Established in 1966 as an adjunct to the Department of History, the East Carolina Manuscript Collection became a unit of Academic Library Services in 1976. Since its earliest years the Collection has acquired historical manuscript materials related to North Carolina, the tobacco industry, worldwide missionary activities, and American military history, especially naval and maritime history. Currently the Collection is considered one of the leading repositories in the nation for modern naval and maritime history. Letters, diaries, photographs, financial and legal records, genealogical notes, reports, speeches, oral histories and other unpublished materials covering the period from before 1800 to the present provide a wealth of primary source materials for a vast array of research topics. The Collection presently contains more than 4,500 cubic feet of documentary materials and almost 500 hours of oral history memoirs. Collection curators are currently engaged in a project to mount narrative descriptions of its holdings on the Special Collections Department's website.
This collection includes more than 30 groups of maps that cover a span of several centuries, from 1590 to the present. Although composed primarily of maps of the Carolina region and the Eastern Seaboard, it also contains maps of Jerusalem, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, the former U.S.S.R., and the Persian Gulf Region. The maps range from geographical and topographical surveys to military planning maps to city zoning and railway maps. The map collection also includes two very rare cartographic treasures acquired by the department -- the Edward Moseley map of 1733 and the Henry Mouzon, Jr. map of 1775. The Moseley map, a detailed survey of the North Carolina coastal plain, is one of only three original copies known to exist, and the only known copy in the United States. The Mouzon map features significant extensions of previous surveys of North and South Carolina and was used extensively during the Revolutionary War.
A major focus of the Manuscript Collection has been the preservation of papers of individuals who served in the armed forces. Holdings pertain to every American war since the Mexican War of 1846-1848, with significant concentrations of material pertaining to the Civil War, the Philippine Insurrection, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnamese Conflict. Civil War collections reflect activities of both Confederate and Union forces fighting throughout the South. Twentieth century military papers consist of letters, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks of enlisted men and officers who participated in the global struggles that affected our nation and the periods of peace between these conflicts.
The East Carolina Manuscript Collection has made a strong effort to acquire and preserve the papers of missionaries who served around the world. Among the present holdings of the Collection are papers of missionaries representing Anglican, Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and other denominations. Many of these dedicated men and women labored for thirty or forty years in Africa, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, Latin America and elsewhere. Their letters, diaries, and oral histories provide great insight into the cultural, political, and economic development of the countries in which they worked.
In recent years the East Carolina Manuscript Collection has become a lending academic repository for the preservation of materials pertaining to the U.S. Navy, maritime studies and naval collections from 1826 to the present. Today the East Carolina Manuscript Collection is one of the nation's premiere repositories for research into World War II naval topics. The personal files and oral memoir of hundreds of naval officers and enlisted personnel provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the nation's rich naval heritage. To help assure the preservation of naval resources, the Collection has cooperated with such organizations as the U.S. Navy Commanding Officers Association. Additional maritime collections include nineteenth and twentieth century records of shipbuilding firms located in transportation in general.
Approximately one half of the East Carolina Manuscript Collection's holdings pertain in some way to the state of North Carolina and its people. Family-related personal papers cover the full spectrum of North Carolina life for a span of almost 200 years. Researchers can find information here on practically any topic of interest since 1800, including agriculture, coastal and environmental concerns, education, genealogy, literary activities, politics, religion, scientific pursuits, shipping and commerce, and social and cultural developments.
Special Collections houses more than 250 individual oral history collections. These recorded interviews feature military officers and personnel, missionaries, North Carolina leaders and politicians, teachers and tobacconists. Often, individual who donate their personal papers also participate in the oral history program. These oral histories supplement the East Carolina Manuscript Collection and allow researchers to access not only papers and documents, but also personal recollections and reminiscences. Special Collections Department staff conduct most of the interviews and then transcribe them to researchers with typewritten accounts of historical events. When possible, the Department will make copies of transcripts and cassettes available to researchers.
Although many of the East Carolina Manuscript Collection's tobacco collections are North Carolina related, a substantial number reflect the international scope of tobacco production and distribution. The Collection contains the personal papers of individual tobacconists which record their experiences in China, the Middle East and Latin America. Additional holdings include warehouse files and the records of processing and marketing companies.
The O.W. "Sonny" Martin, Jr., Coast Guard Auxiliary Records Collection was established in 1988 prior to the 50th anniversary of the organization. Currently the collection contains more than 225 cubic feet of records including newsletters, photographs, reports, audiovisual material, meeting minutes, programs, educational publications, statistics and directories documenting the Auxiliary's wide variety of activities range from 1939 to 2000. Evolving from such World War II activities as patroling the coast and providing port security, current activities range from search and rescue missions to giving certified marine examinations. The Auxiliary also publishes Aids to Navigation and provides educational opportunities for the Auxiliary membership and the public. For further information about the holdings, contact Dale Sauter, Manuscript Curator.