Selected Primary Sources in the North Carolina Collection

Published Documentary Volumes

Colonial Period

Colonial Records of North Carolina   NoCar Ref F 251 N6 1993

            Includes letters and documents pertaining to Blackbeard, the Revolution, etc.

Correspondence of William Tryon and Other Selected Papers

NoCar Ref F 257 T79 A4 1980  also in NoCar Stacks

John Gray Blount Papers  NoCar Ref F 258 B5    also in NoCar Stacks

            Blount was from Beaufort County.

Antebellum Period

Papers of Archibald D. Murphey   NoCar Ref F 258 M975   also in NoCar Stacks

            Early nineteenth-century advocate of education and internal improvements.

William Alexander Graham Papers   NoCar Ref E 415.9 G7 A4   also in NoCar Stacks

            Progressive Whig governor in 1840s and anti-secession leader.

Civil War and Reconstruction

Papers of Thomas Jordan Jarvis   NoCar Ref J 87 N817x 1879   also in NoCar Stacks

            Governor, U.S. Senator, and “father” of East Carolina University; lived in Greenville.

Papers of William Woods Holden   NoCar Ref F 259 H714 2000

            Newspaper editor and controversial governor during Reconstruction; impeached and removed from office.

Papers of Zebulon Vance  NoCar Ref J 87 N817 1862   Volume 1 also in NoCar Stacks

Twentieth Century

[Papers of North Carolina governors]  NoCar Ref  J 87 N817 date

            Papers of Luther Hodges, Terry Sanford, and Dan Moore deal with racial desegregation.


Journal of a Secesh Lady: the Diary of Catherine Ann  Devereux Edmondston

            NoCar Ref E 487 E24   also in NoCar Stacks

            Good Civil War commentary.

Live Your Own Life: The Family Papers of Mary Bayard Clarke, 1854-1886

            NoCar Ref PS 1299 C6 Z469 2003

            Prominent literary figure of the late nineteenth century.

North Carolina Newspapers, 1751-present

The Microfilm Room contains more than 11,000 reels of newspapers on microfilm published in cities and towns throughout the state.  Eastern North Carolina newspapers are emphasized. These papers include a wealth of national, statewide, and local information as well as interesting advertisements.  Indexes for several early newspapers published in Edenton, New Bern and elsewhere are located in the Reference Collection, and an index of the Raleigh News and Observer (1927-1977) is located in the Microfilm Room.  Newspapers are cataloged in the online catalog.  A guide to the collection is available at and in the Microfilm Room.

Census Records, 1790-1930

Included in the Microfilm Room are the population schedules of all censuses, 1790-1930, for each county in North Carolina. The 1890 census for North Carolina (excepting portions of two counties in the Piedmont) was destroyed by fire. Special schedules include agriculture, 1850-1880;  manufacturing, 1820, 1850-1880; mortality, 1860-1880; slave, 1850-1860; and social statistics, 1850-1870.  Some of these schedules have been indexed.  For a listing of these indexes, see Indexes to United States Census Records in the North Carolina Collection, 1790-1930, available as a handout in the Reading Room or at


County Records on Microfilm

The North Carolina Collection's Microfilm Room houses original records of the counties listed below. Filmed by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, the records include most important series of interest to historians and genealogists, including court minutes, estates records, land records, marriage records, and wills. Also included are records of county commissioners and boards of education. The records generally date from the time of the formation of each county to 1900. A few series--notably land records and wills--include cross indexes that facilitate the location of specific records. Additional statewide or county-level indexes of certain record groups can be found in the Reference Collection by searching Joyner Library's online catalog, using a subject alphabetical search (example: Bertie County (N.C.)--Genealogy).  A guide to the collection is available at

County records are housed in a separate microfilm cabinet in alphabetical order by the name of the county. Records for each county are organized in the order they are listed on this website, based on a classification scheme developed by the North Carolina State Archives.

Counties:  Camden, Beaufort, Bertie, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck,  Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, and Washington.

Additional Microfilm Sources

The Microfilm Room contains the following groups of papers and institutional records:

Certificates of Registration and Enrollment Issued for Merchant Vessels at Beaufort, Edenton, Elizabeth City, New Bern, Ocracoke, Plymouth, Washington, and Wilmington, North Carolina, 1815-1902

Claude Kitchin Papers, 1879-1923 (North Carolina congressman)

Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, 1900-1919 (diaries and notebooks)

Papers of Zebulon Vance, 1827-1894 (North Carolina governor and U.S. Senator)

Thomas Bragg Diary, 1861-1862 (North Carolina governor, U.S. Senator, and Confederate cabinet member)

Thomas Burke Papers, 1763-1852 (North Carolina governor and poet)

U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.  Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of North Carolina

Wright Brothers Scrapbooks, 1901-1948


Among the more than 4,000 maps in the North Carolina Collection are U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, U.S. Coast Survey maps, and historical maps of North Carolina, counties and cities.  These are described in a guide available in the Reading Room and at  Available on microfilm are Sanborn Map Company maps for cities and towns throughout the state for the period 1884-1980.  Created for use by insurance companies to determine the risk of insuring property, these maps are highly detailed and accurate.  They were updated at regular intervals as towns or cities grew.  The maps show buildings, factories, and many other manmade features.  The uses of buildings and the materials with which they were constructed are indicated.  A guide to the collection is available in the Microfilm Room or at

Legal Materials and Other Government Documents

Session laws are a valuable source of local and state history.  Many of the session laws for the period to 1790 are transcribed in the Colonial and State Records of North Carolina (NoCar Ref F 251 N6 1968).  Subsequent laws and other legal sources are available in the microfilm set Records of the States of the United States of America [North Carolina], located in the Microfilm Room.  Later session laws (ca. 1840-present) can be found in the Reference Collection (NoCar Ref KFN 7425 A23  and NoCar Ref KFN 7425 A243).  Indexes to laws pertaining to counties are available (No Car Ref KFN 7440 S43 1  and No Car Ref  KFN 7821.5 S65 A3 1964).

Also available in the Reference Collection are the North Carolina Supreme Court Reports (NoCar Ref 7445 A3x).  They are indexed in West’s North Carolina Digest (NoCar Ref KFN 7457 N6 1990). They can be searched online using Lexis-Nexis Academic, available from the library’s Electronic Resources page (

State agencies’ annual or biennial reports contain a wealth of information about the operation of state government.  They include financial data, summaries of activities, and information about public education, health, labor, public welfare, transportation facilities, and many other topics. Early annual reports were compiled and published in one or more volumes.  They are located in the Reference Collection (NoCar Ref J 87 N82x).  The reports of some agencies were published separately.  The include:

Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (later Department of Labor)

NoCar HC 107 N8 A2

Early reports contain narrative statements about economic and labor conditions as reported by individuals in each county of the state.

Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina

NoCar L 184 B16

In addition to information about programs, these reports contain statistics and interior/exterior photographs of schools.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture.  Biennial Report  NoCar Ref S 97 A3

This series includes agricultural statistics, bulletins containing advice to farmers, and photographs of farms, livestock, agricultural commodities, and pests.

To locate state agency reports on other topics, ask for assistance at the North Carolina Collection’s Service Desk or online at

Digital History Resources

Eastern Carolina Digital History Exhibits

Eastern North Carolina Digital Library

--Maury York, Fall 2006


Selected Primary Sources in the North Carolina Collection - Joyner Library

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