LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

1837 photograph of the Alamance Cotton Mill.

Alamance Cotton Mill, built in 1837, pioneered the state’s textile industry. Photograph courtesy of Alamance County Historical Museum. About the photograph

North Carolina was an agricultural state before the Civil War. But there were towns, even if they were very small by our standards. People practiced a wide variety of occupations, often in addition to farming. And here and there, a few industries were taking root. In this chapter we’ll use census data, maps, and business directories to learn about antebellum business and industry.