Tag Archives: history

A Final Salute to Dr. H. G. Jones

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

Whether you knew him as H. G. or Dr. Jones, he was certainly a formidable presence. I was fortunate to call him my colleague and my friend. While working at Historical Publications in 2000, he approached me about publishing a book called, Sketches in North Carolina USA, 1872 to 1878: Vineyard Scenes by Mortimer O. Heath, in cooperation with the North Caroliniana Society. His steadfast attention to detail brought both admiration and frustration. The final product sits on my bookshelf with his personal note to me, which was written on his 78th birthday: “For Donna, who made this book possible and beautiful. With thanks and best wishes, HG Jones, 7 January 2002.”

H.G. Jones sits behind a tabble with various photocopies in plastic sleeves spread out in front of him.

Historian H. G. Jones looks over his papers and sketches from his compilation of Sketches in North Carolina USA: 1872 to 1878. 2002, News & Observer file photo. Reproduced with permission.

Dr. Houston Gwynne Jones was born on January 7, 1924 in Caswell County and he passed away on October 14, 2018 in Chatham County. Throughout his life he was the ultimate historian, recording his own thoughts and activities in a daily journal, now preserved as part of his collection (PC.1681) at the State Archives of North Carolina. He served as director of the Department of Archives and History and as state archivist from 1968 to 1974. When the agency no longer had departmental status, he made certain that the biennial report for 1970–1972 was printed with a black cover. In fact, the opening paragraph of his director’s report stated: “It must be something like preaching one’s own funeral—the writing of the final biennial report of the State Department of Archives and History as an independent state agency.”

H.G. Jones behind a desk with books and papers on it. A typewriter sits on his left and a bookshelf stands against the far wall

H. G. Jones, State Archivist, 12 September 1956; Photo by D. Phillips. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of NC, N.56.9.28.

After graduating high school, H. G. volunteered for the Navy in World War II. He wrote about his experiences in the book, The Sonarman’s War: Chasing Submarines and Sweeping Mines in World War II. After the war he attended school under the G.I. Bill, earning both a master’s degree and Ph.D. He then taught for several years until he was appointed State Archivist of North Carolina by Gov. Terry Sanford in 1956. In 1968, Dr. Jones was tapped to serve as the director of the State Department of Archives and History, until he resigned in 1974 to take on the duties of the curator of the North Carolina Collection and adjunct professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill. Many of today’s public historians took courses under him. He retired from that position in 1994, although he became the Thomas Whitmell Davis Research Historian and could be seen in a carrel in Wilson Library conducting research until his health prevented him from doing so.

From 1969 to 1986, Dr. Jones wrote a weekly column titled “In Light of History,” which was devoted to North Carolina history. He also wrote many award-winning books, including For History’s Sake, Local Government Records, North Carolina Illustrated, and North Carolina History: An Annotated Bibliography. Just a few years ago, he wrote Miss Mary’s Money: Fortune and Misfortune in a North Carolina Plantation Family, 1760–1924.

Dr. H. G. Jones, with pipe and beard, January 1974; Photo by Randall Page. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of NC, N.74.1.162

In 1975, Dr. Jones co-chartered the North Caroliniana Society to encompass all the state’s cultural heritage, not just history. He remained secretary-treasurer of that organization until 2010. As evidenced in his collection at the State Archives, Dr. Jones served as chair or president of nearly all of North Carolina’s historical organizations at one time or other during his lifetime. He was appointed to the North Carolina Historical Commission in 1978 and served as an emeritus member from 2002 until his death. Nationally he was elected president of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), secretary of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), and commissioner of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). His publication, The Records of a Nation, was used as evidence during the Watergate hearings.

Dr. Jones received numerous accolades throughout his career and beyond. A few of the highlights include the Award of Distinction (AASLH), the Award for Distinguished Service in Documentary Preservation and Publication (NHPRC), the Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award (North Carolina Literary and Historical Association), the Ruth Cannon Cup (North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities), the John Tyler Caldwell Award (North Carolina Humanities Council), and the North Carolina Award for Public Service, bestowed upon him by Gov. Mike Easley in 2002.

There are many more things that could be noted here about Dr. Jones, but many of his accomplishments can be read online using a simple Google search. Here are but a few links:

What I will remember most is my last visit with him on September 19, coincidentally my birthday. I shook his hand and he told me how much he pitied the archivist who would have to organize his papers. I smiled and assured him that his collection was in much better shape than most that make their way to the Archives. His voice was weak, but his spirit was strong, and it was evident that he was concerned about his legacy, even near the end. His wish was that his papers be preserved in the State Archives, an agency that grew stronger under his leadership as both an employee and later as a member of the Historical Commission, spanning over half a century.

Portrait of Dr. H. G. Jones, emeritus member of the North Carolina Historical Commission, May 18, 2015.

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National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2018

May is National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so today we will be highlighting some records and resources on Asian Americans in North Carolina. This is not an exhaustive list of resources, but some ideas of where to start.

Image of Wong Lee's application for citizenship in Durham County, NC in 1940

Wong Lee of China filed for American citizenship in Durham County in 1940. Alien and Naturalization Records. (source)

Asian immigrants were a small but important group in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Alien Registration and Naturalization Records list naturalization records of foreign-born citizens, including many from Asian countries. For example, Chinese immigrant and café owner Wong Lee filed for citizenship on June 17, 1940 in Durham County.[1]

Immigration from Asian nations to North Carolina increased after the Vietnam War, coinciding with the origins of National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week in 1978. Two post-Vietnam groups of immigrants have received particular recognition. First, many Hmong people of Laos have made their home in the Tar Heel state, particularly in Western North Carolina. A large number fought with the CIA during the conflict, and subsequently fled their country for Thailand and then migrated to the United States. On July 22, 2002, Governor Michael Easley proclaimed Lao-Hmong Recognition Day to honor their contribution to the Vietnam War and their presence in the state.[2] In 2009 North Carolina had the fourth largest population of Lao/Hmong in the United States.[3]

Governor Easley's proclamation of Lao-Hmong Recognition Day in NC, 2002.

Governor Easley’s proclamation of Lao-Hmong Recognition Day on July 22, 2002. Excerpt from Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly, page 218. (source)

A second group of Asian Americans whose North Carolina story began in the aftermath of the Vietnam War are the Dega, also known as Montagnards, the latter term originating from the French colonization of Vietnam to include a variety of tribes and cultures who live in the central highlands of Vietnam. Many also cooperated with the Americans in the war and fled in the 1980s and 1990s to Greensboro, North Carolina. Our state now has the largest Montagnard population outside of Vietnam.[4]

The Department of Cultural Resources (now Department of Natural and Cultural Resources) created a documentary about the Montagnards called “Remembering the King of the Fire” in 1991 (MARS ID 5754.348 in the MARS catalog). A subsequent documentary titled “Living in Exile” was produced in 1995 (director Cheney Hales’ papers are in the Vietnam War Papers, Box 3, of the Military Collection).[5]

Southeast Asian cultures and traditions are now celebrated in ways that engage the wider community, such as cultural heritage events. For example, the North Carolina Folklife Area of the 2016 National Folklife Festival in Greensboro featured Laotian cuisine and textiles, as well as Montagnard dances and music.[6] The event was described on the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources website. The archive of DNCR and other state government websites, including social media, is available online.

Image of archived webpage for 2016 National Folklife Festival in Greensboro, NC.

At the 2016 National Folklife Festival in Greensboro, NC, Montagnard music and dance were featured, as were Laotian food and textiles. Image of archived web page from NCDCR website. (source)

In 1992, National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Week was extended to a full month. North Carolina’s governors followed suit, issuing proclamations for the month to be celebrated in the state. The proclamations of governors Perdue, Easley, and McCrory are available in the digital collections.

As of 2013, approximately 252,000 Asian Americans called North Carolina their home.[7] Whether you are researching family history and genealogy, interested in North Carolina history, or enjoy learning about the diversity of communities and cultures in the Tar Heel State, take some time to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May!

If you want more information or individual research help, please contact our reference staff at archives@ncdcr.gov or (919) 807-7310 and they will be happy to assist you.

What stories of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage have you found at the State Archives of North Carolina?

Resources

Footnotes

[1] Alien and Naturalization Records, http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15012coll13/id/1881/rec/1

[2] Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, 2002 second session, p. 218 http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p249901coll22/id/666028/rec/16 (accessed April 25, 2018).

[3] Amy Joyner, “Brand New Tar Heels,” Our State, September 2008, p. 127 http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll18/id/100179/rec/48

[4] Amy Joyner, “Brand New Tar Heels,” Our State, September 2008, p. 127 http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll18/id/100179/rec/48

[5] https://archives.ncdcr.gov/documents/vietnam-war-papers

[6] “North Carolina Folklife Area Planned for National Folk Festival,” NC Natural and Cultural Resources, July 14, 2016 https://wayback.archive-it.org/194/20170323110706/https://www.ncdcr.gov/press-release/north-carolina-folklife-area-planned-national-folk-festival (accessed April 25, 2018)

[7] Rebecca Tippett, “NC in Focus: Asian Population,” UNC Carolina Population Center – Carolina Demography, May 28, 2015, http://demography.cpc.unc.edu/2015/05/28/nc-in-focus-asian-population/ (accessed April 25, 2018).

A Capital Affair, Pt. IV

To recap on this series, it’s possible that Raleigh was chosen as the state capital of North Carolina for a number of reasons:

  1. Geographic location: the state’s population was gradually moving westward; Raleigh is not far from the geographical center of the state, which meant that it was relatively easy for members of the Assembly, who lived as far west as Burke County and as far east as Hyde County, to attend sessions
  2. Access to higher education: the University of North Carolina was newly chartered in 1789, which was within a day’s ride to Raleigh
  3. Thoroughfare: Raleigh was established near two major roads – an east-west road, “Jonesborough Road,” connected New Bern to Knoxville, TN (mostly follows present-day US Route 70), and a north-south road, “Fall Line Road” (forked off of the King’s Highway), connected Fredericksburg, VA to Augusta, GA
  4. Fresh start: being a brand new city, Raleigh didn’t carry the burden of its predecessors; this also led to more stability, at least in terms of keeping state records in one fixed location
State_House

North Carolina State House, painted by Jacob Marling in 1818. Raleigh History Collection, NC Digital Collections

A Capital Affair, Pt. III

Raleigh: 1794-present

The North Carolina General Assembly has been convening exclusively in Raleigh since 1794.

The city of Raleigh was planned and built specifically for the purpose of becoming the state’s capital, which was largely decided on based on it being close to the geographical center of the state. There were several benefits of designating Raleigh as the capital; it was not vulnerable to naval attack, it was located near a major interregional thoroughfare, and it was seen as a blank slate for some. However, many opposed this decision initially.

Plan_of_Raleigh

Historic map from the North Carolina Maps project overlaid with a current satellite image of downtown Raleigh. Original map: “Plan of the city of Raleigh: from Johnson’s map of 1847,” circa 1867. North Carolina Collection call number Cm912c R163 1867.

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A Capital Affair, Pt. II

New Bern, the first colonial capital: 1766-1776

“Perhaps a greater villain than corrupt officials was the absence of a provincial capital or fixed courthouse during the early years” (Jones, 1966).

At its first few meetings in New Bern, the Assembly voted against the town becoming the permanent seat of government, despite Governor Gabriel Johnston’s efforts. Meanwhile, the public records continued to suffer. Continue reading

A Capital Affair

We have a little-known fact to share that may leave some native North Carolinians mystified…

Raleigh was not the original capital of North Carolina.

In fact, it wasn’t the second or third…or even sixth choice. Bath (1710-1722) and Edenton (1722-1743) were considered the first unofficial capitals of North Carolina, later followed by the first official state capital, New Bern (1766-1776). Each of these towns served as the seat of government for a period of time, but there were several other contenders in the early years.

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History Repeats Itself: the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

This post is part of the blog series, “History Repeats Itself,” which discusses events in North Carolina history that correspond with current events and draw attention to related North Carolina Digital Collections materials.

Exactly one century ago, the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic wreaked havoc on the world and became the worst flu outbreak in recorded history. This pandemic was said to be responsible for the deaths of approximately 50-100 million people worldwide, nearly 14,000 North Carolinians were among those who died.

1918HealthBulletin

Illustration from the October 1919 issue of the Health Bulletin (vol 34, issue 10), published by the North Carolina State Board of Health.

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