Tag Archives: Private Collections

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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The Samuel Patrick and Ella McGuire Family Papers, PC.2061

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina.]

Ella McGuire or her mother, Martha Miller Buffaloe (ca. 1837–1916)

Ella McGuire or her mother, Martha Miller Buffaloe (ca. 1837–1916)

An essential goal of Private Collections is to add to its holdings the papers of minorities and under-represented groups. It is a pleasure to recognize a set of such papers available for research in the Search Room: the private papers of Samuel Patrick and Ella [née Buffaloe] McGuire (PC.2061). Additionally, this collection serves various valuable purposes, including providing a unique educational resource for students, researchers, and the wider community.

Patrick and Eleanor (Ella) Buffaloe McGuire, both born into slavery, were married around 1881. Although not the first settlers after the Civil War in the Oberlin Village settlement outside Raleigh, the McGuires were surely part of the growth of this successful community. Increasingly, the area is recognized for its founding by former slaves who came to own their own homes and achieve middle class status. Patrick (1853–1906), born probably in Chapel Hill, Orange County, could read and write. This was true also of Ella (1861–1946), born to James and Martha Miller Buffaloe, natives of Wake County. Sometime during the Reconstruction Era, Patrick moved to Wake County and worked first as a laborer, then for the Gaston & Raleigh Railroad, and eventually as a depot freight driver for the Seaboard Airline Railroad.

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Veterans Day

Veteran of Rockingham County, Levoir Lindsey, his wife, Viola, and daughter, Betty.

Veteran of Rockingham County, Levoir Lindsey, his wife, Viola, and daughter, Betty. From the Allen, Carter, Gwynn Family Papers and Albums (PC.2154).

The State Archives is closed Nov. 10-12 for the Veterans Day holiday. But many of our military related resources are available online any time. Here are some of the most recent additions:

World War I – As part of the statewide World War I centennial commemoration, we’ve digitized many materials from our Military Collection related to North Carolina’s involvement, including letters, posters, photographs, and maps.

Troop Returns – This collection is composed of troop returns from the Military Collection. Troop Returns (1747-1893) include lists, returns, records of prisoners, and records of draftees. The majority of this collection is related to the Revolutionary War.

Allen, Carter, Gwynn Family Papers and Albums (PC.2154) – These papers, including several albums, were compiled by Joann Marie Davis, whose forebears lived in the 19th and 20th centuries primarily in Stoneville (Shiloh) and Mayo Township, Rockingham County.

Arthur W. Matthews Jr. Papers (WWII 78, WWII Papers, Military Collection) – The Arthur W. Matthews Jr. Papers is composed of 68 photographs and a photocopied wartime diary, documenting the World War II military service of Arthur W. Matthews Jr. of Edgecombe and Wilson Counties, N.C., from April 1944 to February 1946. He served in Company A, 1258th Engineer Combat Battalion, U.S. Army, and later Headquarters Company, 376th Infantry Regiment. The majority of his service involved driving a truck in his unit as the 1258th Engineer Combat Battalion traveled through France, Belgium, and southern Germany, repairing or constructing bridges, constructing or clear mines from roads, building barracks to house displaced peoples in Germany, and guarding and transporting German POWs.

Photo of Col. Richard Hunt in an airplane

Snapshot of 1st Lt. Richard M. Hunt pictured in the cockpit of his U.S. Marine Corps Piper Cub airplane, parked on an island in the Pacific Theater. From Richard M. Hunt Papers (MMP 1, Miscellaneous Military Papers, Military Collection)

Richard M. Hunt Papers (MMP 1, Miscellaneous Military Papers, Military Collection) – The Richard M. Hunt Papers documents the U.S. Marine Corps service of Colonel Richard M. Hunt, from his entrance into the Marine Corps in 1942 during World War II as a Lieutenant, through his retirement from the Marine Corps in 1969. Hunt served during the 1960s in the following non-combat military capacities: as the Assistant U.S. Naval Attaché at the American Embassy in Paris, France, from 1960 to October 1963; as the U.S. Marine Corps Congressional Liaison Officer in the Office of the Legislative Liaison from November 1963 to February 1966; and as the Military Aide to Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey from 1967 to January 1969.

Lawrence E. Allen Sr. Papers (CLDW 23, Cold War Papers, Military Collection) – The Lawrence E. Allen Sr. Papers is composed of photographs, military service records and certificate, postcards, military ID and membership cards, a partial U.S. Navy ship cruise book, and miscellaneous materials, documenting the U.S. Navy service of Lawrence E. Allen of Raleigh, N.C., from 1955 to 1958 on active duty, and to 1961 on reserve duty.

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

Announcement of Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, and Tribute to Exum, the American South’s First Female State Representative, and to her Father

Exum and George Clement at in a field, Buncombe County, ca. 1916.

Exum and George Clement in a field, Buncombe County, ca. 1916.

I am very pleased to announce that the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, are now processed and available for research. These papers are particularly valued because Lillian, known within her family and by most others as Exum, has had a significant legacy as the first female state representative in North Carolina. Notably, she was also the first female legislator in the American South. Following her election in November 1920, Exum has often been quoted as telling a reporter, “I am by nature, very conservative, but I am firm in my convictions. I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.” [News and Observer. Jan. 7, 1921].

Much has already been written about Exum, her life and public service. Naturally, a comprehensive history and documentation of her accomplishments goes far beyond the scope of this piece. Instead, I will narrow my focus to what has recently evoked my curiosity about who and what inspired her success. Since Father’s Day is celebrated this month, I thought it would be revealing to shed some light on Exum, alongside her father, George Washington Clement (ca. June 17, 1852–Dec. 1942). And thankfully, the papers do contain a few items that illustrate a strong father and daughter connection. Additionally, a study of the lives of George and his daughter suggests that both shared similar traits. These include very strong determination and a work ethic, along with convictions, faith, and ideals, such as dedication to family, church, and community–surely among the profound influences in her life.

Exum and George Clement at the intake of the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, ca. 1916

Exum and George Clement at the intake of the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, ca. 1916.

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Women’s History Month: Ella Currie McKay

[This blog post was written by Stephen C. Edgerton, who donated the collection to Private Collections, Special Collections Section, and is volunteering under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist.]

In Recognition of Women’s History Month (March 2017): Focus on Researching Women in History, from the McKay, McPherson, and McNeill Private Papers (PC.2144)

Farmer’s Daughter

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917. From PC.2144, State Archives of North Carolina

Ella Currie McKay was born in 1888, the daughter of a progressive, North Carolina farmer with 75 acres of sandy, arable land in Robeson County. A highly resourceful man, her father managed to send four of his nine children—two girls and two boys—to college. Three of them became medical professionals—two doctors and one registered nurse. Ella was that nurse.

At age twenty-four in 1911, Ella graduated from Philadelphus High School. At Red Springs, a mile away, she attended and graduated from Flora MacDonald College for women, and in time, Whitehead-Stokes Sanatorium Nursing School in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her professional nursing career began in May of 1917 at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Raleigh. Her many letters to her family at this time reveal thoughts about her two brothers, doctors serving in the war, and about whether she should join in the fight.

“Oh, this is hell here now”

Just prior to the end of World War I, in September of 1918, Ella joined the U.S. Army as a Red Cross nurse. Her first posting was at the military hospital at Camp Meade, Maryland, nursing the wounded and afflicted soldiers. Within ten days she contracted Spanish Influenza. Too ill to work, she was kept isolated from her patients and others for weeks. Her eyes remained “glued shut,” she said, and her back ached as if it would break. But her symptoms were more merciful than those suffered by the soldiers she encountered once she again took up their care. She surely was now squarely on the front lines of the flu epidemic of 1918, estimated today to have killed more people worldwide in the short time it raged than all those who died in the four years of the First World War.

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PC2124: Slave Deed of Gift of Sam

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Front side of deed of gift of Sam, age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to his daughter, Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847.

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Collections Archivist, of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Private Collections (PCs) are an important source for researchers seeking not only genealogical information, but also important context for understanding family, social, and economic history. Likewise, PCs are an especially valuable resource for those tracing slave ancestry and a sense of the broader historical context and personal details. In honor of Black History Month, February 2017, this post shines a light on rich aspects of the life of Samuel (Sam) Ritter (ca. 1822-1892). Such focus places Samuel in a position of respect far above the offensive fact that he was born into slavery and given as a man of 25 to a girl of 12, the eldest daughter of the slave master.

Realities conveyed in bare facts, such as the foregoing, can bring pain and offend our humanity and sense of human dignity. Difficult as it is to view papers documenting unsavory facts, we must continue to seek and to make available all that offer clues, especially in the difficult challenge of slave ancestry. Such is true of the donation in 2016 to Private Collections of a single item titled: “Slave Deed of Gift of Sam, Age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847.” PC.2124.

In the course of a recent day’s work, I set out to discover and document the usual background facts expected in the writing of a finding aid. Additionally, I wanted to make meaningful sense of this unusually troubling deed of gift and to provide some basis for investigations by future researchers. The bare facts of this 1847 deed of gift were especially provocative, and I was vexed enough to raise the obvious questions, and a few more. For starters, I wanted to know: Did Sam survive ownership by young Jane? If she married during the next decade or so, did Sam become part of her husband’s estate, and what was his name and locale? Did Sam escape to the North? Or if he survived in North Carolina past the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, what surname did he assume? Where did he live? Did he ever reach position of dignity as a head of a household? Did he have a vocation, and a family of his own? And finally, who were Sam’s parents and siblings?

Though a seasoned archivist and historian, I admit to being somewhat daunted thinking of the span of time and the proverbial brick walls that I might hit in researching Sam from the year 1847 to the year 1870—when black individuals and families were first named on the U.S. Federal Census. There was the realistic possibility of no clear answers to any of my questions. Still, I proceeded to build into my finding aid’s biographical and historical note a basic chronological framework. With many other projects awaiting attention, I strove to find as much factual information as I could find in a reasonable length of time. Yet even the essential clue of finding Jane’s future married name in the North Carolina Marriage Bonds and the Marriage Index was denied. Consequently, I resorted to a wide assortment of Internet searches. The end result was a mix of unproven clues about the Ritter family, scattered about the Internet, and facts derived from the standard sources, mainly census records. I offer the following as an approach that others might consider when seeking to trace and to highlight the life of a particular individual.

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Excerpt from deed of gift identifying a “negro man Slave named Sam aged about twenty five years.”

In this case, it was necessary to begin with the first-named slave owner conveying the “gift” of Sam’s person. Research revealed him to be John Richardson Ritter (ca. 1793–1860), a son of John (ca. 1760–1828) and Elizabeth H. Richardson Ritter (ca. 1760–1842). The younger John was married around 1813 to Mary Kennedy (1802–1865 or before), Moore County. The couple is shown on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Census residing with three sons and five daughters, with birth dates ranging from around 1829 to 1850.

An essential character in my query was the said Jane Ritter, born in 1835, and the oldest daughter of the Ritter couple. As stated, she was 12 years of age when her father deeded to her the “gift” of “ownership” of Sam, age 25, born around 1822. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census slave schedule does not list Jane Ritter as a slave owner, but shows that her father, John R. Ritter, claimed two females, ages 30 and 12, mulatto; and eight males, with three of the four children therein described as mulatto. The two adult males included one listed as 35, and the

other as 30 years of age. The latter man was probably Sam, named in the 1847 deed of gift. It should be noted that John R. Ritter is not listed as a slave owner in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census slave schedules. That was probably the year of his death, and it is uncertain what happened to the ten slaves, ascribed to him in 1850.

Jane Ritter, also known as Dicie Jane (1835–1891), was still living in her parents’ household during the census enumeration of 1860. Family reports, lacking documentation, indicate that Jane Ritter was married in late 1861 to Nelson J. Hunsucker (1833–1875). The 1870 census does verify that Nelson Hunsucker was recorded by the census taker as a farmer, with a full household. Family named include Hunsucker’s wife, Dicie Jane, his mother, four young Hunsucker children, plus a boy of 10, possibly a relative, and one Samuel Ritter, black, age 22, with an approximate birth year of 1848. The Hunsucker household and farm were located in Ritters Township, Moore County. These welcomed pieces of information, made me suspect that the young Samuel Ritter (SRJr) might well be the son of the elder Samuel Ritter (SRSr)

It is more than coincidental that on the 1870 census another Samuel Ritter, black, is listed as a farmer in Ritters Township, and located in fairly close proximity to the Hunsucker farm. If the age this older Samuel Ritter gave to the census taker is correct, his birth year was around 1819. This is within three years and remarkably close to the projected birth year of the slave, Sam (described as age 25 in the said Ritter family deed of gift of 1847). Signs surely point to the high probability that Samuel and Sam were indeed the same, and I will hereafter designate him as SRSr.

There are several other pieces of additional interest in the 1870 census record. First, the household of SRSr includes Elisabeth/Elizabeth, age 28, a mulatto, and six children, ranging in ages from ten years to infancy. Secondly, there is additional information in the census form’s “Personal estate” category, column 9. The enumerator entered 100 (dollars) for SRSr’s personal property (defined generally as including all bonds, stocks, mortgages, notes, livestock, plate, jewels, or furniture). The practice was to leave the column blank if the valuation was less than $100.

This category of “Personal estate” was, in fact, left blank for the neighboring Hunsucker family, and some of the other white families in the area. Additionally, it is assumed that the elder Samuel Ritter had title to the land that he farmed, and was not in the category of sharecropper that described so many men during the 19th and on into the 20th century. Finally, Elisabeth Ritter was entered on the form as being able to read, though not write. Samuel Ritter, on the other hand, like so many of that era, could neither read nor write.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census also suggests a possibly cooperative relationship between the white Hunsucker family and the two black Samuel Ritters (SRSr and SRJr) and their families. By 1880 Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker is now a widow and listed as a farmer/head of household. The older SRSr, now 60 years old, is again registered as a farmer, and his name has the actual designation of “Senior.” Notably, there is only one residence separating his farm from that of the Hunsucker farm. The young Samuel Ritter (SRJr) who previously lived with the Hunsucker family, is now married, and listed as a farmer, with several young children. Significantly, he and his family are residing in a residence adjacent to the senior Samuel Ritter, most certainly his father, SRSr. Furthermore, SRSr lives in the second residence down, and SRJr lives in the third residence down from the Hunsucker homestead.

Following these families gives rises to even more unanswered questions, and surely the

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Excerpt from reverse side of deed of gift, with title and partial court endorsement.

loss of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census compounds the problem. Since SRSr does not appear on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, we can assume that he died sometime between the 1880 and 1900 enumerations. One unproven family record on the Internet indicates that he died in 1892. If true, then SRSr lived well past the average life expectancy for men of that era. We know with fair amount of certainty that Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker died in 1891 because of the existence of her gravestone at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery, close to Ritters Township, in the town of Carthage.

Overall, discovering several positive connections to SRSr and his family has indeed been gratifying. Though I did not answer all questions, the results exceeded what I could reasonably anticipate when I first initiated my inquiries. For other researchers who have a family and/or a historical interest in SRSr and family, further in-depth research can take myriads of other directions. Thanks to the starting point presented through a single 1847 deed of gift, we have a better understanding of SRSr’s life and the legacy that he represents. We can never know the exact and undoubtedly complex nature of the relationships between the white Ritter family/Hunsucker family and the black Ritter family. It is certain, however, that their lives intersected in significant ways. It can probably be safely surmised that the relationship between Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker (d. ca. 1891) and Sam Ritter (d. ca. 1892), was at least cooperative on some levels and peaceful enough so that they could live almost side-by-side on their farms until the end of their days.

See also in honor of Black History Month, February 2017, a blog post written by Elizabeth Crowder, about the McCormick, Green, and Shaw Collection. PC.2130.

Collection Overview:

PC. 2124. Slave Deed of Gift, of Sam, age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to his daughter, Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847. This document was proven and duly registered in the January court session of 1848, by the oath of Benjamin P. Person. 1 item.

 

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.