Outer Banks History Center - Collections
The holdings of the Outer Banks History Center include manuscripts, books, photographs, slides, and negatives, periodicals and serials, maps, newspapers and public records on microfilm, oral histories, audio and video recordings, ephemera, and original works of art. The History Center holds nearly 300,000 items.
Subject areas address historical, cultural, economic, governmental, and scientific topics pertaining to North Carolina and to neighboring states.
Some collections located at the Outer Banks History Center are indexed through the MARS online catalog and the Outer Banks History Center Finding Aids are available online.
Coastal Military Operations
The military history of the Outer Banks encompasses the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island, and World Wars I and II. Collection emphasis is on Civil War battles on Hatteras and Roanoke Islands, and includes maps, regimental histories, official reports, original documents and letters, original drawings, newspapers, period etchings, illustrations and contemporary published works. U-boat operations off the North Carolina coast during both World Wars, and the effort to defeat them, are documented in photographs, memoirs and histories of actions taken by the British and American navies and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Discovery and Early Exploration
The History Center holds research materials related to the European discovery and exploration of North America, including Roanoke Island and the Chesapeake Bay region. Works focus on the Roanoke Voyages and the Native Americans encountered by the Europeans. Other important holdings include copies of the published writings of Richard Hakluyt and John Smith, copies of the watercolors of John White, more recent archeological reports, and an important map collection that ranges from the 16th century to modern navigational charts.
Genealogy and Family History
The History Center serves as a starting point for regional genealogical research. Holdings include family files and published family histories, town and county histories, regional newspapers, and copies of public records such as deeds and marriage records from Dare, Currituck, Hyde and Tyrrell Counties.
Natural History and Environmental Sciences
Researchers visiting the History Center can trace the influences of man and nature on the Outer Banks and surrounding regions through special collections of natural history and the environmental sciences. Specialties include terrestrial and marine biology, aquaculture, botany, geology, geography, hydrology and oceanography, and meteorology. Important collections include those of geologist Dr. Robert Dolan, a leading scholar of shoreline dynamics and coastal geology, and holly expert Barton Bauers, author of a photographic survey of plant life in eastern North Carolina.
Personal and Organizational Papers
Collections of personal and organizational papers preserve the heritage of our region while providing researchers with a rich array of local history resource material. Holdings include the papers of our founding benefactor, David Stick. His decades as a civic leader, historical researcher and writer provide a large body of local history documentation. Holdings also include the artwork and papers of David Stick's father, Frank Stick, a magazine and calendar illustrator, and later a conservationist and developer.
Other collections of personal papers include materials from individuals important to the history of the Outer Banks including Warren O'Neal, creator of the Carolina boat, a modern sport fishing boat, diaries of Lillie Jacob Baum, wife of a Currituck physician, and C.W. Hollowell, owner of the Nags Head Hotel.
Organizational papers include records from many of the region’s private professional or civic organizations. Some of these organizations are defunct, while others are currently active. Documents from the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, Dare County Tourist Bureau, Roanoke Island Historical Association and the Lost Colony, the Elizabethan Gardens, the town of Nags Head, the Outer Banks Community Foundation and other organizations have found a secure, climate-controlled home with the History Center.
Shipwrecks, Lighthouses and Aids to Navigation
Lighthouses, aids to navigation, shipwrecks and rescues have played important roles in the history of the Outer Banks. The History Center boasts an extensive collection of material on shipwrecks and the U.S. Life-Saving Service, including its successor, the U.S. Coast Guard. A premier collection consists of several thousand original wreck reports, payroll records, telegrams, and other documents from the period 1883-1933. The History Center has many documentary sources and photographs related to lighthouses including copies of architectural drawings from the National Archives.
The History Center holds over 100 manuscript collections, many of them papers of prominent individuals and organizations crucial to the history and development of the Outer Banks. Finding aids exist for many collections making preliminary research feasible from a distance.
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