The State Archives of North Carolina documents the state’s rich history by collecting and providing access to public records of statewide historical value. Permanent public records that transfer to the State Archives from creating offices are available for research, unless they are considered confidential due to state or federal law or sealed by a court order. All transferred materials are described at the record series level in our online catalog.

Types of Public Records

Tab/Accordion Items

County Records

The State Archives collects county government records series of statewide historical value, such as records pertaining to bonds, courts, land, marriage, wills and estates, and taxes. The county records collection includes nine categories: bonds, census, court records, land records, estate records, marriage and vital records, taxes, wills, and miscellaneous. County government records that have been processed are described at the series level in the online catalog. Container lists for selected county records are also available online.

County Records Digital Collections

  • Alien Registration and Naturalization - County records relating to the naturalization of foreign-born citizens in which the clerk of superior court acted as federal agent. The volumes can include photos of the applicant, country of origin, North Carolina county in which they were living, their profession, and the names of their children or other family members.

Looking for the Guide to County Records?

Copies of the 2009 edition are available for purchase through UNC Press.

Governors Papers

The State Archives houses a large collection of the records of North Carolina's governors. For more information about the governors papers, consult the online catalog and Governors Records finding aids.

Governors Papers Digital Collections

  • Historical Governors' Papers - An ongoing digitization project that will eventually include the correspondence of many of North Carolina’s early governors.
  • Modern Governors' Papers - Currently, this online collection includes the press releases, executive orders, and proclamations from Mike Easley and Bev Perdue's administrations.

State Agency Records

While state agency materials pertain primarily to North Carolina’s executive branch agencies, this collection also contains selected series from the legislative and judicial branches, such as legislation and Supreme Court cases. In addition to information available in the online catalog related to these materias, finding aids for select record series are also available. Legacy finding aids, many of which were typewritten and previously only available in the Search Room, are available online and are presented as they were at the time of scanning.

For information about record schedules and other records management topics, please visit the Government section.

State Agency Digital Collections

  • 1885 and 1901 Confederate Pension Applications - Formally referred to as "Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications," these materials are part of the State Auditor's records. The materials include application forms for Confederate pensions and occasionally correspondence or additional affidavits regarding a soldier's or widow's claim.
  • Colonial Court Records - The Colonial Court Records digital collection includes two series: Estate Papers (CCR.179-CCR.186) and Land Papers (CCR.187).
  • Federal and State Constitutional Materials - This collection contains federal and state constitutions and amendments found within the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. These documents, consisting of loose manuscripts and one volume, highlight North Carolina government's role in the ratification of federal amendments and its own internal efforts to protect the rights of its citizens dating back to the Declaration of Rights in 1776. 
  • General Assembly Session Records - The General Assembly Session Records digital collection features records of early North Carolina state legislatures. These documents consist of bills and resolutions, petitions, committee reports, messages from the governor, legislative messages, tally sheets, election certificates, resignations, and other material related to the work of each session of the General Assembly. The physical collection includes items from 1709 through 1999, but the digital collection will focus on the earliest materials.
  • North Carolina State Parks - North Carolina State Parks digital collection includes materials relating to the natural and cultural history of the state parks system gathered from the holdings of the State Archives, State Library and N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. 
  • Senate Audio Recordings - Digitized recordings of the North Carolina Senate legislative proceedings during the 2006-2010 sessions are available through the North Carolina Digital Collections (hosted on the Internet Archive). Recordings dated 1977-2005 are held at the State Archives and made available through a fee-based, digitization-on-demand basis.
  • Speaker Ban Law - Correspondence, photographs, transcripts, audio recordings, articles and other items related to the Speaker Ban Study Commission.
  • Tax Lists and Records - The Tax Lists and Records digital collection features tax records from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina drawn from General Assembly, Treasurer & Comptroller, and Secretary of State records. The bulk of the records are from the Colonial and Revolutionary War eras, but some lists date from as late as 1809. Each set of tax records includes slightly different information. References to “polls” below relate to poll taxes, a tax of a fixed amount levied on adult males, female heads of households, and slaves.
  • Travel and Tourism Photographs - 1,130 images from the North Carolina Conservation and Development department pertaining to popular topics including the Cherokee, pottery, and textiles.
  • War of 1812 Pay Vouchers - Around 5000 pay vouchers or certificates issued for military service by detached militia called out to defend the North Carolina coast in 1813 or by companies ordered to rendezvous at Wadesboro in 1815. Vouchers are for 31 counties.

Veteran's Records

Though the State Archives of North Carolina has no records which will establish or support benefit claims for disabled veterans, it does have some records which will be sufficient to establish the identity of a claimant as a serviceman. These records are the reports which were completed at the time of the veteran's separation from military service. A copy of a veteran's record of service or report of separation can be furnished by the State Archives of North Carolina at no cost to: the veteran, his next of kin, or designated agent; a Veterans Service Officer; or (in case of burial benefit claims) the funeral director undertaking the burial of a veteran who was honorably discharged. If the veteran had his report of separation from military service recorded by the Register of Deeds in his county, a copy of the record can be obtained from that office. The Archives also has microfilm copies of the record books from the county Registers of Deeds.

For more information about pre-World War I military documents, please visit our Military Collection page.