Yesterday’s N.C. Headlines Available Today Online


It’s unclear whether Governor David S. Reid’s offer of a $300 reward resulted in the arrest of the three members of Johnson & Co’s People’s Circus charged with killing Milton Mathis. But perhaps the answer lies in a subsequent edition of William Woods Holden’s Semi-Weekly North-Carolina Standard. Consider this your invitation to search.

I’m happy to report that your search may have just gotten easier. The Standard and a host of other North Carolina newspaper titles are now available online and searchable via Chronicling America, a joint project by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities to make available online historic U.S. newspapers published from 1836 through 1922. The North Carolina Collection and its partner, the N.C. Office of Archives and History, received funding in 2012 to scan microfilm of titles from the Old North State and prepare them for publication on Chronicling America. It’s a slow process. But in the coming months you should gain online access to 100,000 pages from 21 North Carolina newspapers.

Pages from various years are already available from The Charlotte Democrat and its successor publications, The Tarboro’ Press, The Tarboro’ Southerner, the Watauga Democrat and The Asheville Citizen.

In the coming months you’ll find issues of The Independent of Elizabeth City; the New Bern Weekly Progress; the Rockingham Post-Dispatch; the Fisherman & Farmer of Edenton and Elizabeth City; The Review of High Point; The French Broad Hustler from Hendersonville; The Durham Daily Globe; The Semi-Weekly Messenger from Wilmington; The Sun from Fayetteville; the Journal of Freedom from Raleigh; The Gold Leaf from Henderson; The Weekly Caucasian from Clinton, Goldsboro and Raleigh; the Wilmington Journal; and the Cherokee Scout of Murphy.

The titles were chosen by an advisory board that included historians, librarians and even a representative from the N.C. Press Association. I know that you probably have your favorite newspaper that you’d like to see online. We have ours, too. And we hope to add more in the coming years. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, get reading and searching. You’ve got to solve the Mathis murder.

The News and Observer celebrates a birthday


Happy Birthday to The News & Observer. Although the paper’s roots date back to the 1880s, the first issue under publisher Josephus Daniels rolled off the presses on this date in 1893. And since then, the paper has operated continuously under its current title. The print version of today’s paper features a front page mocked up in the style of the 1893 paper.

We’re marking the occasion by providing you with a look at the full first issue. To take a closer look at the individual pages, click on one of the images below. You’ll be taken to a new page. Click on the image on that page and you can view the full page.

North Carolina Newspapers Selected for Digitization

North Carolina Historic Newspapers recently finalized its list of newspaper titles on microfilm to digitize as part of its partnership with the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). The project’s advisory board met in the fall of 2012 to make a preliminary list of titles based on research value, geographic representation, temporal coverage and other selection criteria as defined by the NDNP. Project staff then inspected the selected titles’ microfilm for conformance to the NDNP’s technical requirements. The finalized list is comprised of 21 newspaper titles totaling 100,000 pages of North Carolina newspapers dating from 1836 – 1922. The digitized newspaper pages will be added incrementally to the Library of Congress’ collection of historic American newspapers on the Chronicling America website, with all pages to be delivered to the Library of Congress by the summer of 2014.

Runs from the following titles will be digitized:

  • Watauga Democrat, Boone
  • The North-Carolina Standard, Raleigh
  • The Asheville Citizen, Asheville
  • The Independent, Elizabeth City
  • Newbern Weekly Progress, New Bern
  • The Charlotte Democrat, Charlotte
  • Tarboro Press, Tarboro
  • Rockingham Post-Dispatch, Rockingham
  • Fisherman & Farmer, Edenton and Elizabeth City
  • The Review, High Point
  • The French Broad Hustler, Hendersonville
  • The Durham Daily Globe, Durham
  • The Semi-weekly Messenger, Wilmington
  • The Sun, Fayetteville
  • Journal of Freedom, Raleigh
  • The Gold Leaf, Henderson
  • The Weekly Caucasian, Clinton, Goldsboro and Raleigh
  • The Progressive Farmer, Winston and Raleigh
  • The Western Democrat, Charlotte
  • Wilmington Journal, Wilmington
  • Cherokee Scout, Murphy

Project titles distributed across North Carolina can be found on this map:

North Carolina Historic Newspapers Available via Chronicling America
North Carolina Historic Newspapers Available via Chronicling America.


North Carolina Historic Newspapers has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: We the People. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

National Endowment for the Humanities

May 1969: Howard Lee

This Month in North Carolina History


Howard Lee

“The placid, academic retreat of Chapel Hill, N.C., has always been something of an anomaly in the South.”
Newsweek, May 19, 1969.

Whenever Chapel Hill, North Carolina elected a new mayor, few people outside of the small college town paid much attention. But when the 1969 mayoral race came to a close, newspapers and magazines from around the state, nation, and world reported the news. Time and Newsweek ran profiles of the new mayor and his photograph appeared prominently in a West German newspaper. Why all the fuss? When the votes were counted and the election was certified, on May 6, 1969, Howard Lee became the first African American mayor elected in a predominantly white southern town since Reconstruction.

Lee had lived in Chapel Hill only five years when he decided to run for mayor. He moved to North Carolina from his native Georgia in 1964 to attend the University of North Carolina. Lee earned a master’s degree in Social Work in 1966 and was hired to direct a research program at Duke.

When Lee and his wife began to look for a home, they found that, despite the town’s progressive reputation, race was still very much an issue in Chapel Hill. The Lees encountered white residents who were reluctant to have an African American family move into their neighborhood, and realtors who hesitated to show them homes in white subdivisions. When, after six months of searching, they were finally able to purchase a home in the Colony Woods neighborhood, they received harassing phone calls and a cross was burned on their front lawn. The experience inspired Lee to enter local politics.

The 1969 race for mayor set records. The 4,734 votes cast were the most in town history, and included a record turnout from the Chapel Hill’s African American community, which made up nearly ten percent of the population. The race was close: Lee’s margin of victory – about 400 votes – was the smallest on record for a municipal election. He defeated Roland Giduz, a former newspaper editor and long-time member of the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen.

Lee served three terms as mayor of Chapel Hill. He received 64 percent of the vote in the 1971 election, and 89 percent in 1973. Lee ran for Congress in 1972 and for lieutenant governor in 1976, and though he lost both races in the Democratic primaries, his career in politics was far from over. He was appointed as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development in 1977 and served in the state senate from 1990-1994 and 1996-2002. Lee is currently the chair of the State Board of Education, the first African American to hold that position.


Howard Lee campaign materials. In North Carolina Collection Biographical Clippings, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Childs, Jack, “Negro Wins in Chapel Hill.” News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), May 7, 1969.

Bridgette A. Lacy, “On His Honor.” News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), February 20, 1995.

Shinkle, Kevin. “Lee Mulls Run Against Sen. Helms.” The Chapel Hill Newspaper, September 25, 1989.


Image source:

Howard Lee campaign brochure, 1969. North Carolina Collection Biographical Clippings. North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.