing, and treating airplane fabric to cover damaged control surfaces and airplane fuselages. He would cover and patch airplanes’ surfaces with fabric, applying paint and dope to the fabric [dope is a type of lacquer applied to fabric-covered aircraft, that tightens and stiffens fabric stretched over airframes, rendering them airtight and weatherproof].

It is unclear as to where Cutts was stationed in the Pacific Theater during the war. The photographs in Cutts’ papers are a set of original reproduction photographs of scenes in Asia made during or just after WWII. The photographs all appear to have been taken in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of WWII, in southern and eastern Asia. However, it is not readily evident from his service papers that he ever served in the CBI Theater—just in the Pacific. It is also not known if Cutts took or—more commonly as WWII servicemen did then—collected the photographic prints. Even so, the photographs show rare scenes of the CBI Theater.

Towards that end, we need the public’s help in identifying the images. All of the photographs have been uploaded into the State Archives’ Flickr page in the album “William C. Cutts WWII Images” [insert link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/north-carolina-state-archives/albums/72157694493198435]. We are asking for members of the public to help with the descriptions of the photographs. You can create a free Flickr account and add comments to these photographs with any information you may have on them. We need to create image descriptions that are reliable and historically accurate for researchers and the public who are relying on our historical materials for research, exhibits, school assignments, and public programs.

Because of this, we need to know the information you have on the image, how you know it (if from a website, please include a link to the page), and your name. If you personally recognize an area or scene from experience or family knowledge, please share the information through the image comments. Not all of the information will be used for the descriptions—as some of it may contradict what others have given. Also, we need reliable sources of information, so Wikipedia and Pinterest are not accepted as sources of information. If there is a comparable photograph online through another archives, museum, military veteran, or even the Library of Congress, please share that link in the comments on the images in the Flickr album.

The Military Collection Archivist will research the images using all of the provided information, comparing and contrasting what has been provided from the public for the most reliably-accurate image descriptions. The photograph descriptions on Flickr will be updated after they are completed, and the collection finding aid will have the descriptions added. We will be adding the names of people who assisted with the image descriptions to the William C. Cutts Papers finding aid, so you all will be credited for the effort.

WWII 112.F1.1: Small contact print of a studio portrait of the Cutts family of Raleigh, N.C., during World War II. Pictured are (left to right): Mary Jeanette Champion Cutts; Mary Jeannette Cutts; and William C. Cutts (wearing his U.S. Army Air Forces uniform) (1940s) [from William C. Cutts Papers, WWII 112, WWII Papers, Military Collection].
WWII 112.F2.9: Unidentified scene during World War II, believed to be in the CBI Theater [from William C. Cutts Papers, WWII 112, WWII Papers, Military Collection].

 

Treasures of Carolina: Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

13th Amend

Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Transmittal Letter, 1865, Vault Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

On December 4, 1865, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery. For a state to be readmitted to the Union following the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson required states to approve the amendment. Ten days following North Carolina’s vote the requisite three-quarters of the states had approved its ratification and thus it became law.

This action by the legislature in 1865 came almost three years after the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the southern states. Following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the freedmen’s convention met a few blocks northwest of the State Capitol. That assembly was the first effort by the state’s African Americans to press for full political rights.