History for All the People

History for all the People

100 Years of Public History in North Carolina


1903—The North Carolina Historical Commission was created through the passage of Chapter 767, Public Laws of 1903. The first meeting was held in Warsaw, N.C., with three of the five members present.

1907—An amendment to the original act called for historical records to be brought to the commission either to be donated or to have certified copies made. The commission also was charged with marking and preserving battlefields, houses and other historic places, and encouraging the study of North Carolina history.

1907—R.D.W. Connor began his duties as first Secretary of the Historical Commission.

1908—The first documentary volumes are published: The Beginnings of Public Education in North Carolina, edited by Charles L. Coon; and The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, collected and edited by J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton.



1914—Commission took over Hall of History and began its move from Capitol to the Administration building

1917—Legislature appropriated $2500 per year for two years to be used by the Historical Commission to purchase historical markers, no more than $100 per marker contingent on matching funds.



1922—The first volume of the Records of the Moravians was published. Adelaide Fries, archivist of the Wachovia Historical Society, translated and edited the documents ranging from 1752-1771.

1924—The North Carolina Historical Review was launched as a quarterly with a subscription rate of $2 per year. Circulation by July was around 1000.

1929—Mrs. William N. Reynolds made the first contribution ($3500) towards the restoration of Tryon Palace.



1935—The Indian Antiquities Law, passed largely through the efforts of the Archaeological Society of North Carolina, encouraged citizens to turn over Indian artifacts to the the Historical Commission and made it a misdemeanor to destroy or sell relics found on state owned property.

1935-The Legislature passed a bill authorizing the Highway and Public Works Commission to appropriate $5000 per year from 1935-1937 for erecting highway historical markers. The first marker was erected 10 Jan. 1936 in Granville County marking the home of John Penn.

1935—The Public Records Law (ch. 265) defined public records, prohibited sale, loan, etc.; required records to be maintained properly and made available. Chapter 300 made it unlawful to steal, disfigure or sell property of a museum, library or other state office.

1936—The Indian mound near Mt. Gilead drew attention of the Archaeological Society of North Carolina and excavations were begun by Joffre Coe of the University of North Carolina. The owner of the land, Lloyd D. Frutchey, donated the mound and the surrounding acre in 1937. It was known as Frutchey State Park until the 1940s when it became Town Creek Indian Mound.

1937—The Legislature appropriated money for a new building and the Historical Commission was assigned the whole first floor and about half of the basement. In 1939 the Historical Commission and Hall of History moved into the new building at the northwest corner of Salisbury and Edenton Streets.

1939—Original plans for Tryon Palace were located at New York Historical Society, British Public Records Office, and in the Library of Congress, triggering activity and discussions related to excavation and restoration.

1939—Christopher Crittenden was instrumental in the formation of North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, and the principal offices were established at the Historical Commission.



1941—An agreement was reached between the Genealogical Society of Utah (Mormons), the Works Progress Administration, and the Historical Commission allowing the Mormons to microfilm North Carolina public records. The Historical Commission permitted filming of their records in Raleigh and assisted with filming at the county level.

1943—The agency's name was changed to the State Department of Archives and History, better describing the function of the agency, and the importance and permanence.

1944—Maude Moore Latham Trust Fund established with a gift of $100,000 for the purpose of restoration of Tryon Palace.

1945—The Legislature appropriated $150,000 for purchase of the Tryon Palace site and established the 25 member Tryon Palace Commission.

1949—1663 Carolina Charter acquired by "citizens" for over $6000 and presented to Archives and History. It had been sent to North Carolina on approval and was studied for a year to try to determine authenticity.

1948-50 bienn.—Archives and History began to institute records management plan, developing plans for the retirement or disposal of non-current state agency records. A makeshift records center for the storage of semi-current records was opened and staff began helping out with records management in the counties, providing advice on record value, and helping with schedules.



1952—Archives and History began publishing bimonthly newsletter-Carolina Comments.

1953—Tar Heel Junior Historian program was launched by the Hall of History and the first clubs were organized in 1954.

1953—The Legislature established Historic Sites Commission and the Historic Sites Division and in 1955 they took over operation of seven state-owned sites from Conservation and Development. The properties conveyed immediately were Tryon Palace, the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace, the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace, Town Creek Indian Mound, Alamance Battleground, the James Iredell House, and Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson.

1958—The addition of Brunswick Town to Historic Sites resulted in the hiring of an archaeologist and developing an archaeological program.

1959—The Legislature established the Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission and the North Carolina Confederate Centennial Commission.

1959—Tryon Palace opened to the public with a series of ceremonies and on April 8, both houses of the General Assembly met there.



1960—Archives and History began developing a site at Fort Fisher and in 1961 the remains became a National Historic Landmark. Attendance at the fort was boosted by the recovery of the Modern Greece (a Civil War blockade-runner), which began in 1962. Salvage of the Modern Greece led to establishment of the underwater archaeology program and preservation lab at Fort Fisher.

1961—Legislation was passed (Ch. 132, General Statutes) expanding the State Records Section's responsibilities in records management and their personnel. Local Records were also covered by this statute, with Archives and History to advise and assist local governments in records management practices.

1961—The Microfilm Services Center was established. It included the newspaper filming project and a processing lab (prior to that all film was processed commercially).

1962—Zeb Vance's Governor's Letterbooks (with index) covering 1862-64 that had been seized by Federal troops during the Civil War were returned in 1962 as part of centennial observation.

1963—The Legislature appropriated $3,050,000 for new Archives-State Library building.

1963—The first volume of Colonial Records, second series was published.

1963CSS Neuse raised by a house mover from Rose Hill for the centennial. Archives and History got permission from Caswell Memorial Commission to relocate the ironclad to the memorial park.

1964-66 bienn.—Upon termination of the Confederate Centennial Commission, the Civil War Roster Project moved to Publications. The first volume, Artillery, was delivered from printshop in June 1966.

1965—Dedications held at Bentonville Battlefield and Bennett Place State Historic Sites, during Civil War Centennial celebration.

1965—The Hall of History changed its name to the North Carolina Museum of History in anticipation of move to new facility.

1966—The U.S. Dept of the Interior recognized Reed Gold Mine as a National Historic Landmark. In 1969 Archives and History began negotiations with the current owners of the property and the sale to the state was completed in December 1971.

1967—The systematic, statewide historic building survey was initiated by what is now the Historic Preservation Office.

1968—The first Pioneer Living Day was held at Vance Birthplace. The event, including demonstrations of historical daily household activities, is the oldest ongoing special event program within sites, now held semi-annually.

1969—North Carolina submited its first nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, for the Halifax Historic District.

1969—The new Archives-State Library building on Jones Street was dedicated on May 15.



1971—The Executive Reorganization of 1971 formed the Dept of Art, Culture , and History, effective February 1972. In May 1973, further reorganization changed the name to the Department of Cultural Resources.

1971—The David Marshall "Carbine" Williams shop was moved to the Museum of History and reconstructed exactly as it had been while in use. The museum had to alter its planned building layout in order to accommodate this exhibit.

1973—The state's archaeological program was established, including the Archaeology Section and the Archaeological Advisory Committee. The underwater archaeology program was moved into the Archaeology Section.

1973—The Archaeology Section participated in the identification of the remains of the USS Monitor. In January 1975 the Monitor, located 16 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, became the first National Marine Sanctuary.

1974-76 bienn.—Archaeology developed an environmental assessment program, designed to assess a project's potential impact on archaeological resources before funds or permits were issued. During this biennium they reviewed 5,000 projects, resulting in the conservation of almost 2,000 archaeologically significant sites.

1975—The State Capitol/Visitor Services Section was created. Vistor Center formally opened March 1976.

1975—The Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies was formed.

1975—The new State Records Center was completed. Due to a freeze in funds, the move of records (75,000 cu ft) took 35 months, thus completed in September 1978.

1976—Congress authorized federal investment tax credits for qualifying rehabilitations of income-producing National Register properties. Carr Mill Mall in Carrboro is the first in North Carolina to take advantage of the credit.

1976—The State Capitol re-opened after having been closed nine months for interior restoration.

1977Spencer Shops (now the North Carolina Transportation Museum) became a state historic site, and in September the Southern Railway gave the state more than three acres including three key structures in Rowan County. The Transportation History Corporation was formed as a non-profit educational group to support and enhance state work at site.

1977Stagville Preservation Center opened, on 71 acres donated by the Liggett Group, Inc., as the first state-owned center for the study and diffusion of knowledge in historic preservation in the country.

1978-80 bienn.—CUMAS (Cultural Materials Accession System) — a data processing system for accessions — was developed and used by Historic Sites, Tryon Palace, and the Museum of History.

1978—The Western Office of Archives and History opened, representing all facets of Archives and History.

1978The Black Presence in North Carolina, funded in part by $76K NEH grant, opened at the Museum of History as the first major exhibit devoted to minority history.

1979—The Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, the Museum of History's first regional service branch, was acquired. The facility had been open since 1967.



1981—The passage of the "Archaeological Resources Protection Act" (North Carolina General Statutes Ch. 70, Article 2) and the "Unmarked Burial and Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act" (NCGS Ch. 70, Article 3) had profound effect on Archaeology.

1982—Craftsmen began building the Elizabeth II, a fifty-ton sailing vessel in the sixteenth-century style. Launched in 1983 and finished in the water in early 1984, it was dedicated July 13, 1984 by Princess Anne of Great Britain.

1982—Western Regional Museum Service Center opened at Old Fort, and the Mountain Gateway Museum turned over to the state to be the second regional history museum.

1983—UNC Press published the five volume set The Way We Lived In North Carolina. The series (currently being revised for reissue) used state historic sites and other historic places as examples in text, and emphasized ordinary people.

1983Eastern Office of Archives and History opened in the historic Humber House in Greenville.

1984-86 bienn.—FAIDS, a computerized finding aids system, was developed for the State Archives. The name was changed in 1988 to MARS, for Manuscript and Archives Reference System.

1984—The Legislature allocated money for the state's first historic site dedicated to African American history and a memorial to Charlotte Hawkins Brown.

1985—The Museum of History hosted its first international exhibit, Raleigh and Roanoke, following seven years of planning. Many of the artifacts came from the British Library as part of America's 400th anniversary celebration.

1986—The first homecoming of descendants of plantation slaves was hosted at Somerset Place.

1987—North Carolina's Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the northeast grounds of the State Capitol was dedicated.

1988—The Museum of the Cape Fear opened. It was the third of the state's regional history museums.

1988—The Outer Banks History Center, constructed as an addition to the Elizabeth II Visitor Center, opened. It was built to house the David Stick Library, a large collection of North Caroliniana.



1990—Survey and Planning's Catherine Bishir published North Carolina Architecture, culminating twenty years of work. The project was sponsored by Preservation North Carolina.

1991—Underwater Archaeology dedicated the first state-designated historic shipwreck preserve, the USS Huron at Nags Head.

1992—The Museum of History began its move into the new building, which officially opened in April 1994.

1995—The first agency Web site — for the State Public Records Cataloging Services group, and providing guidelines for managing electronic records — was launched.

1996—With the transfer of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse to the state, the Iredell House Historic Site changed its name to Historic Edenton State Historic Site.

1996—Hurricanes Bertha (July) and Fran (September) damaged various historic sites. Fran also caused damage to the archives' off-site storage at the Old State Farmers Market.

1997—An announcement was made by Cultural Resource and Archives and History that a shipwreck was found that was believed to be the Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge. Intersal, Inc., a private firm working under an underwater archaeological permit located the wreck at Beaufort Inlet where Blackbeard reportedly ran the QAR aground in 1718.

1997—The North Carolina Maritime Museum was transferred from the Department of Agriculture to Archives and History. It was designated as the facility to curate the artifacts collected from the ship believed to be the QAR.

1998—The 1997 Legislature's 30% income tax credit for rehabilitation of non-income-producing properties went into effect. There was also an increase in credit for income-producing properties, from 5% to 20%.

1998—An arsonist set fire to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, destroying the roof and badly damaging several rooms.

1998—The North Carolina Newspaper project completed its NEH grant-funded microfilming as part of the United States Newspaper Program. The program had been operating for forty years total, with and without grant money.

1999—Hurricane Floyd hit in September. The hardest hit was CSS Neuse, which was under three feet of floodwater and the visitor center was nearly destroyed.

1999—Tryon Palace launched a research initiative to document the history of African-Americans in New Bern and the lower Cape Fear region.



2001—The reorganization of Archives and History into three divisions under the new Office of Archives and History became effective in October. The new divisions are State History Museums, State Historic Sites, and Historical Resources.

2003—Office of Archives and History's Centennial Celebration!


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