Tag Archives: Works Progress Administration

Dare County in the 1930s: Decade of Determination

[This blog post comes from Sarah Downing of the Outer Banks History Center.]

The Outer Banks History Center is busy preparing for the debut of a new exhibit, Dare County in the 1930s: Decade of Determination. Despite the Great Depression, the 1930s were times of great change in Dare County.  The Wright Memorial Bridge opened the area to automobile traffic while new hotels catered to the traveling public. Workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) literally changed the landscape by constructing sand dunes.  The Kill Devil Hills National Memorial (now Wright Brothers National Memorial) was dedicated while the county saw its first local newspaper, public library, airport, and fishing pier.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to witness the birth of outdoor symphonic drama at the Waterside Theater with the debut of Paul Green’s The Lost Colony. Dare County in the 1930s: A Decade of Determination will show how these events helped shape the area’s future.

We are especially interested in interpreting the work of the CCC and WPA, so we are currently looking for artifacts to help tell that story.  If you have a uniform, cap, patch or any other CCC artifacts, please contact Sarah Downing at the History Center.

Dare County in the 1930s: Decade of Determination opens Friday evening March 1, 2013.  Join us for a free reception from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. that is open to the public.  We hope you can make it for this special event.

For more information about the Outer Banks History Center, call (252) 473-2655, e-mail obhc@ncdcr.gov   or visit http://www.obhistorycenter.ncdcr.gov.  The Outer Banks History Center is a regional archives and research library administered by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources.  The Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, a 501(c) 3 organization, provides ongoing support to the center through volunteer and financial assistance.

Image from the Fred Fearing Scrapbook Collection

Image from the Fred Fearing Scrapbook Collection

Records Move: Conservation and Development, the CCC, and Confederate Woman’s Home Association

In this, the next of our continuing series on the records now available on Saturdays, I’m focusing on three more collections moved to our new storage space in the Archives and Library building. The complete list of all the materials moved is available as a PDF from our website, but I’m breaking down the list into a series of blog posts.

More information about these collections can be found in our online catalog MARS, but it will likely take us a while to change the location codes in MARS and our other finding aids so we ask you to please be patient with us.

Conservation and Development, 1883-1965

In 1924 Governor Cameron Morrison had given support to legislation for restructuring of the North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey, placing “the duty of a modern Department of Commerce” upon its board. This legislation failed, but Morrison’s successor, Governor Angus W, McLean also supported the restructure and enlargement of the North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey to advertise the states advantages and to promote the proper conservation of the state’s natural resources.

The 1925 General Assembly replaced the survey with the Department of Conservation and Development. The department’s statutory duties included the active promotion and development of the state’s commerce and industry, as well as the protection of its resources. In 1927 the department established a Division of Commerce and Industry to collect and tabulate information relevant to the state’s resources and potential development.

In 1930 the Division of Commerce and Industry merged with the Division of Public Relations this office had previously functioned within the Department of Conservation and Development. The Division of Commerce and Industry continued to promote the state through public relations until 1937, when the department was granted an appropriation that enabled it to create a separate Division of State Advertising.

In 1937 the Division of Commerce and Industry was enlarged to allow it to take a more active approach in recruiting new and diversified industry. Activities of the division during this time included programs to encourage home industries and rural industries, both of which became the foundation of efforts that continued into the next decade and beyond. In 1945 Governor Gregg Cherry appointed a Committee on Rural Industries to support the division’s activities. Composed of one hundred businessmen, the committee held meetings in eleven cities, seeking to stimulate interest in the possibilities of small rural industries that would utilize local labor and raw materials.

In 1953 the U.S. Congress established the Small Business Administration to provide counsel and financial assistance to small businesses throughout the country. In response, the Division of Commerce and Industry converted its home industries program into a Small Industries Section to promote the growth of locally owned and operated industries and the creation of new enterprises. In 1962 the Division of Commerce and Industry added a Food Processing Section to encourage the development of modern processing operations.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Division of Travel Information (previously named the Division of State Advertising) worked in cooperation with the Division of Commerce and Industry, conducting “Get acquainted with North Carolina” events for newcomers to the state. The two divisions also worked on a project locating welcome centers at interstate highway exits near the state’s borders. The Division of Commerce and Industry subsequently established a Travel and Tourism Section that continued into the next decade.

During the mid-1960s, the Small Industries Section merged with the newly formed Community and Industrial Services Section. The section subsequently became the main arm of the Division of Commerce and Industry for the collection of community data to be stored in a computerized data bank for use by the division and various local development groups throughout the state. Another major function of the section involved determining the expansion requirements of various manufacturers within the state and their needs for materials, suppliers, and markets.

Under the Executive Organization Act of 1971, the Department of Conservation and Development was placed under the newly formed Department of Natural and Economic Resources, headed by a cabinet- level secretary appointed by the governor. The old Department of Conservation and Development and its board retained their previous statutory powers. During the initial phase of reorganization there was little structural change. However, the division was placed under an Office of Industrial, Tourist, and Community Resources, an administrative arm of the new department. During 1973 the Governor’s Efficiency Study Commission recommended that the office be restructured to include only the Division of Commerce and Industry and a Division of Science and Technology. According to the commission, the Board of Science and Technology should be altered to emphasize the commercial and industrial value of research and to aid the state’s economic growth.
Subsequently, the Department of Natural and Economic Resources was re-created and reorganized under the Executive Organization Act of 1973 and charged with promoting the state’s economic development. The functions and powers previously vested in the Department of Conservation and Development and its board  were formally assigned to the new department, and the Department of Conservation and Development and its board ceased to exist.

Records include: Economic and Geological survey correspondence and subject file; board minutes and reports; Biennial reports; administrative reports and correspondence; activities of the department; miscellaneous subject files; assistant director administrative files; Division of Commerce and Industry; Advertising Division; Division of Mineral Resources; Fisheries Commissions Board; North Carolina Film Board files; and other materials.

Note: The Conservation and Development, Travel and Tourism Division photograph files are part of the Non-Textual Materials collection. Some of those materials are currently available online as part of the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Civilian Conservation Corps: Enrollment and Discharge Records, n.d.

The objectives of the Civilian Conservation Corps were two-fold; utilization of the country’s human resources and conservation of the country’s physical resources. These objectives were realized by employing thousands of young men between the ages of 18 and 25 in jobs that were a benefit to conservation, restoration and protection of forests, control of soil erosion and flood control, development of public parks, recreational and historic areas, wild life conservation and other useful public works. The Department of War was responsible for physical examination, enrollment, equipping and conditioning of the men. The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior were responsible for the selection and planning of work projects on national forests, parks, monuments, soil erosion control and the supervision of all projects on state and private lands and state parks. The North Carolina Emergency Relief oversaw local selecting agencies throughout the state to execute the details necessary to placing the men in camps. Of the total 66 camps, 28 were assigned to forest protection and preservation, 22 to soil erosion control, 9 to park projects, 3 to military reservations, 1 to wild life conservation and 3 to Tennessee Valley Authority projects.

Records include: Enrollment and discharge records, arranged in alphabetical order by county.

For more information about the Civilian Conservation Corps, visit our Work Projects in North Carolina exhibit.

Confederate Woman’s Home Association, Dept. of Human Resources, 1862, 1896-1976, n.d.

In 1913 the General Assembly incorporated the Confederate Woman’s Home Association to establish, maintain, and govern a home for needy and dependent wives and widows of NC Confederate soldiers and other “worthy dependent women of the Confederacy”. The association was also to assist indigent Confederate women in their own homes throughout the state. The association was governed by a seven-member board of directors appointed by the governor for two-year terms, who then elected their own president and secretary. The state treasurer served as ex officio treasurer of the association, and it was to be incorporated for forty years. The board established rules and regulations for the maintenance and operation of the home, and for the collection and disbursement of funds for needy Confederate women living elsewhere in the state.

An advisory board of ten “lady managers” was also created to assist the board of directors in the management and furnishing of the home, and in the solicitation of donations to the association. The lady managers were appointed by the board of directors for two-year terms. Vacancies on this advisory board, including the expiration of terms, were to be filled by women who represented each congressional district in the state.

In 1949 the General Assembly extended the corporation’s existence to 1 January 1960. It also added the category of deserving daughters of NC Confederate soldiers to the statute’s criteria of admission to the home, providing that no daughters should be admitted after 1 January 1953. In 1953 this proviso was repealed. Amendments in 1959 and 1969 each added an additional ten-year term of existence to the association.

The Executive Organization Act of 1971 permitted the board and the association to retain full statutory powers, but placed the Confederate Woman’s Home Association under the newly-created Department of Human Resources for administrative purposes. The Executive Organization Act of 1973 re-created the Department of Human Resources and restated the composition of the board for the association (seven members appointed by the governor for two-year terms) and its duties, which had remained generally consistent over sixty years.

In 1981 both the secretary of Human Resources and the board of directors for the home recommended that the General Assembly close the Confederate Woman’s Home, out of concern for the safety of the few remaining residents and the expense of maintaining a dilapidated structure. The General Assembly dissolved the Confederate Woman’s Home Association and closed the home effective 1 July 1981. The state assumed responsibility for relocating the remaining residents in nursing or rest homes and for bearing the non-federally funded share of the cost of their care. Title to the stocks held by the association were transferred back to the North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The board, prior to its abolition, was authorized to dispose of the personal property, furnishings, and paintings in the home.

Records include: superintendent’s correspondence, financial records, menus, subject files, and memorabilia.

WPA Cemetery Survey Records

If you read my December post on the big changes and new projects coming to the State Archives this year, you know that I’ve been working on adding PDFs of the WPA cemetery surveys for North Carolina counties to the NC Digital Collections and the NC Family Records Online project.

I finished adding the last survey yesterday and you can now find all of them here; while not every county has a survey, most of them do. Please be aware that you will find errors in the surveys – it’s likely that no project done on such a large-scale could ever be perfect. But still, the records can be very useful because they list the location and condition of cemeteries, as well as names, birth and death dates, and other information that the project workers could glean from the tombstones themselves.

In getting ready to write this blog post, I looked up the WPA Cemetery Project in our online catalog MARS to see if I could find any background on the history of the project to share with you. What I found was a wonderful description, most likely written by former State Archives employee Mary Hollis Barnes, who sadly died in November of last year. The cemetery records were Mary’s passion for a long time and all of us who knew her deeply regret that she didn’t get to see these materials online. The description is fairly long, about four pages, but it gives an excellent and very detailed overview of how and why these materials were created. Rather than trying to condense it, I’m just going to include it at the end of this blog post. For reference, the materials we’ve put online are referred to as “Cemetery Listings (Typescripts)” in the description of the collection.

Historical Records Survey, Tombstone Transcription Project

Creator: United States. Works Progress Administration

MARS #: 176.1 (Series)

The Works Progress Administration was established by Executive Order No. 7034 on May 6, 1935, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In general, its purpose was to operate useful work projects designed to provide maximum employment in all localities and to coordinate necessary and useful data-compiling and research activities.

One of the major projects in North Carolina was the Historical Records Survey conducted under the direction of the North Carolina Historical Commission. The secretary of the Historical Commission, Dr. Charles Christopher Crittenden, served initially as state director of the survey and most of the details listed below were gleaned from his correspondence file.

Dr. Crittenden proposed two components to the Historical Records Survey; the first was surveying various public records and historically important manuscripts, and the second was surveying and recording tombstone inscriptions. A review of his correspondence does not reveal contemporary evidence of any other state collecting tombstone inscriptions as part of their WPA projects; however, a review of several online catalogs and postings does indicate that at least 17 other states did conduct some sort of tombstone transcription or “graves registration” project. In a 1934 memorandum, a commission staff member stated: the “second section of the survey — a compilation of monument and cemetery inscriptions — would result in a vast collection of data, useful and otherwise, virtually unavailable to biographers, historians and lawyers. The State Board of Health has vital statistics from cities beginning in 1909, and from the entire state beginning in late 1913. The proposed compilation is the most effective method of supplying North Carolina vital statistics prior to the enactment of the first state law on that subject in 1913.” [The staff member was referring to Chapter 109 of the Public Laws of 1913 entitled, “An Act to Provide for the Registration of all Births and Deaths in the State of North Carolina. It was ratified on March 10, 1913, and became effective on July 1, 1913.]

Initially part of the Federal Writers’ Project, the Historical Records Survey and its cemetery survey and transcription project began in 1936 and the first phase of the project was to last four weeks, at 30 hours a week. The total estimated cost of the first phase of cemetery work was $9,269. This overall estimate included $5,232 for paying 109 cemetery survey workers (for four weeks) and $1,962 for paying 218 assistant cemetery survey workers (for one week), $300 for office supplies and equipment to compile the transcriptions from both the archival and cemetery portions of the survey, $480 for paying 10 workers to do the compiling and indexing from both portions of the survey, and $545 to cover the local workers’ travel expenses. The estimated travel cost for 10 regional supervisors (to coordinate both the records inventory and the cemetery inscription) was listed as $750.

The commission quickly realized that having the data from each tombstone transcription listed on an index card would facilitate their alphabetical arrangement in a card catalog. The indexing staff also compiled and prepared summary pages of typescripts on each cemetery. In a report dated December, 1936, Dr. Crittenden stated a “number of workers have been engaged for several months in copying essential data on such inscriptions, and it is hoped that the task can be completed. A card catalogue is to be provided in the offices of the Historical Commission [now the State Archives’ Search Room], and perhaps eventually the lists will be published.” However, the commission chose not to publish the compilations of cemetery information; and focused instead on publishing the data gathered by the records survey portion of the project. The work in several districts continued into the next fiscal year, and a breakdown of workers in November, 1936, listed cemetery survey workers or indexers in the following counties: Brunswick, Buncombe, Columbus, Durham, Franklin, Gates, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Pasquotank, Pender, Person, Scotland, Wake, Watauga, Wilkes, and Wilson. The Historical Records Survey (and the cemetery and tombstone transcription work) continued as a nationwide project until 1939 when “it was terminated as a Federal project and continued its work in the individual states as a series of locally sponsored projects operating within a national program.”

In a letter dated September 14, 1940, Mrs. May E. Campbell (state director of the WPA’s Professional and Service Projects) and Colbert F. Crutchfield (state supervisor of the Historical Records Survey) jointly described the cemetery survey work: “these records were compiled as a sort of side line to their work of surveying church records. They were requested to fill in their time between appointments with church officials by listing near-by cemeteries…. The worker prepares a cemetery form, containing pertinent data about the location and condition of the cemetery and a list containing an entry for each stone, giving only the factual information thereon. This material is forwarded to the Raleigh office of the Survey, where a card for each cemetery and for each stone is typed. The cemetery cards are filed in alphabetical order within each county in separate files. The tombstone cards are filed in straight alphabetical order by surname for the state as a whole. Each tombstone card, of course, carries the name of the cemetery and the county. The cemetery itself can be located by reference to the former file.” The writers further state that the work “is not by any means complete, as we consider it a by-product of the church records work and do not attempt to cover all cemeteries or any particular locality. We have to-date filed approximately 5,023 cemetery cards and 177,044 tombstone cards.”

A souvenir program prepared for a May, 1940, meeting described the tombstone transcription project as follows: “These files are in constant use by research workers and genealogist[s] from many states in the union, who have indicated that they find them of much value and interest. Even though the Survey has not discovered any so-called ‘Virginia Dare Stones,’ it has re-discovered quite a few heretofore unknown graves of prominent men. Two of the more recent finds were those of two North Carolina justices of the United States Supreme Court, James Iredell and Alfred Moore. This file will for the first time make such information available to the public at a central point…”

In a report on the overall status of the Historical Records Survey, dated April 10, 1941, the total number of cemetery cards typed and filed were 6,422 (with an additional 579 entries on hand to be typed); and the total number of tombstone cards typed and filed were 240,471 (with an additional 27,771 entries on hand to be typed). In what would be the Historical Commission’s final project proposal for additional funding for the fiscal year ending June, 1941, staff listed the need for an additional $2,295 to fund 3,939 man hours to continue collecting, filing, and typing cemetery data. The commission planned to pay for additional office supplies out of its own funds, including $240 for index cards. The same proposal listed the cemetery survey work as accomplished to date: 7,969 cemeteries surveyed, 7,025 cemetery cards typed and filed, 243,807 tombstones listed, and 219,553 tombstone cards typed and filed. It also listed the following work to be done: approximately 200 cemeteries to be surveyed in the next fiscal year, with an approximate 10,000 tombstones within those cemeteries to be transcribed (new surveys were to be held to a minimum), with 944 cards to be typed and filed for cemeteries previously surveyed, and 24,254 tombstone cards remaining to be typed and filed. Depending on which report is consulted, it can be estimated that the final overall totals for the Tombstone Transcription Project were: just under 8,000 cemeteries surveyed, and over 268,000 tombstones transcribed.

Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, under the guidance of Mrs. John Scott Welborn, were also greatly involved in their own concurrent project to transcribe tombstones and their group cooperated with staff of the Historical Commission to avoid duplication of effort. Copies of the WPA tombstone inscriptions were prepared by the Historical Commission and distributed to the state chapter of the DAR and some county lists were also sent to officers of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists as requested. Typescript copies of the DAR’s tombstone compilations were in turn deposited with the commission; however, the DAR cemeteries were not reflected in the project’s overall survey totals.

The nation’s entry into World War II brought an end to all WPA projects, and the Historical Commission shifted its collecting focus to that of gathering and compiling records and papers to document the state’s role in the war.

  1. Card Index (in Archives Search Room)
    The project’s card index is estimated to contain just under 8,000 Cemetery Summary Cards and over 268,000 Tombstone Inscription Cards. It is grouped into three main categories:
  2. Drawers Contents
    1 — 9 Cemetery Summary Cards
    10 — 175 Pre-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards
    176 — 203 Post-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards

The Cemetery Summary Cards are arranged alphabetically by county, then by town and name of the cemetery. In addition to the cemetery name, county, and location, the Cemetery Summary Cards usually include total numbers of marked and unmarked graves, total numbers of pre- and post-1914 graves. The Cemetery Summary Cards are also available on 2 reels of microfilm: Z.3.17 — Z.3.18.

The Pre-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are arranged alphabetically by name and include birth and death dates or other information if listed on the tombstone. The Pre-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are also available on 21 reels of microfilm: Z.3.19 — Z.3.39.

The Post-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are arranged alphabetically by name and include birth and death dates or other information if listed on the tombstone. The Post-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are also available on 5 reels of microfilm: Z.3.40 — Z.3.44.

II. Cemetery Listings (Typescripts) (in Archives Stacks)
These cemetery listings (or typescripts) are arranged alphabetically by county, then by town and name of the cemetery. Information usually includes name of cemetery, brief location information (usually), and names and dates from transcribed tombstones. Sometimes the same information is included that was typed on the Cemetery Summary Cards (such as total number of marked and unmarked graves, total numbers of pre- and post-1914 graves, and a more complete description of the cemetery location). The typescripts are also available on 6 reels of microfilm: Z.3.11 — Z. 3.16. PDF versions of this portion of the project are now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections (http://digital.ncdcr.gov/) and NC Family Records Online (http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/dimp/digital/ncfamilyrecords/).

Box. No. Contents
1 Alamance — Bertie
2 Bladen — Cabarrus
3 Caldwell — Cleveland
4 Columbus — Forsyth
5 Franklin — Haywood
6 Henderson — McDowell
7 Macon — Onslow
8 Orange — Richmond
9 Robeson — Scotland
10 Stanly — Wake
11 Warren — Yancey
12 Duplicate Typescripts, Alamance — Yancey; Miscellaneous