October is Family History Month. The State Library of North Carolina has a long tradition of service to researchers who have undertaken the challenging and rewarding mission to trace their families’ roots.

Thousands of genealogists visit our state’s libraries and archives each year in search of ancestors who have lived here since its early history or who migrated from North Carolina to other states all across America.

Through our work here, we hope to showcase the wealth of resources for North Carolina genealogical research in the State Library’s printed and digital collections and to present highlights of other collections throughout the state of North Carolina.

Beginning Your Search

back to topOral Histories

  • Beautiful girl - seated portrait Southern Oral History Program – UNC Chapel Hill
    Resources for oral historians: SOHP’s Practical Guide, interview forms, and oral history bibliography; classroom resources for teachers.
  • The South Asheville Colored Cemetery, 1840-1943 (University of North Carolina at Asheville, Ramsey Library)
    Interviews with elderly African American natives of Asheville, NC, give a vivid record of rites of death and burial for black residents of Asheville before 1940. Includes A partial listing from the Buncombe County Death Registry of persons buried here; A list of artifacts related to burials in the cemetery and sources for further information about the cemetery; An article: "The South Asheville Colored Cemetery 1840-1943," by Wilburn Hayden, Jr.; photographs of tombstones.
  • The Value of Oral History (K-12)
    Oral history has several unique benefits that no other historical source provides. Oral history allows you to learn about the perspectives of individuals who might not otherwise appear in the historical record.
  • Collecting Family Stories
    Students will interview relatives and compose a family story on the computer. This lesson was completed in conjunction with two other lesson plans (art and media) using the same theme but could be used alone. Student work from all three lessons was compiled in a student portfolio. Format: lesson plan (grade K–5 English Language Arts, Guidance, and Social Studies) By Amy Honeycutt, Chris Furry, and Diana Hicks.

back to top Vital Records

North Carolina began publicly recording birth and death certificates in late 1913.

  • Sources for NC Vital Records
    State Archives, County Register of Deeds offices, North Carolina Vital Records Office, Ancestry databases.
  • Happy Grandpa & babyNorth Carolina Vital Records office
    Its recommendation: to conduct genealogical research, check the records in the county where the event occurred or check with the State Archives of North Carolina, as North Carolina Vital Records is not the appropriate office to conduct genealogical research.
    Search or browse NC MOSAIC to find collections of government-related information held by local, county, and state agencies, and public and private academic institutions throughout North Carolina. Updated continuously, our Government Information Online site includes links to marriages, births, and deaths in Registers of Deeds records.
  • Substitutes for Vital Records
    Search options for births or deaths occurring prior to 1913 or when no record can be found.
  • Yopp Funeral Home Register
    1938-1966. Every name index to New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room records of this Wilmington, N.C. funeral home.
  • Mecklenburg County Divorces from 1846-1969
    Abstracts of Mecklenburg County divorce records indexed on this Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Robinson Spangler Room website feature the name of the plaintiff, defendant and year of the divorce.
  • Guilford County Marriage and Death Records, 1771-1899
    Marriage records, obituaries and gravestone inscriptions from Greensboro newspapers and several printed resources.

back to topNorth Carolina Bibles and Obituaries

  • Davidson county gravestoneNorth Carolina Family Records Online: A Project of the State Library and State Archives of North Carolina
    Over 300 records with birth, marriage, and death information recorded in North Carolina Bibles throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The collection also contains a six-volume index of marriage and death notices that appeared in five North Carolina newspapers published from 1799-1893. All the materials included here are full text searchable.
  • MARS: Manuscript and Archives Reference System – State Archives of North Carolina
    The online catalog for the State Archives of North Carolina includes searchable descriptions of Bible records holdings, which indicate title, years covered, counties covered and personal names to be found in these records.
  • North Carolina GenWeb Archives Bible Records
    Transcriptions and some images.
  • North Carolina USGenWeb Archives Obituary Project
    Public Domain Obituaries (pre-1923) and Abstracts.
  • North Carolina Obituary, Genealogy Resources and Help
    Variety of links including local N.C. newspapers, Newspaper ARCHIVE, and Ancestry.

back to top Cemetery Records

  • Lincoln County gravestoneCemetery Census – North Carolina
    A volunteer effort to provide free listings of complete cemetery surveys along with photographs of grave markers. This website includes N.C. laws and statutes regarding cemeteries.
  • Find a Grave
    A volunteer project to transcribe headstones in cemeteries. The mission of Find a Grave is to record and present information on the final resting place of our ancestors and become a virtual cemetery. Can include biographies and pictures.
  • North Carolina Tombstone Transcription Project
    USGenWeb project organizing volunteers to work together to transcribe tombstone inscriptions and have that work archived for the future and made easily accessible to all.
  • Cemetery Records Online
    User submitted transcriptions. North Carolina pages include a large number of Wake County gravestones. Site also features special collections of national cemeteries of federal and state veterans and cemeteries flooded by dams.
  • African American Cemeteries Online
    Respectable number of North Carolina cemeteries which can provide crucial information and clues for further research for the African American genealogist.
  • WPA Pre-1914 Cemetery Survey Records for NC
    During the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) surveyed cemeteries in North Carolina and recorded all headstones before 1914. The project lead to the creation of 36 reels of microfilm. Reel 35 is specifically for Confederate gravestones and reel 36 is for the Raleigh City Cemetery. Visit this site to learn more about this series.
  • North Shore Cemetery Decoration Project
    Research and documentation of the cultural tradition of cemetery decoration in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina as a component of the published Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed road in the Fontana Lake region. Includes photographs.
  • Boone family gravestoneThe North Carolina Cemetery Survey and Protective Legislation
    The North Carolina Office of Archives and History program which coordinates the identification, mapping and description of existing cemeteries, preservation of data found in abandoned or neglected cemeteries, and documentation of more recent and comprehensive survey data than previously recorded in earlier cemetery surveys.

back to topCensus Records

  • Western Carolina familySubscription databases with large collections of census images and indexes offer more options for searching:
    Ancestry (Available by personal subscription or onsite at subscribing libraries in Ancestry Library Edition)
    HeritageQuest (Remote access available to North Carolina residents via NC LIVE through their local libraries. Other states offer similar accessibility.)
  • Genealogy Brick Walls: NC State Census, 1784-1787
    A blog post discussing North Carolina’s state census in 1784-1787. Information includes which counties are included in the census.
  • County Census Maps
    See outlines of North Carolina counties census year by census year, also view maps with previous or next census year overlays.
    1790 federal census population schedules for 3 North Carolina counties do not survive.

    As substitutes for heads of household, taxpayer lists for Caswell and Orange in 1790 and for Granville in 1788 have been published with the rest of the state’s 1790 federal census in The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. The online version transcribes all data from the lists for Granville and Orange but has names only for Caswell County. [Heads of Families: North Carolina and Ancestry census databases list only name and county for these counties and Ancestry reports “image not available.”]

  • Overview of North Carolina Census Records, 1787-1920
    The State Archives of North Carolina has created an informative information circular about census records in North Carolina, starting with the State Census of 1787. The circular includes pictorial examples and lots of background information.
  • Measuring America: the Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau)
    Questionnaires and instructions to enumerators, census by census.

back to topNorth Carolina County and State Records

  • Family with American FlagThe Colonial and State Records of North Carolina (Documenting the American South. University of North Carolina Libraries)
    When completed, "The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina" digital collection will present the entire original twenty-six volume series and four-volume master index of this landmark resource. Transcriptions of original individual, governmental, and organizational records from early North Carolina records and several European repositories including the British Public Record Office document the state’s history from its settlement through the colonial period and to 1790.
  • Genealogical Research in the State Archives of North Carolina
    Quick guide to County Records in their custody; MARS and Online Finding Aids; preparing for your visit; quick links and frequently asked questions.
  • North Carolina County Formation
    Family historians must look for records of an ancestor in the county of residence at the time he lived there. Through the years boundaries of North Carolina have changed; this chart includes the formation date of each county, the county/counties from which it was formed, and the numerical code assigned to its records by the State Archives of North Carolina, where early county records are deposited.
  • Tennessee Counties Created by North Carolina: 1776-1790
    North Carolina ceded its western lands, which since 1776 had formed into seven counties, to the federal government in 1790, and in 1796 Tennessee County gave its name to the new state of Tennessee. Original records created in a Tennessee county remain in the custody of the courthouse of the county in which they were created.
  • Tracking an Ancestor Back to North Carolina
    When you know only that an ancestor came from North Carolina but cannot determine the county in which he resided: strategies for determining the North Carolina county from which an ancestor came if he migrated elsewhere.
  • Search the State Library of North Carolina catalog for Published Abstracts of County Records
    Search for published abstracts of county records by using the "advanced search" and entering the county name and the term "genealogy."  For example: "Bertie County” as a subject AND "genealogy" as a subject.
  • Kay Tillotson's familyMARS: Manuscript and Archives Reference System – State Archives of North Carolina
    The online catalog for the State Archives of North Carolina. Included are searchable descriptions of North Carolina county records including wills, estates, deeds, marriages, and tax lists and state records such as land grants and Revolutionary War Army Accounts.
    Search or browse NC MOSAIC to find collections of government-related information held by local, county, and state agencies, and public and private academic institutions throughout North Carolina. Updated continuously, this Government Information Online site includes links to Registers of Deeds records and Tax records.
  • Speculation Land Collection
    University of North Carolina at Asheville. D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections. Nearly 800 documents related to land ownership in Western North Carolina in the early 1800s help shed light on the acquisition and sale of the “Speculation Lands,” some 400,000 acres in this area bought for resale by native Philadelphia Tench Coxe in 1795-96.

back to topNorth Carolina Map Collections

  • Three beautiful womenAtlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library.
    View interactive maps and metadata for all changes in the size, shape, and location of all counties in North Carolina from the creation of the first one to the end of 2000.”
  • North Carolina Maps
    When completed the site will contain over 2,000 high-resolution digitized maps pooled from three of our state’s largest map collections: the State Archives of North Carolina, the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Outer Banks History Center.  Dating from the late 1500s to 2000, the collection will include detailed maps for each of the state’s one hundred counties and an “accurate map of North and South Carolina with Their Indian Frontiers.”
  • North Carolina State Archives Information Circular 12: Maps and Other Cartographic Records in the State Archives of North Carolina
  • The Way We Lived in North Carolina
    The North Carolina Office of Archives & History, in association with the University of North Carolina Press, presents this online site of excerpts from the revised edition of The Way We Lived, a narrative overview of the state's history and historic places. The full set of specially designed maps includes The Great Wagon Road of North Carolina 1750-1780 with offshoots used by our migrating ancestors.
  • Historic Digital NC Topographic Maps
    Scanned and georeferenced or superseded historical topographic maps covering a large portion of North Carolina and available for free public download from North Carolina State University’s GIS Data Service Center.  Dating from 1800s to the 1960s, these maps provide valuable historical information about landscape features from the past.
  • Four swimmersGilmer Civil War Maps UNC-Chapel Hill, Wilson Library Manuscripts Department
    Extensive collection of digitized Civil War maps with large groupings for North Carolina and Virginia. Most of the maps are dated 1861-1865 and indicate waterways, roads, places, churches, landowners, and distances.
  • Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1960
    Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for North Carolina: highly detailed large-scale maps of towns and cities created for the fire insurance industry to access potential risk for urban structures. Some of the North Carolina maps date as early as 1884.
    (Remote access available to North Carolina residents via NC LIVE through their local libraries. Other states offer similar accessibility.)

back to topPeriodicals and Newspapers

  • Two children - seated portraitPERSI via HeritageQuest
    PERiodical Source Index: the “Reader’s Guide” for genealogists. Search for people and places as well as research methodology in over 2.1 million genealogy and local history periodical articles.
    (Remote access available to North Carolina residents via NC LIVE through their local libraries. Other states offer similar accessibility.)
  • North Carolina Newspapers
    Newspaper collections available for researchers at the State Archives and the State Library of North Carolina. The State Library also loans its collection to libraries both in North Carolina and out-of-state.
  • North Carolina Newspaper List
    Obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, personal announcements, crime records, land sales, even the classified ads... can contain clues for your genealogy research. Many, not all, of these newspapers keep extensive archives of past editions though some of the archive links lead to a page which says that the site is blocked. This website includes a link to Historical Newspapers for Charlotte, Fayetteville, Halifax, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington.
  • Biblical Recorder Index
    The Biblical Recorder is the official journal of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. It is published biweekly and has been in existence since 1833.
  • Marriage, Death, and Other Notices: Early Mecklenburg County, NC Newspaper Abstracts
    Abstracts of marriages, deaths and notices in county newspapers before 1900 provide a variety of information, from details on individuals, to business and neighborhoods, to the sale or transfer of land and slaves.

back to topMilitary Records

  • Man - potraitMilitary Collection, State Archives of North Carolina
    Briefly describes the collection and its Finding Aid outlining details about the contents of the collection, refers to military research via correspondence, links to related Archives Information Circulars on specific military topics, and lists important other sources of military records in the Archives collections.
  • War of 1812: Pensions
    A blog post discussing pensions for soldiers who served during the War of 1812. Gives 2 examples for pensions to widow's.
  • Revolutionary War Army Accounts. MARS Manuscript and Archives/ Reference System, State Archives of North Carolina  
    “Ledgers” used by the N.C. Treasurer and Comptroller from ca. 1780-1795 to record military payments for service or supplies. Search by name to retrieve references to volume and page numbers.
    Records may be searched onsite or copies requested by mail:
    The related information circular: gives more detail about this record.
  • The Online Institute for Advanced Loyalists Studies
    Americans who remained loyal to the British government during the Revolutionary War.  “Sampling of manuscripts relating to the Loyalist military, including muster rolls, orderly books, regimental documents, courts martial and memorials.” Genealogical information features links, sources of information, land petitions and post war settlement documents. Can search by individual’s name.
  • Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System
    A cooperative effort by the National Park Service and several other public and private partners to computerize  very basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War.
  • Gilmer Civil War Maps UNC-Chapel Hill, Wilson Library Manuscripts Department Digitized extensive collection of Civil War maps with large groupings for North Carolina and Virginia. Most of the maps are dated 1861-1865 and indicate waterways, roads, places, churches, landowners, and distances.
  • Wildcats Never Quit
    Online exhibit of World War I materials from the NC State Archives, State Library of NC, and the NC Museum of History, including printed books and documents, letters, diaries, photographs, and artifacts.
  • For highlights of subscription databases with large military collections, please visit the State Library’s Military History theme page for July:

back to topImmigration and Migration

    North Carolina had very little direct overseas immigration.

  • North Carolina Emigration and Immigration
    (Family Search Research Wiki from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
    Background information; references to printed sources.
  • Spouses - portraitPassenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
    Updated annually, this database is an index to passengers who arrived in United States and Canadian ports with listings of approximately 4,712,000 individuals and reference to thousands of different records compiled from everything from original passenger lists to personal diaries.
    (Available by personal subscription or onsite at subscribing libraries in Ancestry Library Edition)
  • Migration into and out of North Carolina: Exploring Census Data
    Census records can give us a sense of the scale of the migration of North Carolinians who left the state in the first half of the nineteenth century and where they went.
  • Searching for Greener Pastures: Out-migration in the 1800s

back to topDNA and Genetics

  • Two jaunty childrenDNA Tests Help Genealogists Only So Far (Washington Times)
    March 2009 article warns of the limitations of genetic tests.
  • Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms
    Extensive glossary of archaic medical terms and their old and modern definitions to assist genealogists in interpreting diseases and causes of death from census mortality schedules, death certificates, and 19th century and earlier church death records.
    (Rudy Schmidt)
  • Lost Colony DNA Project
    What happened to North Carolina’s lost colonists? Were they assimilated into the Native American population or did they perish? Today, for the first time, using DNA technology, the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research may find the answer.

back to topSpecial Collections

  • three children on carNC ECHO
    North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online: the World Wide Web's doorway to the special collections of North Carolina's libraries, archives, museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions. Search by city/county/institution/subject/type.
    • East Carolina Manuscript Collection
      Finding aid to more than 1250 collections of historical documentation including correspondence, diaries, business records, organizational records, church records, maps, genealogy notes, and photographs, plus some 210 original oral history memoirs. Guides to all of these collections are available online with over 750 of these guides being very detailed.
    • Manuscripts Department: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      Google interface for searching the UNC Manuscripts Finding Aids. Most results link to finding aids that present, in varying degrees of detail, descriptions of individual collections held by the Southern Historical Collection, General and Literary Manuscripts, the University Archive, and the Southern Folklife Collection.
    • Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library: Finding Aids
      Finding aids for selected collections from the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library and University Archives. Includes links to Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University.
    • Finding Aids and Historical Data at Davidson College
      Finding aids for archival material, manuscripts, photographs, audiovisual material, and artifacts located at the Davidson College University Archives.
    • Collection Guides to the Archival Collections at North Carolina State University
    • Finding aids for manuscripts in the University Special Collections Research Center located at D.H. Hill Library of North Carolina State University.
    • List of Private Collections Finding Aids, State Archives of North Carolina
      Alphabetically arranged by collection name. Use browser to find individual or county names within the description of the collection.
    Church Records held in denominational depositories vary and may include historical regional and state records of the denomination and some congregational records of value to the family historian.

No Church of England (Anglican) parish registers survive for colonial North Carolina.


Update on the Montreat Collection at Columbia Theological Seminary [Decatur, GA]
In 2006, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to close the Montreat Office of the Presbyterian Historical Society, formerly the Historical Foundation for the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, Inc. It was decided that the large collection of church archives, manuscript materials, photographs, books, microfilm, and artifacts that were housed there would be divided among three repositories. These North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society newsletters include a description of the distribution of some of the Southern Presbyterian Church, U.S. records originally stored at Montreat, N. C. as well as an update.

  • North Carolina Baptist Historical Collection. Wake Forest University. Z. Smith Reynolds Library – Special Collections
    This collection documents the history of North Carolina Baptist churches, institutions, and individuals. It contains materials on Southern, Missionary, Primitive, African-American, Union, and Alliance of Baptist churches, in various printed materials, church records, association minutes, and church vertical files. More than 1000 biographical folders hold information on and photographs of Baptist pastors and Wake Forest alumni. The Collection serves as a repository for records from North Carolina Baptist churches and institutions.
  • Archives of the North Carolina Lutheran Synod
    The historical archives of the North Carolina Synod are preserved at the regional James R. Crumley, Jr. Archives at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina ( The North Carolina Collection is one of the oldest and most important Lutheran collections in North America. It is the predecessor to the Lutheran collections of South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Southern Seminary and other Lutheran bodies.
  • family picnicGenealogy: General Commission on Archives and History, the United Methodist Church
    A Brief Guide for Researching Your United Methodist Ancestors with links to Clergy information research request form and referrals for Baptism and local church membership in North Carolina and other states.
  • The Church in the Southern Black Community
    Digital collection of autobiographies, biographies, church documents, sermons, histories, encyclopedias, and other published materials presenting “a collected history of the way Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life.”

back to topEthnic Genealogy

  • The Scots-Irish in North Carolina [PDF]
    Article from the North Carolina Museum of History chronicling the history and migration of the Scots-Irish in North Carolina.
  • German and Swiss Refugees in North Carolina, 1700’s
    Contemporary accounts of the first settlers of New Bern, 1711, and Bethabara, 1753-55.
  • Drawing of girlNorth Carolina Scottish Heritage Society
    Promotes “the study, research and publication of materials concerning the ancestry and heritage of the Highland Scots who emigrated to North and South Carolina during the colonial period and immediately afterwards, their lives and migrations within the United States, and their descendants.” Includes abstracts of records from Scotland. Read recent articles of Argyll Colony Plus online; browse contents of journal issues.
    • Cherokee Genealogy (Cherokee North Carolina)
      Find out if you qualify for enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Contact information including research materials available in the Quall Boundary Public Library.
    • TNGenWeb Project: Cherokee by Blood
      The original Cherokee Nation in the east covered a large area, including western North Carolina. These webpages outline the many steps to follow and records to search in proving or disproving family traditions of Native American ancestry.
    • Search the Government & Heritage Library (GHL) catalog for materials on Cherokee genealogy as a subject:
    • Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina: Lumbee History & Culture
      Includes history Timeline; Genealogy (under construction); Tribal Recognition; cultural Origins featuring a Settlement Pattern map. ca 1800.
    • A Brief History of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation
      A small Indian community located primarily in the old settlement of Little Texas, Pleasant Grove Township, Alamance County, NC.
    • “An Introduction to Resources on the History of Native Americans in North Carolina”: A Bibliography of Sources Available in the North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      Books, government reports, and journal and newspaper articles in the North Carolina Collection on the eight tribes recognized by the state of North Carolina. [Because extensive bibliographies for the Cherokee and the Lumbee have already been published, the North Carolina Collection does not attempt to list every available resource for these two tribes.]
    • Indian Cabinetmakers in Piedmont North Carolina
      Reprint of an article from the Tar Heel Junior Historian discussing Native American Jeffreys cabinetmakers who worked with free African American cabinetmaker Thomas Day in antebellum Hillsborough, North Carolina.
    • State Archives of North Carolina Information Circular:
      Introductory Guide to Indian-Related Records (To 1876) in the State Archives of North Carolina
    • group portraitAfrigeneas – African Ancestored Genealogy
      A must for anyone doing African American genealogical research, this website features an online interactive beginner’s guide to research, forums and chat room for discussions, various databases including death and marriage records, and a Slave Data Collection searchable by state or surname.

    • Finding Slave Records
      Efforts to find records of ancestors believed to have been enslaved require thorough preparation before beginning research prior to 1865.
    • Search the GHL catalog for materials with "African Americans" in the subject in the GR collection:
    • State Archives of North Carolina Information
      Circular 17: Preliminary Guide to Records Relating to African Americans in the State Archives of North Carolina
    • Digital Library on American Slavery
      This University of North Carolina – Greensboro collection of legislative and county court petitions from Southern states for 1777-1867 offers a searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color.
    • African American Resources on NCPedia
      A page from a 6 part series, this page gives references to other sources, mostly books and a PDF of a chart for Free African Americans in the U.S. Federal Census from 1790-1860.

By 1850, 91 slave holders in North Carolina owned over 100 slaves.

    • The Story of Slavery in North Carolina
      Read the words of slaves who lived in North Carolina from transcribed excerpts from the North American Slave Narratives collection in Documenting the American South, which holds over 200 autobiographies by slaves or ex-slaves. This UNC-Chapel Hill University Library website includes images, list of primary resources online, an educators’ guide, and a students’ guide.
    • Stagville African American Genealogy
      Genealogical information relating to the large African American community at Historic Stagville state historic site in Durham County, N.C. prior to the Civil War. The plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families were among the largest in pre-Civil War North Carolina, and among the largest of the entire South.  By 1860, the family owned almost 30,000 acres and nearly 900 slaves. The website also includes information about the Bennehan and Cameron families.
    • Somerset Place: The Slave Community
      Now a State Historic Site in present-day Washington County, N.C., Somerset Place became one of the upper South's largest plantations. More than 850 enslaved people lived and worked on the plantation; website includes “Partial List of Negros at Lake Phelps, July 1, 1839" with some relationships stated.
    • Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1938
      This database from the Library of Congress’ American Memory online historical collections contains thousands of first-person narratives of slavery and 500 photographs, covering 18 states. Search by keyword, narrator, volume, subject, and state.
    • children on porchFree African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware
      Paul Heinegg’s extensive genealogical research of free African Americans, sometimes called “free issue,” from the Colonial period to about 1820. Site offers much of the same information from his books on this subject, but also features more information such as transcriptions and abstracts from tax lists, deeds, and wills.  A must for anyone doing research on free African Americans before 1820.
    • Freedmen’s Bureau Online
      Freedmen’s Bureau records relating to the Southern states: Labor contracts, indentures (apprentices), reports of outrages and arrests, 1865-1867.
    • Freedman’s Bank
      Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, 1865 – 1874, founded to serve freed African Americans after the Civil War. Arranged alphabetically, personal identification data may include information about family, former owner, place of birth and upbringing.
      (Remote access available to North Carolina residents via NC LIVE through their local libraries. Other states offer similar accessibility.)
    • An Era of Progress and Promise: Education and Religion in Post-Emancipation America
      “A comprehensive portrait of early African-American schools, colleges, and churches as well as biographies of African-American educators, ministers, and influential businessmen.”
    • The Church in the Southern Black Community
      Digital collection of autobiographies, biographies, church documents, sermons, histories, encyclopedias, and other published materials presenting “a collected history of the way Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life.”
    • family portraitJewish Life in Western North Carolina (D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville)
      This aggregate of collections representing Jewish life from the mid-nineteenth century to the present in Asheville and the area nearby contains photographs, newspaper clippings, oral histories, and miscellaneous materials describing various individuals, organizations and businesses.
    • The Levine-Sklut Judaic Library and Resource Center
      Houses the collections of the Charlotte Jewish Archives which actively collects, records, documents, and preserves the history of the Charlotte Jewish community. The collections include written records, documents, photographs, and video oral histories of prominent individuals and institutions in the Jewish community.
    • From 7th Street to Shalom Park - Charlotte's Rich Jewish History
      Brief look at Charlotte, N.C.’s Jewish history back to the first true Jewish settlers who arrived in time to serve in the Revolutionary War.
    • Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery
      Jewish cemeteries in Raleigh, location maps, link to Cemetery Research in JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry which includes information and photographs of every tombstone.

back to topFamily History for Kids

  • Man with childResearching Family History with Kids
    Researching your roots can be an exhilarating, fascinating, and frustrating experience - all at the same time! Genealogy, the study of family history, is very much an activity that can be shared by the whole family. It may be slow moving, it may be surprising, and it very well may be sensational. Welcome to researching family history!
  • Ancestors
    Want to turn teens on to researching their ancestry? Then check out the Web site of Ancestors, the PBS television series on genealogy. Here you’ll find excellent lesson plans and class activities, via the “Teacher's Guide” link. Created by: KBYU Television, Salt Lake City, UT, and PBS. Don’t Miss: Click on the tab “Links Seen on TV” to access information on related topics, such as how to create a medical pedigree chart and exploring African-American research. Detour: Teens interested in genealogy can connect with like-minded peers by joining the GENTEEN listserv at

    Sometimes family histories are just as important in dogs and horses as they are in humans. Dog breeders often maintain extensive genealogies of their show dogs. And, it is the same with race horses. In fact, all of the horses running in the 2008 Kentucky Derby were related to 19th-Century North Carolina thoroughbred “Sir Archie.”

    "Sir Archie's family ties," News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC), May 3, 2008, Sports C1
    "Sir Archie: An Equine Superstar," North Carolina Miscellany blog, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Fun Family History Activities for Kids
    This site contains more than 160 ideas for hands-on family history activities and projects. Created by: Linda Mahood Morgan, Independence, MO. Don't Miss: Activities geared for young children are marked with two asterisks. Detour: Once you've piqued their interest in genealogy, kids might wish to join the GENEALOGYFORKIDS listserv at
  • Printable Genealogy Forms for Kids
    Nice looking genealogy charts for young kids that aren't ads for commercial products are hard to find. Here, though, are two simple family trees, one for very young genealogists, and another, more detailed one for older kids. Created by: Wendy Hogan, founder of Kids Turn Central. Detour: To get kids to read more about tracing their family history, check out the great list of age-appropriate genealogy books at
  • Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors - book coverThrough the Eyes of Your Ancestors: A Step-by-Step Guide to Uncovering Your Family's History (Author: Maureen Taylor)
    This book can help kids uncover the secrets and adventures of their own ancestors. From lists of helpful organizations to sample interview questions, state-of-the-art computer programs to Web sites, this guide will help children become family historians.
  • Resources for Teachers and Students
    • The value of oral history (k-12)
      Oral history has several unique benefits that no other historical source provides. Oral history allows you to learn about the perspectives of individuals who might not otherwise appear in the historical record.
    • Collecting family stories
      Students will interview relatives and compose a family story on the computer. This lesson was completed in conjunction with two other lesson plans (art and media) using the same theme but could be used alone. Student work from all three lessons was compiled in a student portfolio. Format: lesson plan (grade K–5 English Language Arts, Guidance, and Social Studies) By Amy Honeycutt, Chris Furry, and Diana Hicks.
    • Home is where the hearth is
      Using photographs to discuss traditional family roles In this lesson students will examine pictures of hearths (fireplaces), which used to be the cornerstone of the home and family life. Instead of using the images, from the Built Heritage Collection at North Carolina State University, allow students to use their own family photos to help students use observation skills and inference to draw conclusions about the culture of family life at various points throughout the history of North Carolina and the United States. Format: lesson plan (grade 8 Social Studies) By Loretta Wilson.

back to topMiscellaneous

  • Family portraitGenealogists/Family Historians. The National Archives
    The National Archives offers insight into the lives of people, their families and our history. Because the records at the National Archives come from every branch of the Federal government, almost all Americans can find themselves, their ancestors, or their community in the archives. Knowing how a person interacted with the government is key to a successful search.
  • North Carolina Genealogical Society
  • NC Regional and Local Genealogical and Historical Societies
  • Board for Certification of Genealogists: Find a Genealogist
    Roster of individuals currently certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, dedicated to “promoting standards in genealogical research.” Searchable by surname, first name, organization, state, and special interests.
  • Association of Professional Genealogists. North Carolina Chapter
    Directory for contacting members of this organization of professional genealogical researchers.

back to topImage Credits

Oral Histories: Unidentified African American Woman Wearing White Gloves (1966:0039:0003), ca. 1855.George Eastman House Collection.

Vital Records: Percival Bryan proudly holds a baby (PH2004.7043.189), 1951. Anacostia Community Museum.

North Carolina Bibles and Obituaries: / CC BY-NC 2.0

Cemetery Records:
Image 1. Courtesy of Cheryl McLean.
Image 2. Grave of Squire Boone and wife Sarah, Joppa Cemetery, Davie County, NC. Edwards, Arthur J. P. Negative number: N.70-7-78. State Archives of North Carolina.

Census Records: "Front porch, Western North Carolina family." (“Aunt Addie”and “Brother William and Stanley and his children” written on back). Courtesy of the Hilary Perez Family Photograph collection.

North Carolina County and State Records:
Image 1. Harris family poses at Fourth of July event in New York City (PH2003.7078.20), 1947. Anacostia Community Museum.
Image 2. Detail from Family of Robert Henry and Sarah A. Windsor Cook (seated), ca. 1903. Courtesy of Kay Tillotson.

NC Map Collections: Two photographs courtesy of the Sweeney Family Collection, Wilmington, NC.

Periodicals and Newspapers: [Seated girl and boy holding hat], (Ha01305). Harper, Alvan S., 1847-1911. State Library and Archives of Florida.

Military Records: Photograph courtesy of Kay Tillotson.

Immigration and Migration: Photograph courtesy of Kay Tillotson.

DNA and Genetics: Lee and Renee Harris pose on Easter morning in New York City (PH 2003.7078.053), 1946. Anacostia Community Museum.

Special Collections:
Image 1. Photograph courtesy of the Sweeney Family Collection, Wilmington, NC.
Image 2. "Family Potluck, Western North Carolina." Courtesy of the Hilary Perez Family Photograph collection.

Ethnic Genealogy:
Image 1. Photograph of drawing courtesy of the A. T. Olive family collection.
Image 2. Detail from "1260075. Church service in the Negro church, Woodville, Greene County, Georgia, October 1941. Delano, Jack -- Photographer. October 1941." The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Photographs and Prints Division.
Image 3. Photograph from "Choosing to Remember: From the Shoah to the Mountains," University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Family History for Kids:
1. Photograph courtesy of the Sweeney Family Collection, Wilmington, NC.
2. Photograph from "Sir Archie: An Equine Superstar," North Carolina Miscellany blog, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Miscellaneous: "Addie Matheson Lackey, her son Arthur 'Buck' Lackey, his wife Beatrice Jolley Lackey and their son Franklin Lackey," early 1950s. Hiddenite, Alexander County, NC.Courtesy of the Hilary Perez Family Photograph collection.