Author Archives: kevin

Tax Lists and Records


Wake County tax list from the Treasurer & Comptroller collection (Treasurer and Comptroller. Box 8. State Archives of North Carolina.)

With tax season fast approaching, North Carolina State Archives unveils a new digital collection, entitled Tax Lists and Records, drawing from General Assembly, Treasurer & Comptroller and Secretary of State records.  The bulk of the records are from the Colonial and Revolutionary War eras, but some lists date from as late as 1853.

Lists sent to the General Assembly are from various counties and give the names of the heads of households and others who were subject to taxation. Horses, cattle, livestock, and other luxury goods such as carriages and coaches are also often referenced. Information about slaves may also be present in these lists.

Tax records sent to the State Treasurer or Comptroller relate to the settlement of accounts between local officials and the state. These records generally include the names of the heads of households, acreage, valuation, and number of polls (a tax of a fixed amount levied on adult males, female heads of households and slaves) in the household (black and white). Horses, cattle, livestock, and other luxury goods such as carriages and coaches are also frequently referenced.

Thirty-four tax lists from the Secretary of State records list households subject to taxation in fifteen counties. Information in these records generally includes the name of the head of household, acreage, valuation, and number of polls in household (black and white). Counties included in these lists are: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dobbs, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Johnston, Jones, Martin, Montgomery, Nash, New Bern District, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Richmond, Rutherford, Sampson, Surry, Tyrrell, Warren, and Wilkes.

Newly added World War I material, part 2

With the anniversary of the United States involvement in World War I approaching, here are more records recently added to the World War I digital collection:

Earlie W. Smith correspondence , 1917-1918

Correspondence written by Earlie W. Smith of Harnett County, North Carolina, during his stint in the U.S. Army with the 317th Field Artillery Infantry. Smith served in the Army from October 1917 to June 1919 and served overseas in Europe from August 1918 to June 1919.

Lonnie T. Graham correspondence, 1918

Correspondence written by Lonnie T. Graham relating to his experience training in Camp Gordon, Georgia, and at Clemson Agricultural College during World War I in the Students’ Army Training Corps. As he was frequently sick during and after the war, Graham’s correspondence to his family discusses his health and the care he received in the hospitals.

Thomas W. Williams, Carnival program, 1919

A souvenir program for the Third Army Carnival held in Koblenz, Germany in April 1919.

Charles H. and Thomas L. Warren correspondence, 1917-1919

A collection of correspondence written by Charles H. Warren to his parents, brother and other family members during basic training and while overseas in France and Germany during and after World War I. The correspondence deals largely with his discussing family news with his parents, and of Charles’ longing for home. The letters also cover such topics as the Spanish Influenza pandemic that was in Europe, and Charles Warren hoping his family survives the illness.

Charles H. Warren’s brother Thomas L. Warren was serving as a Private in Bakery Company, 325th Quartermaster Corps, at the time that he wrote these three letters to his family in Caldwell County, North Carolina. Thomas Warren mainly discusses his family’s news and experiences at home, and assuring his family that he is doing well. In his February 10, 1919 letter, Thomas Warren writes imagining what his family members are doing in Caldwell County, including what crops his father would likely be planting. In his February 12, 1919 letter, Thomas Warren recalls to his mother when he and his brother Charles Warren met up in Europe while both were stationed on occupation duty.

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.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of August our theme is school.


Erwin Straus at Black Mountain College. BMC Research Project. Series VII (Visual Materials). Box 91. Folder:North Carolina Division of Archives and History – Straus, Erwin.

Erwin Straus, a German-American philosopher and psychologist, taught at Black Mountain College from 1938 through 1945.  A German refugee fleeing from the growing anti-Semitism promulgated through Hitler’s rise to power, Erwin Straus and his wife, Gertrud (who also taught at Black Mountain College) were part of the growing population of refugee faculty.


A faculty meeting at Black Mountain College. From left to right: Robert Wunsch, Josef Albers, Heinrich Jalowetz, Theodore Dreier, Erwin Straus, unknown, Lawrence Kocher. Black Mountain College Records. Photographs. Folder 83.1.

With an emphasis in phenomenology (philosophical study of experience and consciousness) and neurology, Straus taught such courses as, “The Psychology of the Human World” and “Nicomachean Ethics.”  Erwin Straus was considered to be a serious teacher, a seeming rarity at Black Mountain College where professors were often known by their first or nicknames.  He was described by one student as, “… serious, humorless and on the extreme conservative side.”  Despite the somewhat reserved views held about him by the student population, he was influential in pioneering a holistic approach to medicine, treating the mind and body as a whole rather than just the individual symptoms.  Author of numerous books and articles, Straus’ works includes Language and Language Disturbances and On Obsession: A Clinical and Methodological Study.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of July our theme is elections.


The 26th Amendment from the Vault Collection. State Archives of North Carolina

In 1971, North Carolina voted to ratify the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, lowering the federal voting age from 21 years to 18 years.  The change was influenced through student activism– protests of the Vietnam War coupled with the rationalization that if a person could die for their country, they should also have the ability to vote.  With the slogan, “Old Enough to fight, old enough to vote,” on their lips, draft-age individuals made their case known.


In 1970, an attempt to lower the minimum voting age was made through an amendment to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which adjusted the age to 18 for federal, state and local elections.  This change was struck down shortly after by the Supreme Court in the case Oregon v. Mitchell, the decision claimed that the voting age could only be adjusted for federal elections and not for state or local.

The 26th Amendment was passed a year later needing three-fourths of the fifty states to ratify it (38 states).  North Carolina passed the amendment on July 1, 1971; the 38th state needed to ensure the amendment would be added to the United States Constitution.  The amendment reads, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”

Interestingly, the amendment has never been ratified in Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, or Utah.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition


Committee report to the North Carolina Senate detailing the southern boundary of North Carolina compiled December 19, 1792. (GP 23)

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. This month our theme will be vacations.

Boundaries. Those imaginary lines that slice through terrain, separating groups of people, annexing commercial areas and determining tax rates are constantly in the news. Whether it’s the creation of a new nation (South Sudan) or the fine-tuning of a state’s border (most recently North and South Carolina in Gaston and Union counties), these lines have been an obsession long before the colonization of America. This week’s item highlights a report found in Benjamin Williams’ papers concerning the boundary between North and South Carolina, designated as:

“…Beginning on the Sea side, at a Cedar Stake, at or near the mouth of Little river, being the Southern Extremity of Brunswick County, and running from thence a north west course, through the Boundary house which stands in 33 degrees 56 minutes to 35 degrees north Latitude, and from thence a west course as far as is sanctioned in the Charter of King Charles the 2d to the late Proprietors of Carolina…”

The description found in the Charter of 1663 puts the west course “as far as the south seas [Pacific Ocean] …” A vacation to Bird Island Reserve, part of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, may be worth a trip to see the river that determined our southern border. And if that’s too far for the family to travel, a visit to the House in the Horseshoe, land that Benjamin Williams once considered his “Retreat” will provide a rich historical experience.  These sites provide much to encourage thoughts on boundaries natural, political and historical.

Governor David Stone’s Papers


Petition to exonerate Alfred Yeomans (G.P. 33)

Papers and correspondence from David Stone’s tenure as North Carolina’s fifteenth governor (1808-1810) are now accessible online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. The newly digitized material includes letters written by famed early Americans Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Drayton.  Perhaps the most unique record is a petition for Alfred Yeomans to be exonerated of a fine for dissecting a human body.  Reputable townspeople signed their names and sent the petition to Governor David Stone to dismiss the amount owed ($100).  Read this and more in the most recent addition to the Governors’ Papers, Historical collection.