Category Archives: Outer Banks History Center

Explore the Outer Banks Hispanic Community with the Mano al Hermano Records

[This blog post was written by Samantha Crisp, Director of the Outer Banks History Center.]

In recognition and celebration of the contributions and culture of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to our nation and society, Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed September 15, 2018 to October 15, 2018 as Hispanic Heritage Month for the state of North Carolina. In conjunction with Governor Cooper’s announcement, we would like to share one of our recently processed collections that directly relates to North Carolina’s Latinx community, the Mano al Hermano Records.

Clipping from the Outer Banks Sentinel, 23 March 2011, announcing grant funding for Mano al Hermano. From ORG.5284 Mano al Hermano Records, Outer Banks History Center.

Mano al Hermano (“My Hand to My Brother”) was envisioned as early as 2003, when
a Latinx support group for the Outer Banks community was founded by Sister Arcadia Rivera. After dying out, this group was revived by Ginger Candelora in 2010 as an affiliate with Interfaith Community Outreach. Candelora’s group was given 501(c)(3) status in April 2011 under a new name, Mano al Hermano.

Mano al Hermano’s mission is to serve the Hispanic and Latinx community of the Outer Banks by supporting literacy and education initiatives, offering English language classes, providing guidance on immigration and other legal issues, and encouraging collaboration between the Latinx and Anglo communities of Dare County. From 2013 to 2017, Mano al Hermano organized an annual celebration in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, first called the Hispanic Heritage Festival, and later called the OBX Latin Festival. The organization offers regular workshops and presentations on developing issues affecting the Latin American community as a whole and the Latinx community of the Outer Banks specifically, including changes in federal immigration policies (for example, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA), local resolutions relating to undocumented immigrants, and guidance on dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Program for OBX Hispanic Heritage Festival, 2014. From ORG.5284 Mano al Hermano Records, Outer Banks History Center.

One of Mano al Hermano’s early initiatives was to establish a community garden on Roanoke Island with the assistance of the Dare County Airport Authority. The goal of the community garden was “to provide affordable and accessible healthy food to locals while encouraging community involvement and interaction.” Mano al Hermano still operates this community garden today, with a special plot set aside for children affiliated with the organization to participate in a 4-H club called the “Mini Dirt Diggers.”

Another major initiative led by the group is the Family Literacy Program. This program involves home-based volunteer tutoring for elementary school children on a weekly basis as well as English language lessons for parents. The project is supported by community volunteers who act as tutors. The program also includes a special eight-week summer program culminating in and a field trip for participants hosted by the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

ORG.5284 MAH DACA Flyer

Flyer for DACA workshop, 2017. From ORG.5284 Mano al Hermano Records, Outer Banks History Center.

The Outer Banks History Center’s Mano al Hermano Records, 2010-2018, contains newspaper clippings, event flyers and programs, photographs, a scrapbook, and other papers created and collected by the organization from the time of its inception. Photographs in the collection mainly depict groups of children participating in various activities as part of Mano al Hermano’s Family Literacy Program and working in the community garden. For more details about the collection, researchers can view its finding aid, which is accessible in both English and Spanish.

Unfortunately, significant documentation of the Hispanic/Latinx community is lacking in many archives, including the State Archives of North Carolina and its regional units. Collections like the Mano al Hermano Records are indispensable to researchers attempting to understand the experiences, contributions, and stories of Hispanic North Carolinians. If you have original materials documenting the Hispanic community in North Carolina, are affiliated with a Latinx advocacy group, or would be willing to record an oral history interview about your role in the Latinx community, please reach out to us today to discuss donating your materials to our repository. We must act now to ensure that this important history is not lost!


Processing the Bill Harris Papers

[This post was written by Taylor Wolford, a summer intern at the Outer Banks History Center.]

When I began working at the Outer Banks History Center, I was familiar with the name Bill Harris. In 2014, I was a high school student and budding historian in Dayton, Ohio researching the history of flight. My history teacher suggested that I contact local historians in North Carolina to expand the scope of my research. I researched local historians to contact, including Bill Harris, as word had gotten out among researchers regarding his extensive collection of local photographs, oral histories, and documents.

As a graduate student in Archives and Records Management, I am now processing the Bill Harris Papers at the Outer Banks History Center for future researchers. My internship involves processing the collection according to current archival standards and creating a descriptive online finding aid for the collection.

In order to process the collection, I developed groupings, known as series, for the organization of the documents. A notable series in this collection is the Wright Brothers First Flight, which is beneficial for researchers interested in a variety of related topics, including the construction of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Anniversary of the First Flight, and the First Flight Shrine. Bill worked for the Wright Brothers National Memorial as an expert on local history, and documents throughout the collection showcase his work with the National Park Service and First Flight Society. Additional topics covered by the collection include Dare County, N.C. and the U.S. Lifesaving Service Stations.

Bill Harris (right) at the Wright Brothers National Memorial for the unveiling of the Barnaby Plaque on December 17, 1963. The plaque was a gift from the Soaring Society of America.

Perhaps the most impressive series, however, is Local Genealogy. This series contains a large number of oral histories, documents, and photographs that highlight the juxtaposition of an evolving yet deeply rooted Outer Banks community. The Local Genealogy series poses the most difficulties in terms of organization, for local families often intermarried until it was challenging to separate the Baums from the Harrises. As locals tend to say, “Genealogy in the Outer Banks is not a tree, but a vine.” For those interested in researching family histories in the area, the collection provides many opportunities to answer questions and delve deeper into the familial vines that constitute the Outer Banks community.

After two months processing these documents, I can verify that this collection extends far beyond my initial research in aviation history. Bill spent his entire lifetime immersed in the unique culture of the Outer Banks, and the collection certainly reflects his knowledge of the area. As the collection covers a wide range of topics and geographic regions, I am confident that it will continue to contribute to the research community long after it is properly stored in boxes and folders.

Members of Bill Harris’s family explore his newly processed collection with Taylor’s help, July 2018.

A Major Move in Manteo

[This blog post comes from Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]

Donna working with maps at the OBHC

Donna Kelly inventorying maps at the OBHC

During February 19–23, Bill Brown (State Archives registrar) and Donna Kelly (head of Special Collections) traveled to the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) to help Samantha Crisp (director of the OBHC) and her staff renumber, relabel, and shift records. This effort was part of a larger one to standardize the numbering of archival records within the Special Collections regional facilities. In addition, collections were shifted to provide easier access and provide uniformity to records storage at the OBHC.

On the first two days Donna renumbered 162 maps, incorporating a new call number system used at the main office of the State Archives in Raleigh. For the last three days she inventoried and reorganized 20 of 40 map drawers, which included approximately 874 maps. Folders within each map drawer were labeled A to Z.

Over the course of five days, Bill shifted and recorded shelf locations for 154 renumbered collections (including the Manteo Coastland Times bound newspapers). He moved 657 cubic feet of material from the back of the stacks to the front for better access. (A cubic foot is approximately the size of a box of copier paper.) He also cleaned five rows of shelving with ethanol.

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Samantha shifted approximately 735 cubic feet of materials, including photographic collections, periodicals, and unprocessed records. She also assigned new call numbers to 150 collections and relabeled 200 boxes.

Stuart Parks relocated all of the framed artwork and renumbered digital files of scanned items. He also helped move shelving and cut folders that were used to rehouse many of the maps. Tama Creef covered the front office.

All in all it was a productive, albeit exhausting, week!

Apply for the Outer Banks History Center’s David Stick Internship!

The Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) is excited to announce the establishment of a paid internship for the 2018 summer season. The David Stick Internship, sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, is a 10-week, full time position performing archival work for the OBHC. The intern will be paid a $4,000 stipend. Additionally, local housing can be arranged for the intern at a reasonable cost. More information about the position, including eligibility and application instructions, can be found below. Questions about the position, the application process, or the OBHC can be made to Samantha Crisp, OBHC Director, at or 252-473-2655.

The David Stick Intern will assist the archivists of the OBHC in completing a variety of projects. Duties may include:

  • Assisting patrons and providing reference assistance in the OBHC reading room
  • Arranging and describing archival collections
  • Assisting with intake and establishing initial intellectual control of new archival accessions
  • Identifying, numbering, and sleeving historical photographs
  • Cataloging books and published items
  • Transcribing and indexing oral histories
  • Scanning and providing metadata for historical documents and photographs
  • Planning and fabricating exhibits with OBHC materials
  • Contributing to OBHC outreach efforts (such as social media or public programming)
  • Designing promotional materials
  • Assisting OBHC staff members on individual projects

Required Qualifications: This position requires attention to detail, curiosity, creativity, and excellent writing skills. Applicants should demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with members of the public, and prior customer service experience is required. The ideal applicant will excel at working both independently and as part of a team. Prior coursework (at the graduate or undergraduate level) in history, archives, library science, or a related field, or a demonstrated interest in history is required.

Preferred Qualifications: Prior experience working in an archival repository, library, museum, or other cultural heritage setting. Prior coursework in archives and records management, library science, public history, or a related subject. Knowledge of current library and archival standards and best practices (especially DACS).  Experience working with one or more archival content management systems (Archivist’s Toolkit, ArchivesSpace, Archon, AXAEM, etc.). Experience arranging, describing, and encoding finding aids for archival collections. Knowledge of North Carolina’s coastal history and/or the Outer Banks region.

Eligibility: The application is open to current graduate students, recent graduates who will have received their master’s or bachelor’s degree no earlier than December 2017, undergraduate students who will have completed their sophomore year prior to beginning work, and community college students who will have completed at least one year of coursework prior to beginning work.

About the OBHC: The Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) is a regional archival facility administered by the State Archives of North Carolina. The mission of the OBHC is to collect, preserve, and provide public access to historical and documentary materials relating to coastal North Carolina, and to serve as an accessible, service-oriented center for historical research and inquiry. For more information, visit the OBHC website at

How to ApplyComplete the online application for the David Stick Internship here. The application closes Sunday, February 25th.

Champney Sketches Added to NC Digital Collections

We are constantly adding new materials to the North Carolina Digital Collections, but one recent addition of note includes the Civil War sketches of soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney, from the Outer Banks History Center.


Juniper Bay, Hyde County, N.C. Civil War sketches by Edwin G. Champney, Civil War Collection, NC Digital Collections

This collection includes sixty unpublished pen-and-ink sketchbook drawings of coastal North Carolina between 1862-1863 illustrated by soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney (1843-1899). Champney was a native Bostonian and Union soldier. Champney enlisted as a private in the 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, Company G at the time he sketched the drawings. He arrived in Eastern North Carolina in October 1862 and took part in the Goldsboro Expedition. Champney was stationed at Cape Hatteras from February 23, 1863 until the close of his North Carolina tour on June 22, 1863. The original artwork include scenes showing landmarks, landscapes, and Union military activity from or in the vicinity of Hatteras Island, New Bern, Kinston, Plymouth, and Hyde County. The sketchbook was donated to the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo, which is the permanent home for the drawings.

These materials are now part of the Civil War Collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Engaging Students in North Carolina’s Coastal History

[This blog post was written by Samantha Crisp, Director of the Outer Banks History Center.]

On November 14th, the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) was invited to have a staff member present at a meeting of the PATH OBX homeschool support group to help the group’s students learn about local history. This session served as preparation for a presentation that each student gave at the end of the month on a local history topic of their choice. PATH offers the opportunity for homeschool students in the Outer Banks to gather once a week for a full class session with their peers, during which time students socialize, complete assignments, participate in lessons, and hear from local speakers. Classes are broken into four groups: kindergartners, 1st-3rd graders, 4th-6th graders, and 7th-12th graders.


PATH students create postcards to send to friends and relatives.

I planned a unique session for each group designed to help the students learn about working with primary sources and to introduce them to the OBHC’s holdings, which include manuscripts, archival materials, and published resources documenting the history of the North Carolina coast. I opened each session by asking the students if they’d ever been to an archives or met an archivist. All four groups indicated that they hadn’t, so I followed up by asking them to talk about museums or libraries they had been to. Every student had either been to a library or a museum (or both), so we discussed the ways in which archives are related to—and different from—museums and libraries.

I then passed around several examples of material from our collection to demonstrate the kinds of sources they could encounter if they visited the OBHC. First was an “old” book—an 1856 edition of Joseph Esquemeling’s History of the Buccaneers of America. We talked about how we could tell it was old (worn bindings, browning pages, foxing, and historical typefaces). Then we looked at a letter written by a local man in 1867. I asked the students how they could tell it was a letter, and several of them noted distinct physical features (an address at the top and on the back, opening with “Dear…”, and creases indicating that it had been folded up). I also asked them if they could read it, and most of them stated that they couldn’t, but they did recognize that it was written in cursive. We discussed what it would have been like to live in an isolated community like the Outer Banks during a time when the only real means of communication would have been writing letters. I then showed them a roughly 100-year-old photograph of a group of local children gathered around a horse and cart. We talked about how a researcher could date the photograph, and several of them pointed out the children’s clothing, hairstyles, and the fact that we don’t typically use horses for transportation. Finally, we looked at an 18th-century map of the Carolina coast and talked about some of the interesting things they noticed (such as a lack of roads, fewer town names, disproportionate geography, and the fact that nothing beyond the Appalachians was mapped). Older students also looked at a current map of the same area and discussed similarities and differences between the two maps.

Carolina Newly Described by John Seller, 1682. MC_150_1682s.

Each group then participated in a project related to a specific local history topic. The kindergartners learned about pirates. We read a pirate story written by a local author, and then I passed around a famous illustration of Blackbeard from A General History of Pyrates (1724) by Capt. Charles Johnson (likely a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe). I asked them to point to things in the picture that indicated we were looking at a pirate, such as his ships, a sword, guns, and clothing. We talked about who Blackbeard was, and ended by using an online pirate name generator to make nametags with our “pirate names.”

The 1st-3rd graders learned about the Wright Brothers. We talked about the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, and several students shared things they’d learned when visiting the memorial. I told them about the Wright Brothers’ childhood and their famous first flight in 1903. We then looked at a picture of the Wright Flyer beside a picture of a modern airplane and talked about the similarities and differences. At the end of the class, each student was tasked with “engineering” a paper airplane, and we held a paper airplane contest. I asked those students whose planes didn’t fly very far to think about how the Wright Brothers might have felt when their early designs failed, and how they might have dealt with those problems.

Wright Flyer during the first flight, 1903.

The 4th-6th graders talked in detail about the process of sending letters. I asked if any of them had ever gotten a letter, and most of them responded that they had received Christmas cards and birthday cards. We talked about how communication has changed over time from being done entirely through the mail to being done on computers, social media, and telephones, reserving letters for special occasions. We talked about postcards, and I passed out vintage Outer Banks postcards (duplicates from our collection), which they filled out and addressed to a friend or relative to drop in the mail after class.

The older students talked in more detail about the local history topics they were interested in researching and the relevant materials that might be available at the OBHC for them to use. We then worked as a group to analyze a primary source document—a government memo related to “Project Nutmeg,” a military operation designed to determine whether the Outer Banks was a suitable location for nuclear tests in the 1940s. We talked about how to evaluate and interpret the document, where to look for more information on Project Nutmeg, and how the students would have felt if they had lived on the Outer Banks in the 1940s and learned that it was being considered as a nuclear test site.

Overall, it was a great experience for the students, their parents, and myself. Several students and parents indicated they’d like to come to the OBHC to work on their projects, and the older students asked for more information on how they could submit their projects to this year’s National History Day competition. Several students also approached me after class to tell me about their topics and ask me questions about the OBHC. In the weeks that followed, about a dozen students visited the OBHC to conduct research using our collections.

This session was a reminder that repositories like the OBHC are uniquely situated to serve as laboratories for young people to engage with historical inquiry, research, and hands-on work with unique pieces of documentary evidence of their ancestors’ lived experiences. Engaging with primary sources helps students become more emotionally connected to their personal history and creates a stronger sense of belonging and identification with the communities in which they grow up. I hope to work with many more students like these in the future.

The Scary Truth Series, Pt. III

This is the third of three entries in a special Halloween-inspired blog series highlighting a collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore, and facts from North Carolina. Like sweet tea and college basketball, folklore is a major part of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Legends and stories passed down from generations keep the state’s history alive and ultimately help us remember life as it once was. 

The Scary Truth Series, Pt. I
The Scary Truth Series, Pt. II

The Ghost Ship: Carroll A. Deering

Another quintessential characteristic of North Carolina culture is its rich maritime history, from shipwrecks as common as today’s car accidents and epic pirate tales that are almost beyond belief. Over 5,000 historic shipwrecks have been documented along the North Carolina coast, giving it the appropriate nickname, the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” This leads us to one of the most legendary maritime mysteries in the state’s history: the wreck of the Carroll A. Deering, otherwise known as the “Ghost Ship” of the Outer Banks.


Carroll A. Deering, built in 1919 in Bath, Maine – National Park Service Collection, courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center.

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