Tag Archives: Special Collections

The Rumley Family Papers: A New Collection Featuring Resources for Researchers Seeking Enslaved Ancestors

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist with Private Collections of the Special Collections Branch. This position is overseen by Fran Tracy-Walls and is supported by funds bequeathed to the North Carolina Genealogical Society by the estate of the late Frances Holloway Wynne.]

Private manuscript collections, part of the State Archives’ Special Collections Section, can provide useful source material for researchers seeking information about enslaved ancestors. In many cases, these collections organize records concerning slaves and freedmen into dedicated series. The accompanying finding aids often identify those slaves who can be tentatively traced in federal census records dating from 1870 and later. Such is the case with the Rumley Family Papers (PC.1969). This collection contains correspondence, bills of sale, promissory notes, mortgages, receipts, and a warrant concerning enslaved and free African Americans.

Among these documents is an 1837 bill of sale for William, an approximately fifty-year-old slave whom Gibbons Bell (1807–1875) sold to his brother-in-law William Jones (1807–1850) in Carteret County, N.C. In attempting to find more information about the slave named William, I worked from three assumptions: that he was born around 1787 and lived at least until 1860, that he called himself either William Bell or William Jones after emancipation and the Civil War, and that he settled in Carteret County or an adjacent county once he was free. William might well have died earlier, used an entirely different name, and/or moved elsewhere. However, I needed a starting point for my search.

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Treasures of Carolina: Pictogram Letter from Black Mountain College


Letter, 1942. Black Mountain College Project Papers, Western Regional Archives

 The first Wednesday of each month features 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.

 Black Mountain College operated from 1933 to 1957 in Black Mountain, N.C. and attracted leading artists, both in in this country and abroad, to their faculty including painter Robert Rauschenberg, composer John Cage, choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham, sculptor Ruth Asawa, architect Buckminster Fuller, and artists Joseph and Anni Albers.

This first page excerpt is part of a four-page letter written by Lorna Blaine (later Halper), an artist who attended the college.  She wrote to her parents around 1942 using pictograms. Part of the excerpt reads, “Dear Mother and Dad, I really do not know how to thank you enough for the wonderful trip to Boca Grande. It even started off well on the train, that snappy Silver Meteor. Then all the tennis and swimming and sunbathing and loafing and food etc. Gosh but everything was so marvelous!”


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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25th Anniversary of the Persian Gulf War

[This blog post comes from Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Oil fields and refineries still burning in Kuwait, Frederick E. Stoehr Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

Frederick E. Stoehr of Carolina Shores, North Carolina, worked in Kuwait in 1992 as an engineer with a task force from Foster Wheeler, an international engineering and construction company, to rebuild three heavily damaged oil refineries in the kingdom after they had been set on fire during the Persian Gulf War by Iraqi military forces. Stoehr took photographs, such as this one, of the oil fields and refineries still burning in Kuwait. Frederick E. Stoehr Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

January 16-17, 2016, marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, part of what we now call the Persian Gulf War. The Persian Gulf War began on August 2, 1990, when the nation of Iraq invaded the kingdom of Kuwait. Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein initiated the invasion and occupation of Kuwait with the hopes of acquiring the nation’s large oil reserves, canceling a large debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and expanding Iraqi power in the region. On August 3, 1990, the United Nations Security Council issued a call for the invading Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. After Iraq annexed Kuwait as part of its country on August 8, 1990, Iraq’s threat to the world’s largest oil producer—Saudi Arabia—led ultimately to the United Nations authorizing on November 29, 1990, use of force by “all means necessary” after January 15, 1991, to expel Iraq from Kuwait. The military buildup for a potential armed conflict by a coalition of 700,000 troops from 39 countries became known as Operation Desert Shield (though there are variations in the total number of troops involved). About 540,000 of these troops were from the United States, and it is reported around 75,000 service members from North Carolina military installations served during the war period. Iraq grew its occupying army in Kuwait to about 300,000 troops.

After the January 15, 1991, deadline for Iraqi troop withdrawals from Kuwait passed without any compliance, United States President George H. W. Bush announced on January 16, 1991, the start of Operation Desert Storm, intended to expel occupying Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Kuwait was liberated on February 27, 1991. When Iraqi troops withdrew from Kuwait at the end of the war, they set fire in Kuwait to more than 600 oil wells and pools of spilled oil through explosive charges and other means. The sky throughout the country was filled with thick black smoke that blocked out visibility all around as coalition troops moved in. The war ended officially on February 28, 1991, when President Bush declared a cease-fire. Iraq accepted the terms of the United Nations cease-fire agreement on April 6, 1991. There were 383 U.S. fatalities in the Persian Gulf War, of which there were 17 who were from North Carolina.

Engineers and construction workers attempting to repair refineries in Kuwait amidst burning oil fields and refineries in 1992

Another image of engineers and construction workers attempting to repair refineries in Kuwait amidst burning oil fields and refineries in 1992. Frederick E. Stoehr Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina would like to honor those North Carolinian military service personnel who served in the Persian Gulf War and those 17 North Carolinians who gave their lives in the conflict. We work to preserve the memory and service history of the state’s recent veterans through conducting oral history interviews with Persian Gulf veterans and collecting records from the war period. In order to commemorate our veterans’ service, we use original materials to demonstrate the different ways in which military service and conflict has impacted the service member, North Carolina, the United States, and the world. In order to help us have enough materials to develop educational materials and support historical research, we ask that if you are a Persian Gulf War-era veteran and have any original Persian Gulf War photographs, documents, maps, training manuals, or other archival materials, or would like to conduct an oral history interview about your service in the war, please contact the Military Collection at 919-807-7314, email at matthew.peek@ncdcr.gov, or visit our webpage at http://archives.ncdcr.gov/Public/Collections/Non-Government/Military-Collections to learn more about the Military Collection. We thank you again for your service.

Student Records from Brookstone College’s Charlotte and Greensboro Campuses

[This blog post was written by Gwen Thomas Mays, Organization Records Archivist.]

The majority of the student records from Brookstone College’s Charlotte and Greensboro campuses are now in the custody of the State Archives. Former students may request copies of their transcripts – please refer to the instructions on the Archives website: http://archives.ncdcr.gov/Public/Services/Academic-Transcripts-Of-Defunct-Colleges.