Tag Archives: research

Hispanic Heritage Month 2017

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we will be highlighting a few records from the State Archives regarding Hispanic populations, a growing proportion of North Carolina’s residents. The United States first began celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, a development which coincided with a marked increase in the Latino population in North Carolina. To be sure, there were residents of Hispanic heritage in the state long before then, dating back to interactions with Spanish colonies and the Spanish government in the eighteenth century, and influxes of immigrants in subsequent centuries. The population has grown more rapidly since the 1980s, initially fueled by migrants coming for seasonal farm work. Many came from Mexico and Central America, but the majority moved to North Carolina from other states in the US.[1] Three decades later, they are the fastest growing minority group in North Carolina, and more Latinos have been born in the state than immigrated. In 2010, the Hispanic population was approximately 800,000 or 8.4% of the state’s population.[2]

Page from Alamance County Alien Registration Records, 1940

“Alamance County: Alien, Naturalization and Registration Records: Alien Registration Record,” State Archives of North Carolina. The left page is the record of Leopold Riloba y Ruiloba from Havana, Cuba, filed August 6, 1940.

The State Archives and the State Library of North Carolina have several collections which document the experiences of Hispanic residents. The Spanish Records are copies of eighteenth century colonial records from the Papeles de Cuba at the Archivo General de Indias, the Archivo General de Simanacas, and the Archivo Historico Nacional and Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid that pertain to the southeastern colonies and North Carolina, documenting the state’s early history from the perspective of the Spanish colonial government. The Alien Registration and Naturalization Records contain county records relating to the naturalization of foreign-born citizens, including Hispanic immigrants, and often include pictures, country of origin, family names, and profession. They provide a snapshot into the lives of many people who chose to make North Carolina their home in the first half of the twentieth century, such as Leopoldo Riloba y Ruiloba, a cotton mill worker who came from Havana, Cuba to Alamance County in 1940 with his four children.

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For more recent information, modern governors’ records include proclamations and executive orders. In 1998, Governor Jim Hunt issued Executive Order 136 to create the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. He also started the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs to coordinate state programs to serve the Latino community, including migrant health, cultural diversity, community forums, and domestic violence training. Records from Governors Easley and Purdue include proclamations to observe Hispanic Heritage Month and documentation of the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs. In 2013, under Governor Pat McCrory, the office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was absorbed into the Community and Constituent Affairs Office, which serves as the point of contact for all constituents.

Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation by Gov. Bev Perdue, 2012

Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation by Governor Bev Perdue, 2012.

Other publications show state agencies’ desires to tailor their services to North Carolina’s changing constituency. For example, in 2001 the Department of Labor created a volunteer Hispanic Task Force to “identify the unique safety and health hazards that the state’s Hispanic population faces in the workplace and to determine what measures DOL could undertake to reduce fatalities and injuries among Hispanic workers.”[3] In 2006, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety conducted a study to improve services to Hispanic residents, such as providing language assistance to individuals with limited fluency in English.[4]

This is only a small sample of North Carolina records that point to the rich and interwoven stories of our state’s Hispanic heritage. You can explore our full digital collections here, or search finding aids and the online catalog to begin exploring non-digitized records. If you need assistance, our reference staff are happy to help! They can be reached by emailing them at archives@ncdcr.gov.

What have you found out about Hispanic heritage in the state archives?


[1] Alan K. Lamm, “Latinos,” NCPedia, 2006, accessed October 5, 2017, https://www.ncpedia.org/latinos.

[2] Gabriela Zabala and Steven Mann, “Demographic Trends of Hispanics/Latinos in North Carolina,” 2012, accessed October 5, 2017, http://worldview.unc.edu/files/2012/04/4-0-1.pdf.

[3] “2001 Annual Report of the N.C. Department of Labor” (North Carolina Department of Labor, 2001), 10, http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p249901coll22/id/21346/rec/6.

[4] Keith Dowd and Erin Collins, “New North Carolinians: Doing Justice for All in the Criminal Justice System: Providing Services to a Rising Hispanic and Latino Population in North Carolina” (North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission and Criminal Justice Analysis Center, 2006), 22, http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p249901coll22/id/9522/rec/1.


Grand Opening: State Archives of North Carolina Store

[This blog post was written by Vann Evans, Correspondence Archivist in the Collection Services Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [N_53_15_6340]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [Call number: N_53_15_6340] From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.

To further its mission of providing access to North Carolina’s public records, the State Archives offers researchers the ability to request records and pay for reproductions from the comfort of their home. In 2012, the State Archives first began accepting electronic payments. Since that time, over seven thousand researchers stretching from Murphy to Manteo, across all fifty states, and from many foreign countries have utilized this service. On April 29, the State Archives of North Carolina opened its new online store.

Some highlights of the new store include images of record types and descriptions of records advertised, links to helpful collection guides, box lists, and digital collections. Other changes include enhanced security protections for credit card data and the addition of new record categories, like Coroners’ Inquests, Bastardy Bonds, Guardian Records, and Revolutionary War era materials.

North Carolina residents never incur fees when requesting records. If a record is found, an invoice will be generated in response to your inquiry. The invoice includes a citation for the material requested and a quote for copying costs. If no record is found the invoice will state that instead.

Since 1978, out-of-state residents have been required to submit a search and handling fee (presently $20), which offsets the cost to North Carolina taxpayers for this service.

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.

On Land Grant Institutions and Normal Schools: a Companion Blog to “For all useful learning”

[This blog post was written by Josh Hager of the Correspondence Unit, part of the Collection Services Section at the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Through the remainder of 2014, the Correspondence Unit of the State Archives is creating small exhibits in the Search Room to explore the histories of the schools in the University of North Carolina System. The first installation of the exhibit, entitled “For All Useful Learning: The Records of the UNC System Schools,” included records documenting the history of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the first state-sponsored public university in the nation. From September 16 to September 27, the exhibit will feature documents pertaining to North Carolina State University, Fayetteville State University, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. NC State started life as a land grant university while both Fayetteville State and UNC Pembroke started as normal schools. This blog post is a companion piece to this second installation of the UNC Schools exhibit. It will briefly explain what both “land grant university” and “normal school” meant and how those definitions influenced the schools’ histories.

Gov. Kerr Scott in North Carolina State University's yearbook, the 1917 edition of the Agromeck.

Gov. Kerr Scott in the 1917 edition of North Carolina State University yearbook, Agromeck.

NC State began as a land grant institution, defined by the (federal) Morrill Act of 1857 as a university teaching agriculture, military science, and mechanical arts. Although North Carolina received land from the Morrill Act shortly after the bill’s passage, the state did not attempt to open a Morrill-style school until the 1870s. Initially, the state attempted to alter UNC Chapel Hill’s curriculum to conform to the educational goals of the Morrill Act, but public outcry prevented changing Chapel Hill’s traditional liberal arts focus. Instead, the state opened two land-grant institutions in Raleigh: the North Carolina College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts in 1887 (which became NC State) and the North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race in 1891 (which became North Carolina Agricultural and Technological University State University, later moving to Greensboro). While NC State’s curriculum has grown significantly since its founding in 1887, it is still renown nationally for its academic programs in engineering, agricultural science, and veterinary medicine—all subjects that the Morrill Act recommended over one hundred years ago.

While “land grant institution” has a specific meaning thanks to the Morrill Act, the term “normal school” has a more general meaning: a school dedicated to training new teachers. Derived from the French phrase école normale and a Parisian school so named in the 1830s, normal schools first became widespread in the United States in the second-half of the 19th century. It is not coincidental that the increase in normal schools correlated with an increase in the degree to which state and local governments became more involved in offering quality public education to growing numbers of students.

University of North Carolina at Pembroke, The Museum of the Native American Resource Center

Photo of the Museum of the Native American Resource Center at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. This photograph is part of the North Carolina ECHO Project available through the NC Digital Collections.

In North Carolina specifically, the General Assembly passed two landmark resolutions that led to the establishment of Fayetteville State and UNC Pembroke. First, the General Assembly passed a resolution in 1877 calling for a normal school for the training of African-American teachers. For the location of the new normal school, state officials selected the Howard School in Fayetteville, which opened in 1869 as a school providing primary education to Fayetteville’s African-American population. Thus, in 1877, the Howard School became the State Colored Normal School, the first state-sponsored institution for educating African-American teachers both in North Carolina and anywhere in the South. The school was renamed as the Fayetteville State Teachers College in 1939, and became Fayetteville State University in 1969. Visitors to the exhibit case can see evidence of Fayetteville State’s commitment to education by having the chance to examine a list of graduates in the 1920s and their placement at schools throughout the Sandhills and further afield.

The second landmark resolution, which is on display in the exhibit case, came to the floor of the North Carolina House in 1887. Robeson County Representative Hamilton McMillan, with the support of a petition of Lumbee Indians from the area, introduced a resolution to found a normal school for the training of American Indian teachers. Croatan Normal School opened in 1887 as a result of this piece of legislation. Croatan Normal School was the first state-sponsored normal school for American Indians in North Carolina. The school underwent several name changes over the years, including Pembroke State College, and became the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 1996.

Other normal schools followed, including the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial School (1891, later renamed as the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), the Normal and Industrial School in Elizabeth City (1891, later renamed as Elizabeth City State University), and East Carolina Teachers Training School (1907, later renamed East Carolina University). Later exhibit cases will showcase these institutions, but Fayetteville State and UNC Pembroke have a special significance in North Carolina history as the first two normal schools and the first two education schools for minorities.

Outer Banks History Center Aids in Publication

[This blog post comes from the Outer Banks History Center. It was written by researcher Alvah H. Ward, Jr.]

Cover of When Ice Came To The Outer Banks

Cover of When Ice Came To The Outer Banks

When Ice Came To The Outer Banks is a true story, written by local authors, that tells the story of how ice and its impact shaped the development of North Carolina’s coastal region.

Ice, first cut and harvested from local inland waters, augmented with ice cut from the lakes of New England and then from manufacturing plants, made possible the development of our commercial and sportfishing industries and the transition to the world-class vacation industry we have today.

The Outer Banks History Center and its excellent staff made this document possible. From the research material made available to us and the assistance rendered by the Center staff, the authors were able to trace the highlights of local history that contributed to the story of how ice was such a critical factor in the development of our present day economy.

It is the intention of the authors to provide the History Center with the complete file of research material, photos and documents that were used in the preparation of the finished works.


Researcher Tells of Publishing Work Found at Outer Banks History Center

[This blog post comes from the Outer Banks History Center. It was written by researcher Ron Kemp.]

Captain Henry Clark Bridgers, Jr. retired from the U.S. Navy due to a heart attack following an illustrious career and returned to Tarboro, N.C., his home town. He wrote about banking, railroads (his father was a railroad man) and steamboats. His manuscript, Steamboats on the Tar, was completed but not published at the time of his death in 1981. At Bridgers’ request, his family gave the manuscript and research materials to author and historian David Stick who intended to publish the work. Stick donated the collection to the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo, N.C. for safekeeping. Author and historian Lindley Butler took on the project for a time but became diverted by other projects.

I was working as a researcher and unit production manager for a UNC-TV documentary, Birth of a Colony, the first episode of a proposed series on the history of North Carolina. While in the History Center, I came across six boxes of materials, Henry Clark Bridgers’ work. I started reviewing it and was fascinated with the depth and thoroughness of his work and distressed that it was never published. When my duties on Birth of a Colony ended, I began to look into getting the story published. I found his daughters, Meade and Penny, and obtained their support.

Steamboats on the Tar

Cover of Steamboats on the Tar .

With the assistance of the staff at the OBHC, I was able to obtain a copy of Captain Bridgers’ finished manuscript and photocopies of the photographs, newspaper microfilms and flyers that he had collected over a number of years. The Center’s assistance was invaluable in returning the materials to press-ready condition. Having a resource like the OBHC truly makes success stories like this possible—had these materials not been preserved, catalogued and made available for researchers, this book would have never been published.

Since there was only a typescript photocopy and hard copies of photos he had obtained, I needed to get a digital file created and obtain clearances on the selected photographs. There was far more material than I felt could be placed in a published book, so I limited the photos to steamboats actually mentioned in the manuscript.

I opted for self-publishing with Amazon’s CreateSpace, convinced a friend, painter Robert Pittman, whose grandfather captained a steamboat, to create an original cover and, with the help of another friend, designer Mike Quinlan, had the elements to make it all happen. Once the permissions came back from the Steamboat Historical Society of America, the Mariner’s Museum and North Carolina Archives and History, I placed the selected photographs and sent the work off for publication in December of 2013.

Any funds realized from the sale of Steamboats on the Tar will benefit the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center.

Genealogy of a House: Researching the History of Your House

[This announcement is cross-posted from the Government and Heritage Library Blog.]

Genealogy of a House: Researching the History of Your House*

February 22, 2014, 10-11a.m.

Program to  be held at the Department of Cultural Resources Building, 109 E. Jones Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

 Staff from the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office will discuss different methods of research to uncover the genealogy of your house.

  • Claudia Brown, Survey & National Register Branch Supervisor and Architectural Survey Coordinator will discuss resources for research.
  • Michael Southern, GIS coordinator and senior architectural historian will give a live demonstration of HPOWEB, web-based historic properties GIS mapping tool.
  • Mitch Wilds, Restoration Services Branch supervisor will talk about analyzing a property’s building elements in order to date it.

To register or for more information please call (919)807-7450 or email slnc.reference@ncdcr.gov.

 *This program is part of the Government and Heritage Library and State Archives of North Carolina’s Saturday genealogy workshop series.