Tag Archives: history

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).

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Treasures of Carolina: the Carolina Charter of 1663

The first Wednesday of each month will feature a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Detail NC_Charter-Pg1

Page 1 of the Carolina Charter features an elaborate drawing of King Charles

Considered the “birth certificate” of the Carolinas, the Carolina Charter of 1663, so named after King Charles II of England, gave the province of Carolina to eight of his loyal supporters, known later as Lords Proprietors of Carolina, in return for their service to the Crown during the English Restoration.  The original Charter designated land between 31°and 36° north latitude and extending east to west, ocean to ocean, covering parts of what is now Florida, Mexico, Texas, and California.

Written on vellum (calf- or sheepskin), this remarkable document is composed of four pages and bears a striking pen-and-ink portrait of King Charles II of England on the first page. The 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.”

The Carolina Charter of 1663 is both a government document—as a land grant and a treatise for governing—and a work of art.  In 1949, using privately-donated funds, the Department of Archives and History paid $6,171 for its purchase from a bookseller in England. Two years of research on both sides of the Atlantic had confirmed the Charter’s authenticity. Today it is housed in one of two climate-controlled security vaults in the State Archives. Because of preservation concerns and its intrinsic and documentary value its display is carefully monitored.