New in the collection: White Lake municipal license plate

License plate with words, "White Lake, Nation's Safest Beach"

“At this beach, the water is free of salt and jellyfish. Most of it is clear as a fountain, covering a little more than 2.5 square miles and reaching a depth of 12 feet. White Lake is technically not a lake but a Carolina bay marketed as the ‘Nation’s Safest Beach.’ The sandy lake floor slopes gently, making no sudden drops, and there are no undercurrents that will drag you away or marine critters that will take a bite out of you. The last alligator, for what it’s worth, was spotted and killed in 1956….”

— From “Town square: Sensibly shabby” by Bryan Mims in Business North Carolina (Aug. 1, 2016)

White Lake was the subject of a 2015 documentary by UNC Chapel Hill student Robert Kinlaw.


New in the collection: Tourism-promoting license plate

Front license plate that reads "North Carolina Variety Vacationland"


“Never before had there been a coordinated statewide effort to showcase North Carolina as a destination. Tourism had the potential to lift the state out of economic despair. So in 1937, the newly created Division of State Advertising embarked on a campaign under the slogan ‘Variety Vacationland’….

“The phrase … would become mostly history by the 1980s, falling out of favor to another alliterative phrase: First in Flight….”

— From “How North Carolina Became ‘Variety Vacationland’ “ by Bryan Mims in Our State (July 23, 2015)