Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rummaging online in North Carolina's attic

If I were still a student at Chapel Hill and a little more interested in history than I was 40 years ago, I know where I’d spend most of my time: in the North Carolina Collection and the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library on the UNC Chapel Hill campus. That library really is North Carolina's and the South's attic, full of things that someone saved, thankfully.
In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time there over the years, researching such matters as N.C. native Kenneth C. Royall, the last secretary of war and the first secretary of the army, and his role in the secret military trial of Nazi saboteurs who sneaked ashore during World War II.
Earlier this month I spent time at the library researching former Charlotte Observer writer H.E.C. “Red Buck” Bryant’s role in the 1898 white supremacy campaign.
The library is a wonderful place to learn things you never knew, but until fairly recently you pretty much had to drive to Chapel Hill to take advantage. You still do, I guess, but more and more things are available online that make the library – and North Carolina history – accessible from anywhere in the world.
My colleague Lew Powell clued me in the other day to a new offering, the North Carolina Collection’s online history of the evolution debate in this state. It’s a quick, digestible, look at the controversy the state went through after Gov. Cameron Morrison objected to textbooks promoting the theory of evolution.
So is the collection’s online exhibit on the racist 1898 election campaign.
And if you just want to scroll from some fascinating things about N.C. History, click on to the collection’s blog called North Carolina Miscellany.
Here’s the main website for the North Carolina Collection . At the top of that page are links to other UNC library collections, including this one for the Southern Historical Collection .

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