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Commemorating the U.S. Entry into World War I

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To follow North Carolina’s history in World War I on social media, use the hashtag #NCWW1 (note: use the number “1” not an uppercase letter “I”)!

Today marks the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I, at the time called the “European war”.  On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson requested a declaration of war from the U.S. Congress. Four days later on April 6, Congress voted to declare war on Germany.  It was the 4th time the Congress had enacted a declaration of war. Several months later on December  7, the U.S. declared war on Austria-Hungary.

Iredell County World War I Memorial, Statesville, NC. From North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.

Iredell County World War I Memorial, Statesville, NC. From North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection, UNC Chapel Hill. More information on the memorial is available from Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina in NCpedia.

Wilson’s used the phrases “a war to end all wars” and “make the world safe for democracy” to confirm both a sense of the moral urgency to enter the conflict and some sense of optimism that war could even accomplish these goals.  World War I surely didn’t end the prospect of war for future generations, but it was truly a war that changed everything — from the devastating loss of a generation of young men who went to war, to loss of children and families, homes, towns and cities and culture to the very way war came to be fought.  It changed the course of science and technology.

For its part, North Carolina sent more than 80,000 soldiers overseas to the war effort and made many contributions and sacrifices from the home front. The U.S. Senate approved the declaration with a vote of 82-6, with both of North Carolina’s senators in support.  In the House of Representatives, sentiment was not nearly as unilateral, with a final vote of 373-50.  Congressman Claude Kitchin, a supporter and ally of Wilson, made a bold declaration against entry into the war.  He is remembered for delivering a passionate speech against when called on for his vote. He was applauded by both supporters of the war and those who stood with him and was later both renounced and revered for his stand. You can read more about him here in NCpedia. And of the war, the state’s governor, Thomas W. Bickett, who led the state through the troubled time said: “This is no ordinary war. It is a war of ideals.”

From now through the centennial of the conclusion of the war in 2018, we will be contributing to the commemorative effort by sharing North Carolina’s history in World War I — from its men and women who served on the battlefield to efforts on the home front.  We will try to bring you closer to stories, events, people and places by sharing collections and resources that bring the history a little closer to home.  Along the way, we’ll also share resources and collections that might help family history researchers locate records from family members who served.

(more…)

November is Native American Heritage Month!

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North Carolina Museum of History American Indian Heritage Celebration website. Click here for more information, schedule of events, and videos from previous years.

North Carolina Museum of History American Indian Heritage Celebration website. Click here for more information, schedule of events, and videos from previous years.

November is Native American Heritage Month.  And if you happen to be near Raleigh this weekend, visit the North Carolina Museum of History’s 21st Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration. The festival includes musicians, dancers, artists, storytellers, and authors from North Carolina’s tribal communities.  Visit and learn about the state’s American Indian culture! To see a schedule of the day’s events (and a preview from photos and video of past years’ celebrations), visit this page: http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/events/AIHC-2016/photos-and-videos.

Efforts to honor American Indians with a national commemoration began more than a century ago. Arthur Caswell Parker, an historian, anthropologist and member of the Seneca Nation, was the first American Indian to hold the post of Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, and he was a vocal advocate of citizenship rights for Native Americans and the adoption of national commemorative day.  Parker was a founder of the Society of American Indians and the National Congress of American Indians.  At Parker’s urging, the Boy Scouts of America observed a day for American Indians for a few years during the early decades of the 20th century.

And then in 1915, the National Congress of American Indians approved a plan to authorize its president, the Rev. Sherman Coolidge, a member of the Arapahoe Nation, to ask the U.S. Congress to honor an American Indian Day. President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation on September 28, 1915 declaring the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day. The following year, New York proclaimed the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day.  Other states joined the effort at various times throughout the 20th century, designating a special day, although not always in May, to celebrate the heritage and contributions to the nation of American Indians.

In 1976, the U.S. Congress authorized President Gerald Ford to proclaim a week in October as Native American Awareness Week.  Since that time, the President and Congress have issued annual proclamations for the observance.  In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint Congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month, and similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.  This year, on October 31, President Obama declared November as National Native American Heritage Month.

Today, the state of North Carolina is home to more than 100,000 persons who are American Indians.  You can learn about North Carolina’s tribal communities by visiting the North Carolina Commission of Indians Affairs at: http://ncadmin.nc.gov/citizens/american-indians/nc-tribal-communities.

— Kay Tillotson, Genealogical Research Librarian, Government & Heritage Library

For more information on the history of honoring American Indians, American Indian tribes, and North Carolina’s American Indian tribes and heritage, visit these resources:

Library closing: The Government and Heritage Library including Genealogical Services will be closed Friday, November 11, 2016 through Saturday, November 12, 2016 for Veterans Day.

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All Veterans Memorial, Asheboro, NC, from Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina.

All Veterans Memorial, Asheboro, NC, from Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina.

Library closing: The Government and Heritage Library, including Genealogical Services, will be closed Friday, November 11, 2016 and Saturday, November 12, 2016 for Veterans Day.

In observance of the Veterans Day state holiday, the Government & Heritage Library will be closed on Friday, November 11, 2016 and Saturday, November 12, 2016.  We will reopen for our normal business hours on Monday, November 14 at 9 a.m.

If you are considering attending a commemorative event, a website called VetFriends has a listing of some events and parades in communities around the state: https://www.vetfriends.com/parades/directory.cfm?state=NC.

And if you would like to learn more about the history of commemorations and memorials in communities around the state, please visit Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina: http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/.  You can also learn more about the state’s military history and its veterans in the NCpedia: http://ncpedia.org/gsearch?query=veterans

Thank you to our veterans near and far for your service and sacrifice and best wishes for this holiday weekend,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories and Spooky Legends Online and In Print

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Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories and Spooky Legends Online and In Print

Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil's Horse's Hoofprints. Image from the 1927 "North Carolina Today." From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.

Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil’s Horse’s Hoofprints. Image from the 1937 “North Carolina Today.” From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.

It’s that time of year again — Halloween.  And North Carolina has more than a few legends to raise your hair and give you a cold chill.  Some of North Carolina’s reportedly haunted places are the subject of legendary sightings of supernatural phenomenon; others are sites where real-life tragedies have occurred and have become woven into the fabric of local legend.

Visit NCpedia to read about a handful of the most well-known of the state’s spooky stories and haunted places. The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge, the Eternal Hoofprints and the Devil’s Tramping Ground, in particular, might give you decent shiver!

The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge — train wreck in 1891 in Statesville, a legendary re-sighting in 1941, with a new event in 2010.

The Maco Light —  from the fatal train wreck in Brunswick County in 1867 and siting of the lights by a U.S. president.

The Devil’s Horse’s Hoof Prints — ghostly holes in the ground near Bath since 1813.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground — in western Chatham County, an eerie circle in the woods where nothing will grow.

The Brown Mountain Lights — mysterious, unexplained light phenomena on the Burke-Caldwell County line.

And if you’d like to dig a bit deeper, here are a few print volumes with tales of haunted North Carolina:

Tanenbaum, Linda Duck, and Barry McGee. 2002. Ghost tales from the North Carolina Piedmont. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.

Williams, Stephanie Burt. 2003. Ghost stories of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: remnants of the past in a new South. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.

Russell, Randy, and Janet Barnett. 1988. Mountain ghost stories and curious tales of western North Carolina. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair.

Morgan, Fred T. 1992. Haunted Uwharries: ghost stories, witch tales and other strange happenings from North America’s oldest mountains. Asheboro, N.C.: Down Home Press.

Starbuck, Richard W., and Lu Newman. 2002. Ghosts of Salem and other tales. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Moravian Archives.  

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

— Kelly Agan, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

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