Tag Archives: events

Archives Exhibit Supports DNCR Initiative: “She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers”

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

The State Archives of North Carolina has put together a display of 10 archival documents and other items relating to women’s suffrage, including the original copy of the Nineteenth Amendment sent to North Carolina for ratification in June of 1919. Usually housed in the vault, this document (along with anti-suffrage and pro-suffrage propaganda, hand-held fans, facsimiles of legislation and political cartoons, and a suffragist’s sash) will be traveling around the state from August 22, 2019 through November of 2020.

Political cartoon from the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection, PC.1618.1, State Archives of North Carolina.

The exhibit, titled “An Absolute Moral Certainty”: The Woman Suffrage Movement in North Carolina, consists of three panels: “Early Efforts Supporting Suffrage for Women,” “Post-War Opposition to Suffrage for Women,” and “Suffrage for All Women.” The title of the exhibit comes from a quote out of Gov. Thomas W. Bickett’s address to the joint session of the General Assembly on August 13, 1920, in which he urges legislators to ratify the amendment.

This display is part of a 15-month long DNCR commemoration of women gaining the right to vote. Titled, “She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers,” it highlights the accomplishments of women across the centuries. A kickoff event at the State Capitol is planned for Saturday, September 7, 2019. For more information visit  https://bit.ly/2L7qsp8.

In addition to the traveling exhibit, the State Archives is also conducting an oral history project to interview 100 women from across the state who have made significant contributions in areas like government/politics, education, STEM, culture, athletics, activism, or entrepreneurship. For more information about how to get involved visit https://bit.ly/2kfvXIZ.

Additional resources pertaining to women’s suffrage are found in the North Carolina Digital Collections, a collaborative project between the State Library and the State Archives. To view those resources, visit https://bit.ly/2zvbRhP.

“An Absolute Moral Certainty”: The Woman Suffrage Movement in North Carolina

The National Woman Suffrage Association, founded by Susan B. Anthony, began pressuring Congress in the 1870s to amend the Constitution to guarantee women’s right to vote. Even though that effort failed, several states and territories granted suffrage through their state constitutions. North Carolina’s chapter of the Equal Suffrage Association, formed in 1894, had the same goal. The first attempt to grant women suffrage in North Carolina came in February of 1897 when J. L. Hyatt, a Republican from Yancey County, introduced a bill in the state senate. Legislators referred it to the Committee on Insane Asylums because Hyatt chaired that committee. The bill, which never made it out of committee, was eventually tabled and no action was taken.

At the turn of the twentieth century, activity to promote women’s suffrage subsided until 1913. Among others, Gertrude Weil (1879–1971) of Goldsboro helped establish local chapters of the Equal Suffrage Association. She served as president and fought tirelessly for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. She went on to serve as president of the League of Women Voters and lived to see the amendment finally ratified in her home state on May 6, 1971, only a few weeks before her death on May 30, 1971.

An undated picture of Gertrude Weil from the Gertrude Weil Papers, PC.1488.50, State Archives.

Pro-suffrage efforts by the Equal Suffrage Association included lobbying legislators, writing letters to state leaders, and distributing printed media (circulars, broadsides, and pamphlets) to support the cause. Long before e-mail, mass-produced form letters targeted certain audiences. Hundreds of letters were mailed to prominent residents of the state asking them to encourage their local representatives to support the amendment. Suffragists also wore sashes for rallies, parades, and street speaking.

The Equal Suffrage Association was not equal in the true sense of the word. It excluded African Americans, who began to assert their own political rights through churches, clubs, and suffrage societies. Women of color, like Charlotte Hawkins Brown, traveled extensively around the state promoting women’s suffrage and racial equality. She advanced education among her community and was a strong advocate of voter registration for all races of women.

A ca. 1910s image of Charlotte Hawkins Brown provided by North Carolina State Historic Sites.

Despite the concerted effort of suffragists, the 1915 legislature did not support the amendment, either as a state or federal constitutional amendment. The main opponents were white legislators from those counties with a sizeable African American population. They feared that people of color would be allowed to vote again, after decades of disenfranchisement. Using white supremacist tactics, some handbills warned Southern men to avoid even associating with women who were asking for equal suffrage, because giving women the right to vote would unleash “another period of reconstruction horror.”

Part of a larger broadside entitled, “The Negro and the New Social Order,” this 1919 anti-suffrage handbill is from the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection, PC.1618.1, State Archives.

After World War I, on the heels of substantial wartime contributions by women, members of the Equal Suffrage Association felt confident that the North Carolina legislature would ratify the amendment. However, that did not happen, and legislators thwarted other attempts to allow women to vote in primaries or municipal elections.

On January 10, 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate approved the Nineteenth Amendment. To become law, 36 out of 48 states needed to ratify it. North Carolina’s General Assembly received its copy of the amendment on June 12, 1919. By that time 35 states had ratified it, so only one more state needed to approve it. All eyes were on North Carolina at the national level.

This cartoon appeared on the back of a national pro-suffrage magazine. It uses the popular game “Love Me, Love Me Not?” to point out the North Carolina legislature’s indecision on the issue of women’s suffrage. From the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection, PC.1618.1, State Archives.

Over the course of the next year, anti-suffrage groups sprang into action. Mary Hilliard Hinton (1869–1961) of Knightdale founded a state branch of the Southern League for the Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment (Southern Rejection League). Backed by legislators who wanted to retain their seats in the General Assembly and textile owners who opposed child labor restrictions, this group was very active, using the same strategies as the pro-suffrage organizations. The States’ Rights Defense League formed in opposition to the federal amendment, asserting that it would destroy southern womanhood and disturb the American home. It also claimed that men would have to assume household duties.

Anti-suffrage broadside, a portion of which is from the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection, PC.1618.1, State Archives.

Gov. Thomas W. Bickett called for a special session of the General Assembly to begin August 10, 1920 to vote on whether to ratify the amendment or not. At the start of the special session, 63 House members sent a Western Union Special telegram to the Tennessee General Assembly, dated August 11, 1920, urging them to reject the amendment. The telegram assured the legislators that North Carolina would not vote for women’s suffrage. It was a last-ditch effort to keep the Old North State from having to decide the fate of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.

Governor Bickett addressed the joint session of the General Assembly on August 13, 1920. He claimed that he personally opposed the amendment but realized the inevitability of its adoption. Therefore, he encouraged legislators to vote for it because ratification was “an absolute moral certainty” and “it would be the part of wisdom and of grace for North Carolina to ratify the amendment.”

After some debate, on August 17, 1920 the N.C. senate voted 25 to 23 to delay the matter until the 1921 session, on the grounds that they wanted enough time to discuss the matter with their constituents before voting. The bottom line was that they wanted to avoid making such a momentous and far-reaching decision. It became a moot point when Tennessee voted for ratification on August 18, 1920 and white women were granted the right to vote in the November 1920 election.

A few years later the Indian Citizenship Act asserted Native American women’s right to vote in 1924. African American women did not have a guaranteed right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even though North Carolina’s legislature (and many of its residents) did not support the Nineteenth Amendment initially, and women already possessed the right to vote and had been exercising it, the General Assembly finally ratified it, albeit symbolically, on May 6, 1971. There was no dissension and it passed both houses unanimously.

Grosgrain sash from the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection, PC.1618.1, State Archives.

Explore Genealogical Resources at One-Day Event June 23


Genealogy research is a complex subject that involves finding the right resources, keen detective work, and enduring patience.

A good place to begin or sharpen your research skills is the 2018 North Carolina Genealogical Society Speakers Forum, Saturday, June 23, 8:25 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Archives/State Library building, 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh. This day-long forum will feature presentations across three concurrent sessions focusing on case studies, methodology, ethnic research, organization, online resources, and writing.

Learn from working genealogists, researchers, archivists, librarians, and others who will help you identify and navigate land records, estates, wills, and other government records. Explore what can be found in newspaper archives, in digital records, and discover what resources are available for descendants of enslaved people and native Americans. Learn to organize and present your work into something to share and enjoy with other family members.

The forum cost is $35 for N.C. Genealogical Society members and $45 for non-members. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. To view the program and register online, visit  https://www.ncgenealogy.org/.

The forum is co-sponsored by the State Archives of North Carolina and the Friends of the Archives.

See World War I Materials at Alamance Community College on March 29

[This blog post comes from Sarah Koonts, Director of Archives and Records for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Isham B. Hudson's war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Isham B. Hudson’s war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

One of the most rewarding experiences as State Archivist is the development of special exhibits utilizing a few unique original materials from our collections.  We develop these special exhibits on occasion to partner with a local historical society, museum, or historic site, often to promote a specific anniversary or event.  This year we are thrilled to offer a special exhibit with one of our favorite partners, Alamance Community College.  We invite you to join us March 29 for a full slate of programming around the centennial of World War I.

Held at the main building on the Carrington-Scott Campus of Alamance Community College (1247 Jimmie Kerr Road in Graham), the special exhibit will be held from 9 a.m.—5 p.m. on March 29.  Due to the number of school groups scheduled for the morning, the public is encouraged to consider an afternoon visit, if possible.  During the event, you can see some World War I materials from our military collections, a traveling exhibit about North Carolina and the Great War, and speak with costumed living- history specialists interpreting military service from the period.In addition, there will be soldier, nurse, and Red Cross uniforms on display from the Haw River Museum, Alamance County Historical Association, and the Women Veterans Historical Project from UNC, Greensboro.  Kids can join in the fun by coloring their own WWI poster and participating in other activities throughout the building.

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

We enjoy taking our treasures out to locations outside of Raleigh.  It is fun to share our collections and explain a little more about what we do at the State Archives.  North Carolina has a rich military history and our World Ward I materials are among the most prized.  Come visit Alamance Community College on March 29 to learn more about that history from 100 years ago.

Start @ Home: North Carolina Virtual Family History Fair

Join the North Carolina Government & Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina for free online live streaming presentations. View on your own on a laptop or desktop or at participating North Carolina libraries.

This year the presentations will be focusing on local collections and resources for local and family history research. Local records, libraries and archives are a treasure trove of excellent information to Start @ Home for research.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Streaming Online

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM EST


North Carolina Virtual Family History Fair Schedule

10 AM: Local Collections and Records for Family and Local History

Everything is local, local, local! Staff from the State Archives of North Carolina and the Government and Heritage Library will discuss how information at their repositories will help you in your quest–treasures include local government records, county abstracts, family histories, and other resources.

11 AM: Newspapers and Finding Treasures

Newspapers contain a wealth of information from the articles to the advertisements; information that provides knowledge and insight into periods of time that may change the course of their research. Staff from the Government and Heritage Library, the State Archives of NC, and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center discuss what and where information is available about both current and historical NC newspapers, tools to access newspaper content, and current, ongoing services to provide access to out of print newspapers.

12 PM: DigitalNC for Family and Local History Research

There are numerous types of materials held by public libraries and other local cultural heritage institutions that can provide invaluable information about local and family history that cannot be found elsewhere.  Kristen Merryman, the Digital Projects Librarian from the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, will discuss the city directories, yearbooks, and other local level publications that digitalnc.org has freely available for many towns and counties across North Carolina and how they can be used to fill in gaps and enrich your knowledge of your town and family’s past.

1 PM: Genealogy of a House

Staff from the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office will discuss different methods of research to uncover the genealogy of your house. Michael Southern, GIS coordinator and senior architectural historian, will demonstrate HPOWEB (http://gis.ncdcr.gov/hpoweb/), a web-based historic properties GIS mapping tool, and review information available in local architectural survey publications and nominations of properties and districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Claudia Brown, Survey & National Register Branch supervisor and architectural survey coordinator, will discuss resources for research such as city directories and Sanborn Insurance Fire Maps.  Mitch Wilds, Restoration Services Branch supervisor, will talk about analyzing the building elements of a property in order to date it.


Call: (919)807-7450

Email: SLNC.reference@ncdcr.gov

Web:  www.ncdcr.gov/family-history

State Archives Celebrates Archives Month with Free Public Programs

Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed October 2017 as North Carolina Archives Month and the State Archives of North Carolina presents several programs exploring the relevance of historical records in our lives today.

Home Movie Day

Saturday October 21, 1– 4 p.m.
State Archives of North Carolina; 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh; First Floor Auditorium

Home Movie Day is an international celebration of amateur films designed to showcase home movies and other forms of amateur media, and to provide a forum to discuss best practices for film and digital media preservation. Hosted in the State Archives’ building auditorium, this annual event invites attendees to bring in their own films to screen and share with all. A/V Geeks Transfer Services will transfer film to digital formats (file to download or DVD) on-site for free. An archivist from the State Archives will provide film preservation tips for films, photographs, and digitized and born-digital documents. Bring in your family’s home movies (8mm, Super8mm, 16mm film, VHS and Video8/Hi8 video tapes) to share or just show up and watch the films of others and play Home Movie Day Bingo.

Virtual Family History Fair

Saturday, November 4, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Streaming online

Winding down the activities of Archives Month, the annual virtual Family History Fair, with its theme, “Start @Home,” focuses on practical tools used to research family history. Experts from the State Archives, the Government and Heritage Library, the N.C. Digital Heritage Center, and the State Historic Preservation Office will feature ways to search and use newspapers, government records, maps, directories, and digital collections to uncover community and family connections. Explore the genealogy of your own home in the “Genealogy of a House” session.

These sessions will stream online for free, so log on to your own laptop or desktop, or join a local participating public library for the presentations.

For details on streaming, a presentation agenda, and a list of participating libraries, see the online flyer. For additional information please email slnc.reference@ncdcr.gov or call (919) 807-7460.

Extended Research Hours

Friday, October 27, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

State Archives of North Carolina

Government and Heritage Library

109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

To accommodate those attending the N.C. Genealogical Society’s annual meeting on October 28, the State Archives Search Room and the Government and Heritage Library will extend their service hours for Friday, October 27. This is a rare opportunity to continue family research later into the evening.

Constitution Day Event at Historic Henderson County Courthouse

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

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789. Part of the Vault Collection. Available online at http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/29.

In honor of Constitution Day, the State Archives of North Carolina is presenting public programs at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse on September 18, 2017.  The program will be given at 9 AM, 10:30 AM, and 1 PM.  It will feature the odyssey of North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from North Carolina’s role in the development of the document through its theft after the Civil War and recovery almost 140 years later.

The historic courthouse is located at 1 Historic Courthouse Square on Main Street in Hendersonville.

The event is free and open to the public.

Friends of the Archives Hosts “North Carolina and WWI” Event June 19

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release. You can find other press releases on http://www.ncdcr.gov.]

Logo for North Carolina and World War IRaleigh, N.C. – One hundred years ago, America entered the Great War and thousands of North Carolinians answered the call to serve their country at home and overseas.

To commemorate the centennial of the war, the Friends of the Archives will sponsor “North Carolina and World War I,” presented by Jackson Marshall, historian and deputy director of the North Carolina Museum of History. The free, public program will be held in the State Archives/Library Building, 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh, June 19 at 1 p.m.

After his talk, Marshall will lead a tour of the World War I exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History located across Jones St. from the Archives Building. The 6,500-square-foot exhibition highlights artifacts, period photography, a trench diorama, historical film footage, educational interactive components, and video re-enactments that feature European and North Carolina soldiers and citizens to relate the stories of ordinary men and women from North Carolina who provided extraordinary service to their country 100 years ago.

Marshall is a native North Carolinian and the grandson of a World War I soldier. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Wake Forest University and is the author of “Memories of World War I.”

About the Friends of the Archives
The Friends of the Archives is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization formed in 1977 to privately fund some of the services, activities and programs of the State Archives of North Carolina not provided by state-appropriated funding.  The mission of the State Archives is to collect, preserve and provide access to North Carolina’s documentary history and culture.

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. 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 www.ncdcr.gov.