Artifact of the Month: North Carolina souvenir scarf

There’s so much to love, and so much to say, about our September Artifact of the Month.

North Carolina scarf

This head scarf from the mid-1950s features a brightly-colored pictorial map of North Carolina.

Elizabeth Stinson, who donated the scarf, describes acquiring it during a childhood moving around between Greenville, South Carolina and Cooleemee, Ridgecrest, Black Mountain, and Greensboro, North Carolina. She writes:

Our family, especially my father, liked to visit western NC. (Mother, coming from Charleston, preferred flatlands, though she gained the respect of my brother and me by passing a big truck on a winding mountain two-lane.) We would picnic at a concrete table set up on the roadside by a stream, investigate the water, and we always had to stop at a country store for apples and souvenirs. While at Greensboro, we traveled to Fontana Village. Sometime along the way between Cooleemee and Greensboro, I acquired the headscarf, probably earlier than later.

scarf close-up
Click on the image for a larger version.

The images on the scarf speak volumes about North Carolina’s popular attractions in the post-World-War-II era, from “fine tulips” to Bridal Veil Falls (where “your car passes under.”)

Looking at this artifact is like traveling back to a more wholesome (and admittedly imaginary) time, when giant bears roamed freely through Hickory, and a person had nothing more urgent to do than while away the hours in Rockingham, cooking over an open fire.

The scarf is all the more charming for the things it doesn’t get quite right:

Orville and Wilbur Wright, sitting cheerfully side by side on their first flight…

scarf: Wright Brothers

… and the first state university in the country, known here as “N.C.U.”

scarf: colleges and universities

But what’s most appealing about this scarf is knowing its history. Envisioning the childhood road trip to Fontana Village, and the excitement of picking up this colorful souvenir, makes this artifact come to life in a rare and rich way. Many thanks to Elizabeth Stinson for sharing both this scarf and her memories.

5 thoughts on “Artifact of the Month: North Carolina souvenir scarf”

  1. Great find! This scarf reminds me of some of the pictorial maps that were published in the 1950s, filled with similar notes and illustrations. Here are some examples:

    Historic map:

    Nature map:

    Literary map:

    These are all a lot of fun.

  2. Thanks for posting this–the scarf is a delightful find. Note too the bit of educational history on the scarf–I see at least one college that is no longer up and running (Flora MacDonald). Is “Teachers” what we now know as UNC-Greensboro, or something else?

  3. That’s a good question, Eileen. There are a number of possibilities:

    ECU was known as Eastern Carolina Teachers College from 1920 to 1951. (Here’s a great postcard from their collections: .) And Western Carolina University was known as Western Carolina Teachers College from 1929 to 1953.

    App State was Appalachian State Teachers College from 1929 to 1967. Winston-Salem State was Winston-Salem Teachers College from the 1920s to the 1960s. And Elizabeth City State University was Elizabeth City State Teachers College from the 30s to the 60s.

    Anyone know if any of these was colloquially referred to just as “Teachers College”?

  4. The old yearbooks have the answers! The 1952 yearbook from East Carolina notes “the changing of the name of our school from East Carolina Teachers College to East Carolina College. This was done, not because the name ‘Teachers’ was detrimental, but because the school is now more than just a teacher-training institution.”

    Alums of Flora Macdonald College can find those yearbooks online as well.

  5. Further on Teachers College and East Carolina. I’ve heard some older North Carolinians–mostly Piedmont residents –refer to East Carolina as ECTC (said like “eesee-teesee). There was frequently a derisive tone to their voice as they said it.

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