Tag Archives: history

New Digital Collection: Travel Perspectives

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Stewart Family Ledger and Scrapbook, available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Travel Perspectives collection is now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection features narratives and images of tourism as experienced by North Carolinians, found within the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. These documents consist of letters, scrapbooks, journals, photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other material related to the representation of the creator’s travels and experiences. The collection consists of items dating primarily from the 1850s through the 1950s, representing the first significant wave of mass tourism in which North Carolinians participated.

For more information on topics related to this collection, please check out this NCpedia page developed by the State Library:

Other resources:

Another digital collection of interest includes the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism Photos Project, which includes a series of photos, originally used in advertising campaigns to market the state as a travel destination, produced between 1929 and 1970 by the Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division.

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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

www.ncdcr.gov/family-history  

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.

Questions

Call: (919)807-7450

Email: SLNC.reference@ncdcr.gov

Web:  www.ncdcr.gov/family-history

“What Does That Say?” Series, Pt. II

Deciphering the Handwritten Records of Early America

Since beginning my work with digitizing the General Assembly Session Records collection at the State Archives, I have had to do a bit of research on how to effectively interpret 18th century manuscripts in order create the appropriate metadata for the records and improve discoverability of these records in our digital collection. The following sections include a brief history of writing during this time period, characteristics of 17th and 18th century British-American handwriting, and some tips on deciphering the text found within these records.

This is the second blog post of a series on how to read handwritten colonial documents, see the first blog post of this series on abbreviations, shorthand, and lettering.

Continue reading

“What Does That Say?” Series, Pt. I

Deciphering the Handwritten Records of Early America

Since beginning my work with digitizing the General Assembly Session Records collection at the State Archives, I have had to do a bit of research on how to effectively interpret 18th century manuscripts in order create the appropriate metadata for the records and improve discoverability of these records in our digital collection. The following sections include a brief history of writing during this time period, characteristics of 17th and 18th century British-American handwriting, and some tips on deciphering the text found within these records. This is the first blog post of a series on how to read handwritten colonial documents.

As a skill most take for granted today, writing was not a widespread accomplishment during this time period; however, with the growth of commerce and industry, the need for this skill became more apparent.

According to Monaghan (1988), reading and writing were considered to be two separate endeavors, as the ability to read was not dependent on the ability to write. Initially, reading was simply a means to an end—a skill that provided direct access to the Scripture. The Bible was this era’s most popular book, so it comes as no surprise that it was the first text children learned to read. Thornton (1998) contends that “reading was taught first, as a universal spiritual need; writing was taught second, and then only to some.”

Continue reading

New Digital Collection: The General Assembly Session Records

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Session of November-December, 1768: Lower House Papers, messages to and from Governor Tryon. Available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The General Assembly Session Records collection is now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection features records of early North Carolina state legislatures from the State Archives of North Carolina. The documents consist of bills and resolutions, petitions, committee reports, messages from the governor, legislative messages, tally sheets, election certificates, resignations, and other material related to the work of each session of the General Assembly. The physical collection includes items from 1709 through 1999, but the digital collection will focus on the earliest materials. This digital collection is currently in progress, and more items will be added as they are digitized. Check back for future updates on the status of this project.

While the first official assembly was said to occur around 1665, it wasn’t until 1776 that the first state constitution was ratified by the “representatives of the freemen” and the General Assembly was given full legislative power as well as the authority to choose all state executive and judicial officers. Several amendments have been made to the state’s constitution over time, which has altered the powers and structure of the General Assembly.

For more information on the history of the North Carolina General Assembly, please check out these NCpedia pages developed by the State Library:

Other resources:

For more information on the General Assembly Session Records collection, please search our MARS catalog. Another digital collection of interest includes the Federal State and Constitutional Materials, which highlight North Carolina government’s role in the ratification of federal amendments and its own internal efforts to protect the rights of its citizens dating back to the Declaration of Rights in 1776.

North Carolina State Fair

[This blog post comes from Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt, State Fair President of 1921

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt, State Fair President of 1921

The North Carolina State Fair, which first opened in late October of 1853, is one of the state’s premier fall attractions. In that spirit, this blog post poses to all State Fair goers: What particular interests and expectations have drawn you to the State Fair, and what special memories have you taken away?  Not surprisingly, a number of the Private Collections offer glimpses of the North Carolina State Fair that add to the breadth of our collective State Fair experience, now spanning one hundred and sixty-three years.  Four such collections are featured here. Their dates range from 1853 to 1921, with three being penned within the first three decades of that auspicious opening event of 1853.

 

From the Margaret Eliza Cotton Journal, PC.1977, October 3, 1853

From the Margaret Eliza Cotton Journal, PC.1977, October 3, 1853

From the Margaret Eliza Cotten Journal, 1853-1854. PC.1977:  Margaret was a seventeen-year-old St. Mary’s School student living at home on Blount Street, Raleigh. She has left us, through her journal, one of the earliest, and maybe the only surviving privately recorded comment about the State Fair before its formal opening. On the night of October 3, 1853, Margaret opined, “I don’t know when I have been to a party or anything of the kind, [and] wish someone would give a large, nice one. Our city will be quite alive in a few weeks, I hope however, with the ‘Fair.’ I hope it may not be a failure – it is high time for ‘old Rip’ [town of Raleigh] to wake up. I think we are also to have a temperance convention, or something of that kind, on the 17th.”

Margaret’s subsequent comments indicated that the first fair was indeed a success, and quite the place to see and to be seen. Evidenced by her journal and the typical mindset of a teenager, the fair and its social aspects loomed far larger in her mind than the first State Temperance Convention. Not surprisingly, Margaret made no further comments about the latter event, though she had hoped that the Temperance Convention would attract some of her family and friends from Tarboro, Edgecombe County, her place of birth.

 

Letter of Ida B. A., St. Mary’s School, October 24, 1877, from the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, PC.162

Letter of Ida B. A., St. Mary’s School, October 24, 1877, from the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, PC.162

From the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, 1834-1907. PC.162: These papers include a letter written by another student at St. Mary’s School, Ida B. A. [surname uncertain]. Ida was probably a friend of the daughter of Kenelm Lewis, Annie Harrison Lewis (1861-1943), a student at St. Mary’s School during the same time period. Writing probably to a male friend, on October 23 and 24, 1877, Ida described two visits to the Fair. The second time was especially “splendid,” and involved doing “almost exactly what I did the day before, only [I] did more of it. I was introduced to several very nice gentlemen and enjoyed myself hugely.” Specific events that impressed her included hearing a good band, seeing “elegant [military] drilling” and betting on “elegant [horse] racing,” and consuming delicious candy and cake. Additionally, she was pleased at “seeing so many nice folks from home,” including the New Berne boys, even though they “were not the right set,” but instead “grown young men.” Ida was also pleased that her friend, Lila, looked very stylish “for the first time in her life.” Lila apparently cut quite a figure wearing a dark brown dress and a brown straw hat trimmed with a cardinal scarf, and was “considered by a great many to be the prettiest girl on the grounds.”

 

From Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, PC.849: Letter of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to. L. L. Polk, September 1, 1881.

From Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, PC.849: Letter of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to. L. L. Polk, September 1, 1881.

From the Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, 1881. PC.849: The sole item in this collection is a letter dated September 1, 1881, written to L. L. Polk, 1888. It is from Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, former Confederate army commander, declining Polk’s invitation to attend the North Carolina State Fair because of prior business commitments in the Southwest. Johnston’s words express genuine disappointment: “I regret this infinitely. For I could find few gratifications in the world equal to that of meeting again the North Carolinians with whom I served in the most trying times that of their century have . . .  [ever] known.”

 

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: The papers include one photograph of Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt (Edith), the year she served as president of the North Carolina State Fair.  The image shows Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt, and Mary, Alice, “B,” and Kenlon (staff from the Biltmore estate?), riding in what appears to be an open-air fire engine. A glance at the photograph suggests that the group in the truck, especially Mrs. Vanderbilt, was attracting considerable notice from fair-goers on the ground, and that people-watching has long been one of the enduring attractions of the State Fair.

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: On February 3, 1921, the News and Observer writes of Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt’s address to the state legislature and her induction as president of the 1921 State Fair.

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: On February 3, 1921, the News and Observer writes of Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt’s address to the state legislature and her induction as president of the 1921 State Fair.

Significantly, the previous November, Lillian Exum Clement (not yet married), had been elected to the North Carolina General Assembly, becoming the first woman to serve in the state’s legislature.  Her private papers indicate that she had welcomed Mrs. Vanderbilt to Raleigh in early February of 1921, and include a newspaper clipping describing the event (News and Observer, issue of February 3, 1921). The article said that Mrs. Vanderbilt had addressed a joint session of the House and Senate and subsequently attended a meeting of the Executive Committee of the N.C. Agricultural Society, where she was inducted as president of the 1921 State Fair. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s presence and address evoked the observation: “But few times in the history of the State has a woman been asked to address the General Assembly, and none has pleased them more….”

In celebration of the State Fair and its history and impact, please note the online offering through the State Library of North Carolina: http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/digital/statefair/. There is a section entitled “Blue Ribbon Memories,” that includes comments from various fair-goers. On an added note, Private Collections invites those with extensive and detailed recollections of the State Fair to consider offering those, perhaps coupled with other historically valuable private papers and photographs, as a possible donation. Please contact Fran Tracy-Walls, fran.tracy-walls@ncdcr.gov for more information about donation guidelines and requirements.

In Memoriam: William S. Powell (1919-2015)

[This post is taken from the text of a small exhibit on William S. Powell now on display in the Search Room of the State Archives of North Carolina. The exhibit will be available for viewing until Saturday, April 25. The text for this post was written by Josh Hager, Reference Archivist in the Collections Services Section. For more images related to William S. Powell, see the Flickr collection of the State Archives.]

William S. Powell (Bill Powell) in the UNC Library, c.1970s. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of North Carolina. Call number: N.74.2.85A

William S. Powell (Bill Powell) in the UNC Library, c.1970s. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of North Carolina. Call number: N.74.2.85A

William S. Powell, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, passed away on April 10, 2015, at the age of 95. After serving in World War II, the Johnston County native received his Master’s Degree in History from UNC Chapel Hill in 1947. Throughout his life, Powell wore many academic hats in addition to his professorship. He worked as a curator for the North Carolina Collection at UNC Chapel Hill, as the editor of History News, and as a researcher for the North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

Powell’s academic career focused on the history of North Carolina. His works are considered seminal for fostering a thorough understanding of the Old North State. For example, The North Carolina Gazetteer is the definitive reference work for identifying all of North Carolina’s varied geographic locales, no matter how obscure. Powell’s contributions, both as an editor and an author, to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina and the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography are invaluable reference works for historians and genealogists alike. Powell was especially well-versed in the earliest years of North Carolina’s colonial past. He wrote a volume on the history of Albemarle County, contributed to the scholarship surrounding the Lost Colony, and helped authenticate the Carolina Charter of 1663 now in the possession of the State Archives.

400th Anniversary Committee Chairmen Meeting, 1982. William S. Powell speaking. Call number: N.84.3.395

William S. Powell (Bill Powell) at the 400th Anniversary Celebration meeting in State Capitol, 25 May 1982. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of North Carolina. Call number: N.84.3.395.

Powell is a member of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame (2008), a recipient of the North Carolina Literature Award (2000), and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from Governor James Martin.

This exhibit case is filled with the works which bear Powell’s name and demonstrate his commitment to the history of his native state. The State Archives of North Carolina commemorates his life, his legacy, and his contribution to the scholarship that occurs in this Search Room.