Visit the Outer Banks History Center

Exterior of the Outer Banks History Center

Contact Information

Phone: (252) 423-5240

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 250
Manteo, NC 27954

Physical Location

1 Festival Park Boulevard
Manteo, NC 27954

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Guidelines for Researchers

Effective date: November 12, 2020

Changes Wellness and Protection
  • Hours: Monday–Friday, 1:00-4:00 pm, Appointments required.
  • No more than 4 researchers may be in the Reading Room at any time.
  • Records and other shared items may be quarantined up to 72 hours.
  • Visit our website for up to date information and more details.
  • If you are feeling sick or unwell, stay home.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Staff will have gloves and assist researchers behind plexiglass barriers.
  • All staff and researchers will wear face coverings in accordance with Executive Order 147.


Enhanced Hygiene Social Distancing
  • Hand sanitizer is available for patrons.
  • Modified procedures to reduce passing items between patrons and staff, such as suspending registration cards and call slips filled out by patrons.
  • Surfaces, microfilm machines and other high contact areas will be cleaned in between hours of operation.
  • Spaces where patrons may not sit are marked on tables to allow 6 feet of separation. Please do not move the chairs or signs.
  • Please maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from other researchers when moving about the Reading Room and lobby.

Know your Ws: WEAR a cloth mask over your nose and mouth, WAIT 6 fee apart and avoid close contact, WASH your hands or use hand sanitizer. Safety First

The State Archives of North Carolina’s highest priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our staff and community members. In addition to all relevant Executive Orders (EO 147, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper – Executive Actions), the Archives follows the guidelines recommended by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health (NC DHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and staff follow the highest standards of safety and disinfecting. Until further notice, we have implemented additional precautions and procedures with the understanding that guidelines and visitation may change. Please check our website for updates or contact us at or 919-814-6840.

Preparation for Your Visit

To maintain social distancing, fewer reference staff will be available at the Outer Banks History Center. Typically, we want everyone to visit the OBHC and experience working with original and intrinsic documents. But during these unprecedented times, it is best for everyone to limit public contact as much as possible. Our goal is to assist you remotely as much as possible, but we realize some of you need to conduct research on site. Due to limited hours and room capacity, visitors can take preliminary steps to manage their time in the archives.

  • Search the OBHC’s catalog to identify materials you would like to see before you visit.
  • Visit the North Carolina Digital Collections to explore our digital resources.
  • Email us at if you have any questions about our holdings or reference services. Perhaps we can assist you remotely if you have concerns conducting research in person.
  • If you are interested in conducting genealogy research or looking for general information on state agencies, you might find resources through the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library. Contact them at or 919-814-6790 with your question.
  • If you want an up to date status of the search room, call us at 252-423-5240. Any specific questions regarding our safety guidelines or our records can be emailed to
  • If you are unable to acquire records remotely and need to visit the OBHC, you will need to make an appointment. We will accept no more than 4 researchers at a time, Monday-Friday, 1:00-4:00 p.m. To make an appointment, call us at 252-423-5240 or email
  • In addition to the aforementioned regulations, we ask that you consider these other suggestions during our limited operation.
    • Bring your own laptop computer or electronic device. All public computer terminals in the Reading Room will be closed. We have wi-fi access for those needing online services. If necessary, OBHC staff can provide limited online services in the Reading Room.
    • Bring your own pencil; pens are not allowed in the Reading Room. If you did not bring a permitted writing device, one can be provided. OBHC staff will complete call slips but you may bring your own lists of records you want to request.
    • Bring your own camera/phone. We will still provide copies for a nominal fee. However, to avoid touching shared material, we encourage you to bring a camera or smartphone to photograph records. Photocopy requests will be quarantined for 72 hours and copies will be mailed or available for pickup at a later date.
    • Pack lightly. We will still issue lockers for any personal items prohibited in the Reading Room, but please try to leave items at home or in your vehicle.
    • If a staff member is consulting with a patron at the reference desk, please wait six feet from others.
    • Please note that hand sanitizer is good for people, but not for archival records. When you apply hand sanitizer, please wait until it is dry before touching archival records, boxes, and volumes.

Search Room Policies

Researchers interested in coastal North Carolina history are encouraged to visit the Outer Banks History Center and make use of our historical materials. These materials are valuable for historical and evidential purposes and usually are the only copies in existence. It is therefore essential that they be used with care. When a visitor fails to exercise good judgment, Outer Banks History Center staff are authorized to take precautionary action, including the refusal to allow the researcher further use of the collections. Rules and regulations regarding original material are set forth in Title 7, Subchapter 4M, of the North Carolina Administrative Code. Visitors to the Outer Banks History Center should bring some standard form of identification (such as a driver's license).

Regulations for Use of the Outer Banks History Center:

Rules governing researchers' use of the Division of Archives and Records public research facilities are as follows:

  • Brief cases, attaché cases, bags, coats or other bulky clothing, notebooks, envelopes, pad folders, privately owned books, maps, and old manuscripts shall not be taken into the research facilities. Lockers and coat racks are provided outside the reading room for such items.
  • Access to the archival collections shall only be by presentation of current photo identification, providing accurate name and address.
  • Researchers shall request archival records by completing and signing a materials request form. Information required to request records includes researcher's name, date, and citation or records to be requested.
  • A researcher may request more than one box or volume of archival materials. However, a researcher may access only one box of loose archival materials at any one time. When use of the box or volumes is completed, the researcher shall return the records prior to obtaining another box or other volumes of records.
  • Staff shall examine any materials the researcher brings into or removes from the research facilities.
  • Researchers shall exercise care in handling records, manuscripts, books, or other materials. In particular, researchers shall observe the following:
    • Manuscripts shall not be marked or otherwise altered or defaced.
    • Pens, highlighters, and other writing instruments that create permanent marks shall not be permitted in the reading room.
    • No items shall be used as "pointers" when reading original records.
    • Tape and other office supplies, such as correction fluid and gum erasers, shall not be permitted in the reading room. Pencils shall be used with great care to ensure no marks or other damages are made to the materials.
    • Researchers shall not return books or other materials to the reading room shelves; these shall be replaced by a staff member.
    • All archival materials and books shall be placed on the tables or reading stands provided by OBHC staff; they shall not be held in the lap or propped against the edge of a table.
    • Only one folder of loose papers from a box of loose papers shall be opened at one time in order to avoid mixing of records or folders. A placeholder card shall be used to mark the location of the removed folder.
    • Papers shall not be rearranged under any circumstances. If a researcher thinks something is out of order, he or she shall notify a staff member.
  • Smoking, eating, or drinking shall not be permitted in the reading room.
  • A researcher wishing to temporarily leave the reading room must turn in all pulled materials.
  • Researchers may use a digital camera, smart phone, or mobile device (with camera flash disabled) to photograph materials for reference use, provided there are no restrictions on the use of these materials. Use of such equipment must be approved with OBHC staff prior to photographing. Equipment deemed by OBHC staff to be damaging to archival records shall not be used in the reading room (including desktop, portable, or handheld scanners, lighting equipment, and other items). An OBHC staff member shall make this determination based upon harm caused by excessive light exposure, tearing, or otherwise defacing the document. This shall include the use of equipment that sits on top of or pulls an original item through it to capture the image or provides light levels that damage the document.


The Outer Banks History Center is closed on official state holidays, which are:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • July 4
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday)
  • Christmas (usually December 24-26)


The Outer Banks History Center is located across from the Manteo waterfront within the Roanoke Island Festival Park complex and is accessible from Highway 64/264.