NC Newspaper Locator

How did I not know about this resource?  Perhaps you knew about it; if not, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised.  The State Library has an online database that will help you identify newspapers that may have covered a particular area of interest in NC.  Need to know what papers were published in Craven County in 1917? Covered! Need to know what papers would cover Asheville in the late 1880s?  The NC Newspaper has you covered there too.

You can access the database online at  Recently, the library staff uploaded a YouTube video to help you learn how to navigate and search. 

The database includes records about the library’s holdings so keep that in mind as you search.  Just because you don’t find what you need, does not mean it does not exist.

Some additional resources for your NC newspaper searches include:

In Memoriam: Joyce Wilson Harrison

Joyce – a high school photo

The NCGenWeb Project is saddened to announce the passing of Joyce Ann Wilson Harrison, former county coordinator of the Orange & Durham county sites.  Joyce passed away Sunday, June 24th in Greensboro, NC. 

Prior to resigning from the project this past fall, Joyce had been an active contributor.  Not only did Joyce volunteer with the NCGenWeb, but she was also Secretary for the Alamance County Genealogical Society.  We extend our condolences to her family.  May Joyce rest in peace with her ancestors. 

Find Us on Facebook

 The day has finally come!

The NCGenWeb Project is now on Facebook!  Won’t you come and join us?

NC Yearbook Index: 30,000 Names and Counting

Two years ago, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center launched a mass digitization project to digitize college and  high school yearbooks from across the state.  With the vast amount of information available in these yearbooks, I started an index database for graduating seniors.  The index focuses largely on classes graduating in 1930 and prior, but does include some later classes as well. 

Recently, I reached a milestone for the database and it now includes over 30,000 students! If your ancestor attended a college in NC during this time frame, you may very well finding them listed here. Of course, there are probably many schools whose yearbooks have not been digitized, but as more yearbooks are added, I will keep indexing :-)

The database is searchable by name, county, city, state and school.  

If you are interested in keeping track of updates to the database, please subscribe to the RSS feed. I try to update at least once a month.  Additionally, you can visit the blog and sign up to get the updates sent directly to your email; just look for the sign-up box on the right side of the screen. 

If you are interested in helping contribute to the index, please let me know! Volunteers are always appreciated. You can visit the NC Yearbook Index by clicking on the graphic below.

The 1940 Census is Here!

Today, April 2, 2012, is an exciting day in the genealogy world; the 1940 census is being released after the federally-mandated 72 year embargo!

At 9am EST, the National Archives & Records Administration is releasing the images on their website at  You may wish to visit the site at 8:30am EST however for the live webstream event that will preface the release. When the images are made available online, there will not be an index right away – you’ll need to have the Enumeration District for the people/places you wish to search.  More information about how to start your census search is available from the NARA website

As equally exciting though is that YOU CAN HELP CREATE A FREE INDEX;,, and FindMyPast have partnered to create the US Community Indexing Project to recruit volunteers to help with the indexing.  After all, the sooner the index is created, the sooner you can get started searching your family members.  Visit for details on how to get started.  Most importantly – why not let those indexing credits count towards a good cause!

On April 11, 2012, the images for North Carolina were made available to be indexed.  You can sign up to contribute your efforts to the USGenWeb one of 4 ways.

Go ahead! Join the cause and help us get this index online. I plan to do some indexing, will you?


Looking for a NC Cemetery?

Then you may be interested in one of the latest offerings from the North Carolina State Archives & State Library of North Carolina.  In the past several weeks, they have added  scans of the cemetery surveys done across the state by the Works Progress Administration (now called Works Projects Administration).

example cemetery survey listing

Done as part of the WPA Historical Records Survey, these files are a great resource as they focused on recording burials that occurred before 1914.  The surveys were conducted over a several year time span ( I think the 1930s and 1940s) and have thousands of names included.

Granted, not all the information will be accurate  - typos abound, some cemeteries are not listed, some are listed with erroneous locations, etc., but it will not hurt to check.   There are records for 97 counties –  you have to check these out!  You can find them at  More information about the project can be read on the NC State Archives blog.

If you want to stay on top of new things as added, you may wish to follow Ashley, an archivist there, who posts regularly to Twitter as items are added.  Wouldn’t it be great if more states put their WPA files online? Do you know of any others that do? If so, please share by leaving a comment.

You Never Know What You’ll Find

Have you been following all the great records FamilySearch has been adding to their website?  There are many NC related record sets for you to search and/or browse.   To see what records are available, visit the page of North America collections and scroll down to those titles that begin with “North Carolina,” — collections are listed in alphabetical order.


Tonight, while browsing the Wake County Death Certificates 1900-1909 death certificates recently added, I found an interesting record that made me pause.  It was a hand-written note on letterhead from the Elmington Manor estate in Gloucester County, Virginia noting that a 90 year-old black woman named Sallie Heywood (possibly Haywood) had passed way on the property, the home of Reverend Thomas Dixon,  in March 1900.  Her death was due to natural causes.  Dr. Phillip Taliaferro wrote the note and affirmed that her body was safe for transportation back to Raleigh for burial.  She was interred in the City Cemetery March 3, 1900.

Given the note and my curiosity, I sought to see what I could learn about Sallie and Elmington Manor.


A few moments after searching for the manor and owner Thomas Dixon, I quickly learned that he was the author of the screenplay for the movie Birth of A Nation.  He was a native of Cleveland County and his uncle was a Ku Klux Clan leader. Elmington Manor was described in the August 15, 1903 issue of the New York Times as “the most beautiful estate in the South.” Some of his papers are held at my alma mater no less, Emory University.

Given Rev. Dixon’s viewpoints on the relationship between blacks and whites  I then reflected on what Sallie was doing there at his manor and what life may have been like for her.  Was she visiting family? Did she have an existing relationship with the Dixon family?  I wonder if she has descendants? Do they know about the tie to Thomas Dixon?  I have not yet found any information about Sallie but finding this record and her association to Thomas Dixon was interesting.

Check the collections at FamilySearch – you never know what you’ll find.

Update: The Wake County Death Certificates are part of the North Carolina, County Records, 1833-1970 database.

Celebrating Births!

When James Earl Dillard was born January 7, 1911 in Caswell County, NC , his father, James Edgar Dillard caused some upward eyebrows:

Some thought Ed DILLARD was having fits the other morning. They said he went out and turned over his buggy, then climbed on top of the house and crowed like a rooster. Closer enquiring revealed that a little stranger had come to Ed’s home, and he was rejoicing. Ed lives at Corbett. — pg. 1 of the January 12, 1911 issue of the Mebane Leader newspaper of Alamance County, NC.

That’s a way to celebrate!   :-D

This birth announcement appeared in the January 12, 1911 issue of the Mebane Leader newspaper of Alamance County, North Carolina.  It is one of many articles I’ve abstracted for the NCGenWeb NC People in the Papers database. This newspaper, along with several others, have recently been added to the website to their North Carolina Newspapers collection.  Full-text issues are up and can be searched or browsed so you definitely will want to check them out.

Also of interest for those seeking birth records in the state is that’s North Carolina Birth Index which spans 1800-2000.  Records are from the NC State Library and while not all counties are included, it is definitely worthwhile to consult.  In fact, young baby boy Dillard’s birth record is included.

New Book: Miles Lassiter (circa 1777-1850) of Randolph County

While browsing the North Carolina Genealogy Research Community Facebook page tonight, I noticed a link shared to a story about a woman’s journey to document the life of one of her ancestors.


The story, published today in the Courier-Tribune newspaper of Asheboro, NC, describes the work done by Margo Lee Williams in tracing the life of her ancestor, Miles Lassiter.  Lassiter, was an early African-American Quaker and Ms. Williams has spent more than 20 years researching his life and his family. She’s learned quite a bit about him and I’m sure her work can serve as inspiration for many of us working on our family history.

Ms. Williams will be doing a book-signing this weekend at the Asheboro Public Library – an event sponsored by the Randolph County Genealogical Society.

The book is available in print and electronic format.

Wordless Wednesday: Soapstone Tombstones in Davidson County

Davidson County is home to several unique hand-carved headstones made out of soapstone in German folk art tradition.  Katherine Benbow, our Western Piedmont Regional Coordinator, recently visited Abbott’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church and took pictures of these unique stones.

Phillip Horney

Joseph Idol















Learn more about them on the Davidson County, NCGenWeb site.

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