Category Archives: State Agency Records

Archival Documents added to North Carolina State Parks Digital Collection

In honor of the centennial anniversary of North Carolina’s State Parks in 2016, hundreds of folders of historical documents from the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation records collection at the State Archives have been digitized and added to the North Carolina State Parks digital collection at North Carolina Digital Collections. Earlier this year, the State Archives partnered with the Division of Parks and Recreation to create the State Parks digital collection, which has made available hundreds of historical and modern photographs that feature the natural and cultural history of the parks. It is hoped that the addition of archival documents, ranging in date from the 1910s to the 1980s, will help provide a richer story and context of how the parks have been selected, developed, managed, and maintained over the hundred-year history of the State Parks system.

The natural history, ecology, and conservation of North Carolina’s state parks are prominent topics in the archival documentation presented at NCDC. Park naturalists regularly provided reports on the botany, zoology, and geology of parks, as well as helped to curate museum exhibits, talks, and nature trails for general environmental education. The impacts of beach erosion, hurricane damage, flooding, and forest fires have been perpetual issues at various state parks for decades. The identification and protection of unique ecological areas has been a significant driver for the establishment of new state parks and for the enforcement of specific rules and regulations governing activities within the parks.

The development of state parks as recreation areas is another dominant theme in the records of the Division of Parks and Recreation. Development plans were usually limited by funding, so in many parks it took decades for goals to be realized. Initial plans might only have included providing access to the parks by building hiking trails, roads, parking lots, and possibly pit latrines and water wells. But, with greater public interest in the parks came greater revenue, and more extensive facilities could be built including water and sewer systems, electric power systems, cabins and campsites, picnic grounds, bathhouses, boat docks, concessions, museums, and more.

Throughout these documents, many interesting themes emerge that reference and reflect subjects of larger historical and cultural significance. A great deal of the initial infrastructure development of the oldest state parks – Fort Macon, Hanging Rock, Morrow Mountain, Mount Mitchell, and William B. Umstead – was achieved through projects funded and manned by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. Documents regarding the acquisition of land to create conservation and recreation areas expose the tensions between the interests of private land owners and the public at large. Many State Historic Sites in North Carolina were originally conceived of and administered as part of the State Parks system. And, while there was never a legal basis for segregation in the state parks, until the 1960s, with the exceptions of Jones Lake, Reedy Creek (part of William B. Umstead State Park), and Hammocks Beach, most park facilities were for whites only, but there were frequent calls to provide equal access to state parks in North Carolina for all people.

For more information on the history of North Carolina State Parks, please check out these NCpedia pages developed by the State Library, in conjunction with the Division of Parks and Recreation, to coincide with the state parks centennial celebration.

Exploring North Carolina: North Carolina State Parks, Trails, Lakes, Rivers & Natural Areas

http://ncpedia.org/exploring-state-parks

North Carolina History Interactive Timeline: History of North Carolina State Parks, Recreation & Natural Areas

http://ncpedia.org/north-carolina-state-parks-history-timeline

For more information on the Division of Parks and Recreation records collection, please search our MARS catalog.

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.

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Call number: State Board of Education Records. Swamp Lands Records. Field Notebooks, Vols. 1-17. Box 4. Transit Book 101, 1885.

August in North Carolina is always hot and humid, and no matter where you are in the state, it often feels like you’re living in a swamp. There are, of course, large tracts of swamplands in the Coastal Plain of N.C., and much of that land has been preserved and protected by state and national agencies. However, in the nineteenth century, the state of North Carolina gave power to the Literary Fund, and later, the State Board of Education, to survey and sell state-owned swamplands “capable of being reclaimed” to raise funds for public education. This week’s treasure is the surveyors’ Transit Book of part of the Angola Bay area in North Carolina, compiled by W. G. Lewis, Chief Engineer, Board of Education for Swamp Lands, and Henry A. Brown, Superintendent Engineer, in 1885.

“This Road was run from Deep Bottom Bridge over North East River, in Duplin County, skirting the Eastern Boundary of Angola Bay. Via: Maple Hill – & between Angola Bay & Holly Shelter Swamp – & on via: Bannermans Bridge over North East River to Centre of the track of the Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road just 10.00 chains to the North of the warehouse at Burgaw – County Seat of Pender County.”

The surveyors’ diagrams include not only the elevations and distances of road segments, but also bridges, nearby rivers and creeks, intersecting roads, buildings, property owners, and the character of the land and vegetation along the road.

This notebook and other material from the State Board of Education Swamp Lands Records can be viewed online as part of the STEM Digital Collection at NCDC. If your summer plans bring you to Raleigh before school starts again, we also encourage you to visit us at the State Archives to view the records in person. Or, schedule a visit to the Archives with your school group to get some hands-on experience with historical primary source documents.

For additional information on the history of the State Board of Education and swamplands in North Carolina, check out these NCpedia articles on Swamps, Pocosins, the North Carolina State Board of Education, and the North Carolina Literary Fund.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

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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.

Exhibit about North Carolina’s Revolutionary Politics and Signers of the Declaration of Independence

[This blog post was written by Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]

The Surry County Committee of Safety journal which reads both "Liberty or Death" and "God Save the King"

The Surry County Committee of Safety journal not only condemned British policies, but also declared loyalty to the Crown. To illustrate this paradox, the words “Liberty or Death” were printed in a circle surrounding “God Save the King.” From the State Archives of North Carolina (Secretary of State Records, Committees of Safety, MARS Id: 12.112).

A one-day special exhibit of documents from the State Archives will be displayed at Tryon Palace on Saturday, June 4, 2016. It focuses on North Carolina’s revolutionary politics and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among significant documents to be displayed are Josiah Martin’s speech denouncing the Second Provincial Congress, the General Assembly’s response, an excerpt from a Surry County committee of safety journal, and a letter delivering news of America’s newfound status as an independent state. Also included is a document signed by all three delegates, just over a month after they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Leading up to the American Revolution, tensions were growing between the British government and the American colonies. At a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia an economic boycott against Great Britain was instituted and local committees of safety were set up to enforce it. In North Carolina, Provincial Congresses were held despite their denunciation by the royal governor, Josiah Martin. He dissolved the General Assembly on April 8, 1775, hoping to quell growing resistance to British rule, but he was unsuccessful.

Fifth page of the Halifax Resolves

The fifth page of the Halifax Resolves reads: “Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the other delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .” From the State Archives of North Carolina (Secretary of State Records, Provincial Conventions and Congresses, MARS Id: 12.114).

After the violence at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts in April of 1775, and later the Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge in February of 1776, it became a foregone conclusion that any reconciliation between Great Britain and America was futile. As a result, the Halifax Resolves were adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress on April 12, 1776, marking the first official action by a colony to declare independence. This date appears on the North Carolina state flag.

On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted that the American colonies were independent states. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was signed by William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn, delegates from North Carolina.

For more details see http://www.tryonpalace.org/events/it%E2%80%99s-revolutionary-documents-state-archives-north-carolina.

 

North Carolina State Parks Collection Unveiled at NC Digital Collections

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of North Carolina’s state parks system, the State Library and State Archives have partnered with the Division of Parks and Recreation to create the North Carolina State Parks Collection. The end result of this collaborative project will feature materials from all three participating institutions that have been digitized and made available at North Carolina Digital Collections.

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Children viewing scenery at Hanging Rock State Park, circa 1956. North Carolina State Parks Collection, NC Digital Collections.

To date, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation has contributed well over 400 digital images to the collection ranging from sepia-toned photographic prints of early surveys on Mount Mitchell in 1915, to vibrantly-colored digital photos taken by park rangers and visitors within the last few years. The subjects of the images are also widely varied: from the natural beauty of mountains, rivers, lakes, sand dunes, plants, and animals, to nostalgic scenes of camp sites, trails, picnics, monuments, swimming beaches, and the construction of park roads and buildings. These images, selected by state parks personnel, represent only a fraction of their extensive archive of historical and informational photographs. Additional images will be added periodically over the next few months.

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Visitors at Sand Dunes, Jockey’s Ridge State Park. North Carolina State Parks Collection, NC Digital Collections.

As their contribution, the State Library has digitized selections from the North Carolina State Documents Collection that were published by, or pertain to, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation and North Carolina’s state parks. This selection of material was produced from the 1950s to the early 2000s, and includes promotional and informational booklets, management and development plans, and park histories.

At the State Archives, we have been indexing seven decades (1920s through early 1980s) of records from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation that have been permanently transferred into our custody (search our online MARS catalog for more information on this record group). During this process, we have been selecting a broad range of materials to digitize and add to the North Carolina State Parks Collection at NC Digital Collections. We hope that our additions will help to provide greater context to the images and publications that are currently available by highlighting the “behind-the-scenes” work that goes into planning, maintaining, and improving the state parks system. This material will include correspondence, reports, studies, photographs, surveys, and projects, with particular focuses on public and community input and environmental preservation.

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Family picnicking at Jones Lake State Park, circa 1950. North Carolina State Parks Collection, NC Digital Collections.

For more historical information about the first 100 years of the N.C. State Parks System please visit these amazing and new NCpedia pages developed by the State Library, in conjunction with the Division of Parks and Recreation, to coincide with the state parks centennial celebration:

Additionally, the North Carolina State Parks System is highlighting all of these collaborative projects on their centennial webpage: http://www.ncparks.gov/100/explore-century-of-park-history

Senate Audio, 2011-2012

The audio for another 146 Senate sessions has been added to the Internet Archive and is searchable through the North Carolina Digital Collections website under, Senate Audio. The complete 2011-2012 biennium is now accessible from the comfort of one’s own home. Audio files can either be streamed online or downloaded for listener convenience. The collection currently provides access to over 450 legislative days ranging from 2006 through 2012. Recordings made prior to 2006 are held at the State Archives and made available through a fee-based, digitization-on-demand basis. Additional information regarding fees can be found here. More Senate-related materials found in the Archives include the Senate Clerk’s Office journals (SR 66.28) which provide the daily minutes from 1777 through 1981.

Benjamin Williams’ First Administration Papers

Papers from Benjamin Williams’ first administration are now available through the North Carolina Digital Collections. Benjamin Williams (b. 1751 – d. 1814) was the eleventh (1799-1802) and fourteenth (1807-1808) Governor of North Carolina. Initially representing Johnston County in the colonial assembly and provincial congresses, Williams expanded his political experience to include the representation of Moore and Craven counties in the House and the Senate. He also served in the military from 1775 to 1781, attaining the rank of Colonel. As Governor, Williams embraced Federalist principles and focused on public education and internal improvements. Williams also pardoned Congressman John Stanly for fatally shooting former Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight, Sr. during a political duel in 1802. His home is now a historic site, the House in the Horseshoe.

Benjamin Williams’ papers include plans for a suspected slave insurrection, the dismissal of General Martin Armstrong from the office of Surveyors and Entry-Takers and articles of a treaty between the United States and the Tuscarora people.

An abbreviated list of notable North Carolinians found in the papers of Governor Benjamin Williams are listed below:

Silas W. Arnett

Blake Baker, Jr.

William Christmas

John Hay

John Haywood

Archibald Henderson

Duncan McFarland

James Robertson