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.

Early 20th Century


Ford Model T

North Carolina Digital History

North Carolina in the early 20th century

The first decades of the twentieth century brought many changes to North Carolina. The growth of long-distance transportation and communication, national reform movements, and the First World War linked the state ever more closely to the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. Changing times brought new ideas, new roles for women, new business opportunities, new music and new literature. But many in North Carolina didn’t benefit from these changes, and many stood squarely against them.

Designed for secondary students, part eight of our web-based “digital textbook” combines primary sources with articles from a variety of perspectives, maps, photographs, and multimedia to tell the many stories of North Carolina in the early twentieth century:

  • innovations in transportation and communications and their impact on society
  • the reform movements of the Progressive Era
  • the experiences of North Carolinians in World War I
  • the struggle for women’s suffrage
  • the segregation of the Jim Crow era, the Great Migration, and the successes of African Americans in North Carolina
  • the cultural changes of the 1920s — and resistance to them
  • child labor, changes in industry, and growing labor unrest
  • the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia

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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!