Author Archives: Olivia

Troop Returns Digital Collection

The Troop Returns from the State Archives of North Carolina Military Collection are now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection includes lists, returns, records of prisoners, and records of draftees, from 1747 to 1893. The majority of records are from the Revolutionary War North Carolina Continental Line.


“A list of the troop of Dragoons commanded by Captain Lawrence Thompson”. Troop Returns. Military Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

Militia records generally include the names of the officers and soldiers, and are usually organized by district or county. Continental Line records include field returns, general returns, draft records and enlistment records. These may be organized by military unit or location. When available, the commanding officers’ name is included in the item description and is searchable in the collection.

This digital collection is currently in-progress, and more items will be added as they become available. Check back for the future post on the completion of the collection.

For more specific collection information, including information on the items not yet available, please see the Troop Returns finding aid.


Links to State Archives of North Carolina Materials

The newest addition to the North Carolina Digital Collections is Links to State Archives of North Carolina Materials. This ongoing digital reference collection is of original records from the State Archives that have been made available online by third party institutions. This collection is comprised of URLs to items within the various websites. Links may lead directly to an item or may link to collection landing pages on third party websites.

Links to State Archives of North Carolina Materials includes the following websites: Ancestry, FamilySearch, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, North Carolina Maps, and YouTube. Several collections on Ancestry and FamilySearch have been partially digitized or are in progress, and therefore may not be complete. Also make sure to read the description of items within NCDC as some of the websites State Archives materials have been mixed with non-State Archives materials to form their final collection.

Please keep in mind that to successfully use the Ancestry links, your computer needs to be logged on an Ancestry account. If you are not logged in, the Ancestry links will take you to the Ancestry homepage. If you don’t have an Ancestry account, contact your local public library branch who may have a subscription or the State Library of North Carolina to gain access on site.

Record types include: North Carolina maps, a selection of North Carolina county records, and vital records. For a more complete list of record links included, see the landing page of the collection on NCDC.

If you’d like to see more materials related to North Carolina held at institutions throughout the state, please visit the State Library of North Carolina’s NC MOSAIC project on NCDC.

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.

There are many ways to begin researching materials at the State Archives of North Carolina, like finding aids, for example. Finding aids are descriptive documents that may include: a list of items, folders, or relevant organization structure; a narrative description of the content, historical background, or other information necessary to understand the collection; subject headings; and information needed to access the materials, such as call numbers.  The State Archives of North Carolina makes their finding aids available online on the SANC website and the MARS online catalog. But did you know those aren’t all the finding aids we offer? Legacy finding aids, finding aids that have not been updated recently, are available through the North Carolina Digital Collections. While these tools are offered “as is,” they still may provide valuable research help.

State Agency Public Instruction Finding Aid Page 1

State Agency Finding Aid: Public Instruction, 1798-1999. State Archives of North Carolina

Today we are highlighting two legacy finding aids: State Agency Finding Aid: Public Instruction, 1798-1999 and State Agency Finding Aid: State Board of Education, 1827-1958.

North Carolina’s first Education Act was passed in 1839, but it wasn’t until 1852 that the General Assembly created an office of superintendent of common schools to provide supervision over the state school system. The Superintendent of Public Instruction series is located within the Department of Public Instruction record group. The State Board of Education was the agency that replaced SPI and expanded the state’s role in public education. The Department of Public Instruction became the leading education agency in 1919; these are the most commonly used education records at the State Archives.

Below is a general list of the series in each record group, for more detailed series information please consult the finding aids.

Public Instruction, 1798-1999:

  • Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Office of the Superintendent
  • Office of the Assistant Superintendent
  • Division of Instructional Services
  • Division of Negro Education
  • Division of Professional Services
  • Division of Publications
  • Division of Schoolhouse Planning
  • Division of Vocational Education
  • North Carolina Resource-Use Education Commission
  • Works Progress Administration—Education Program
  • Miscellaneous Material
  • Map Collection
  • Certifications Board: College Rating Reports

State Board of Education, 1827-1958:

  • Literary Fund
  • Auditing and Accounting Division
  • Controller’s Office
  • Director of School Accounts
  • State Board of Equalization
  • Division of Plant Operations
  • Teacher Allotment and General Control Division
  • Transportation Division
  • Miscellaneous Records
  • State School Fund Expenditures, Voucher Registers

Remember that these are “as is” finding aids, but provide a great place to start your research. Other resources include the State Agency Guide (available for use in the SANC Search Room) or County Records Guide (a newer version is available for purchase through N.C. Historical Publications). If you have any questions, please contact the State Archives.

Related state agency finding aids include: State Education Commission and State Department of Social Services

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 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified by the United States government on August 26, 1920. In 1971, North Carolina was one of the last states to ratify the bill.


Cover letter for U.S. Constitution 19th Amendment, from the Vault Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

The women’s suffrage movement in North Carolina began in 1894 with the formation of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association. The Association helped introduce a state amendment giving women the right to vote in the 1897 legislative session. The bill was referred to the Committee on Insane Asylums.

In March 1920, only one more state was needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. It came down to either Tennessee or North Carolina to be that state. Tennessee ratified the amendment in August. On August 17, the North Carolina Senate voted to postpone a vote on the 19th Amendment until a regular session. It wasn’t until 1971 that the North Carolina General Assembly made the gesture to endorse the 19th Amendment.

To see more about women’s suffrage in North Carolina, check out NCpedia on the subject.

The North Carolina State Archives also holds the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection. Many of these items are digitized in the “Women in North Carolina 20th Century History” collection, including many fascinating anti-suffrage and pro-suffrage propaganda.

You can also see North Carolina’s copy of the 19th Amendment in the Treasures of Carolina exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. The exhibit runs through July 31.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

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.

Summer! The magical time when the kids are home. Need something to entertain them? How about the Reed Gold Mine, located in Midland, North Carolina? This week’s item is a video, “All that Glitters”, about the history of the Reed Gold Mine, created by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Reed Gold Mine is where the first documented gold find occurred in the United States. Many people may not realize that North Carolina actually led the nation in gold production until the California Gold Rush of 1848.

In 1799, John Reed’s son, Conrad Reed, discovered a large yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek in Cabarrus County. For the next three years it was used as a doorstop. It wasn’t until three years later when a jeweler identified the rock as a gold nugget. The Reeds did not understand the true value of the nugget and sold it for a weeks’ worth of wages, about $3.50. The nugget’s true value was estimated at about $3,600. In 1803, Reed began a part-time mining operation with local men using only pans and rockers. In 1845 John Reed died a rich man from the gold mined on this property.

Did you know that the State Archives of North Carolina has a YouTube channel? Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for the announcement of the new digital collection, Links to State Archives of North Carolina Materials. This collection features direct URLs to SANC items hosted online by other sites.

Summer of the Archives

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Looking to try something new? How about dying your own fabric, whipping up some arthritis treatments, or white washing your own stucco? The State Archives of North Carolina Private Collections includes the Polk Recipe Book from 1858. The Polk Recipe Book is from the Lucy Williams Polk Papers private collection. Lucy Williams Polk was wife to Williams Polk, whose brother was James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States. The recipe book belonged to Mary K. Williams, Lucy’s mother.

Polk Recipe Book, 1858, PC_75_10_Polk_Recipe_Book

Polk Recipe Book, 1858, PC_75_10_Polk_Recipe_Book

The recipe book includes handwritten recipes ranging from fabric dyes, herbal remedies, jellies, cakes, breads, and apparently even a ginger beer recipe (although I haven’t found that one yet!). The book also includes newspaper cutouts on topics ranging from “Training Steers” to “Bed-Bugs”. It’s everyone’s do-it-yourself home-keeping manual (or at least the 1850s version)!

The item is part of the NCDC artificial online collection, Food and Cooking, which began as part of the 2013 North Carolina Archives week celebration. Other items in the collection include cookbooks, court transcripts for moonshine cases, and trademark applications; all relating to North Carolina food culture and history. So go check out the recipe for not only green pickles, but also yellow pickles, from the Polk Recipe Book.

But keep in mind, this is from the 1800s, they might not have most things at the grocery store. Although the German Ginger Cake might be worth trying to modernize the recipe. If you want to read more about transforming historical recipes into modern ones, check out an article about it here.

P.S. the Ginger Beer recipe is on page 10!

1901 Confederate Pension Applications Digital Collection

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications digital collection is now complete. All 35,717 pension applications have been made available online. Formally referred to as “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications,” these materials are part of the State Auditor’s records. The project began last year when the Collections Management Branch scanned the microfilm copies of the pension applications. To learn more about how the project was processed, visit the initial blog post here.

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications contain genealogical information, such as name, age, and place of residence when applying for the pension. But the applications also capture service information including company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability.  Pension applications filed by widows were filed under the name of the deceased soldier. Documents in the collection include: pension applications from soldiers and widows; documentation of disabilities by physicians; correspondence relating to the application; and witness statements, usually from men who served in the same company or regiment, attesting to the applicant’s service history. In very rare instances, the pension files may include copies of marriage and death certificates, or other supporting documentation. A majority of the applications also indicate whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry in an official statement usually located on the back page of the application.

More historical information about the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications is available in the MARS online catalog entry for “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications:”

“As first begun in 1889, those applicants eligible for pensions were divided into four classes based on disability: first class pensioners were totally disabled ($72 annually); second class pensioners had lost a leg or arm ($60); third class pensioners had lost a hand or foot ($48); and fourth class pensioners had lost an eye, or were partially incapacitated due to other wounds ($30). Widows were classified as fourth class pensioners.

All persons entitled to pensions under the act, whether previously drawing pensions or not, were to appear before their county Board of Pensions on or before the first Monday in July 1901 for examination and classification. For pension applications before 1901, see the series, Pension Bureau: Act of 1885 Pension Applications. Applications for admission to the Soldiers’ Home, however, are included with applications under the 1901 act, even though some may date from before 1901.

Certain persons were excluded from benefits under the pension acts. Applicants owning more than $500 worth of property or earning a public salary of $300 or more were ruled ineligible for a pension, and no one receiving aid under laws for relief of the totally blind or maimed was eligible. Inmates of the Soldiers’ Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were also excluded from benefits under the pension acts.

Almost every succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. The amount received was lowered and raised, the property disqualification was raised to $2,000, and the date of marriage to make a widow eligible was moved forward several times until a widow was eligible if she had been married to a Confederate veteran for ten years before his death if his death occurred after 1899. Widows could remarry and still be eligible provided they were widowed again at the time the application was made…”

The pension applications also include unexpected details about the applicant’s life:

In a few instances, widows were filing pensions well into the 1960s and 1970s. The pension system ended in 1986.

The original blog post announcing the 1901 Confederate Pension project is available at: