Exploring Black History in the Government & Heritage Library's Digital Resources

Monday, February 10, 2020

In celebration of Black History Month, we’ve gathered some suggestions on how to explore and research black history using the NC Digital Collections and NCpedia, two digital resources managed by the Government & Heritage Library.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you can find related to black history in our collections but is hopefully a solid introduction!   

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at rally in Durham. From General Negative Collection. Audio Visual Materials. State Archives of North Carolina

NC Digital Collections

The NC Digital Collections contains materials from both the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina. All collections are full text searchable and many of them allow for you to print or download materials! Many of the materials featured in these collections also are available to view in person by visiting our research rooms in downtown Raleigh!

Below are some specific collections relevant to black history, African American experiences, and/or cultural heritage in North Carolina that includes African American creators, artists, and activists: 

  • African American Education - features documents and photographs related to African American education in North Carolina before 1950 drawn from the collections of the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum and the State Archives of North Carolina.
  • Civil Rights - contains materials related to the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina from the 1950s to the 1970s, including letters, speeches, reports, booklets, photographs, news clippings, court records, and proposed legislation.
  • Civil War - includes letters, diaries, newspaper articles, reminiscences, troop histories, state agency records, maps, rosters, books, and other materials related to North Carolina's Civil War history.
  • Family Records - comprised of North Carolina family history materials from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina and State Library of North Carolina. You can specifically search for materials related to African Americans here: African Americans (Genealogy, Slavery, History, etc.)
  • Future Homemakers Associations - has materials from 1929 to 1984. The collection consists primarily of photographs and administrative records, including local chapter materials, handbooks, correspondence, and more. Future Homemakers of America and New Homemakers of America were separate associations based on race, though guided by the same parent agency, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 
  • North Carolina Folklore Journal - features studies of North Carolina folklore and folklife, analyses of folklore in Southern literature, and articles whose rigorous or innovative approach pertains to local folklife study. You can specifically search for African Americans featured in the journal using any of the following search terms: African Americans—folklore, African American musicians, and African American. 
  • Our State Magazine - past issues of Our State, one of North Carolina's longest-running and most popular magazines. First published in 1933, The State (as it was known until 1996) features stories about North Carolina's people, places, and history. You can specifically search for African Americans featured in the journal using any of the following search terms: African Americans--history, African Americans--education, African Americans. 


NCpedia highlights North Carolina's unique resources, people, and culture to enrich, educate and inform. It is coordinated and managed by the North Carolina Government & Heritage Library at the State Library of North Carolina, a part of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Below are some NCpedia resources specific to black history:

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about our online resources and researching materials at the Government & Heritage Library, please feel free to visit our Resources page, search our Catalog, or contact us at slnc.reference@ncdcr.gov!

Andrea Green, Digital Collections Manager