LEARN NC

  1. Credits & acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. About this "digital textbook"
  1. 1 Technology and transportation
    1. 1.1
      Municipal electric service
      Series of newspaper articles tells the story of New Bern's political struggles to provide municipal electric service in 1901–02. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1901–1902
    2. 1.2
      Electric streetcars
      North Carolina's first electric streetcar systems were built between 1889 and 1902. The new form of transportation changed the layout of cities.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1880–1934
    3. 1.3
      Idol’s Dam and Power Plant
      Though electricity first arrived in Winston and Salem in 1887, it was the development of Idol's Dam and Power Plant a decade later that truly moved the towns forward in terms of productivity and industrial development.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 0
    4. 1.4
      Rural Free Delivery
      Home delivery of mail wasn't established in most of the United States until the twentieth century, and when it came, it was revolutionary. This magazine article from 1903 tells the story of the new rural free delivery. Includes background and historical commentary.
      • Format: magazine
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1910
    5. 1.5
      The impact of the telephone
      When the telephone became widely available in the early twentieth century, it changed the way people lived and the ways businesses operated. This 1926 essay and accompanying historical commentary explain how.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1890–1925
    6. 1.6
      The road to the first flight
      This article explains how the Wright brothers developed their pioneering airplane, from their first experiments as boys to the first successful flight in 1903.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1878–1903
    7. 1.7
      Announcing the first flight
      Telegram sent by the Wright brothers to their father, announcing their first successful flight in December 1903.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1903
    8. 1.8
      Newspaper coverage of the first flight
      Newspaper article about the Wright brothers' first flight in December 1903, written from an intercepted telegram sent by the brothers to their father in Ohio. Historical commentary points out the differences between the version of events that reached the public and what actually happened.
      • Format: newspaper (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1903
    9. 1.9
      Henry Ford and the Model T
      Short biography of Henry Ford explains how he revolutionized manufacturing by using a continuous moving assembly line. Includes a film from the Henry Ford Estate showing how the Model T worked.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1896–1920
    10. 1.10
      The woman at the wheel
      Magazine article from 1915 predicting that technological improvements in automobiles would make them easier for women to drive and, therefore, more popular. The author praises the effect the car will have on dispersing population. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: magazine (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1915
    11. 1.11
      The Good Roads movement
      The first document on this page is a letter written by the president of the North Carolina Good Roads Association, W. A. McGritt, to the state’s governor, Thomas Bickett. The second is from a pamphlet published by the association, encouraging citizens to support a tax for the construction of roads. Historical commentary provides a short history of the Good Roads movement.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1915–1925
    12. 1.12
      WBT Charlotte in the golden age of radio
      Article about the history and development of North Carolina's first radio station, WBT Charlotte, which played an important role in the history of country music.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1919–1949
    13. 1.13
      Sour stomachs and galloping headaches
      Excerpts from an online exhibit about the rise of "patent medicine" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Includes several examples of packaging and advertising.
      • Format: exhibit
      • Relevant dates: 1880–1940
  2. 2 The Progressive Era
    1. 2.1
      Reform and a new era
      Brief history of the Progressive Era in the United States, including the administrations and reforms of presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1901–1916
    2. 2.2
      Women's clubs
      Excerpt from the published minutes of the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs, a statewide organization that coordinated the activities of various clubs. Includes historical commentary on women's activities as reformers during the Progressive Era.
      • Format: document
      • Relevant dates: 1925
    3. 2.3
      Improving school houses
      Report by the The Woman's Association for the Betterment of Public School Houses, 1906, on improvements made to the Snow Hill School in Greene County, North Carolina. Describes conditions in rural schools at the time. Includes photographs and historical background.
      • Format: report
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1910
    4. 2.4
      The "education governor"
      Excerpt from the inaugural address of North Carolina Governor Charles Brantley Aycock in which he talks about the importance of education. Historical commentary addresses the tensions between Aycock's views on education and his views on race.
      • Format: speech
      • Relevant dates: 1901–1905
    5. 2.5
      Statewide Prohibition
      On May 26, 1908, by a referendum vote of 62 percent to 38 percent, North Carolina became the first southern state to enact statewide prohibition of alcoholic beverages.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1908
    6. 2.6
      Quarantines
      This article, published by the North Carolina State Board of Health in 1889, instructed public officials about how to properly quarantine sick people to stop the spread of diseases. Includes historical commentary about common diseases of the time and how they were understood by doctors.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 0
    7. 2.7
      Winston-Salem's early hospitals
      In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Winston and Salem, North Carolina, established hospitals to treat those who could not afford regular health care, which was usually provided by doctors in the home.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1887–1938
    8. 2.8
      Death in a Pot
      This article, republished by the North Carolina State Board of Health in 1900, informed the public about health hazards associated with new, and devious, ways of processing and packaging food. Includes historical commentary about the growth of concern about food safety and of public health as a field.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1900
    9. 2.9
      The Jungle
      Excerpt from The Jungle, 1906 novel by Upton Sinclair exposing working conditions and food safety problems in the meatpacking industry. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1910
    10. 2.10
      Sanitation and privies
      This article, published by the North Carolina State Board of Health in 1919, tried to educate people about how to improve their health, as well as the health of their neighbors, by building proper outhouses. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1880–1920
  3. 3 World War I
    1. 3.1
      Timeline of World War I
      A timeline of the major events of the First World War.
      • Format: timeline
      • Relevant dates: 1914–1921
    2. 3.2
      The United States and World War I
      Article summarizes the reasons for U.S. involvement in World War I, President Wilson's role in the peace talks, and the nation's return to isolationism after the war, including the "Red Scare." A sidebar summarizes North Carolina's contributions.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1914–1920
    3. 3.3
      Propaganda and public opinion in the First World War
      The United States produced more propaganda posters than any other nation during World War I. A slideshow uses a small sample of these posters to highlight some of the themes of American involvement in the war.
      • Format: slideshow
      • Relevant dates: 1917–1918
    4. 3.4
      "Over there"
      Shortly after the United States entered World war I, George M. Cohan wrote the words and music to "Over There," which quickly became the anthem of American soldiers. This page includes the lyrics, original sheet music, and a 1917 recording of the song.
      • Format: music
      • Relevant dates: 1917–1918
    5. 3.5
      The War and German Americans
      German Americans faced persecution during World War I, encouraged by President Wilson's administration. This brief article includes a recording and transcript of a 1917 speech by former U.S. ambassador to Germany James W. Gerard, vilifying German Americans.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1917–1918
    6. 3.6
      The increasing power of destruction: Military technology in World War I
      World War I saw the first widespread military use of the machine gun, barbed wire, land mines, airplanes, and poison gas, all of which changed the nature of warfare and military strategy.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1914–1918
    7. 3.7
      Camp Bragg
      This 1919 description of Fort Bragg and the process of building it during World War I was published as part of a larger book promoting Fayetteville and the surrounding area. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book
      • Relevant dates: 1918
    8. 3.8
      Conditions at Camp Greene
      This speech was given by Sherman E. Burroughs, a U.S. Representative from New Hampshire. In his speech, Burroughs protested the unsanitary conditions at Camp Greene, an army camp located outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: speech
      • Relevant dates: 1917–1918
    9. 3.9
      Diary of a doughboy
      Excerpts from a diary written by Willard Newton, who served in the U.S. Army in France during World War I. Describes trench warfare and conditions along the front. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: diary
      • Relevant dates: 1918
    10. 3.10
      A letter home from the American Expeditionary Force
      Letter from Robert Hanes, who was stationed in France during World War I, to his wife Mildred at home in North Carolina. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1918
    11. 3.11
      Ashe County deserters
      Speech by North Carolina Governor Thomas W. Bickett in Ashe County, 1918, convincing deserters to turn themselves in and return to service in the Army. Bickett explains his view of the rationale for the war and of citizens' duty to their country. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1917–1918
    12. 3.12
      Rescue at sea
      In August 1918, the Lifesaving Service made a daring rescue of the crew of the British tanker Mirlo off the shores of Bodie Island, North Carolina.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1918
    13. 3.13
      North Carolina and the "Blue Death": The flu epidemic of 1918
      The influenza epidemic of 1918–1919 proved deadlier to North Carolinians than the Great War itself. This article describes the effects of the epidemic and how public health officials tried to stop it.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1918–1919
    14. 3.14
      Stopping the spread of influenza
      Article published by the North Carolina State Board of Health during the influenza pandemic of 1918–19, instructing the public on how to limit the spread of the disease. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1818
    15. 3.15
      The Treaty of Versailles
      The treaty that ended World War I took German territory, demanded reparations, redrew the map of Europe, and created a League of Nations that would prove to be ineffective.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1919–1921
    16. 3.16
      "Nationalism and Americanism"
      Recording and transcript of a speech by Warren G. Harding during his 1920 campaign for president. Harding addressed the issue of American involvement overseas and spoke specifically about the relationship of immigrants to their home countries abroad. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: speech
      • Relevant dates: 1920
  4. 4 Women's suffrage
    1. 4.1
      Timeline of Women's Suffrage
      A timeline of the major events in the long campaign for women's voting rights, from the nation's independence in 1776 to North Carolina's ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1971.
      • Format: timeline
      • Relevant dates: 1776–1920
    2. 4.2
      The long struggle for women's suffrage
      The 19th Amendment not only gave women the right to enfranchisement in all elections, and thus a say in government, it also legitimized women's participation in all areas of society. This article tells the story of the suffrage movement from the mid-nineteenth century to the passing of the amendment in 1920.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1848–1920
    3. 4.3
      Equal pay for equal work
      Pamphlet, published in 1918 by a teacher named Julia Dameron, pointing out that women teachers were routinely paid less than men and calling for change. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: pamphlet (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1910–1930
    4. 4.4
      Gertrude Weil
      Biography of Gertrude Weil (1879–1971) of Goldsboro, who led the fight for women's suffrage in North Carolina.
      • Format: biography
      • Relevant dates: 1879–1971
    5. 4.5
      The North Carolina Equal Suffrage League
      Report of the statewide organization working to obtain voting rights for women, 1917. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1915–1920
    6. 4.6
      Why We Oppose Votes for Men
      Satirical column by Alice Duer Miller, challenging people opposed to women's suffrage. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: poster
      • Relevant dates: 1910–1920
    7. 4.7
      Our Idea of Nothing at All
      Poem by by Alice Duer Miller attacking a U.S. Senator from North Carolina who opposed women's suffrage. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: poetry
      • Relevant dates: 1915–1920
    8. 4.8
      Votes for Women
      This poster, published by the North American Woman Suffrage Association, counters opponents arguments about why women shouldn’t be given the right to vote.
      • Format: poster
      • Relevant dates: 1910–1920
    9. 4.9
      Gertrude Weil urges suffragists to action
      Letter from Gertrude Weil, president of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League, to supporters on the eve of the North Carolina General Assembly's vote on the Nineteenth Amendment. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1915–1920
    10. 4.10
      North Carolina and the women's suffrage amendment
      Article tells the story of the political battle in North Carolina over ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920
    11. 4.11
      Gertrude Weil congratulates — and consoles — suffragists
      Letter from Gertrude Weil, president of North Carolina's Equal Suffrage Association, to supporters after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified by enough states to become part of the Constitution -- but failed to pass in North Carolina.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1920
    12. 4.12
      Lillian Exum Clement
      Biography of Lillian Exum Clement, the first woman elected to the North Carolina General Assembly.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920
  5. 5 Jim Crow and Black Wall Street
    1. 5.1
      The birth of "Jim Crow"
      During the years that followed Reconstruction, and especially after 1890, state governments in the South adopted segregationist laws mandating separation of the races in nearly every aspect of everyday life. This system was known informally as "Jim Crow."
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1875–1965
    2. 5.2
      A sampling of Jim Crow laws
      Examples of laws in southern states enforcing racial segregation prior to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1960
    3. 5.3
      Triracial segregation in Robeson County
      Letter from the mayor of Pembroke, North Carolina, explaining the town council's request that a railroad company provide separate waiting rooms for each of the county's three races (white, black, and Lumbee). Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1913
    4. 5.4
      George White speaks out on lynchings
      Excerpt of a speech by U.S. Representative George Henry White of North Carolina denouncing mob violence against African Americans in the South. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: speech
      • Relevant dates: 1890–1950
    5. 5.5
      The Great Migration and North Carolina
      During the Jim Crow era of the early twentieth century, more than a million African Americans left the South for northern cities, where they took advantage of economic opportunities and created thriving communities.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1930
    6. 5.6
      Durham's "Black Wall Street"
      In the early twentieth century, Parrish Street in Durham, North Carolina, known as "Black Walll Street," was the hub of African American business activity.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1930
    7. 5.7
      Black businesses in Durham
      Excerpt from a 1912 article by W. E. B. Du Bois praising Durham's black business community and the tolerance of their white counterparts. Includes historical and biographical background.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1930
    8. 5.8
      The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
      On the first of April 1899, the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company opened for business in Durham, North Carolina. The first month’s collections, after the payment of commissions, amounted only to $1.12, but from such beginnings North Carolina Mutual grew to be the largest African American managed financial institution in the United States.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1899–1930
    9. 5.9
      Charlotte Hawkins Brown
      Charlotte Hawkins Brown (1883–1961) founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, a school for African Americans, and devoted her life to the improvement of the African American community's social standing.
      • Format: biography
      • Relevant dates: 0
    10. 5.10
      Charlotte Hawkins Brown's rules for school
      Rules for students from a book by Charlotte Hawkins Brown, founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute. Includes historical background.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1930–1960
  6. 6 The roaring twenties
    1. 6.1
      The booming twenties
      A brief history of the United States in the 1920s.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1929
    2. 6.2
      How the twenties roared in North Carolina
      Brief history of North Carolina during the 1920s, when growth in cities, industry, and commerce changed people's lives -- though not always for the better.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1929
    3. 6.3
      "Eastern North Carolina for the farmer"
      Pamphlet published by the Atlantic Coast Line railroad in 1916, advertising eastern North Carolina as a place for people from other parts of the country to settle. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1910–1920
    4. 6.4
      "Home folks and neighbor people"
      This page is an excerpt from Horace Kephart's book Our Southern Highlanders, about the relationships between the people of the North Carolina mountains and their natural environment. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 0
    5. 6.5
      North Carolina debates evolution
      The nationwide debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools came to North Carolina in the 1920s. The debate pitted religious leaders against educators and culminated in the Poole Bill, a proposed law that would have prohibited the teaching of evolution in the state's schools but was defeated in the General Assembly.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 19
    6. 6.6
      Thomas Wolfe
      Brief biography of Thomas Wolfe, novelist from Asheville, North Carolina.
      • Format: biography
      • Relevant dates: 1900–1938
    7. 6.7
      Asheville reacts to Look Homeward, Angel
      Review of Thomas Wolfe's novel that appeared in The Asheville Times in 1929.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    8. 6.8
      From stringbands to bluesmen: African American music in the Piedmont
      This article from Carolina Music Ways discusses the transition in African American music from stringband to blues in the North Carolina Piedmont between 1860 and 1940, with a focus on Preston Fulp, a blues musician who gained prominence in Winston-Salem in the 1930s.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1860–1940
    9. 6.9
      Hillbillies and mountain folk: Early stringband recordings
      This article from Carolina Music Ways explores the history of "hillbilly" records in the North Carolina Piedmont in the 1920s and 1930s.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1940
    10. 6.10
      Jubilee quartets and the Five Royales: From gospel to rhythm & blues
      This article from Carolina Music Ways discusses the transition in African American music from gospel music to secular rhythm and blues between 1920 and 1960.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1960
    11. 6.11
      The "flapper"
      Contemporary description of the "flapper" and the changes in American culture in the 1920s. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: magazine
      • Relevant dates: 0
    12. 6.12
      Going to the movies
      Newspaper article about the first "talkie" shown in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1929. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
  7. 7 Industry and labor
    1. 7.1
      Child labor
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1890–1930
    2. 7.2
      Why belong to the union?
      Article from Opportunity magazine, 1926, persuading readers to join a union by explaining some of the benefits of union membership. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: article (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1930
    3. 7.3
      Work and protest, 1920–1934
      In response to declining demand in the 1920s, textile mill owners cut wages and demanded longer hours from their workers. Labor unrest increased, and there were widespread strikes from 1929 to 1934.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1934
    4. 7.4
      Work and protest: Voices
      Excerpts from oral history interviews with textile mill workers about labor unrest in the 1920s and 1930s. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1920–1940
    5. 7.5
      Alice Caudle talks about mill work
      WPA Federal Writers Project interview with a North Carolia woman about her life and work in textile mills in the early twentieth century. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1891–1938
    6. 7.6
      The Carolina Coal Company mine explosion
      An explosion in a mine near Coal Glen, North Carolina, in 1925, killed fifty-three miners and led to the passage of the state Worker's Compensation Act.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1925
    7. 7.7
      The Southern Highland Craft Guild
      The Southern Highland Craft Guild, founded by Frances Goodrich, played an important role in western North Carolina's Craft Revival of the early twentieth century. Goodrich and others helped find ways of teaching traditional crafts and making them profitable again.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1892–1948
  8. 8 The Gastonia strike
    1. 8.1
      The Gastonia strike
      A strike at Loray Cotton Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina, in 1929, led to the killing of the police chief and made national news.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    2. 8.2
      The strike begins
      Article from the Gastonia Daily Gazette at the beginning of the Loray Mill strike in 1929. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    3. 8.3
      An industry representative visits Loray Mills
      Article from the Charlotte Observer during the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia, 1929. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    4. 8.4
      A union organizer blames the mill
      Article printed by the Gastonia Daily Gazette during the Loray Mill strike in 1929, one of the few printed that represented the views of the strikers. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    5. 8.5
      The strikers move into tents
      Article from the Gastonia Daily Gazette printed during the Loray Mill strike, 1929. Striking workers were thrown out of their houses, which were owned by the mill. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    6. 8.6
      Congress considers an inquiry into textile strikes
      Newspaper article about a congressional debate about southern textile strikes, 1929. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    7. 8.7
      The police chief is killed
      Article from the Gastonia Daily Gazette about the killing of the town's police chief during the 1929 Loray Mill strike. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1929
    8. 8.8
      The Mill Mother's Lament
      Song by labor activist Ella Mae Wiggins sung during the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia, 1929. Includes biographical information about Wiggins.
      • Format: music
      • Relevant dates: 1929
  1. Appendix A. Political Parties in the United States, 1896–1929
  2. Appendix B. North Carolina Governors, 1901-1929
  3. Appendix C. Reading Primary Sources: An Introduction for Students
  4. Glossary
  5. Index