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Women’s History

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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Martha McFarlane McGee Bell

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In honor of women’s history month, we will look at some articles about women from NCpedia as examples of how to trace your female ancestors. This post will focus on verifying the marriages of Martha McFarlane McGee Bell, born around 1735 and died about 1820.

Background

Martha first married John McGee about 1759. According to published memoirs about Martha (see source list below), John had been previously married with two children of his own. John left a will in 1774. At the time of John’s decease, there were five children. A few years later around 1779, Martha married William Bell. Martha died in 1820 while William died in 1821.

Problem

Although there are multiple sources that share information about her, few of them cite documentation to prove any of it. In the absence of reliable sources to back up the information, it is necessary to verify as much as possible through original records.

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Oral history series now included in NCpedia

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"Listening to History" in NCpedia. Click here to visit the collection.

“Listening to History” in NCpedia. Click here to visit the collection.

What impression did the Glen Coal Mine Disaster leave on a seven year old who witnessed it?  What role did a student leader at Shaw University play in the Civil Rights movement? What was life like on the home front in World War II for women taking on traditional male jobs? What is the role of place in a person’s life and memory?

These and many other themes are brought to life in captivating, personal stories found in David Cecelski’s “Listening to History” series, now included in NCpedia.

For ten years, historian David Cecelski’s monthly “Listening to History” series appeared in a Sunday edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. The oral history series included personal histories of important events as well as of daily life in North Carolina in different places and times. Photographs of the interviewees, many taken by the News & Observer’s Chris Seward, add an even deeper connection to the pieces. The series began as part of the “Listening for a Change” project supported through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Southern Oral History Program.

Through a collaboration between David Cecelski, the News & Observer, and the N.C. Government & Heritage Library, all of “Listening to History” pieces may now be found in NCpedia at http://ncpedia.org/listening-to-history/.

Take a look, and let us know what gems you find!

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries

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picture of a nurse during WWII

In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to highlight the database North American Women’s Letters and Diaries, which contain letters and diaries for approximately 1,325 women in over 150,000 pages. It’s the largest collection of its kind. The letters and diaries are from women of all ages and ethnicities that were collected from primarily published sources, but also about 6,000 unpublished sources as well. All documents in the database date from colonial times to the mid twentieth century.

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