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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: http://bit.ly/Oct27research

 

 

Meet Your North Carolina State Symbols!

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Did you know that North Carolina has 56 state symbols and official adoptions?  Yes! And — finally — the state symbol is getting its day!  On Saturday June 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., North Carolina’s state symbols will be featured at a special event at the Capitol: “Meet Your State Symbols.”  The event will take place on the grounds of the Capitol building in Raleigh.  The GHL will be on hand with a ‘pop-up’ state symbol library featuring information and fun activities to help folks learn about the state’s heritage and history.  You can even vote for your favorite and be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter to find out the winner!

Why does North Carolina have state symbols?

Every year, thousands of school kids across the state work on projects to learn about the state’s symbols.  They have lots of questions, like: what are state symbols, anyway? why is milk the State Beverage and not Pepsi or Cheerwine?  why is the sweet potato the state vegetable?  Kids and adults alike ask questions like “the state has a Livermush Festival?!”

“Greetings from North Carolina,” postcard ca. 1930s, showing the goldenrod as the state flower. From North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

How did all of these adoptions come into being?  “Symbols” (like the flag and Great Seal) and other “official adoptions” are created by the North Carolina General Assembly. The General Assembly develops legislation (a bill) with language declaring a particular thing as the “official state (fill in the blank)”.  The bill is ratified by the General Assembly and is then signed into law by the Governor. The adoption of each state symbol is associated with a particular piece of legislation enumerated in the North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 145: State Symbols and Other Official Adoptions.

We often think of all of these adoptions as “state symbols” — like the flag, colors, Great Seal, bird, etc. — but the range of adoptions is really much more broad. Since the General Assembly adopted its first “symbol” in 1885 with legislation recognizing the official State Flag, it has adopted more representations of the state’s heritage and culture, from the State Dog to the State Marsupial to the State Reptile and the State Christmas Tree.  Some symbols are emblems or iconic representations of the state’s history and culture, such as the flag or the Great Seal.  Others represent the state’s unique natural heritage, such as the Cardinal and the Venus Fly Trap. Others, like the sweet potato, represent something that has been vital to sustaining the people or the economy. In recent years, the General Assembly has also adopted a number of festivals or events that are examples of the historical folk life and cultural heritage of the state’s communities and counties.

The state’s newest adoption came during the 2016 session when the General Assembly voted to adopt the Town of Warsaw (Duplin County) Veterans Day Parade as the State Veterans Day Parade (S.B. 160). The bill was signed into law by the Governor of North Carolina on June 24, 2016.  The adoption recognized the long history of the town’s parade, which dates back to their 1921 commemoration of Armistice Day.  The parade is believed to be the oldest, annual commemoration in the nation of what is now Veterans Day.

Does the General Assembly ever consider a symbol that it doesn’t adopt?

Sometimes bills are introduced for new adoptions, but they never make it through the legislative process. During the 2015-2016 legislative sessions two bills met this fate. On January 26, 2015, a bill was introduced for the adoption of the Old Fort Gold Festival, in McDowell County, as the official Gold Festival of North Carolina.  The festival has been celebrated during the first weekend in June since 2003.  And on March 4, 2015, a bill was introduced to name the Bobcat as the official State Cat. Fourth-graders at Benvenue Elementary School in Nash County wrote to their state legislator to recommend that the General Assembly adopt an official state cat to complement the state dog, the Plott Hound. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Bobbie Richardson, a Nash County Democrat. The General Assembly concluded the legislative session in 2015 without taking up either legislation for ratification.

Editorial, the Wilmington Evening Dispatch, January 29, 1912.

Editorial, the Wilmington Evening Dispatch, January 29, 1912.

Have people ever believed something to be a state symbol but it wasn’t “official”?

There are also examples of things being considered state symbols by virtue of popular understanding, but not by official legislative recognition. Take the state flower.

For a long time, the daisy was popularly believed to be the state’s flower. In the July 1917 issue of National Geographic, the daisy was listed as the state flower by “common consent.”  But this was unofficial.  In fact, adoption of state symbols, emblems, and mottos is often taken historically as a matter of pride and patriotism.  On January 29, 1912, a resident of Wilmington submitted an editorial to the Evening Dispatch lamenting the state’s failure to adopt a flower, while the majority of states had them (see image).

In 1921 the General Assembly did consider adoption of the ox eye daisy but failed to pass a resolution or bill.  By the 1930s, many folk also considered the goldenrod to be the state flower. It appeared on North Carolina themed postcards of the decade, titled as the state flower (see image).  And an article in the Burlington Daily Times News, April 1, 1933, mentions an “argument” between two journalists (Louis Graves of the Chapel Hill Weekly and Julian Miller of the Charlotte Observer) regarding the state flower. Apparently, Graves believed it to be the ox eye daisy, while Miller insisted on the goldenrod. In fact, neither was correct! At last in 1941 the General Assembly put the matter to rest, with the dogwood being firmly ensconced in the states official imagery, beating out the daisy, goldenrod, azalea, laurel, and others.

Are you ready to become a North Carolina State Symbol expert or just want to learn more about this unique aspect of the state’s history?

Check out these resources:

NCpedia:

State Symbols & Official Adoptions: ncpedia.org/symbols
North Carolina State Symbols Interactive Timeline: ncpedia.org/north-carolina-history-timeline-state-symbols
North Carolina State Symbols & Official Adoptions links to legislation: ncpedia.org/north-carolina-state-symbols-general-statutes

NC General Assembly, Laws of the State of NC Chapter 145 (State Symbols & Official Adoptions): http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/statutes/StatutesTOC.pl?Chapter=0145

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

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:

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.