Tag Archives: women

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition


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.

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.

 The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified by the United States government on August 26, 1920. In 1971, North Carolina was one of the last states to ratify the bill.


Cover letter for U.S. Constitution 19th Amendment, from the Vault Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

The women’s suffrage movement in North Carolina began in 1894 with the formation of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association. The Association helped introduce a state amendment giving women the right to vote in the 1897 legislative session. The bill was referred to the Committee on Insane Asylums.

In March 1920, only one more state was needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. It came down to either Tennessee or North Carolina to be that state. Tennessee ratified the amendment in August. On August 17, the North Carolina Senate voted to postpone a vote on the 19th Amendment until a regular session. It wasn’t until 1971 that the North Carolina General Assembly made the gesture to endorse the 19th Amendment.

To see more about women’s suffrage in North Carolina, check out NCpedia on the subject.

The North Carolina State Archives also holds the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection. Many of these items are digitized in the “Women in North Carolina 20th Century History” collection, including many fascinating anti-suffrage and pro-suffrage propaganda.

You can also see North Carolina’s copy of the 19th Amendment in the Treasures of Carolina exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. The exhibit runs through July 31.

Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist working with Private Collections in the Special Collections Section.]

Under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, private manuscripts archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina, I have arranged and described the newest addition to the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers. This work was made possible through generous funding from Dail Barbour, Ruth Barbour’s stepdaughter. The late George Stevenson Jr. processed the original accession of the Barbour Papers. His finding aid for the collection may be accessed here: http://ead.archives.ncdcr.gov/P_C_1859_Ruth_Peeling_Barbour_P_.html.

Small head shot of Ruth Peeling ca. 1947–1948

Ruth Peeling, ca. 1947–1948. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Ruth Peeling Barbour was born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1924. As a student at Syracuse University, she majored in history and edited The Daily Orange student newspaper. After graduation in 1946, Barbour moved to Beaufort, North Carolina, to edit the Beaufort News. The paper subsequently merged with Morehead City, North Carolina’s Twin City Daily Times, reestablishing itself as the Carteret County News-Times. In 1952, Barbour left the News-Times to attend graduate school. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Florida State University the following year. Barbour then resumed editing the News-Times. In 1970, she married J. O. Barbour Jr., and in 1976 she stepped down from her position as editor. Barbour continued writing editorials, columns, and feature articles for the News-Times until 2000. She was also active in numerous professional, historical, and civic organizations, including the Carteret County Business and Professional Women’s Club, the North Carolina Society of County and Local Historians, and the Carteret County Salvation Army. Barbour died in Morehead City in 2014.

Ruth Peeling Barbour and Lockwood Phillips Sr. at a book signing for Cruise of the Snap Dragon, ca. July–August 1976

Ruth Peeling Barbour and Lockwood Phillips Sr., owner of the Carteret County News-Times, at a book signing for Cruise of the Snap Dragon, ca. July–August 1976. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Barbour did not limit herself to journalism. In addition to working for the News-Times, she published several plays and historical monographs, a novel, and a memoir. (A bibliography follows this post.) The Carteret Community Theatre, with which Barbour was long associated, produced her historical plays. Settings for her dramas included the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. North Carolina historical figures featured in the plays include pirate Edward Teach (Blackbeard), privateer Otway Burns, and Confederate spy Emeline Pigott. Barbour also featured Otway Burns in a 1976 novel entitled Cruise of the Snap Dragon. Her unpublished sequel to the novel was alternately titled “Third Cruse of the Snap Dragon” and “Captain from Carolina.” Barbour also undertook histories of the Beaufort Historical Association; of newspapers in Carteret County; of Open Grounds Farm; and of John Stewart McCormack, who advised her about naval matters for Cruise of the Snap Dragon. In 2005, she published Turning Back the Tide, an account of her journalism career in North Carolina.

Barbour’s original gift of private manuscripts to the State Archives includes letters and clippings concerning the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the potential unionization of the North Carolina Ports Authority; manuscripts and research materials for Cruise of the Snap Dragon and its sequel; and scripts of Barbour’s plays. The recent addition to the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers contains notes, clippings, and drafts related to Barbour’s writing for the News-Times and for independent projects, as well as a large amount of research material concerning Carteret County history.

The new accession to the Barbour Papers demonstrates her meticulousness as a writer. Drafts of Barbour’s works reveal much about her composition process. Whether writing children’s stories in the 1940s and 1950s or news articles in the 1990s and 2000s, she relied upon extensive revisions to achieve her final product. Her drafts of “Captain from Carolina” and Turning Back the Tide are heavily corrected, and they feature pages and chapters rearranged to reflect experimentation with structure and final content. In some instances, Barbour edited her prose by cutting pages in pieces and pasting text together in the order she desired.

Barbour and her sister, Margaret Hall, took a similar approach while working on Hall’s unpublished memoir of her life in rural New Brunswick, Canada. Drafts of Hall’s manuscripts bear corrections from both sisters. Barbour and Hall were faithful correspondents—many of Hall’s letters are included in the Barbour Papers—who discussed composition and publication prospects alongside family matters. Their interests and lifestyles were different, and Hall claimed that writing was Barbour’s specialty, not hers. Yet both women had a similar eye for detail and the makings of a good story.

Barbour was as thorough a researcher as she was an editor. Her interest in Carteret County’s history was comprehensive. In addition to the many notes she accumulated while researching local newspapers and Open Grounds Farm, Barbour preserved clippings, pictures, and other documents chronicling her adopted home’s past. Materials available to researchers include:

  • interviews with local residents
  • articles about shipwrecks, Fort Macon, the Morehead City train depot, and the “vanished” community of Diamond City
  • information about dog racing in Carteret County and World War II’s impact on the North Carolina coast
  • notes from early newspapers and land and court records
Unidentified Beaufort, NC, residents in the aftermath of a flood, ca. 1933

Unidentified Beaufort, NC, residents in the aftermath of a flood, ca. 1933. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Ruth Peeling Barbour wrote about history, but she also lived it and made it. At the helm of a local newspaper at a time when women did not commonly hold such positions, she was a pioneer. Yet Barbour’s novel is out of print, and her histories were published in limited numbers. The private manuscripts she donated to the State Archives would be an excellent resource for students and scholars of North Carolina history and literature. It is to be hoped that these papers will make Barbour and her lifetime of writing and research more widely known.


Ruth Peeling Barbour Bibliography


“Bonnie Blue Sweetheart” (1959)

“Blackbeard, Raider of the Carolina Seas” (1964)

“Otway Burns, Firebrand of 1812” (1969)

“It Happened Here” (1976)

“The Best of All” (1976)

“Prelude to Victory” (ca. 1981)

“On These Shores” (1985)



Cruise of the Snap Dragon (1976)

“Third Cruise of the Snap Dragon”/“Captain from Carolina” (unpublished, ca. post-1975)



The Inimitable J. S. M. (1981)

History of the Beaufort Historical Association, January 25, 1960–January 1, 1990 (1990)

A History of Newspapers in Carteret County, NC, 1852–1992 (1998)

Open Grounds: Then and Now (2001)

Turning Back the Tide (2005)

“A Fight for Citizenship:” Exhibit on Women’s Suffrage Now Open in Search Room

[This blog post was written by Josh Hager, Reference Archivist in the Reference Unit of the Collections Services Section.]

The Suffragists' Calendar, a year-book for every thinking woman

The Suffragists’ Calendar, a year-book for every thinking woman,” Gertrude Weil Papers (PC.1488), State Archives of North Carolina

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the State Archives of North Carolina is proud to announce our new Search Room exhibit, “A Fight for Citizenship: The 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage in North Carolina.” The bulk of the facsimiles included come from the private collection of Gertrude Weil, a prominent suffragist from Goldsboro. She was active in organizations such as the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the League of Women Voters. Her collection spans 42 cubic feet and over one-hundred boxes of material, constituting a treasure trove for researchers into the women’s suffrage movement.

The collections of the State Archives provide a wealth of material concerning women’s suffrage, from letters and broadsides to the correspondence of state and local officials. Narrowing those choices down to the ten items on display proved difficult, but the items selected allow for a glance at several important documents and themes.

Visitors will also see a facsimile of the 19th Amendment, specifically the cover page sent by the U.S. Secretary of State to the N.C. Secretary of State which includes an official seal. The amendment arrived in North Carolina’s hands in 1919 and the General Assembly first considered it in 1920. However, legislators did not hold an up-or-down vote on the amendment in 1920; historians agree that the amendment would likely have lost the vote based on the legislators’ stated positions. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly voted for the 19th Amendment, making women’s suffrage the law of the land nationwide. North Carolina did not ultimately ratify the 19th Amendment until 1971 under Governor Bob Scott. The only state to ratify it after North Carolina was Mississippi in 1984.

Letter from Josephus Daniels to Gertrude Weil, Feb. 12, 1920

Letter from Josephus Daniels to Gertrude Weil, Feb. 12, 1920, Gertrude Weil Papers (PC.1488), State Archives of North Carolina

Visitors will also get a chance to look at the amount of work and dedication needed to make women’s suffrage a reality. Gertrude Weil’s personal efforts are on display through an organizational pamphlet where she was elected as an officer and through correspondence with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to promote the cause. Photographs show women in a campaign office as well as at a public gathering wearing sashes for equality. “The Suffragist’s Calendar: A Year-book for Thinking Women” is a day-planner with helpful tips for political organization. Finally, the exhibit includes a letter from the leaders of two organizations asking for unity as women fought for the shared goal of the vote.

Amidst the triumphs of 1920, the exhibit also includes two examples of the opposition faced by the proponents of suffrage. Governor Thomas Bickett sent a message to the General Assembly in opposition to the 19th Amendment, arguing that women should not lower themselves to the political arena. His tone of social condescension was commonplace for 1920, but others in opposition held more unique views. For example, a petition to the General Assembly sent by a concerned citizen from Connecticut argued that women voting would increase ignorance at the polling place and that it was no better than a Soviet plot.

Western Union telegram from G.L. Grosgrove to the Speaker of the House on the topic of the 19th Amendment

Western Union telegram from G.L. Grosgrove to the Speaker of the House on the topic of the 19th Amendment, General Assembly Session Records, 1920, State Archives of North Carolina

Despite the opposition, women in North Carolina and across the country gained the right to vote in 1920. We hope that our exhibit gives you a small window into the incredible people and organizations that fought for equality and succeeded. The exhibit is currently scheduled to run through the end of April, so please plan on visiting the Search Room soon.

Other archival items related to role of women in North Carolina’s 20th century history are available through the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Summer of the Archives Series

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

PC_1618_EqualSuffrageAmendment19th_1920_ProSuffrageCerculars_Flags_001In our Women in North Carolina 20th Century History digital collection, there is an excellent image of a Pro-woman Suffrage Circular: “Women Vote under these Flags.” This circular showed that other countries allowed women to vote and it was only right for women to vote in the United States as well. This image is also appropriate for International Archives Day (June 9, 2015) because this year’s theme is democracy. You can find other blog and social media content related to International Archives Day under the Twitter hashtags: #IAD15 #democracy.

For more information on International Archives Day 2015 visit: https://askarchivists.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/lets-celebrate-democracy-and-rights-on-june-9th-2015/

Women’s History Month: Women’s Colleges of North Carolina

In honor of Women’s History Month, the State Archives of North Carolina has digitized articles of incorporation, charters, and other legislation pertaining to the establishment of women’s colleges in the state. At one time there were twenty-eight women’s colleges in North Carolina and today there are only three left.

These documents have been digitized from General Assembly Session Records and the records of the Governors’ Office and Secretary of State. It was quite an interesting project to locate these items. It would seem logical that articles of incorporation should be granted around the time of establishment for the institution. However, many of the incorporations included in this project were granted at a later date for various reasons such as name changes, mergers, and the Civil War. For example, Salem College was founded in 1772 by the Moravians, but articles of incorporation were granted by the General Assembly in 1866 under the name of Salem Female Academy.

Littleton Female College Incorporation

Littleton Female College Incorporation

Other institutions with more unusual name changes include Goldsboro Female College which started out as Wayne Female College; the name changed in 1867. Littleton Female College was originally Central Institute for Young Ladies , and Carolina Female College in Ansonville, N.C. was often referred to as “a Female College in the County of Anson”.

Chowan Baptist Female Institute in Murfreesboro, known today as Chowan University, seemed to have articles of incorporation for 1857 and 1848. The two different dates for articles of incorporation did not add up but with a little more investigation I learned Chowan Baptist Female Institute went through a couple of name changes. It wasn’t until 1910 that the Female Institute started to go by Chowan College. It was also located in Murfreesboro in Hertford County, but the 1857 documents had Chowan College located in Reynoldson in Gates County. With a little research, I discovered that in 1857 there was an attempt to create a college like Chowan Baptist Female Institute, but for men, called Chowan College. The male Chowan College was later renamed to Reynoldson Male Academy. It is always interesting to see what you will find and where it will take you in the archives.

Chowan College or Reynoldson Male Academy

Reynoldson Male Academy Incorporation

North Carolina has a long history of educating women. Salem College, founded in 1775, was one of the first women’s colleges in the county. In 1897, Chowan Baptist Female College was granted permission that allowed women to receive degrees. There were four women’s colleges until Peace College (William Peace University) went co-educational in 2012 leaving Bennett College (who celebrates their 126th anniversary of its chartering as a four-year institution this month), Meredith College, and Salem College as the state’s remaining women’s colleges.

The items are located in the Women in North Carolina 20th Century History digital collection; click here to visit the collection.

New Digital Collection: “Women in North Carolina: 20th Century History”

Women have been an integral part of North Carolina history as pioneers in various fields, by maintaining the home front during times of war, and by playing lead roles in political and social movements during the 20th century. As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, the State Archives of North Carolina is launching a new digital collection: “Women in North Carolina: 20th Century History.” This collection provides a glimpse into the lives of North Carolina women as they changed history in our state and the nation.

For this digital collection, we gathered documents from across the holdings of the State Archives, including Private Collections, Organization Records, and State Agency Records. Some of the highlights from this new online collection include materials from:

Annie Laurie Burton Letters [PC.1771]
Annie Laurie Burton, a native of Prospect Hill, Caswell County, began her career as an elementary school teacher. When the United States entered World War II, Burton trained as a field officer in the American Red Cross military welfare service and served in several Australia and Europe. The letters chosen for this digital collection were primarily written from Australia and addressed to her mother and sisters in North Carolina. She describes her travels, Red Cross work, living conditions in Australia, and social life. Several photographs are also included.

Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection [PC.1618]
This collection pulls together documents pertaining to the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina as well as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. It includes correspondence, magazines, circulars, photographs, and other memorabilia from the efforts of both the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina and the Southern Women’s Rejection League.

In 1913, the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina was incorporated. In 1915, a headquarters was established in Raleigh, N.C., at the Yarborough Hotel, and the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina began lobbying for the North Carolina’s General Assembly to ratify the Equal Suffrage Amendment. In March of 1920, thirty-five states had ratified the 19th amendment leaving only one more state needed. At the same time, the Southern Women’s Rejection League was formed and established their headquarters in Raleigh. On August 17, 1920, the North Carolina legislature decided to table the 19th Amendment, but on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 19th Amendment.

North Carolina League of Women Voters-Wake County Chapter Records [ORG.113]
Meeting minutes from the early years of the chapter’s history in the 1920s, shortly after women received the right to vote. The online collection also includes a summary of local programs and activities during the 1950s and 1960s.

North Carolina International Women’s Year [ORG.109]
These materials date from 1977 and include meeting minutes, reports, summaries of “speakout” events, which raised awareness of issues related to women, and a brief history of prominent women in North Carolina history.

North Carolina Women’s Political Caucus [ORG.132]
Newsletters and reports documenting events such as the effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s.

Gertrude Weil Collection [PC.1488]
The online collection includes a small part of the extensive Gertrude Weil collection. The materials available online focus on the Equal Suffrage Association, and Gertrude Weil’s efforts as president of the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina. Items included from this collection are:

  • Correspondence;
  • A copy of the July-August Everywoman’s Magazine;
  • Annual reports for the years 1914, 1919, and 1920;
  • A Calendar or Year book “The Suffragists’ Calendar, a year-book for every thinking woman.”

Women’s Forum of North Carolina [ORG.72]
An organizational history detailing goals, objectives, and projects; proceedings from a conference on topics such as women in the work force, social structure, and public policy from the 1970s and 1980s.

Women-In-Action for the Prevention of Violence and its Causes, Inc., Durham Chapter [ORG.195]
Meeting minutes, reports, and newsletters documenting the organization’s activities from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To learn more about the role of women in North Carolina history, visit the Women’s History Month website created by the State Library of North Carolina.