Beyond the Guidebook

African American Heritage Across North Carolina

The rich and varied history of African American music and heritage goes beyond the eight counties featured in the guidebook, African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina.

Continue your exploration and you will experience a symphony of African American music throughout North Carolina as well as a vibrant cultural scene of African American artists who tell stories in books, poetry and plays; and who dance, dance, sing, paint, create sculpture and more.

We invite you to experience communities in western North Carolina to discover the birthplaces of cross genre phenoms, Nina Simone and Roberta Flack. Simone’s song style earned her reputation as the “High Priestess of Soul.” Roberta Flack has mirrored many a broken heart with “Where Is the Love” and “Killing Me Softly.” The mountains also gave us the vaudeville singer and comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley, who grew up in Brevard in Transylvania County. Mountainous Yancey County celebrates the artistry of native son Lesley “Esley” Riddle, best known for his close collaboration with the legendary Carter Family.

In the Piedmont, Pastor Shirley Caesar, often called the First Lady of gospel, has moved countless souls with her spirited performances of “Hold My Mule,” as has Pastor John P. Kee when leading the New Life Community Choir in songs such as the gospel classic “Jesus Is Real.” Henderson’s Ben E. King sang the soul-stirring “Stand by Me” so powerfully that it is instantly recognizable across generations of music lovers.

The architect of funk, George Clinton, from Kannapolis, has entertained generations of partygoers and “mother ship” passengers. The new jack swing/R & B artists Jodeci, of Charlotte, dominated African American radio stations and music television in the 1990s, not to mention the slow dance sets of homecoming parties and proms nationwide.

We hear praise songs in churches that dot landscapes rural and urban, giving rise to touring gospel quartets and trombone shout bands such as the United House of Prayer for all People’s Sounds of Joy, or Madison Clouds of Heaven of Charlotte.

Durham lays claim to a strong gospel tradition in singers such as the Bailey Elites and the Gospel Jubilators, and nearby Granville County boasts of Creedmoor’s own Landis Family. Piedmont blues lives on in John Dee Holeman, a National Heritage fellow, and his protégés. We hear outstanding touring musicians alongside excellent local artists at events like the Durham Blues Festival and the annual African American Cultural Celebration, held every January at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Durham has long been fertile ground for music. The Grammy- nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon launched her career in Durham, her adopted home. Little Brother, acclaimed alternative rap artists, had a sound that hearkened to the earlier “golden age of hip-hop.” The recording artist Lois DeLoatch creates and broadcasts music as both a vocalist and radio host with North Carolina Central University’s 90.7. And the Modulations made the Bull City proud in 1976 when they performed on the “hippest trip in America”—Soul Train.

Turn toward New Bern’s Tryon Palace located along our coastal region, and feel the vibrations of the gumba box drum of Jonkonnu revelers, dressed as fur¬crowned and strip¬cloth¬festooned rag men. The resilient African diaspora celebration of Jonkonnu was once as far-flung as Durham, Wilmington, Edenton, and Creswell.

At Somerset Place, a N.C. Historic Site located in Creswell, descendants of enslaved laborers gather to honor the lives of their ancestors.

Listen for new polyrhythms too, pounded out by the percussive sounds of drumlines, heartbeats that draw you to the campuses of our state’s historically black colleges and universities. Linger for a while and you may hear the traditional songs of choirs from Elizabeth City State University and Bennett College for Women in Greensboro; listen to the familiar strains of Winston Salem State University’s Burke Singers, who hearken to a time when “Jubilee”— freedom from bondage—was a recent memory.

Listen a while longer and heed the call of mind-expanding jazz artistry embodied by North Carolina Central University’s renowned jazz bands, flourishing under the direction of Dr. Ira Wiggins and living out the legacies of NCCU’s earliest jazz studies advocates Donald Byrd, Stanley Baird, Eve Cornelious, and Chip Crawford. You just may hear the future of jazz paying homage to the likes of North Carolina jazz legends such as John Coltrane, the pioneering bebop drummer Max Roach, or the alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson.

Move closer to hear the echoes of Ella Baker’s students singing freedom songs during the founding of the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC) at Shaw University in Raleigh. Be sure to catch North Carolina A & T State University’s often sold-out production of Langston Hughes’s Black Nativity, in Greensboro. Less than twenty miles southeast of Greensboro, you will find Climax, the birthplace of the award-winning “godfather of black music,” Clarence Avant, who worked with black musicians ranging from Sarah Vaughan to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, in addition to founding his own radio station, record companies, and publishing firms.

For black musical theater in North Carolina, don’t miss the biannual National Black Theater Festival, a six-day event featuring more than 100 performances, many original, held in downtown Winston-Salem.

North Carolina’s musical heritage also resonates in the canvases of our visual artists. Consider the collage works of Charlotte’s Romare Bearden, whose dynamic images reflect music and the black experience.

Durham’s Ernie Barnes draws us into a pulsating rhythm and blues on a Friday night in the Bull City with his painting Sugar Shack, popularized in the closing credits of the 1970s sitcom Good Times.

North Carolina’s African American music heritage, sacred or secular, cannot be separated from its African American dance heritage. The body becomes a rhythm instrument through the rich drumming and percussive dance traditions of Durham’s African American Dance Ensemble. “Peace, Love, Respect for Everybody”—the proclamation of the ensemble’s founder, “Baba” Chuck Davis—has touched generations of North Carolinians and music and dance lovers worldwide.

The legacies left by performers honored by the N.C. Heritage Awards, a program of the N. C. Arts Council that has recognized the state’s masters of traditional arts with a public ceremony and an honorarium. The Heritage Awards have honored such artists as the Piedmont blues guitarists Etta Baker of Burke County, Thomas Burt of Granville County, Algia Mae Hinton of Johnston County, John Dee Holeman and the blues pianist Quentin “Fris” Holloway of Durham County, and Richard “Big Boy” Henry of Beaufort in Carteret County, as well as George Higgs of Edgecombe County. These artists acknowledge a debt to Fulton “Blind Boy” Fuller, originally from Anson County but best known in Durham, and to numerous other blues artists, including Carrboro’s Elizabeth Cotten, who wrote the famed “Freight Train” and was one of the early recipients of a National Heritage fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The fiddler Joe Thompson and his cousin, the banjo player Odell Thompson, who played a pre- blues style of string band music, also received Heritage Awards. Joe, honored guest of the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone and recipient of an NEA Heritage fellowship, helped inspire a revival of African American string band music and mentored the immensely popular Carolina Chocolate Drops. Musician and educator William E. Myers received a Heritage Award for his versatile jazz stylings and for leading The Monitors, a rhythm and blues and jazz band that has entertained North Carolina audiences for over 55 years. The rhythm and blues artistry of Forsyth County’s the Five Royales received recognition, as did the remarkable Menhaden Chanteymen, who brought to life work songs that once regulated the rhythms of hauling menhaden nets.

Musicians who practice the older worship song styles have received Heritage Awards, including Caswell County’s Badgett Sisters, and Johnston County’s the Branchettes, echoing the powerful congregational singing of the early African American churches. Rev. Faircloth C. Barnes of Rocky Mount received a Heritage Award, and Bishop Dready Manning of neighboring Halifax County was celebrated with an award for bringing his exuberant singing, guitar picking, and harmonica playing to church.

From Shirley Owens and Doris Coley of the Shirelles to Phonte Coleman of Foreign Exchange, these musicians have touched the world.

The North Carolina Arts Council invites you to explore museums, galleries, cultural centers and historic sites across the state to experience and learn about African American artistry and history.

Historic & Cultural Sites

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site
8884 St. Philip’s Road, SE
Winnabow, N.C.
910-371-6613

A major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, Brunswick was razed by British troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed atop the old village site, and served as part of the Cape Fear River defenses below Wilmington before the fall of the Confederacy. Colonial foundations dot the present-day tour trail, which crosses the earthworks of the Confederate fort. The site witnessed the liberation of former slaves as it served as a camp for black refugees in 1865. This site is a federally-recognized asset in the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.

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Cameron Art Museum and Minnie Evans Study Center
3201 S. 17th St
Wilmington, N.C.
910-395-5999

In addition to holding the largest public collection of the work of this extraordinary North Carolina folk artist, the museum has established the Minnie Evans Study Center, an archive and research repository which includes copies of Evan’s archives from the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, publications, exhibitions, articles and catalogues.

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Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum
Sedalia, N.C.
336-449-4846

Founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Palmer Memorial Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students. Today, visitors to the campus can explore this unique environment where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century. The museum links Dr. Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute to the larger themes of African American history, women’s history, social history, and education, emphasizing the contributions African Americans made to North Carolina.

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Delta Fine Arts Center
2611 New Walkertown Road
Winston-Salem N.C.
336-722-2625

The Delta Fine Arts Center promotes community interest and pride in American arts and humanities, with emphasis on the contributions of African Americans. Founded in 1972 by the Winston-Salem Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the organization houses a permanent collection of Haitian paintings from the Hewitt Collection and offers programs for people of all ages in the areas of visual arts, music, literature, drama, history and folk arts.

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Diggs Gallery, Winston-Salem State University
O’Kelly Library
Winston-Salem N.C.
336-750-2458

The Diggs Gallery maintains a permanent collection of works of art. It also houses temporary and rotating exhibits, conducts educational programs, and encourages the study and appreciation of African and African American art forms. The gallery offers one of the largest exhibition spaces dedicated to the arts of Africa and the African Diaspora in North Carolina. Exhibitions, publications and programs address a broad range of artistic expression, with special concentration on African American and regional art.

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Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture
551 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, N.C.
704-547-3700

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture (formerly the Afro- American Cultural Center) has celebrated the contributions of Africans and African Americans to American culture for 35 years and serves as a community epicenter for music, dance, theater, visual art, film, arts education programs, literature and community outreach.

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Hayti Heritage Center
804 Old Fayetteville Street
Durham N.C.
919-683-1709

Founded in 1975, Hayti Heritage Center is an African American cultural and educational institution deeply rooted in the historic Hayti community of Durham. St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation (SJHF), dedicated to advancing cultural understanding through diverse programs that examine the experiences of Americans of African descent locally, nationally and globally, developed the Hayti Heritage Center. Housed in the restored former St. Joseph’s AME Church (a National Historic Landmark with roots in an 1868 “brush arbor”), the center’s Lyda Moore Merrick Gallery presents nationally-significant artistic and historic exhibitions.

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Historic Edenton State Historic Site
108 North Broad St.
Edenton, N.C.
252-482-2637
also: www.visitedenton.com/historic-sites

Historic Edenton State Historic Site seeks to preserve, maintain, develop, and interpret the James Iredell House, and to help preserve and interpret the numerous other historic structures and locations in the town of Edenton including Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Cupola House, the Barker House, and the Chowan County Courthouse. Edenton was the birthplace and place of fugitive exile for freedom seeker and abolitionist writer Harriet Jacobs. Her experiences, documented in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, under the pen name “Linda Brent,” offer insight into lives directly impacted by the maritime Underground Railroad. Jacobs’s escape, via boat (after hiding in her grandmother’s attic for nearly 7 years), took place at Edenton Bay. In addition to a Network To Freedom marker, Historic Edenton has a state historical marker, small exhibit, website and walking tour that invite visitors to explore Jacobs’s life. Historic Edenton also offers a trolley tour of historic structures in the historic district, many of which connect to African American life and culture. The Civil Rights-era leader Golden Frinks operated his home as a “Freedom House” to organize activist responses to segregation and racial inequity. The Freedom House has a collection of papers and artifacts currently being processed for public access. The legacy of the Freedom House inspired Historic Edenton to conduct a far-reaching oral history project documenting Civil Rights action in the “Edenton Movement.”

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Historic Halifax State Historic Site
25 St. David St.
Halifax, N.C.
252-583-7191

Historic Halifax State Historic Site interprets the history of the town of Halifax. The Site has recently installed a series of interpretive panels and a trail related to the deep roots of the Underground Railroad. Because of its social and geographical makeup, Halifax was a major site of freedom seeking by enslaved African Americans and abolitionism by free blacks and Quakers. The National Park Service recently named Halifax a District in the Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Marker Program (NTF), only the second District of its kind in the nation, and the first such District in the South. One major contributing factor to Halifax’s Underground Railroad (UGRR) significance is its location on the banks of the Roanoke River. The Roanoke has also been designated by NTF as a site of freedom seeking. In the summer of 2011, Historic Halifax dedicated a maritime UGRR trail to the Roanoke River, along which visitors can read primary source descriptions of and quotes by those seeking freedom in the Roanoke River region.

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Historic Stagville State Historic Site
5828 Old Oxford Highway
Durham N.C.
919-620-0120

Historic Stagville comprises the remnants of one of the largest plantations of the pre-Civil War South. The plantation belonged to the Bennehan-Cameron family, whose combined holdings totaled approximately 900 slaves and almost 30,000 acres by 1860. Today, Stagville consists of 71 acres, on three tracts. On this land stand the late 18th century Bennehan House, four rare slave houses, a pre-Revolutionary War farmer’s house, a huge timber framed barn built by skilled slave craftsmen and the Bennehan Family cemetery.

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International Civil Rights Center and Museum
134 South Elm Street
Greensboro N.C.
336-274-9199

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is located in the Woolworth’s building in downtown Greensboro, site of the first sit-in of the Civil Rights Movement (February 1, 1960.) It preserves this historic landmark, chronicles the civil rights movement in America and throughout the world and shares the history of non-violent protest for the enrichment of future generations.

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Minnie Evans Study Center at the Cameron Art Museum
3201 S. 17th St
Wilmington, N.C.
910-395-5999

In addition to holding the largest public collection of the work of this extraordinary North Carolina folk artist, the museum has established the Minnie Evans Study Center, an archive and research repository which includes copies of Evan’s archives from the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, publications, exhibitions, articles and catalogues.

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Nina Simone Birthplace
30 E. Livingston St.
Tryon, N.C.
828- 859-6655

Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born in this house on February 21, 1933. She grew up to become Nina Simone, who introduced the world to a unique musical infusion of pop, gospel, classical, jazz, folk and ballads that she called “Black Classical Music.” Her voice and music were instrumental in the American Civil Rights Movement.

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North Carolina State University African American Cultural Center
355 Witherspoon Student Center
Raleigh, N.C.
919-515-1396

The African American Cultural Center (AACC) promotes awareness of and appreciation for African American and other African descent experiences through activities and events that enhance academic excellence and strengthen cultural competence for the campus and surrounding communities. As an integral academic unit that operates under the auspices of the Provost’s Office, the AACC is an indispensable component of NCSU’s mission of “building a diverse and inclusive campus community, fostering demographic and intellectual diversity, fostering internal and external partnerships and adopting an operational model that embraces efficiency and accountability.” In support of its mission, the AACC maintains an African American Library and a Cultural Art Gallery.

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North Carolina A & T State University Galleries
Dudley Building University Circle
Greensboro, N.C.
336-334-7500

The collections of the University Galleries are the stories of the African Diaspora told on canvas, textiles, in sculpture, music, and with personal possessions. The galleries have two focal collections, which constitute its permanent collection: the Mattye Reed African Heritage Collection, dedicated to the ancestral and contemporary arts of Africa and the Caribbean and the Henry Clinton Taylor Collection which centers around the work of both emerging and established African American artists. Both collections and three magnificent gallery spaces are housed in the historic Dudley Building, originally built in 1931.

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North Carolina Central University Art Museum
1801 Fayetteville St
Durham, N.C.
919-530-6100

The North Carolina Central University Art Museum’s collection features the works of various African American artists from both the 19th and 20th centuries as well as a selection of objects from the African continent. The NCCU Art Museum has been called “the most important publicly assembled collection of African American art in North Carolina” and includes the works of artists such as Henry O. Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, and Minnie Evans.

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Somerset Place State Historic Site
2572 Lake Shore Road
Creswell, N.C.
252-797-4560

Somerset Place is a representative antebellum plantation dating from 1785. Beginning in 1829, this was home to two generations of the Collins family – Josiah Collins III, his wife Mary, and their six sons. It was also home to more than three hundred enslaved men, women, and children of African descent whose lives and work are interpreted here as well. Somerset Place offers an insightful view of plantation life during the antebellum period. Since the first Somerset Homecoming celebration in 1986, descendants and friends of Somerset Place have gathered at successive homecomings to acknowledge and validate the contributions of the men, women, and children who once lived on the plantation, thereby celebrating the contributions of all who labored in the antebellum South.

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The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at UNC-CH
150 South Road
Chapel Hill, N.C.
919-962-9001

The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established in 1988. Initially known as the Black Cultural Center, it was renamed for beloved faculty member Dr. Sonja Haynes Stone after her death in 1991. Upon its inception, The Stone Center focused its attention on raising awareness of and appreciation for African American culture by the campus community. Today, the Center is one of the preeminent sites in the nation for the critical examination of African and African American diaspora cultures, providing intellectual and cultural programming that is both timely and informative.

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Tryon Palace
610 Pollock Street
New Bern, N.C.
800-767-1560
also: www.nchistoricsites.org/tryon/tryon.htm

Tryon Palace stages Jonkonnu, an African American holiday celebration whose roots can be traced back to Jamaica and to the slave ships from West Africa. Historical records mention celebrations of Jonkonnu taking place near Edenton, N.C., as early as 1824. The North Carolina History Center includes exhibits on James City, one of North Carolina’s first settlements of freed African Americans, located just outside of New Bern. Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900 is available in the Tryon Palace Museum Store. This book by Catherine W. Bishir illustrates the lives of thousands of black artisans — including those that were free and enslaved — who worked from the colonial period through the 19th century as carpenters, coopers, dressmakers, blacksmiths, saddlers, shoemakers, bricklayers, shipwrights, cabinetmakers, tailors, and others-played vital roles in their communities. A free monthly series offers lectures, plays, musical performances, and more to celebrate African American history and culture.

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YMI Cultural Center
39 South Market Street Eagle and Market Streets
Asheville, N.C.
828-257-4540

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the YMI has served Asheville’s minority citizens since it was first established in 1893 as the Young Men’s Institute. The YMI Cultural Center houses numerous exhibits, many dealing with the history of African Americans in Western North Carolina, and sponsors such cultural events as Asheville’s Goombay! Festival, an Annual Kwanzaa Celebration and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration.

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University & College Archives

Bennett College for Women, Thomas F. Holgate Library
900 East Washington Street
Greensboro, N.C.
336-517-2139

The Special Collections at Bennett College, located in Holgate Library, consist of the African American Women collection, the selected papers from the Palmer Memorial Institute, and Bennett College archives. The University Archives is comprised of reports, letters, papers, photographs, books and other material relating to the history of Bennett College. Many of these materials have been digitized.

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Elizabeth City State University Archives
Room 216 G.R. Little Library
1704 Weeksville Rd.
Elizabeth City, N.C.
252-335-3647

The Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Archives was established in 1971 in order to collect, preserve, and encourage use of permanent institutional records and any non-institutional records which reflect the diverse history and activities of the student body, faculty members, administrators, friends and alumni

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Fayetteville State University, Archives and Special Collections
Charles W. Chesnutt Library
1200 Murchison Road
Fayetteville, N.C.
910-672-1111

The Archives and Special Collections section of Chesnutt Library at Fayetteville State contains materials directly related to the history of Fayetteville State University and of African Americans in Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the United States. The University Archives includes minutes, correspondence, annual reports, university publications, catalogs, yearbooks, student newspapers, and records of student organizations, among other items. Special Collections materials include the papers of author and educator Charles W. Chesnutt and his family, and of FSU Chancellors James W. Seabrook and Rudolph Jones. The Special Collections area also includes numerous books that relate to the “African American Experience” in education, politics, the civil rights movement, slavery and the Emancipation Era.

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Johnson C. Smith University, Inez Moore Parker Archives and Research Center
100 Beatties Ford Road
Charlotte, N.C.
704-371-6731

The Inez Moore Parker Archives and Research Center preserves, selects, and makes accessible vital information pertaining to the University’s history, administrative operations, and the Black experience.

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North Carolina A&T State University Archives
F.D. Buford Library
1601 East Market Street
Greensboro, N.C.
336-285-4176

The North Carolina A&T State University Archives makes available to the public information that has historical and administrative value to the university or has a significant impact upon the black experience in the Triad area. Most of the collection consists of institutional records dating back to the late 1890s. Other information in the collection includes bulletins, alumni publications, student publications, budget materials, departmental publications, self-studies, directories, handbooks, information on outstanding alumni such as Jesse Jackson, Joe Dudley or Ronald McNair and other materials. The Special Collections materials include the Gerald Marteena Collection, Virgil Stroud scrapbooks, George Simkins materials and the papers of Armand Richardson.

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North Carolina Central University, James E. Shepard Memorial Library Special Collections
1801 Fayetteville Street
Durham, N.C.
919-530-6254

The Treasure Room is located on the 1st floor of the James E. Shepard Memorial Library. The collection includes numerous works that were written during the Antebellum Period of American history. Many of the works are of a narrative perspective and are ideal for use as primary sources. Other items in the Collection include anti-slavery pamphlets, nineteenth century newspapers, first editions of novels written by acclaimed authors such as William Wells Brown, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Phyllis Wheatley, Charles W. Chestnutt, W.E.B. DuBois and Countee Cullen, just to name a few. In addition, representative works of many southern writers of the last century are also among the publications that comprise this valuable collection. The University Archives contains a selection of materials documenting the history of North Carolina Central University.

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North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Archival Collection and Heritage Room
411 West Chapel Hill Street
Durham, N.C.
919-682-9201

The North Carolina Mutual Archival Collection contains the largest collection in America of historical information in print and broadcast media on an African American company. The Collection includes photographs documenting the company’s history and related events, books written by and/or about North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (NCM) and its founders, company newsletters dating back to 1904 as well as other publications, broadcast commercials in various formats and historical information on the family of the founders. The Archives are open to researchers by appointment only. The Heritage Room, located on the 12th floor of the home office building, is a pictorial exhibit containing 33 panels that chronicle the company’s first 100 years.

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Saint Augustine’s College Archives
Prezell R. Robinson Library
1315 Oakwood Avenue
Raleigh, N.C.
919-516-4145

The Prezell R. Robinson Library provides services for the students, faculty, and administration and for the community at large. The library houses the College Archives, which includes dormant administrative records of the college, college publications, private manuscript collections, photographs and more.

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Shaw University, Archives and Special Collections, James E. Cheek Learning Resource Center
118 E. South Street
Raleigh, N.C.
919-546-8407

The mission of the Archives and Special Collections of Shaw University is to appraise, collect, organize, describe, preserve, and make available records of historical, legal, fiscal, and administrative value to the institution. The Shaw University Archives also serves research and scholarship by making available and encouraging the use of its collection by faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community at large.

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Winston-Salem State University Archives, C.G. O’Kelly Library
601 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive
Winston-Salem, N.C.
336-750-2440

The primary mission of the Archives is to identify, collect, preserve and make available official noncurrent university records; historical records and objects of enduring value and personal papers of alumni, faculty, and staff that support scholarly research and the curricular strengths of Winston-Salem State University.

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Other cultural trails of the North Carolina Arts Council

Cherokee Heritage Trails

With centuries of history and a profound sense of place, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians constitutes the largest Native American population in North Carolina. The Cherokee Heritage Trails gives visitors ways to encounter sacred places, community ties and authentic folk arts by visiting historic and contemporary sites throughout this majestic mountain-ringed region. For instance, a stop in the town of Cherokee and the Qualla Boundary, the Cherokee’s ancestral home, provides a unique opportunity to visit Cherokee people where they live, work, and raise their families, balancing modern life with preserving their cultural identity.

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Historic Happy Valley

Immortalized in The Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” ballad, brought to life in Charles Frazier’s award-winning book Cold Mountain, and recalled in tales of frontiersman Daniel Boone, Historic Happy Valley is a legendary home to living traditions. Following the scenic 28-mile stretch of road above the banks of the Yadkin River and in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, visitors will step back in time in this valley aptly christened by early settlers, who described it as “a place of beauty, peace and tranquility.” Happy Valley stops include the Chapel of Rest, a restored 19th-century Episcopal church situated on a knoll; a Tom Dooley driving tour; and a collection of log structures at Whippoorwill Academy and Village. Popular events throughout the year are Plow Day, and the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention.

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Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina

Western North Carolina has a national reputation as a music-rich region, and its traditions of old-time stringband music, ballad singing, and bluegrass are internationally renowned. This region has been home to musicians whose artistry has shaped many forms of American music. Today young people in the region are learning these traditions and transforming them into new forms of roots music. Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina is a guide to public venues where old-time music and dance can be experienced, bringing the traveler into the heart of a community in an authentic way and tapping into the state’s deep musical roots.

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Discover North Carolina Craft

Glass blowers, potters, jewelry makers, weavers, and more. Artisans and their creations have a celebrated history and an exciting presence in our state, from traditional potters in Seagrove to cutting-edge jeweler designers in Asheville’s River Arts District. Discover North Carolina Craft connects travelers with the best places to see craft, start their own collections, and watch artisans at work.

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North Carolina Literary Trails

North Carolina’s literary heritage features some of the most memorable authors of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Thomas Wolfe, Anne Tyler, Rachel Carson, Allan Gurganus and Charles Frazier. North Carolina Literary Trails is a guide to the hometowns, hangouts and sources of inspiration for celebrated writers throughout our state, including the historic homesteads of Thomas Wolfe and Carl Sandburg.