Tag Archives: treasures

State Capitol to Host Presidential Signature from the State Archives of NC

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on http://www.ncdcr.gov.]

Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, January 22, 1816, to Nathaniel Macon

Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, January 22, 1816, to Nathaniel Macon [VC.12]. See this item in the NC Digital Collections: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/172

RALEIGH, N.C. – Visitors to the State Capitol this summer will have a chance to view a signature of Thomas Jefferson! From Thursday, June 22nd through Tuesday, July 11th, the Capitol will host a document that showcases the signature of Jefferson, third president of the United States, Founding Father, and author of the Declaration of Independence.

The document is a letter that Jefferson wrote to Nathanial Macon, a U. S. Senator from North Carolina, in 1816. The two were discussing the creation of a statue to honor George Washington for display in the first NC State House to stand on Capitol Square. Jefferson, writing in response to Macon’s request for sculptor suggestions, states that only Italian sculptor Antonio Canova should create such a statue. North Carolina commissioned the statue from Canova per Jefferson’s recommendation. The original statue was installed in the first State House in 1821. Unfortunately, it was destroyed when the State House burned down in 1831, but a copy now stands in the Capitol’s rotunda. You can view the statue’s copy, as well as pieces of the original Canova statue on display as part of the Capitol’s new exhibit “George Washington is Here: Images of the Founding Father in the North Carolina State Capitol.” The Jefferson document, on loan from the State Archives of NC, is part of the Archives’ vault collection and not often available for public viewing. Join the Capitol for a look at this treasure of the State Archives of NC!

Please call (919) 733-4994 for more information.

The State Capitol’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history, architecture and function of the 1840 building and Union Square. It is within the Division of State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and located at One Edenton Street, Raleigh. For additional information please call, or visit www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol.

The State Archives of North Carolina’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make available for public use historical and evidential materials relating to North Carolina. Its holdings consist of official records of state, county and local governmental units, copies of federal and foreign government materials, and private collections. For additional information please call, or visit http://archives.ncdcr.gov/.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susi Hamilton, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

 

See North Carolina’s Original Copy of the Bill of Rights

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on www.ncdcr.gov.]

Award-Winning Constitutional Scholar Highlights Bill of Rights, How North Carolina Saved the Constitution

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

See North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Image credit: State Archives of North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In honor of the Bill of Rights’ 225th anniversary on Dec. 15, you will have a rare opportunity to see North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Admission is free. To protect the fragile document from light, it is on view for a very limited time.

In addition, the museum will offer free programs about the Bill of Rights on Dec. 14. Linda R. Monk, a nationally award-winning author, journalist and constitutional scholar, will present The Bill of Rights: How North Carolina Saved the Constitution. (Did you know North Carolina was the only state to refuse to ratify the U.S. Constitution until a bill of rights was added?) Monk’s work has been featured on PBS, Voice of America, MSNBC, C-SPAN and NPR, and she writes commentary for newspapers nationwide.

After Monk’s program, State Archivist Sarah Koonts will briefly highlight the saga of North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, from its theft by a Union soldier during the Civil War to its recovery by the FBI in 2003.

 

History à la Carte: The Bill of Rights: How North Carolina Saved the Constitution

Wednesday, Dec. 14, noon-1 p.m.

Register at NCMOH-programs.com and purchase a boxed lunch — or just bring your own. Beverages provided. For information, call 919-807-7982.

Linda R. Monk, J.D., Constitutional Scholar and Author

North Carolina’s role in ratifying the U.S. Constitution helped result in James Madison sponsoring the first 10 amendments in Congress. Ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, that Bill of Rights upholds the key freedoms Americans cherish to this day.

Monk, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has twice won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for public education about the law. She served as series advisor for the PBS documentary “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal.”

Monk uses an accessible, narrative style to explore truths about our constitutional democracy. She conveys this depth of knowledge in a manner that is relevant and understandable to average citizens. Monk also presents seminars and lectures for audiences that include the Pentagon, National Archives, Fulbright Scholars and the Smithsonian Institution.

 

North Carolina’s Original Copy of the Bill of Rights

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 1 p.m.

Sarah Koonts, Director, Division of Archives and Records

North Carolina’s state archivist will briefly trace the intriguing history of North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights. The journey started when a Union soldier stole it from the State Capitol in 1865 and ended in 2003, when it was recovered in an undercover FBI sting operation. After legal battles in state and federal courts, North Carolina won possession of the document in 2005 and ownership in 2008.

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights is one of 14 original copies of the 12 proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution prepared by three federal clerks in 1789. A copy was drafted for the legislatures of the existing 13 states to debate; the other copy was for the federal government. After the ratification of the first 10 amendments in 1791, North Carolina retained custody of its copy of the document.

For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or YouTube.

About the N.C. Museum of History

The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum collects and preserves artifacts of North Carolina history and educates the public on the history of the state and the nation through exhibits and educational programs. Each year more than 300,000 people visit the museum to see some of the 150,000 artifacts in the museum collection. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

 

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

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 August our theme is school.

SR_Board_of_Ed_Swamp_Lands_4_3_001

Call number: State Board of Education Records. Swamp Lands Records. Field Notebooks, Vols. 1-17. Box 4. Transit Book 101, 1885.

August in North Carolina is always hot and humid, and no matter where you are in the state, it often feels like you’re living in a swamp. There are, of course, large tracts of swamplands in the Coastal Plain of N.C., and much of that land has been preserved and protected by state and national agencies. However, in the nineteenth century, the state of North Carolina gave power to the Literary Fund, and later, the State Board of Education, to survey and sell state-owned swamplands “capable of being reclaimed” to raise funds for public education. This week’s treasure is the surveyors’ Transit Book of part of the Angola Bay area in North Carolina, compiled by W. G. Lewis, Chief Engineer, Board of Education for Swamp Lands, and Henry A. Brown, Superintendent Engineer, in 1885.

“This Road was run from Deep Bottom Bridge over North East River, in Duplin County, skirting the Eastern Boundary of Angola Bay. Via: Maple Hill – & between Angola Bay & Holly Shelter Swamp – & on via: Bannermans Bridge over North East River to Centre of the track of the Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road just 10.00 chains to the North of the warehouse at Burgaw – County Seat of Pender County.”

The surveyors’ diagrams include not only the elevations and distances of road segments, but also bridges, nearby rivers and creeks, intersecting roads, buildings, property owners, and the character of the land and vegetation along the road.

This notebook and other material from the State Board of Education Swamp Lands Records can be viewed online as part of the STEM Digital Collection at NCDC. If your summer plans bring you to Raleigh before school starts again, we also encourage you to visit us at the State Archives to view the records in person. Or, schedule a visit to the Archives with your school group to get some hands-on experience with historical primary source documents.

For additional information on the history of the State Board of Education and swamplands in North Carolina, check out these NCpedia articles on Swamps, Pocosins, the North Carolina State Board of Education, and the North Carolina Literary Fund.

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

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.

"Know Your Voting Rights." North Carolina Voter Education Project Records. State Archives of North Carolina

“Know Your Voting Rights.” North Carolina Voter Education Project Records. State Archives of North Carolina

Unless you have been hiding in the archives stacks for the past twelve months, you might be aware that 2016 is a presidential election year, and during the month of July, both the Democrat and Republican parties will hold national conventions to nominate their candidates for president. In keeping with the spirit of these historic events, our featured treasure this week is the information booklet “Know Your Voting Rights,” that was published by the North Carolina Voter Education Project (N.C. VEP) in the late 1960s.

N.C. VEP was incorporated in April 1967 as a non-profit, non-partisan umbrella group designed to consolidate and coordinate the efforts of existing voter registration and education organizations in North Carolina. “Know Your Voting Rights” was one of many publications written and distributed by N.C. VEP to inform the “poor and disadvantaged” about the political process and their rights as citizens of North Carolina. Here is the introduction from page one of the booklet:

 “You must do more than just register and vote. You should find out who is the best person running for each office. You should also learn how to use your voting power correctly and what rights you have as a voter.

“This book tells you some important things about how to use your voting power correctly. This book also tells you about your voting rights. It shows you want you can do and what you cannot do on election day.”

"Know Your Voting Rights." North Carolina Voter Education Project Records. State Archives of North Carolina

“Know Your Voting Rights.” North Carolina Voter Education Project Records. State Archives of North Carolina

This booklet and other material from the North Carolina Voter Education Project can be viewed online as part of the Civil Rights digital collection at NCDC. If your summer plans bring you to Raleigh, we also encourage you to visit us at the State Archives to view the N.C. VEP records in person.

For additional information on the history of voting in North Carolina, check out these NCpedia articles on Election Law, Disfranchisement, the Grandfather Clause, Women’s Suffrage, the N.C. Democratic Party, and the N.C. Republican Party.

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.

 

To Preserve the Blessings of Liberty: State Constitutions of North Carolina

[This blog post comes from Sarah Koonts, Director of Archives and Records for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

“A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty”

N.C. Constitution art. 1, sec. 35

Once separated from the rule of England, North Carolina—like other former colonies—found itself with no governmental structure. Before the end of 1776, the state had a constitution very different from today’s document. For example, the General Assembly—and not citizens—selected the governor for a one-year term. Only free men of at least twenty-one years of age could vote.  Only landowners could hold political office. The social structure of eighteenth-century America informed those men who drafted the constitution and North Carolina’s Declaration of Rights.

Portion of the Constitution of the United States as Approved by North Carolina, 1789.

Portion of the Constitution of the United States as Approved by North Carolina, 1789.

North Carolina continued to amend the constitution and eventually adopted entirely new constitutions in 1868 and 1971. The rights and protections of some of the state’s citizens were broadened while other rights remained restricted or hampered.  Over the years the structure of state government changed, increasing the power of the governor, providing for direct elections for many executive offices, reorganizing government departments and agencies, and eliminating restrictions to rights.

Part of the State Constitution of 1868.

Part of the State Constitution of 1868.

Throughout 2016 the State Archives is partnering with museums and historic sites to display historic constitutional materials around the state.  Called “To Preserve the Blessings of Liberty:  State Constitutions of North Carolina,” exhibit locations and times may be found on the State Archives’ Facebook page. The public is invited to view these documents while they are on display. The inaugural exhibit will take place at the opening of the 2016 General Assembly session.  It will feature North Carolina’s early constitutions, the original Declaration of Rights, and amendments to the state and U.S. Constitution that affected citizen voting rights.  The exhibit will be located on the main floor of the General Assembly building (16 West Jones Street in Raleigh) from 2 p.m. on April 25 through April 26 at 3 p.m.  All of the State Archives’ constitution materials housed in the vault collection are available for viewing any time in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

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.