North Carolina Collection Events and Exhibits

Rip Van Winkle No More: North Carolina in the 1840s

Exhibition Dates: September 1, 2015 - January 2016

Rip Van Winkle No More

New this fall in Joyner Library’s Special Collections Division is a staff choice exhibition entitled Rip Van Winkle No More: North Carolina in the 1840s. Canvasing a variety of resources, the display concentrates on print materials from the Langford North Carolina Collection with some additional highlights from the East Carolina Manuscript Collection.

For North Carolina, the decade of the 1840s was a period of revival.  In prior years, the state’s principal spokesman in Congress, Nathaniel Macon unrelentingly advocated a policy of minimalist government.  Essentially North Carolina slept while the rest of the nation moved forward. Largely due to Governor Nathaniel Macon’s rejection of internal improvements, North Carolina earned her nickname on the national front as the “Rip Van Winkle” state. Leading the exhibit is a rare copy of Edward R. Cotten’s Life of Nathaniel Macon published in 1840.

Other featured materials provide insight on a variety of subject matter, from the completion of the state capitol and first public school opening, both occurring in 1840, to the opening of an institution for the instruction of deaf and dumb persons in 1845, the anti-slavery movement, participation in the Mexican-American War (1847-48), the state’s mineral wealth, the new technology of photography and the dawn of the Victorian era in general.

Special highlights include an original first edition of the autobiography, The Narrative of Lunsford Lane, formerly of Raleigh, N.C., Embracing an Account of His Early Life, the Redemption by Purchase of Himself and Family from Slavery, and his Banishment from the Place of His Birth for the Crime of Wearing a Colored Skin, a pamphlet and recently discovered circular dealing with  the laying of the cornerstone for the School of the Deaf and Dumb in Raleigh in 1848 and a tract by North Carolina Quakers  on the question of slave ownership among their body (1848).

From the East Carolina Manuscript Collection and perhaps of pivotal interest are selections from the Getsinger Family Papers originating from the estate of the late J. Sam Getsinger of Williamston, N.C. Getsinger’s grandfather, John Conrad Getsinger, Sr. was a sergeant in Company E. of the 1st of N.C. Volunteers during the Mexican War. Correspondence from Getsinger notes deprivations and hardships experienced by himself and comrades from Martin and Edgecombe counties during the conflict. Another remarkable piece is a surviving book of colored drawings sketched by Sgt. Getsinger during his stay in Mexico.

Located on the third floor of Joyner Library in the gallery of the Verona Langford North Carolina Collection, the exhibit runs from September 1, 2015 through January 2016.  For hours, directions, and parking, see Joyner Library’s About Us page at

Fred Harrison is Curator for Exhibits in the North Carolina Collection.

North Carolina Collection Events and Exhibits - Joyner Library

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