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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.

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New in NCpedia: North Carolina Women

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New in NCpedia:  North Carolina Women

North Carolina Women: Portrait of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Susie Marshall Sharp. From the Waller Collection, PhC.14, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina. Used with permission.

North Carolina Women: Portrait of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Susie Marshall Sharp. From the Waller Collection, PhC.14, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina. Used with permission.

Women’s history month is rushing by!  Before it passes, NCpedia has new biographies to share on North Carolina women. These entries come us from our content partners at the University of North Carolina Libraries, the Research Branch of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, and the North Carolina Symphony.

If you’re in for a little browsing, visit this link to all NCpedia bios about women: http://www.ncpedia.org/biography/women

New NCpedia entries:

  • Marie Watters Colton — first female speaker Pro Tempore of the NC House of Representatives.
  • Elizabeth “Libba” Nevills Cotten — Carrboro native and key figure in the 1960s folk music revival.
  • Mary Claire Engstrom — long-time Hillsborough resident and instrumental in founding the town’s Historical Society and chronicling the history of Orange County.
  • Mary Nicholson — Early female commercial pilot from Greensboro, joined the British Air Transport Auxiliary during WWII.
  • Anne Penland — from Asheville, Penland became a pioneering nurse anesthetist and was the first women to serve as an anesthetist on the European front in WWI, in a British base hospital.
  • Susie Marshall Sharp — ground-breaking first female judge in the state’s history, first female member of the State Supreme Court and its first female Chief Justice.
  • Maxine Swallin — along with her husband, Benjamin Swallin, she helped revive the floundering North Carolina Symphony in the 1930s.

–Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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Celebrating African American History Month: New in NCpedia

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Celebrating African American History Month: New in NCpedia

NCpedia has new entries to celebrate North Carolina’s African American heritage. These entries were shared with NCpedia by a number of our valued content partners and collaborators: the North Carolina Arts Council, North Carolina State University Libraries, and the State Archives of North Carolina. Visit NCpedia to learn more — and if you have a comment, question or personal story to share about these biographies and historical moments, please let us know by contributing a comment on the article page!  We love to hear from viewers!

African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina: Kinston Area: This article introduces viewers to Kinston’s musical heritage and serves as a launch point for a collection of related biographies and stories:

Brymn_James_Timothy

Lieutenant J. Tim Brymn, director of the U.S. 350th Field Artillery Band. Image provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.

John Henry Fortescue: Becoming Guitar Shorty — an entry about a one-of-a-kind, self-taught blues musician from Elm City.

Maceo and Melvin Parker: Early Influences — legendary brothers from Kinston, the Parkers both performed with James Brown and went on to their own solo careers. Maceo Parker received the North Carolina Heritage Award in 2016.

James Brown Band: “Almost Like a Kinston Band”— shares the legendary musician’s influence on and discovery of Kinston musicians.

Geneva Perry: From the International Sweethearts of Rhythm to Adkin High — Geneva Perry, a member of the 1940s all-women, multi-racial big band the International Sweethearts, taught music at Kinston’s Adkin High School.

Adkin High School Walkout 1951, Kinston, NC — shares the historical moment in 1951 when students of Kinston’s racially segregated high school staged a walkout to protest after their plea to the school board for educational resources was denied.

James Timothy Brymn — a Kinston musical legacy and early Jazz composer, Brymn studied at Shaw University and then went on National Conservatory of Music of America. His legendary compositions of the early decades of the 20th century were among the first to use the word “jazz.”

Dazelle Foster Lowe — shares the story of a leader in the establishment of home demostration for the state’s black communities beginning in World War I.

John William Mitchell — Mitchell, a pioneer in the establishment of extension service support for African Americans in North Carolina in the early decades of the 20th century became the first head of the newly created extension service office at N.C. A&T in 1922.

James William Alston — shares the life of a North Carolinian who served in the U.S. Army, worked at the State Museum (today’s Museum of Natural Sciences) and was among the first class of African Americans to be trained as military officers at the all-African American officers training school at Fort Dodge, IA on the eve of World War I.

— Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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.