Posted by: Ashley | February 8, 2017

Albert Barden Photograph Collection Finding Aid Online

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photographer Albert Barden with his sisters, Daisy and Violet, c. 1910.

Photographer Albert Barden is seen with his sisters, Daisy (left) and Violet (right) c. 1910. If you look closely, you can see that Albert is taking the picture. In his hand is a cable release–a corded device used to activate the shutter of the camera. Call number: N.53.16.5173 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

Audiovisual Materials staff Kim Andersen, Ian F. G. Dunn, and Karl Larson are very excited to announce that the finding aid for the Barden collection has been completed and published online!

The Albert Barden Photograph Collection consists of over 18,000 individual negatives created by Albert Barden (21 October 1888–2 October 1953), a commercial photographer in Raleigh, N.C., between 1908 and 1953.  This wonderful collection contains a wealth of subject matter including studio portraiture, advertisements, street scenes, municipal buildings, residential homes, neighborhoods, and editorial work and is one of the most used and beloved collections in the State Archives of North Carolina.

Pictured is a group of Raliegh City officials holding Yo-Yos on the steps of City Hall c. 1930.

Pictured is a group of city officials holding Yo-Yos on the steps of City Hall c. 1930. Seen on left, slightly facing group, is the inventor of the modern Yo-Yo–Pedro Flores. This photograph was probably taken as he passed through Raleigh on one of his yo-yo competition tours. The faces in the group stare forward, alight with the novelty and frivolity of this little toy during a heavy time of unrest and worry. N.53.17.520 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

The publishing of this finding aid concludes one leg and begins another of what has been an exciting journey through time for this collection.  It all began for us with the initial donation to the North Carolina Museum of History upon Albert Barden’s death in 1953.  Fast forward to the 1970s when the collection was transferred to the State Archives, catalogued on index cards, copied to then-standard 4” x 5” film negatives, and made available to the public for research and enjoyment.  Then came the dawn of the digital age, and in the early 2000s the original Barden negatives—spectacular oversized film and glass negatives—were scanned in what was arguably the first mass digitization project undertaken at the State Archives!  Even then, however, there was no actual finding aid—only the archaic card catalog and a cryptic database documenting the scans.  There was no collection description, no biography of Albert Barden, and no comprehensive online presence.  And the oversized original negatives simply languished back in their file cabinets after being scanned.  Fortunately, by 2014, the AV Materials Unit had Ian on board, and with meticulous skill and tireless dedication, he rehoused all the original Barden negatives and created this beautiful finding aid:

Western Union employees are seen posing in front of their workplace on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh c. 1915

Western Union employees are seen posing in front of their workplace on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh c. 1915. N.53.15.9745
From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

Thanks to Ian’s countless hours of devotion and to the enhanced descriptions he and part-time researcher Karl Larson put together, it is the dawn of a new day for this collection.  And now that the finding aid is online providing item-level descriptions of everything in the collection, over the course of the next several months more of the scanned images will be put online.  The ultimate goal is to eventually have the entire Barden Collection described and available digitally to the world.  Please watch for updates on that progress here in this blog.

Posted by: kevin | January 3, 2017

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.

Posted by: Francesca | December 20, 2016

Troop Returns Digital Collection Complete

[This blog post comes from Olivia Carlisle, Digitization Archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina.]

The Troop Returns Digital Collection is now complete 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. Records dated after the Revolutionary War primarily deal with the county and state militia troops.


“Return of the North Carolina Brigade of Foot commanded by Brigadier General Hogun.” Troop Returns. Military Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

Unique Items included in the latest upload:

  • The commission of William Darlet as 1st Lieutenant of the 1st Regiment of the North Carolina militia in 1815
  • Documents include Militia Regulations from 1808
  • An accounting of militia troops in the United States versus the state/territory

For more information on how the Troop Returns are organized and what may be included please see the first blog post on the collection, or consult the digital collection landing page. To view the items in the collection in a list format, please see the Troop Returns finding aid.

Posted by: Christopher | December 19, 2016

Mecklenburg County Tax Records

The Imaging Unit of the State Archives of North Carolina has just completed imaging and creating microfilm for some Mecklenburg County tax records.  The twenty-eight new reels of microfilm have been added to the security vault and a reading copy of the microfilm has been placed in the public search room for public use.

The material includes [reel number and years]:

065.70033 Tax Scrolls Aaron – Dross 1955
065.70034 Tax Scrolls Drum – Keenan 1955
065.70035 Tax Scrolls Keene – Rigg 1955
065.70036 Tax Scrolls Riggins – Zurich 1955
065.70037 Tax Scrolls Corporations and Outside School Adm. Unit A-Z 1955
065.70038 Tax Scrolls Late Personals and Late Personal Corporations, A-Z 1955
065.70039 Tax Scrolls Inside: Aaron – Downing 1955
065.70040 Tax Scrolls Inside: Downs – Kaperonis 1955
065.70041 Tax Scrolls Inside: Kaplan – Rhyne 1955
065.70042 Tax Scrolls Inside: Rhynes – Zurich 1955
065.70043 Tax Scrolls Inside: Corportaion, Selwyn Park and Late Returns, A-Z 1955
065.70044 Tax Scrolls Outside: Vol. A-K; Allison – Goodgame 1955
065.70045 Tax Scrolls Outside: Vols. A-K, L-Z; Corporation Goodin-Neal, Roosevelt 1955
065.70046 Tax Scrolls Outside: Vol. L-Z; Corporation Neal, Ross – American Oil Company 1955
065.70047 Tax Scrolls Outside: Vol. L-Z; Corporation AT&T – J.L. Coe Construction Company 1955
065.70048 Tax Scrolls City: Aaron – Cobb, Joe 1960
065.70049 Tax Scrolls City: Cobb, Lloyd – Grier, Caddie 1960
065.70050 Tax Scrolls City: Grier, Carey – Klutts 1960
065.70051 Tax Scrolls City: Labhart – Ozment 1960
065.70052 Tax Scrolls City: Pace – Stewart, Clyde 1960
065.70053 Tax Scrolls City: Stewart, David – Zwk 1960
065.70054 Tax Scrolls City Corporations: A&A Furniture Company – Rubbermaid, Inc. 1960
065.70055 Tax Scrolls City Corporations: S Block Company – Corporation Summary 1960
065.70056 Tax Scrolls County: Aaron – Gibson, Paul 1960
065.70057 Tax Scrolls County: Gibson, Robert – McGee, Carl 1960
065.70058 Tax Scrolls County: McGee, Clyde – Williams, Fontie 1960
065.70059 Tax Scrolls County: Williams, Fred – Zrolka 1960
065.70060 Tax Scrolls Late Returns, Corporations, Outside: A-Z; Abernathy – Corp. Outside Totals 1960
To use microfilm please come to the main registration desk at the State Archives.  Once registered, a Reference Archivist can assist you in locating and using microfilm. To order duplicate reels of microfilm in Diazo, Silver Halide, or digital format contact Chris Meekins at

The Imaging Unit is in the middle of a small project for tax records.  As we complete more imaging projects, we will post the completed projects information.  We in the Imaging Unit hope that you the researcher will find these projects useful.

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

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

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

Posted by: Ashley | December 7, 2016

Weldon Burlison – a North Carolinian at Pearl Harbor

[This blog post comes from Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Last known piece of correspondence from Weldon C. Burlison in November 1941, before he was killed at Hickam Field on December 7, 1941

Last known piece of correspondence from Weldon C. Burlison in November 1941, before he was killed at Hickam Field on December 7, 1941.” From Weldon C. Burlison Papers, WWII 58, WWII Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

On December 7, 2016, as the country commemorates the 75th anniversary of the tragic loss of life during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the State Archives of North Carolina’s Military Collection has recently acquired a small set of original correspondence and newspaper clippings that document the life and death of one of North Carolina’s first reported casualties at Pearl Harbor. Weldon C. Burlison of Yancey County was stationed at Hickam Field with the 22nd Materièl Squadron, U.S. Army Air Corps, when he was killed by Japanese aircraft who bombed and strafed with gunfire the field and facilities there.

Weldon C. Burlison (also spelled “Burleson”) was born on November 25, 1911, in Yancey County to Henry Wilburn and Minnie Bell Burlison. By 1920, the Burlison family was living in Jacks Creek Township in Yancey County, where Weldon’s father worked as a farmer. Weldon Burlison was raised in Yancey County, and attended Clearmont High School in Burnsville. He attended Maryville College in Tennessee and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 16, 1934, serving four years in the Marine Corps. Burlison went through his basic training in the Headquarters Detachment at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Between 1934 and 1938, Weldon Burlison served in Marine Detachments at various stations and aboard various U.S. Navy ships at the following locations: Boston Naval Yard; Norfolk Naval Yard; Honolulu, Hawaii; Charleston, South Carolina; New Jersey; the Atlantic coast; the Pacific coast; various locations in Asia; aboard the battleship the USS Colorado (BB-45); aboard the destroyer the USS Fairfax (DD-93) at the Panama Canal Zone; aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3); aboard the destroyer the USS Taylor (DD-94); and aboard the troop transport ship the USS Henderson (AP-1).

Between 1939 and early 1940, Weldon Burlison would re-enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps after his honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. Until December 1941, Burlison was primarily stationed at Hickam Field in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was serving in the 22nd Material Squadron. Starting in August 1941, Burlison was stationed at Barking Sands, Hawaii, where he and 60 men in his party were ascribed the task of constructing new U.S. Army Air Corps barracks for the new Army Air Corps’ Barking Sands Landing Field, which would operate as a new airfield for bomber plane operations.

Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Weldon Burlison was writing to friends and family members, including a childhood friend from Yancey County who was living in Skillman, New Jersey—Elsie M. Edwards. Elsie and her husband Ellis Edwards even visited with Burlison in the late 1930s when he was stationed with the Marine Corps in New Jersey. The Edwards couple wrote to Burlison, and Elsie would even have some of her female friends write to him at his request. Burlison referred in his correspondence to Elsie Edwards as “Chick” or “Chickie,” while she called him “Snook.”

On December 7, 1941, Weldon Burlison was stationed at Hickam Field at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A total of 51 American airplanes were on the ground at Hickam Field, the headquarters of the Hawaii Air Force; a flight of 12 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers was expected to arrive that morning. At Hickam Field, Japanese Zero fighters and Val dive-bombers strafed and bombed the flight line and hangars, concentrating on the B-17 bombers. The B-17s arrived unarmed and low on fuel during the attack, with most succeeding in landing at Hickam, at which point they were attacked on the ground. The second wave of the Japanese attack struck Hickam at 8:40 A.M. and by 9:45 A.M. the attack was over. Nearly half of the airplanes at Hickam Field had been destroyed or severely damaged. The hangars, the Hawaiian Air Depot, and several base facilities—the fire station, the chapel and the guardhouse—had been hit. A variety of casualty numbers have been reported over the years for the losses at Hickam Field on December 7, 1941. The U.S. Air Force reports that personnel casualties included 139 killed and 303 wounded.

On the morning of December 8, 1941, after hearing the news about Pearl Harbor and knowing where Burlison was stationed, Elsie Edwards wrote a two-page, heart-breaking letter to him, hoping that he was safe and alive. Elsie began her letter by saying, “Of course I have a million things on my mind these days. Right now the uppermost thought is ‘I wonder if Snook is safe, if he’s really all right’.” After noting that Americans had abandoned plans for Christmas in order to pray for those military personnel at Pearl Harbor, Edwards wrote, “And let me tell you Weldon, I am one of your many friends who is praying for you!” She would finish her letter by saying, “I don’t know of very much to say right now. I can’t even be sure you will receive this but I hope you do.”

On Wednesday, December 10, 1941, within just a few days of Pearl Harbor’s attack, the U.S. War Department had officially notified Weldon Burlison’s parents of his death. The notice for Burlison’s death was printed on the next day—December 11, 1941—in his hometown newspaper The Yancey Record, published in Burnsville with the front-page headline: “Weldon Burleson Is First War Casualty.” Weldon Burlison was the first reported war casualty for World War II from western North Carolina, and one of the first reported North Carolina casualties from the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Sometime during the week following Pearl Harbor, a family member of Weldon Burlison or Elsie Edwards who lived in Yancey County mailed two newspaper clippings to Elsie Edwards in New Jersey to let her know of Burlison’s death. The letter Edwards mailed to Burlison on December 8th would be transferred to multiple military mail locations in the chaos following Pearl Harbor. After the envelope was marked with “Deceased” by the military, the letter was returned to and received by Elsie Edwards on February 12, 1942—a date she wrote on the back of the envelope.

Weldon C. Burlison died with the rank of Private, but would receive a posthumous promotion to Corporal. He was initially buried in Plot 3, Row S, Grave 62, at the Schofield Barracks on Oahu, Hawaii. After World War II, Burlison was disinterred in 1947, and reburied in the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 1947. Burlison is buried there in Section L, Grave No. 8153-C. Over the years—due to misspellings and little available information—Weldon Burlison has often been overlooked as a victim of the Pearl Harbor attack, but not by those in Yancey County, where his name is engraved on the Yancey County Veterans Memorial in Burnsville as “Weldon Burleson.” The State Archives of North Carolina hopes that this collection will expand research into the sacrifices of North Carolinians on December 7, 1941, and bring recognition to one of our state’s unsung military heroes.

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on]

Award-Winning Constitutional Scholar Highlights Bill of Rights, How North Carolina Saved the Constitution

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

See North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Image credit: State Archives of North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In honor of the Bill of Rights’ 225th anniversary on Dec. 15, you will have a rare opportunity to see North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Admission is free. To protect the fragile document from light, it is on view for a very limited time.

In addition, the museum will offer free programs about the Bill of Rights on Dec. 14. Linda R. Monk, a nationally award-winning author, journalist and constitutional scholar, will present The Bill of Rights: How North Carolina Saved the Constitution. (Did you know North Carolina was the only state to refuse to ratify the U.S. Constitution until a bill of rights was added?) Monk’s work has been featured on PBS, Voice of America, MSNBC, C-SPAN and NPR, and she writes commentary for newspapers nationwide.

After Monk’s program, State Archivist Sarah Koonts will briefly highlight the saga of North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, from its theft by a Union soldier during the Civil War to its recovery by the FBI in 2003.


History à la Carte: The Bill of Rights: How North Carolina Saved the Constitution

Wednesday, Dec. 14, noon-1 p.m.

Register at and purchase a boxed lunch — or just bring your own. Beverages provided. For information, call 919-807-7982.

Linda R. Monk, J.D., Constitutional Scholar and Author

North Carolina’s role in ratifying the U.S. Constitution helped result in James Madison sponsoring the first 10 amendments in Congress. Ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, that Bill of Rights upholds the key freedoms Americans cherish to this day.

Monk, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has twice won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for public education about the law. She served as series advisor for the PBS documentary “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal.”

Monk uses an accessible, narrative style to explore truths about our constitutional democracy. She conveys this depth of knowledge in a manner that is relevant and understandable to average citizens. Monk also presents seminars and lectures for audiences that include the Pentagon, National Archives, Fulbright Scholars and the Smithsonian Institution.


North Carolina’s Original Copy of the Bill of Rights

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 1 p.m.

Sarah Koonts, Director, Division of Archives and Records

North Carolina’s state archivist will briefly trace the intriguing history of North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights. The journey started when a Union soldier stole it from the State Capitol in 1865 and ended in 2003, when it was recovered in an undercover FBI sting operation. After legal battles in state and federal courts, North Carolina won possession of the document in 2005 and ownership in 2008.

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights is one of 14 original copies of the 12 proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution prepared by three federal clerks in 1789. A copy was drafted for the legislatures of the existing 13 states to debate; the other copy was for the federal government. After the ratification of the first 10 amendments in 1791, North Carolina retained custody of its copy of the document.

For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or YouTube.

About the N.C. Museum of History

The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum collects and preserves artifacts of North Carolina history and educates the public on the history of the state and the nation through exhibits and educational programs. Each year more than 300,000 people visit the museum to see some of the 150,000 artifacts in the museum collection. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit

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