Tag Archives: Treasures of Carolina

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.

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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.

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Treasures of Carolina Exhibit Closes July 31

Tracing of a baby's hand from a letter written by Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

Tracing of a baby’s hand from a letter written by Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

This weekend is your last chance to see some of the State Archives’ treasures while they are on display at the North Carolina Museum of History. The exhibit Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives will close after July 31. The exhibit has been at the museum since October 24, 2015 and illustrates the history of North Carolina and the role of the State Archives in preserving and providing access to both modern records and historical materials. The exhibit includes items such as:

  • The earliest will known to exist in North Carolina, recorded in 1665 by Mary Fortsen. It is unusual because female property owners were extremely rare in the 1600s.
  • The hand-drawn map used as evidence during the 1867 trial of Tom Dula, who was indicted and hanged for murdering Laura Foster. Dula’s fate is told in the popular ballad “Tom Dooley.”
  • A Civil War letter from Martha A. E. Henley Poteet to her husband, Francis Marion Poteet, who was away at war. She enclosed a cutout of her 4-week-old daughter’s hand with the request “write to Me what to name her.”
  • A 1903 copy of the North Carolina Constitutional Reader. In 1901 rules were enacted to prevent illiterate African Americans from voting, and this book was published to help African Americans read the Constitution in case they were questioned at the polls when trying to vote.
  • Information on GIS and website preservation.
  • Audio recordings of World War I soldiers’ oral histories.
  • North Carolina’s official copy of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and 26th Amendment which allowed U. S. citizens 18 years and older to vote.

To learn more, visit the exhibit page on the North Carolina Museum of History website.

"Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives of North Carolina" exhibit flyer

“Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives of North Carolina” exhibit flyer

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

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Women’s Equality Day Proclamation, 2012

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of July our theme is elections.

I can’t believe we are at the end of July and this will be our last blog post with the theme of elections. Last week, Olivia posted about the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It comes full circle with a proclamation from the Governor. Each year, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day on August 26th because of the passing of 19th amendment. In 2012, Governor Beverly Perdue produced a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day. Please visit NCPedia for more information about the Women’s Suffrage movement in North Carolina.

View North Carolina’s Original Bill of Rights June 15-19 at the N.C. Museum of History

The point of controversy eventually rested on one issue and the argument in North Carolina was vigorous, at times contentious. Conservatives led by James Iredell wanted the document left alone. Their opponents, led by Willie Jones, insisted on added protections for individual liberties.

The document protecting individual liberties that North Carolina demanded before ratifying the U.S. Constitution will be displayed Wednesday, June 15, through Sunday, June 19, in the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” at the N.C. Museum of History. Admission is free.

For a while there was heated debate about the Bill of Rights, each side rounding up more allies. The internal stalemate escalated, preventing North Carolina from taking action, but by November 1789, the state finally ratified the U.S. Constitution with the longed-for Bill of Rights as its first 10 amendments.

George Washington had a copy of the Bill of Rights created for each state. North Carolina’s copy was held in the State Capitol building when, in 1865, it was stolen by a Union soldier. Recovered in an FBI sting operation almost 150 years later, North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights resides in one of two vaults in the State Archives.

Rarely displayed because of its fragile condition, museum visitors will be able to view this document for one week in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives exhibit at the Museum of History in Raleigh.

“The Bill of Rights belongs to the people of North Carolina,” stated Sarah Koonts, state archivist. “We are the custodians of a document that guarantees freedom and liberties to United States citizens and we are happy to have the opportunity to exhibit this treasure to the public.”

Visitors to the Treasures of Carolina exhibit will discover the important role of the State Archives of North Carolina — the state’s memory bank. From parchment documents to digital files, the State Archives collects, preserves and makes accessible over 100 million treasures chronicling the Tar Heel State, past and present.

The variety of public records and private manuscript collections in the exhibit focuses on three themes: providing evidence of civil and property rights, government transparency, and the preservation of North Carolina’s history and culture.

 A sampling of the exhibit treasures includes:

  •  The earliest will known to exist in North Carolina, recorded in 1665 by Mary Fortsen. It is unusual because female property owners were extremely rare in the 1600s.
  • An 1839 petition for United States citizenship, signed by Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in Siam (now Thailand). They settled in Wilkes County and married sisters. Altogether, the families had 21 children.
  • The hand-drawn map used as evidence during the 1867 trial of Tom Dula, who was indicted and hanged for murdering Laura Foster. Dula’s fate is told in the popular ballad “Tom Dooley.”
  • A Civil War letter from Martha A. E. Henley Poteet to her husband, Francis Marion Poteet, who was away at war. She enclosed a cutout of her 4-week-old daughter’s hand with the request “write to Me what to name her.” The family lived in McDowell County.
  • A 1903 copy of the North Carolina Constitutional Reader. In 1901 rules were enacted to prevent illiterate African Americans from voting, and this book was published to help African Americans read the Constitution in case they were questioned at the polls when trying to vote.
  • Audio recordings of World War I soldiers’ oral histories.

 Treasures of Carolina will run through July 31, 2016. The Bill of Rights will be displayed June 15 through June 19.

 

Rare Opportunity to View North Carolina’s “Birth Certificate”: Carolina Charter of 1663

Did you know that the land of the Carolinas once extended ocean to ocean, covering parts of what is now Florida, Mexico, Texas, and California?  King Charles II granted this land in 1663 to several of his supporters—the “Lords Proprietors”—in return for their service to the Crown during the English Restoration.  The gift of land was designated in the Carolina Charter of 1663.

Considered the “birth certificate” of the Carolinas, the Carolina Charter will be on exhibit from Monday, February 8 through Sunday, February 14, at the N.C. Museum of History in downtown Raleigh.  Written on vellum (calf- or sheepskin), this remarkable document bears a striking pen-and-ink portrait of King Charles II of England on the first page. The Carolina 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.”

Notes Sarah Koonts, State Archivist, “The Charter is a unique and beautiful document. Because of its fragility, we can rarely display it, but for a brief time the public will have the opportunity to view one of North Carolina’s most important founding documents.”

The Carolina Charter will be on view in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives at the Museum of History, 109 East Jones St., Raleigh. Visit and see rare documents from the State Archives’ vault and learn about the characters and stories behind them through the exhibit. Treasures of Carolina will run through June 19 and admission is free. For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org.

Treasures of Carolina on TV and in Print

Last Saturday the exhibit “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” opened at the North Carolina Museum of History. What’s being said about the exhibit?

The State Archives of North Carolina will also be among the institutions featured on “Collecting Carolina” on Friday, October 30, 9PM on UNC-TV EX. To see a list and summary of the “Collecting Carolina” episodes, or to view previous episodes, visit http://www.unctv.org/content/ncweekend/collecting/show.

Staff from the North Carolina Museum of History moving in items for the "Treasures of Carolina" exhibit, October 2015

Staff from the North Carolina Museum of History moving in items for the “Treasures of Carolina” exhibit, October 2015.

Are you interested in seeing how a museum exhibit is put in place? Behind-the-scenes photos of “Treasures of Carolina” being moved into the History Museum in early October are available on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Staff from the State Archives of North Carolina and the North Carolina Museum of History moving in items for the "Treasures of Carolina" exhibit

Staff from the State Archives of North Carolina and the North Carolina Museum of History moving in items for the “Treasures of Carolina” exhibit.

Treasures of Carolina: Martha Henley Poteet Letter

[This blog post was written by Andrea Gabriel, Outreach and Development Coordinator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

First page of a letter from Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864

First page of a letter from Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

Among the items in the Private Collections are Civil War letters, journals, diaries and remembrances. A series of letters between Martha Henley Poteet and her husband, Francis Marion Poteet document the privations of war. Married in McDowell County in 1847, Poteet was working as a miller at the time of his conscription. Thirteen children were born to this union.

Many of the letters that go back and forth between husband and wife describe their separate lives—“I have been in the entrenchments about two month I haint been Releaved in 12 days,” writes Francis from Petersburg. In another letter he requests food. “I have Rote for you to send me Sumthing more to eat of you could I wanted you to send me sum beens &cabetch and one possum & apeace of pork . . . I want you to keep your lamp trimed and burning and tell Thomas and Elizabeth to keep ther lamps trimed and burning you can tell them that I still pray For them . . . “

In a letter dated June 16, 1864 Martha writes to Francis “. . . the sweet potatoes is very pretty and the irish potatoes is the pretyest I ever seen I hav a mess today I wish you was hear to eat some with me.” With this letter, Martha includes a cut-out tracing of her four-week-old daughter’s hand, “My baby will be 4 weeks old Saturday Night she was born the 21 of May write to Me what to name her.”

For more materials from the Poteet-Dickson Letters, see the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Tracing of a baby's hand from a letter written by Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

Tracing of a baby’s hand from a letter written by Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

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A selection of the state’s historic documents will be exhibited in Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives of North Carolina at the Museum of History, October 24, 2015–June 19, 2016. Documents from the Archives vault, unique letters, historic photographs, public records, and other media will illuminate the myriad of ways in which the holdings of the State Archives document the workings of our government, provide evidence of civil liberties, and preserve the history and culture of North Carolina. This exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of the Archives and runs through June 19, 2016. Additional funding was provided by the N.C. Bar Association Foundation, the Raleigh Times, and Wells Fargo.

To learn more about the exhibit, please see: https://ncarchives.wordpress.com/tag/treasures-of-carolina/ and http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/See-Our-Exhibits/Current-Exhibits/Treasures.

For a full list of documents that will be on display only a limited time, see: https://ncarchives.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/plan-to-visit-treasures-of-carolina/

See the State Archives Facebook calendar or Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources events calendar for more upcoming events.