Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.



Slaves under the overseer's whip

A “digital textbook”

LEARN NC’s digital textbook for North Carolina History uses primary sources and multimedia to tell many stories about the past, not just one.

Part five explores the social, cultural, and political history of the state from the 1830s to the eve of the Civil War.

North Carolina Digital History

Antebellum North Carolina

In the decades before the Civil War, North Carolina shed its “Rip Van Winkle” reputation. Better transportation, including new railroads, helped the growth of agriculture and the first stirrings of industry. Society and culture flourished. But the state’s economy and society was now based firmly on slavery, and white North Carolinians found they had to defend the institution in ways they never expected — against not only the possibility of slave revolts, but against legal challenges, political battles, and northern abolitionists. By the 1850s, the slave South and the increasingly antislavery North were on a collision course that would end with the Civil War.

Designed for secondary students, part five of our web-based “digital textbook” combines primary sources with articles from a variety of perspectives, maps, photographs, audio recordings, and video to tell the many stories of North Carolina in the antebellum period:

  • the structure of antebellum society
  • the institution and legal structure of slavery
  • the life and work of farm and plantation families
  • the experiences of enslaved people
  • the early growth of towns and industry
  • transportation and the growth of railroads
  • music, poetry, and the arts
  • the events in North Carolina and across the United States that led to secession and civil war

Get started: Table of Contents


More than just a linear narrative, our “digital textbook” is modular and fully searchable. If you need a primary source, a map, some background reading, or a lesson plan, this is the place to start!