Tag Archives: education

African American Education Spotlight Series: Charlotte Hawkins Brown

This month we are highlighting our African American Education Digital Collection in celebration of Black History Month. Currently, this collection contains materials from the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum as well as materials from the Division of Negro Education of the Department of Public Instruction.

Today’s post features Charlotte Hawkins Brown. As an educator, civic leader, and founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute, she was a pioneer in education and demonstrated unwavering dedication to helping her students reach their greatest potential.


Charlotte Hawkins Brown, top center, is seen photographed with four other Palmer Memorial Institute faculty members, ca. 1902. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. African American Education Digital Collection. State Archives of NC. [source]

Continue reading

African American Education Spotlight Series: James Henry Harris

This month we are highlighting our African American Education Digital Collection in celebration of Black History Month. Currently, this collection contains materials from the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum as well as materials from the Division of Negro Education of the Department of Public Instruction.

Today’s post features James Henry Harris, an eloquent spokesman for a variety of causes, including equal access to education for African Americans and an end to legal discrimination—in North Carolina and beyond.


The New England Freedman’s Aid Society appointed James Henry Harris “a teacher of freed people in North Carolina” on August 31, 1865. James Henry Harris Papers. Private Collections. Civil War Digital Collection. State Archives of NC.

Continue reading

African American Education Spotlight Series: Joseph Charles Price

This month we are highlighting our African American Education Digital Collection in celebration of Black History Month. Currently, this collection contains materials from the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum as well as materials from the Division of Negro Education of the Department of Public Instruction.

Today’s post features Joseph Charles Price: black educator, orator, and civil rights leader. Price established Livingstone College in 1882 (originally established as Zion Wesley Institute) in Salisbury, North Carolina and served as its first president.

Price School

A photograph of Salisbury’s J. C. Price High School. This photo was taken for the Sesquicentennial International Exposition in 1926. The school was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Division of Negro Education. Public Instruction Records. State Archives of North Carolina.

Continue reading

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.

Using Primary Sources in the Classroom: New Online Lesson Plans and Tutorials

Lesson plans and tutorials can help social studies teachers engage their students with primary sources such as maps, photographs, letters, and contemporary newspaper accounts.

The North Carolina State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) and the State Archives of North Carolina have produced these tools for teachers and students in a program titled, “Teaching Digital North Carolina.”

Lesson Plans include

  •  “Agriculture and Textiles: Interaction of Two Major North Carolina Industries”
  • “Civil Rights: Circle of Viewpoints”
  • “World War I: The Role of North Carolinians in World War I”

Tutorials include

  • “Using the Digital Public Library of America to Access North Carolina Sources”
  • “Teaching Sensitive Subjects”
  • “Teaching with Primary Sources”

Each lesson plan topic has a list of additional primary sources from digitized collections throughout state. There are nearly 400,000 primary and secondary records from more than 120 repositories collected on the website of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Teaching Digital North Carolina was made possible with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the funding arm of the National Archives.

Student Websites Highlighting Archival Research

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist, and Debbi Blake, Head of the Collections Services Section.]

Screenshot of the Resources and Tools for Education page on the State Archives website.

Screenshot of the Resources and Tools for Education page on the State Archives website.

The State Archives of North Carolina collaborated with a film studies class at NC State University in 2015 to bring to light a collection of motion picture films that the State Archives housed but about which very little was known – the Century Film Studio Collection, MPF.122.  This collection of films and film elements had been in the Archives since the 1980s but remained unprocessed and not easily accessible. Enter film archivist Melissa Dollman who, through a set of unlikely (and extremely fortuitous for the State Archives) circumstances, came to volunteer in the collection and wound up completely arranging and describing it, as well as obtaining funding through a National Film Preservation Foundation Grant to have two of the titles restored. She ended up becoming so interested in the Century Films and the filmmaker O. B. Garris who founded the Century Film Studio that she approached NCSU Professor of Film Studies Dr. Devin Orgeron and suggested making the Century Films and Century Film Studio the main research topic of one of his classes, which they did!

The resulting student research has added phenomenally to the usefulness of these films and led to a public screening and collaborative panel discussion about the Century Films, a multimedia exhibit in the iPearl Immersion Theater at NC State’s Hunt Library, and most recently this website – https://centuryfilmcollection.wordpress.com/ – created by the students as an ongoing sustainable presence for their class project!

The website serves as an appendage and chronicle of the “Local History through The Camera Lens: Raleigh’s Own Century Film Studios” screening and exhibit (October-December 2015) that took place in the Hunt Library. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates in North Carolina State University Film Professor Dr. Devin Orgeron’s Seminar in Nonfiction Media (ENG 585 / Fall 2015) were assigned films from the Century Film Productions Motion Picture Films Collection housed at the State Archives of North Carolina. Students researched the films’ histories and established a context for understanding the studio’s owner/operator O.B. Garris’ work and the historical moment during which they were produced.

The creation of such a website enables the outstanding work of these dedicated students and instructors to have a meaningful life beyond the end of their class and the distribution of their grades.  Not only will the students have something to which they can direct the attention of future employers and/or graduate admissions personnel, all of us out in the world will have access to the wonderful body of research the students did.  The staff of the State Archives can direct our researchers to this site and there they will find a fabulous wealth of information about one of our heretofore hidden collections and they will have online access to digital excerpts of several of the films at their fingertips – all in one place!

Can the activities of this class serve as a model for others whose work with State Archives’ primary sources results in research of ongoing value and interest?  We think it can – and not just for college-level classes but for high school and maybe grade school classes! The use of primary source materials adds immeasurably to students’ understanding and enjoyment of history. Images or writings of real people help students make personal connections that they might not make when confronted solely with events and dates. Using primary documents in the classroom not only personalizes history; it also:

  • Encourages students to ask questions;
  • Allows students to acknowledge a variety of points of view;
  • Establishes historical context;
  • Allows students to see cause and effect;
  • Encourages students to identify bias;
  • Allows students to understand change over time;
  • Encourages students to investigate evidence;
  • Allows students to reflect on how the past illuminates the present;
  • Allows students to determine validity and reliability of sources;
  • Promotes the importance of checking multiple sources;
  • Encourages students to consider the importance of information not found in the document;
  • Allows teachers to supplement text or use document alone;
  • Illuminates locations where significant events took place.

Projects similar to that of Dr. Orgeron’s class could take several forms. Students might be assigned letters, or even last wills and testaments, and research into each writer’s life. What do the works tell about their creators? What are the similarities and differences in the works? A project with photographs could involve those from different parts of the state, or the same area but from different time periods, with student analysis of them. A collection of photos of the town in which the school is located might be of great interest to students. Each student, or group, could take a different era and discuss the new businesses or infrastructures of the town. How does the technology change over time? When all projects are assembled together, the class could produce a photographic history of the community.

Numerous types of primary sources are available at the State Archives and online in the North Carolina Digital Collections, Internet Archive, Flickr, and YouTube.  On the State Archives website, there is a tab for educators that leads to some of the educational materials provided and another link to the online collections. At the Archives, along with government documents, such as last wills and testaments and court documents, there are private manuscript collections, photographic negatives, motion pictures, audio recordings, including oral interviews, posters and maps. The National Archives has analysis sheets for specific types of primary documents available on their website, www.nara.gov. The following questions may help teachers and students judge the quality of primary sources and the types of skills that may be enhanced by their use in the classroom:

  • Who created the source and why? Was it created through a spur-of-the-moment act, a routine transaction, or a thoughtful, deliberate process?
  • Did the recorder have firsthand knowledge of the event? Or, did the recorder report what others saw and heard?
  • Was the recorder a neutral party, or did the creator have opinions or interests that might have influenced what was recorded?
  • Did the recorder produce the source for personal use, for one or more individuals, or for a large audience?
  • Was the source meant to be public or private?
  • Did the recorder wish to inform or persuade others? (Check the words in the source. The words may tell you whether the recorder was trying to be objective or persuasive.) Did the recorder have reasons to be honest or dishonest?
  • Was the information recorded during the event, immediately after the event, or after some lapse of time? How large a lapse of time?

Questions such as those above solicit engagement from students and investigation into the history of real people involved in real events. When such connections are made they can be shared with the larger community, not just with each other in the classroom. What better way to accomplish that than a website? What Dr. Orgeron and his class have developed can serve as a template for other exciting class projects centered on primary sources.

Additional Material Added to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Digital Collection at NCDC!

James McGill Math Exercises Book, 1831. (call no. PC.1850)

James McGill Math Exercises Book, 1831. (call no. PC.1850)

To create the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Digital Collection, part of North Carolina Digital Collections, we have drawn material from over 50 records series and collections held by the State Archives of North Carolina including: State Agency Records, Private Collections, Photograph Collections, Organization Records, General Assembly Records, and Map Collections. The second of three installments of the STEM Digital Collection is now available, and includes items from the following private records collections:

Whitman Price patent for

Whitman Price patent for “Improvement in Cultivator,” June 6, 1854. (call no. PC.1821)

  • Alonzo T. Mial (1823-1897) Papers (PC.132)
  • Benjamin Wesley Kilgore Papers (PC.245)
  • Bensen Aircraft Corporation Papers (PC.1931)
  • Bonsack Machine Company Papers (PC.1598)
  • Caleb D. Bradham Papers (PC.1745)
  • Charles Pattison Bolles (1823-1909) Papers (PC.44)
  • Charlotte Hilton Green Papers (PC.1661)
  • D. J. Harrill Collection (PC.1202)
  • David Paton (1802-1882) Papers (PC.158)
  • Dr. Thomas Fanning Wood (d. 1892) Papers (PC.1346)
  • Dr. William Thornton Collection (PC.2054)
  • Fessenden, Reginald A., Papers (PC.1140)
  • Francis Lister Hawks (1798-1866) Papers (PC.574)
  • George Alton Stewart Collection (PC.1752.1-2)

    Port of Wilmington Quarantine Station report, July 23, 1892. (call no. PC.1346.3)

    Port of Wilmington Quarantine Station report, July 23, 1892. (call no. PC.1346.3)

  • George Holland Collection (PC.1194)
  • Gilbert S. Waters Scrapbook (PC.1173)
  • Henry King Burgwyn, Sr., Diaries (PC.515)
  • Herbert Hutchinson Brimley (1861-1946) Papers (PC.203)
  • Ivanhoe Manufacturing Company Papers (PC.230)
  • J. M. Pickel (1850-1921) Collection (PC.1434)
  • James McGill Manuscript (PC.1850)
  • Lafayette Holt Papers (PC.1992)
  • Paul M. Gross Papers (PC.1927)
  • Richard M. Eames Papers (PC.187)
  • Robert C. Ruiz Papers (PC.2014)
  • Theodore Dreier and Barbara Loines Dreier Black Mountain College Collection (PC.1956)
  • Thomas Yancey Milburn (1892-1977) Papers (PC.1540)
  • Union Copper Mines Company Papers (PC.1600)
  • Weldon N. Edwards (1788-1873) Papers (PC.43)
  • Whitman Price Papers (PC.1821.1 Oversize)
Robert Ruiz correspondence from 8063rd M.A.S.H., Korea, April 29, 1952. (call no. PC.2014.1)

Robert Ruiz correspondence from 8063rd M.A.S.H., Korea, April 29, 1952. (call no. PC.2014.1)

To search for additional STEM resources at the State Archives of North Carolina, visit our MARS online catalog.

To learn more about Science, Technology, and Innovation in North Carolina, check out this list of articles that can be found at NCpedia.

To learn more about Scientists and Inventors in North Carolina, check out this list of biographies that can be found at NCpedia.

Transatlantic radio power house and sending station at Machrihanish, Scotland, 1906. (call no. PC.1140.13)

Transatlantic radio power house and sending station at Machrihanish, Scotland, 1906. (call no. PC.1140.13)

Bird Sanctuaries of the South, Chapter I, by Charlotte Hilton Green. (PC.1661.8)

Bird Sanctuaries of the South, Chapter I, by Charlotte Hilton Green. (PC.1661.8)