North Carolina History

Archived illustrated image.
North Carolina State Archives

Even before the Lost Colony, great waves of emigration and migration were reshaping the region now known as North Carolina. As foreign empires invaded the land, new alliances and identities formed between the Tuscarora People along the coast and freed West Africans and Caribean Natives.

The Joel Lane House celebrates its 250th anniversary this year.
Erik Kvalsik / Joel Lane Museum House

The Joel Lane Museum House in Raleigh will celebrate its 250th anniversary this Independence Day. The house - the oldest in Wake County - was built in 1769 for the eponymous Joel Lane, a planter and prominent figure in early state politics. 

Courtesy of Christina Proenza-Coles

History tells stories of America being founded by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, and discovered by Christopher Columbus. While many have challenged Columbus’ high importance in the history books, a new publication reveals a wave of settlers, conquistadors and revolutionaries that came long before the Europeans. These “founders” were of African descent.

Austin McCombie and Sarah Osborne McCombie storytelling with strings and songs about North Carolina.
Courtesy of Kendall Atwater

Chatham County was once best known for its rabbits. The wild animals were so plentiful in the region at the turn of the 20th century that thousands were shipped out as cash crops each year. This piece of forgotten North Carolina history is just one story of many that inspires the new folk duo Sarah McCombie and Austin McCombie. 

University of Georgia Press

An interracial farmer’s co-op built upon the principles of cooperative communalism existed for 20 years in rural Mississippi. Scholar Robert Hunt Ferguson explores this socio-economic experiment in his book “Remaking the Rural South: Interracialism, Christian Socialism and Cooperative Farming in Jim Crow Mississippi” (The University of Georgia Press 2018). Ferguson is a professor of history at Western Carolina University.

University Press of Florida / 2017

Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” in his 1964 State of the Union address, and its effectiveness has been debated ever since. In big cities like Chicago and Baltimore, the era came to be associated with protests and civil unrest.

Courtesy of Dawn Sinclair Shapiro

For more than 70 years, programs around the United States forcibly sterilized tens of thousands of American citizens.

Michelle Lanier

Note: This program is a rebroadcast. It originally aired May 2, 2016.  

Michelle Lanier’s roots in North Carolina are so deep that she describes “every branch of her family tree having at least a sapling that crosses into the state.” She has a great-grandparent who preached at the oldest black Episcopal church in the state, one who was salesmen on Durham’s Black Wall Street, and one who helped establish the state’s first black high school.  

Photo of Oscar Charleston's baseball card
Ryan Christoff

Durham and baseball are intimately connected in the minds of many Americans because of the movie "Bull Durham." But the relationship between the city of Durham and the sport dates back to more than a century before the film.

Leesa Jones

The story of the American Civil War is often told through famous battles and important generals. But that narrative doesn’t accurately represent North Carolina’s civil war story. In this state, the impact of the civil war was felt more on the homefront, within the homes, families and communities of ordinary people. The North Carolina Museum of History has begun an effort to pay tribute to these lesser-known Civil War stories through the North Carolina Civil War History Center, set to open in 2020.