New in the collection: Raleigh Masonic Temple pinback

Pinback featuring image of the Masonic Temple and the words 122nd annual commuunication Grand Lodge of N.C.A.F and A.M., Raleigh, January 09.

“The Masonic Temple Building was the first reinforced concrete skyscraper erected in the state of North Carolina. Built from 1907 to 1909, it represents Raleigh’s growth in the early years of the 20th century, as well as the rise of the Masons as an important fraternal organization….”

— From “Raleigh: A Capital City” (National Park Service)

Without going into detail a report on the 1909 communication noted that “Not withstanding some irritating and annoying delays, the Masonic Temple has at last been completed.”

New in the collection: Women’s suffrage flyer

Broadside for women's suffrage

“During the latter half of the 18th century, women’s suffrage associations formed across the Union; however, one did not form in North Carolina until 1894. That year, 45 women and men convened in Buncombe County at the courthouse and established the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association (NCESA).

“For the first 20 years, NCESA remained almost inactive, but when it became part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1913, the association became a political influence…. In 1915, NCESA found sponsors to introduce a bill allowing women to be notary publics. The bill passed both houses, but the state Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. NCESA also found sponsors to introduce an Equal Suffrage Bill. Both houses defeated the bill….

“In 1920, Tar Heel women obtained suffrage because the necessary number of states (36) had ratified the [19th] Amendment and made it part of the U.S. Constitution. North Carolina, as historian William Powell writes, ‘in a meaningless action, finally ratified the amendment in 1971.’ ”

Entry on NCESA from the North Carolina History Project

This flyer from Raleigh is undated but similar to one, circa 1915, attributed to the National American Woman Suffrage Association. For whatever reason the North Carolina version omits the passage addressing “Women of Leisure.”

Here’s how the Charlotte Observer reported “Suffrage Folks” opening their Raleigh office (July 23, 1920).


New in the collection: Newspaper club for kids

Pinback buton with image of person blowing on two horns and the words "National Sunshine Club, The Charlotte Observer."

The National Sunshine Club was part of Observer Junior, an eight-page tabloid insert in the Charlotte Observer, 1928-1934. Sending in coupons from four successive Sunday editions would bring you this pin — and if your story, joke, poem, cartoon or pen-pal letter was published, you could even win a dollar!

New in the collection: ISO Cherokee speakers

Pinback button with the words "Do You Speak Cherokee?"

Masking-taped onto the back of this 3-inch-wide pinback button is the notation “Patty 5-17-82,” but even that clue hasn’t helped me pin down its origin.

I suspect “Patty” and other wearers might have been participating in a conference or research project on the Cherokee language.

Thoughts welcome!

New in the collection: 1910 Charlotte convention

Pin featuring a tar heel in the center, the North Carolina and US flags on the side, and the words eighth annual convention of the U.S. League of Local and Building Loan Associations, Charlotte NC, 1910.

“It was a wonder to me….  how popular these associations were in your city. Of course we naturally feel that there cannot be any town equal to Philadelphia in building association matters, but I am afraid that if we were to make a careful comparison, to use classical language, ‘you would have us beaten to a frazzle.’ “

— From a letter from George W. Clippe, delegate to the convention of  the U.S. League of Local Building and Loan Associations, published in the Charlotte Observer

North Carolina, especially the Piedmont, was indeed a hotbed of building and loans in 1910.

An image not often seen: North Carolina’s tar heel overlaid on Mecklenburg’s hornets nest.

New in the collection: Miniature rolling pin from Richfield

Wooden rolling pin with the words Richfield Milling Company, always use purity flour for better bread. Richfield, NC.

“The Richfield Milling Co., circa 1920, is the only remaining historic industrial building in Richfield, located in northern Stanly County.

“Built near the railroad, the mill served local farmers selling their grain crops for shipment to larger markets and for their own use and animal feed.

“The frame roller mill is architecturally important for its heavy-timber construction and mill grain handling system, in particular the tall grain bins on the upper floors.”

— From “Old Richfield mill added to National Register” in the Salisbury Post (Dec. 20, 2016)

According to its entry in the National Register of Historic Places, the mill actually operated as early as 1910. It closed in 1990.


New in the collection: 1940 campaign poster

From of campaign poster for Giles Y. Newton

Verso of campaign poster for Giles Y. Newton. It includes handwritten text in pencil.

If ever a candidate lived up to his campaign slogans, it was Giles Y. Newton of Gibson.

In 1936, 1938, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1948 and 1952 Newton did indeed “let the people decide it.” Each time, however, voters denied him the Democratic nomination for either U.S. senator or representative. In 1946 he filed for Congress but withdrew. 

Newton died at age 93 in Washington in 1987. His obituary in the Washington  Post noted that he had been born in South Carolina, had graduated from Duke, had earned his law degree at Harvard, had served with the Army in France during World War I and had been employed as a lawyer in the Veterans Administration. It did not mention his political career (or his term as president of the North Carolina Society of Washington).

Bonus: Filling the back of this poster are Newton’s hand-written notes — for a campaign flyer perhaps? Much is illegible, but I can make out “I look forward to being your good and great and humble servant.”


New in the collection: Mill worker insurance policies

Policy from Prudential Insurance for Hazel A. Hester

“The Roosevelt administration signed sweeping worker protections into law, addressing many of the issues that drove Loray employees to strike in 1929.

“And, [Gaston County historian Jason] Luker says, things changed dramatically when the mill was sold to Firestone [in 1935]. People were paid better, worked better schedules and were even able to buy houses from the company in the mill village.

“ ‘The people who worked for Firestone worked for Firestone for 30, 40, 50 years,’ Luker said. ‘That’s a far cry from the people who struck multiple times. It’s a completely different mindset.’ ”

— From “90 years ago, a Gastonia strike was world news” by Dashiell Coleman in the Gaston Gazette (March 29, 2019)

Among other benefits newly available to Firestone workers: life, disability and hospitalization insurance (“room and board, not exceeding $3.50 a day”).

As tire-making technology advanced, the mill switched from cotton to synthetic fibers, then closed in 1993. In 2013 developers began renovating it for residential and commercial use.


New in the collection: Arnold Palmer ‘thank you’ button

Pinback button with the words thank you Mr. Palmer and Wyndham Championship.

“Widely considered the most important figure in golf, Arnold Palmer played a significant role in Wyndham Championship history, and today, a plaque in his memory was unveiled on the tournament’s ‘Wall of Champions’ behind the ninth green at Sedgefield Country Club with Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders in attendance….”

— From an announcement by the Wyndham (Aug. 15, 2017)

Since its founding in 1938 as the Greater Greensboro Open, the tournament has gone through several changes of names and courses.


New in the collection: Legislative protest button

Pinback button with the words we will not yield and an image of a megaphone.

“Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat who represents New Hanover and Brunswick counties, stood up after the [surprise vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the budget] and began shouting at Republican House leader Tim Moore.

” ‘How dare you do this, Mr. Speaker,’ she shouted. ‘I will not yield.’ ”

This button was quickly distributed by the N.C. Democratic Party.