Private Collections

PC.1929 Law office of John Wetmore Hindale, Raleigh, N.C., circa 1890

Private collections within the State Archives of North Carolina are notable for a variety of reasons. Few state archives in the nation contain private papers; combined with the State Archives’ holdings in public records, organization records, maps, and audiovisual materials, these constitute a valuable resource for those conducting study and research in many diverse areas of North Carolina and regional and national history. The State Archives of North Carolina accepts papers and records of individuals, families, businesses, and other entities. The holdings of the Archives are especially known for materials spanning the colonial era, the era of the American Revolution, the antebellum period, Civil War, Reconstruction, and the latter part of the nineteenth century. In addition, the Archives has collected substantial twentieth and early twenty-first century materials, even as it continues to acquire eighteenth- and nineteenth-century papers. In all of these efforts, the Archives seeks collections that illuminate the history and culture of North Carolina from colonial times to the present day. Types of materials in a typical collection can include letters, diaries, speeches, sermons, songs, poems, photographs, ledgers, legal and financial papers, newspaper clippings, among other materials.

Access to Private Collections in the State Archives

The State Archives is one of the few such state archival programs in the United States with a legislative mandate to collect and provide access to private papers, along with the state's permanently valuable public records. Legislation also has provided for the preservation, safe-keeping and access to these collections in the State Archives. Since the early years of the twentieth century, the number of private collections and special collections materials in the State Archives has grown steadily to become an outstanding and unique source of documentation of the state's history and culture. As with all public documents housed in the Archives, special and private collection materials in archival custody must be used in the Search Room where researchers are given full assistance by the Public Services staff.

Guides and Catalogs

  • Guide to Private Manuscript Collections in the North Carolina State Archives, published in 1981. This indexed guide includes many of the Private Collections.
  • Online catalog for the Division of Archives and Records.
  • Online finding aids are also available for many collections and often provide more information than is available in MARS.
  • Items from some private collections have been scanned and are now part of the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Contact Information

Fran Tracy-Walls
Private Collections Archivist
Special Collections Section
State Archives of North Carolina
4614 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4614

Phone: (919) 814-6856
Fax: 919-814-6899

Are you interested in donating private materials to the State Archives?