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.

Most North Carolinians in the 1850s lived on farms, but every county had a number of merchants and other businesses, whether in established towns or in crossroads villages. The Southern Business Directory from 1854, linked below, lists those businesses by county. Find the information for your county, or for counties in your region of the state.

  • Do you recognize the locations listed? (If not, they may have been names of crossroads that never became established towns.)
  • Were there many businesses listed? What kinds of businesses were there? (If it doesn’t say what business someone was in, he was probably a “general merchant,” someone who sold a variety of goods.
  • Why do you suppose those businesses existed there at that time?
The Southern Business Directory and General Commercial Advertiser, 1854 (excerpt)
This excerpt includes the title page of the directory and the section on North Carolina, which is arranged by county. (About the document)
Open as PDF (1 MB, 23 pages)