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Digital Collections

NC Digital Collections – Beta Redesign!

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Digital Collections, beta design
We are excited to be demoing a beta redesign for the North Carolina Digital Collections website, and we’d like to get your feedback!

Whether you are a frequent user of the Digital Collections, or this will be your first time, we’d like to invite you to head over to the beta site and explore. Love it? Hate it? You can give us feedback via the survey form linked at the top. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

The survey will be up for two weeks, today through August 13th. The old site will also still be available at its usual URL

The North Carolina Digital Collections contain over 90,000 historic and recent photographs, state government publications, manuscripts, and other resources on topics related to North Carolina. The Collections are free and full-text searchable, and bring together content from the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina.

Family Records: Quick Tips & 2,000+ new surnames added!

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2,000+ new surnames added

We have exciting news for genealogists! We’ve made it even easier to find genealogical records in our online Family Records collection. 2,000+ new surnames have been added to the list of names on the Family Records website, bringing the list up to more than 3,500 names.

This list of names are a quick starting place for genealogists, but it’s certainly not the last place you should look! In fact, below are some tips to know before you use the list.

Family Records Quick Tips

  1. The Family Records collection contains genealogial materials from the State Library of North Carolina and State Archives of North Carolina – but it doesn’t contain all their online genealogical materials! The Family Records collection is one collection within the much larger North Carolina Digital Collections website. Several additional collections have resources of genealogical value:
  2. The Family Records collection includes six types of materials:
    • Bible Records,
    • a 6-volume index of marriage and death notices compiled from five North Carolina newspapers dating 1799 to 1893,
    • a small selection of genealogical books,
    • a growing collection of patron-donated reports (known as “vertical files),
    • WPA cemetery surveys from the 1960s,
    • and contemporary photographs of headstones in Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery & Hebrew section of Raleigh  Historic Oakwood Cemetery.
  3. The list of 3,500 surnames in the Family Records collection isn’t complete. It does not include all the surnames that appear in the Family Records collection. But, don’t let that deter you! If you don’t find the surname you’re looking for in the list, there are other ways to search for family names throughout all six types of materials in the Family Records Collection:
Type of material in Family Records Collection Surnames included in family name list? Surnames full text searchable? Surnames searchable in metadata? Alternative methods for finding surname
Bible Records Yes Some Bibles are full-text searchable, but not all. Yes
Marriage and Death Notices Partially Yes No
Genealogy books Partially Yes No
Vertical files (patron-donated genealogical reports) Yes Yes Yes
WPA cemetery surveys Partially Yes, but many typos, so you may not want to rely on full text searches. No Surveys are by county. Within counties, surnames are listed alphabetically.
Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery & Hebrew section of Raleigh Historic Oakwood Cemetery photos Yes Yes Yes

Digital Collections: Help us solve this Revolution War mystery!

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Letters between Nathanael Greene and the Society of Friends at New-Garden, courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina. Click through to see in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Letters between Nathanael Greene and the Society of Friends at New-Garden, courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina. Click through to see in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

A mysterious pair of letters appears in the May 24, 1790 edition of the North Carolina Chronicle; or, Fayetteville Gazette, and we want your help interpreting it! We came across the letters while browsing Guilford County materials in the North Carolina Digital Collections for our County of the Week series.

The letters, originally written during the Revolutionary War, reflect the difficult choice Americans faced during the war–between loyalty to the British crown and patriotism to their local community–and the they also speak to the difficult position of North Carolina Quakers dedicated to pacifism. Although the original letters are fascinating in their own right, we were curious about why they were reprinted in the newspaper almost a decade later. What related events might have been happening in North Carolina and Guilford County in the spring of 1790? What was the goal of the newspaper in reprinting the letters?

In the first of the two letters, Nathanael Greene, famous commander of the Southern Department of the Continental army (and, later, namesake of Greensboro) pleads for help from the Friends (Quakers) of New-Garden in Guilford County. Greene’s army had just fought one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and Greene’s success at this battle turned the tide of the war in favor of the Americans. However, Greene’s army left to pursue the enemy towards Wilmington,  leaving behind its wounded soldiers at the Courthouse. Thus, Greene wrote the Greensboro Quakers begging them for help.

I address myself to your humanity, for the relief of the suffering wounded at Guilford court-house. . . . [Y]ou are generally considered as enemies to the independence of America; I entertain other sentiments. . . . I respect you as a people, and shall always be ready to protect you, from every violence and oppression. . . .

The British are flattering you with conquest, and exciting your apprehensions respecting religious liberty. They deceive you in both. . . .

Having given you this information, I have only to remark, that I shall be exceedingly obliged to you, to contribute all your power to relieve the unfortunate wounded at Guilford. . . . I shall be able to judge  of your feelings as men, and principles as a society.”

The Society of Friends at New-Garden’s reply, also reprinted in the newspaper a decade later, indicates that:

we shall do all that lies in our power; although . . . from our present situation we are ill able to assist. . .  as the Americans have lain much upon us, and of late the British have plundered and entirely broke up many amongst us. . . . but, notwithstanding all this . . . we have as yet made no distinction as to party and their cause, as we have now none to commit our cause to, but God alone”

What knowledge do you have to share about the original letter, and why do you think it was reprinted so many years later in the North Carolina Chronicle; or, Fayetteville Gazette?


If you’re interested in the history of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in North Carolina and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, you might be interested in these titles from the Government & Heritage Library:

Copy of sketch of New Garden Quaker community, Guilford Co., North Carolina, time of battle of Guilford Court House (March 15, 1781), Digital Collections

Minutes of North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends  … (18721908, 1911-1912, 1915, 1945)

Babits, Lawrence E. and Joshua B. Howard, Long, obstinate, and bloody : the Battle of Guilford Courthouse (2009)

Hilty, Hiram H., New Garden Friends Meeting : the Christian people called Quakers (1983)

Newlin, Algie I., The Battle of New Garden (1977)

(Webinar) Genealogy Online: Navigating the State Library and State Archives’ Digital Collections

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Curious to learn more about the online genealogical materials of the Government & Heritage Library (State Library of North Carolina) and State Archives of North Carolina? Curious about how to get your library’s genealogical materials online, too?

Join us for an overview of all things family records in the North Carolina Digital Collections. This webinar is designed for North Carolina library and archives staff, and will cover materials from several digital collections of the State Library and State Archives, including Family Records, State Publications, Alien Registration and Naturalization Records, War of 1812 Pay Vouchers, and Women, Marriage, and the Law. You will learn about how these materials can be found in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), and how you can work with DigitalNC to get your materials online and similarly discoverable through DPLA.

This webinar is presented by Ashley Yandle of the State Archives of North Carolina and Rachel Trent and Kathleen Kenney of the State Library of North Carolina.

Register here (space is limited!):

This blog is a service of the State Library of North Carolina, part of the NC Department of Cultural Resources. Blog comments and posts may be subject to Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.