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Celebrating African American History Month: new @NCpedia exploring history and lives at the local level

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Historian, cultural thinker, and author Joseph Amato wrote in his 2002 book Rethinking Home: A Case for Writing Local History that “All history is local.”

Countering a view of local history as “the stepchild” of the history profession, in the book Amato argues for an approach to uncovering and exploring history that digs deeply and unceasingly into history at the local level.  By unearthing and sharing the vast range of regional and local history, new understandings develop and voice is given to versions of history that expose new historical themes or may go against common understandings of national and global themes.  At the same time, researching and writing about local history can also help illuminate and support understandings of broader established historical themes.

Photograph of H.B. Sugg and Aurelia Sugg [date unknown]. From the collection of Eulalia Williams. Used by permission.

Photograph of H.B. Sugg and Aurelia Sugg [date unknown]. From the collection of Eulalia Williams. Used by permission.

This week we are sharing local history for African American History Month.  And we are also celebrating historians and researchers who are passionate about ensuring that these important local histories are told.

A BIG thank you to two of NCpedia’s newest contributors:  Steven Hill, a high school history teacher and local historian from Pitt County, and Sarah Carrier, the North Carolina Research & Instructional Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Without their efforts — and the efforts of many, many local historians — so many North Carolina lives and stories would still be left in darkness. Thank you!

Please check out recent additions to NCpedia that illuminate the lives, events, struggles, and achievements of African Americans in North Carolina:

Ann George Atwater

In this biographical essay, Carrier shares the extraordinary life of Ann Atwater, a lifelong civil rights activist in Durham. In addition to many efforts on the state and local front to address food scarcity, voting rights, education and housing, Atwater is also remembered for the extraordinary experience she had of developing a friendship with an adversary — Klu Klux Klan leader Claiborne Ellis. Through that friendship, Ellis later refused association with the Klan and turned away from racism.

Kellis Earl Parker

In this biographical essay, Carrier shares the life of Kellis Parker, lawyer, civil rights activist, scholar and musician from Kinston. After attending Howard University Law School, Kellis became the first African American law professor at Columbia University. Parker led the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund and wrote widely exploring legal remedies for racial issues. He was also the brother of renowned North Carolina musicians Melvin and Maceo Parker.

Henry Eppes

Hill has contributed this biography of Henry Eppes, Reconstruction politician and Senator from Halifax County, to tell the story of an important politician notably absent from the history books.  Born enslaved, after the Civil War Eppes worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau and became a delegate from the “Black Caucus” to the 1868 Constitutional Convention. He then served for seven terms in the state legislature.  Please visit this biography to learn more:

Charles Montgomery Eppes

Hill contributed this biography about the son of Henry Eppes (see above). C. M. Eppes became instrumental in establishing and improving educational opportunities for blacks in Greenville.  A man who was able to successfully manage adversity and controversy throughout his career, Eppes’ approach and politics were tied closely to those of Booker T. Washington, and he was at times at odds with members of the community and movement who believed in more aggressive action in the civil rights movement.  His story helps illustrate the complexity of the movement.

Denison Dover Garrett 

African American civil rights pioneer, NCCAP leader, civic leader, and Greenville businessman, D. D. Garrett spent his life persisting in the fight for rights and breaking down Jim Crow era color barriers.  Hill’s essay recounts Garrett’s experience in the military during WWII, his business endeavors, his later leadership of the local chapter of the NAACP, and his later recollections of life in the Jim Crow South.  He was elected as the first African American member of the Pitty County Board of Commissioners. Garrett has been remembered as courageous and persistent, a man who worked and accomplished much as a statesman through peaceful relations and diplomacy. Please visit this extended biographical essay.

Herman Bryan (H.B.) Sugg

Continuing his work on Pitt County educational history, Hill has contributed an extended biography on H.B. Sugg. Sugg spent his professional career leading the effort to improve education and schools for blacks in Farmville during segregation.  He later became the first African American to be elected to Farmville’s school board. Like the efforts of C. M. Eppes and D. D. Garrett, Sugg’s efforts and approach also help illustrate the complexities of the civil rights movement and the precarious position of blacks in the divided power structure — as Hill writes in the biography: “The racially divided power structure placed leaders like Sugg in a delicate position. Sugg’s actions as a leader speak to his adroit navigation of potentially dangerous realities to achieve tangible progress for African Americans while not compromising or losing the support of neither the white nor black communities.”

To learn more about history the history of African Americans in North Carolina, please visit this collection in NCpedia:

— Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library





Drop-In Genealogy Class – Second Wednesday of the Month

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Free Drop-In Genealogy Class: Second Wednesday of Month 

Free Drop-In Genealogy Class, November 8, 2017. 9AM-9:45AM, 109 E. Jones Street Raleigh, NC

Please join us on the second Wednesday of the month for a free drop-in class on how to get started in genealogy and family history research! The staff of the Government & Heritage Library will show you how to get stay organized in your research and basic genealogy concepts and techniques.

Class details:
2nd Wednesday of the Month – 9:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Government & Heritage Library:
109 E. Jones Street, Raleigh, NC


Streaming Tips for the Virtual Family History Fair

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Streaming Tips

Start @Home: North Carolina Virtual Family History Fair

Start @Home North Carolina Virtual Family History Fair

Will you be tuning into the 2017 North Carolina Virtual Family History Fair?

Watch free online live streaming genealogy/local history presentations starting at 10AM, EST, 

Presented by the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina. Presentations will focus on local collections and resources for local and family history research. Local records, libraries and archives are a treasure trove of excellent information to Start @Home for research. For a complete schedule of presentations please go here,


Tips & Tricks for successful viewing of the Virtual Family History Fair via Livestream:

  • A PC or laptop is recommended for best quality stream.
  • A wired internet connection is strongly recommended.
  • Download the Livestream app if viewing on mobile device.
  • Make sure your volume is turned up (PC, speakers, etc.).
  • Do a pre-event run-through prior to the broadcast.
  • There will be a link to the streaming presentations via – 
  • Direct link to NC Dept. of Natural & Cultural Resources channel –

Help from Livestream:



Evening Hours: Library & Archives Open until 8:00 pm on October 27, 2017

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Extended hours: Friday, October 27, 2017. Open until 8pm. State Archives of North Carolina and Government and Heritage Library, 109 E. Jones Street, Raleigh.

The Government & Heritage Library and State Archives of North Carolina will have evening research hours on Friday, October 27, 2017. Both repositories will stay open until 8:00 pm. Spend your Friday night with us doing North Carolina and family history research.  If you are in town for the the North Carolina Genealogical Society’s Fall Conference  please stop by! Everyone is welcomed!

More info:



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