Tag Archives: events

View North Carolina’s Original Bill of Rights June 15-19 at the N.C. Museum of History

The point of controversy eventually rested on one issue and the argument in North Carolina was vigorous, at times contentious. Conservatives led by James Iredell wanted the document left alone. Their opponents, led by Willie Jones, insisted on added protections for individual liberties.

The document protecting individual liberties that North Carolina demanded before ratifying the U.S. Constitution will be displayed Wednesday, June 15, through Sunday, June 19, in the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” at the N.C. Museum of History. Admission is free.

For a while there was heated debate about the Bill of Rights, each side rounding up more allies. The internal stalemate escalated, preventing North Carolina from taking action, but by November 1789, the state finally ratified the U.S. Constitution with the longed-for Bill of Rights as its first 10 amendments.

George Washington had a copy of the Bill of Rights created for each state. North Carolina’s copy was held in the State Capitol building when, in 1865, it was stolen by a Union soldier. Recovered in an FBI sting operation almost 150 years later, North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights resides in one of two vaults in the State Archives.

Rarely displayed because of its fragile condition, museum visitors will be able to view this document for one week in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives exhibit at the Museum of History in Raleigh.

“The Bill of Rights belongs to the people of North Carolina,” stated Sarah Koonts, state archivist. “We are the custodians of a document that guarantees freedom and liberties to United States citizens and we are happy to have the opportunity to exhibit this treasure to the public.”

Visitors to the Treasures of Carolina exhibit will discover the important role of the State Archives of North Carolina — the state’s memory bank. From parchment documents to digital files, the State Archives collects, preserves and makes accessible over 100 million treasures chronicling the Tar Heel State, past and present.

The variety of public records and private manuscript collections in the exhibit focuses on three themes: providing evidence of civil and property rights, government transparency, and the preservation of North Carolina’s history and culture.

 A sampling of the exhibit treasures includes:

  •  The earliest will known to exist in North Carolina, recorded in 1665 by Mary Fortsen. It is unusual because female property owners were extremely rare in the 1600s.
  • An 1839 petition for United States citizenship, signed by Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in Siam (now Thailand). They settled in Wilkes County and married sisters. Altogether, the families had 21 children.
  • The hand-drawn map used as evidence during the 1867 trial of Tom Dula, who was indicted and hanged for murdering Laura Foster. Dula’s fate is told in the popular ballad “Tom Dooley.”
  • A Civil War letter from Martha A. E. Henley Poteet to her husband, Francis Marion Poteet, who was away at war. She enclosed a cutout of her 4-week-old daughter’s hand with the request “write to Me what to name her.” The family lived in McDowell County.
  • A 1903 copy of the North Carolina Constitutional Reader. In 1901 rules were enacted to prevent illiterate African Americans from voting, and this book was published to help African Americans read the Constitution in case they were questioned at the polls when trying to vote.
  • Audio recordings of World War I soldiers’ oral histories.

 Treasures of Carolina will run through July 31, 2016. The Bill of Rights will be displayed June 15 through June 19.


Why We Search for the Lost Colony

SWR over recreated Raleigh map

Plan to attend Monday, June 6 at 1:30 as the Friends of the Archives presents “‘Bring Them Home’: Why We Search for the Lost Colony.” This free presentation will be held at the State Library/State Archives building at 109 E. Jones St. in Raleigh.  

The story of North Carolina’s “Lost Colony” is a simple yet compelling one. A late-16th-century effort to establish England’s first permanent settlement in the New World results in failure with the fate of its 117 colonists—men, women, and children—remaining unknown. But while this was just one of many similarly unsuccessful colonies, only this “Lost Colony of Roanoke” still asserts its emotional pull on public and scholarly imaginations across the centuries.

In the last decade, archaeological and archival research has produced new evidence not only of what fate befell Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke Colony, but also of the enduring effects that enterprise wrought. Brent Lane has been an active participant and curious observer on these recent efforts and their often dramatic findings. Brent discusses what is known and what must yet be discovered if our generation of Tar Heels is to fulfill the best—and probably last—hope of recovering North Carolina’s “Lost Colonists.”

Brent Lane is a professor of Heritage Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School where he is Director of the UNC Center for Competitive Economies at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Brent works with several local, national, and international  organizations on the importance of natural and cultural heritage in conservation, education, and the economy.

This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Archives, 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.

Exhibit about North Carolina’s Revolutionary Politics and Signers of the Declaration of Independence

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

The Surry County Committee of Safety journal which reads both "Liberty or Death" and "God Save the King"

The Surry County Committee of Safety journal not only condemned British policies, but also declared loyalty to the Crown. To illustrate this paradox, the words “Liberty or Death” were printed in a circle surrounding “God Save the King.” From the State Archives of North Carolina (Secretary of State Records, Committees of Safety, MARS Id: 12.112).

A one-day special exhibit of documents from the State Archives will be displayed at Tryon Palace on Saturday, June 4, 2016. It focuses on North Carolina’s revolutionary politics and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among significant documents to be displayed are Josiah Martin’s speech denouncing the Second Provincial Congress, the General Assembly’s response, an excerpt from a Surry County committee of safety journal, and a letter delivering news of America’s newfound status as an independent state. Also included is a document signed by all three delegates, just over a month after they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Leading up to the American Revolution, tensions were growing between the British government and the American colonies. At a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia an economic boycott against Great Britain was instituted and local committees of safety were set up to enforce it. In North Carolina, Provincial Congresses were held despite their denunciation by the royal governor, Josiah Martin. He dissolved the General Assembly on April 8, 1775, hoping to quell growing resistance to British rule, but he was unsuccessful.

Fifth page of the Halifax Resolves

The fifth page of the Halifax Resolves reads: “Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the other delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .” From the State Archives of North Carolina (Secretary of State Records, Provincial Conventions and Congresses, MARS Id: 12.114).

After the violence at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts in April of 1775, and later the Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge in February of 1776, it became a foregone conclusion that any reconciliation between Great Britain and America was futile. As a result, the Halifax Resolves were adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress on April 12, 1776, marking the first official action by a colony to declare independence. This date appears on the North Carolina state flag.

On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted that the American colonies were independent states. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was signed by William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn, delegates from North Carolina.

For more details see http://www.tryonpalace.org/events/it%E2%80%99s-revolutionary-documents-state-archives-north-carolina.


Stamp Act Rebellion Documents from 1760s on Exhibit Feb. 18 at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

[This blog post comes from the Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources – you can find other news related to NC Natural and Cultural Resources here.]

Small image with a skull and crossbones and the words This is the Place to affix the STAMPA precursor to the Revolutionary War, the Stamp Act Rebellion of 1765 at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson resulted from anger and resentment directed toward the British Crown. Unfair taxes and regulation led to the Stamp Act Resistance, the first successful armed rebellion against British authority in America.

Original, rare documents from the period will be exhibited Feb. 18, by the State Archives at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources before they go on loan to Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site for the 250th Anniversary of Stamp Act Resistance in North Carolina on February 20.

Documents exhibited include articles from the “North Carolina Gazette” of 1765, articles from the “London Chronicle” of 1766, and a document signed by all North Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence. The exhibit will be open February 18 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the DNCR building at 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh.

The document exhibition and event at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson are part of the DNCR’s It’s Revolutionary! commemoration of early North Carolina history.

“Extra! Extra! Learn all about It” Workshop at the Western Office to Feature Online Newspapers

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

Western Carolinian issue Nov. 6, 1821ASHEVILLE, N.C – Did you ever wonder what was going on in the headlines on the day you were born? Do you want to uncover history from primary resources? Would you like to learn about newspaper collections available online and how to use and use them? The Western Regional Archives is offering a special workshop Extra! Extra! Learn All About It! that will explore some useful databases for accessing online newspapers. The hour-long program on Tuesday, February 16th from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. is suitable for researchers, teachers, students, genealogists and those interested in gaining an insight into where to start when researching and is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to bring suggested topics of interest that will be investigated during the workshop.

Extra! Extra! Learn All About It! will be conducted by archivist, Sarah Downing of the Western Regional Archives. A certified North Carolina librarian, Downing has been with the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for over 20 years, and joined the staff at the Western Office a year ago. She enjoys helping patrons fulfill their research requests and conducting historical research with old newspapers. Sarah honed her skills while writing several books for The History Press and wanted to share what she has learned.

The Western Office of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is located at 176 Riceville Road, Asheville, N.C.  For additional information, please call (828) 296-7230, email sarah.downing@ncdcr.gov, or visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/westernoffice.


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, the State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

Rare Opportunity to View North Carolina’s “Birth Certificate”: Carolina Charter of 1663

Did you know that the land of the Carolinas once extended ocean to ocean, covering parts of what is now Florida, Mexico, Texas, and California?  King Charles II granted this land in 1663 to several of his supporters—the “Lords Proprietors”—in return for their service to the Crown during the English Restoration.  The gift of land was designated in the Carolina Charter of 1663.

Considered the “birth certificate” of the Carolinas, the Carolina Charter will be on exhibit from Monday, February 8 through Sunday, February 14, at the N.C. Museum of History in downtown Raleigh.  Written on vellum (calf- or sheepskin), this remarkable document bears a striking pen-and-ink portrait of King Charles II of England on the first page. The Carolina Charter marks the beginning of organized, representative government in the province of Carolina, granting to the colonists rights that were to have lasting influence on the region’s population and its history. For example, the Charter guaranteed the rights of property ownership, the establishment of courts, and representation of delegates of “Freemen of said Province.”

Notes Sarah Koonts, State Archivist, “The Charter is a unique and beautiful document. Because of its fragility, we can rarely display it, but for a brief time the public will have the opportunity to view one of North Carolina’s most important founding documents.”

The Carolina Charter will be on view in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives at the Museum of History, 109 East Jones St., Raleigh. Visit and see rare documents from the State Archives’ vault and learn about the characters and stories behind them through the exhibit. Treasures of Carolina will run through June 19 and admission is free. For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org.

Family Traditions of Service: Lifesavers of the Chicamacomico Life Boat Station receiving medals for rescue of British tanker Mirlo crew, July 1930

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

The following description of the 1918 rescue of the crew of the British tanker Mirlo comes from the National Park Service:

“[A] famous surfboat rescue occurred during World War I, when enemy submarines operated in American coastal waters. On August 16, 1918, the British tanker Mirlo struck a German mine a few miles offshore and blew up. Keeper John Allen Midgett and his crew from Chicamacomico [Life Boat] Station launched their surfboat and steered it into a fiery seascape of burning oil, seeking survivors. Maneuvering their way through a hellish environment that blistered paint on their boat, burned their skin, and singed their hair and clothing, the lifesavers emerged with 42 rescued crewmen. Both the United States and Great Britain awarded Keeper Midgett and hiChicamacomico_MirloRescies surfmen medals for their gallantry.” (http://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/lifesaving-service.htm)

This is the original photograph of the lifesavers of the Chicamacomico Life Boat Station receiving in July of 1930 “Grand Crosses of the American Cross of Honor” gold medals for their heroic rescue in 1918. Pictured here are: (left to right) Surfmen Leroy Midgett, Prochorus O’Neal, and Zion S. Midgett; [two unidentified civilians]; RADM Frederick C. Billard, Commandant of the Coast Guard; Keeper John Allen Midgett Jr.; and, surfmen Arthur Midgett, and Clarence Midgett.

The tradition of Coast Guard service was so strong in the Midgett family that the service on Hatteras Island was referred to as the “Midgett Navy.”

Credit line: United States Coast Guard and United States Lifesaving Service Portraits Collection, Sarah Owens Collection, Outer Banks History Center.


This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.