[This blog post comes from Druscilla R. Simpson, head of our Information Management Branch.]
In November 2008, the State Archives and State Library met and decided to work collaboratively on a digital records project that would combine the Archives’ family Bible records with the Library’s indexed marriage and death announcements from five North Carolina newspapers (Raleigh Register, North Carolina State Gazette, Daily Sentinel, Raleigh Observer, and News & Observer) from 1799 to 1893 created by Carrie Broughton. In May, 2009, we went live with the North Carolina Family Records Online collection which included keyword searchable texts and images from these two resources. At that time, only 175 Bible records (lists of birth, marriage and death information recorded in North Carolina Bibles) were available.
As of November 2012, the final 544 Bible records went online – bringing the total number online to 2154! Since the project began, we have added photographs of the Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery in Oakwood, the records of the Historical Records Cemetery Survey done in 1937 for 97 counties of North Carolina, and thousands of pages of books and personal records from the State Library’s Genealogy Collection.
In addition to recording family vital statistic information, the Bibles contain poems, obituaries, memorials, family letters, lists of slave births and deaths, news articles, temperance pledges, and even a few copies of wills and deeds. For example there is a poem on “When to Wed”
Marry when the world is new;
Always loving, kind and true;
When February birds do mate;
You may wed, nor dread your fate;
If you marry when March winds blow,
Joy and sorrow both you’ll know;
Marry in April when you can,
Joy for maiden and for man;
Marry in the month of May,
You will surely rue the day;
Marry when June roses blow,
Over land and sea you’ll go.
They, who in July do wed,
Must labor always for their bread.
Whoever wed in august be,
Many changes are sure to see;
Marry in September’s shine,
Your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry,
Love will come, but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November,
Only joy will come, remember.
When December’s snows fall fast,
Marry and true love will last.
–M Fannie and C. Macon Walters
There are also beautiful pages such as the marriage certificate for John Cameron and Lelia Fowlkes of Rockingham, N.C.
Transcriptions of these records have been done by State Archives and State Library staff, as well as by volunteers. For example, more than 52 of the Bible records were transcribed by Pam Toms, a retired librarian and our most prolific volunteer on this project. If you want to volunteer to transcribe genealogy documents, too, the State Library has a page dedicated to it here http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/digital/ncfamilyrecords/verticalfiles.html. We have nine “super scribes” already hard at work and can always use more! A terrific blog post about this transcription project can be read at http://statelibrarync.org/news/2012/11/world-usability-day-qa-with-therese.
As a result of putting these records online, more than 154 additional Bible pages recording North Carolina family births, marriages, and deaths, have been donated to the State Archives since May 2008. If you have a family Bible that contains at least one person who lived or was born in North Carolina and has at least one birth or death dating to 1913 or earlier, then please consider donating copies of these pages to the State Archives. Instructions are available at http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/digital/ncfamilyrecords/fhp_brochure.pdf