Back to top

Search Constraints

Start Over You searched for: Place New Bern (N.C.) -- History Remove constraint Place: New Bern (N.C.) -- History
Number of results to display per page
View results as:

Search Results

The Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South project was undertaken by Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies from 1990-2005. Its goal was to record and preserve African American experiences in the American South from the 1890s to the 1950s. Materials in the Behind the Veil project collection date from about 1864 to 2011, with the bulk dating from the 1990s; earlier dates represent original image content rather than the reproduction date. The collection comprises over 1200 oral history interviews with associated transcripts and administrative files, several thousand historic and contemporary photographs, and project records, which include paper and electronic administrative files and audiovisual recordings. Oral histories were conducted in 19 locations, chiefly in the South; topics represented in these recordings include childhood, religion, education, politics, celebrations and other events, family histories, work histories and military service, and details about segregation and the effects of racism in the South. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African American History and Culture at Duke University.

Materials in the Behind the Veil project collection date from about 1864 to 2011, with the bulk dating from the 1990s; earlier dates represent original image content rather than the reproduction date. The core component of the collection comprises over 1200 oral histories conducted by Behind the Veil interviewers with African Americans in cities, towns, and rural locations in Georgia; Arkansas; Michigan; Alabama; North Carolina; Los Angeles, California; Mississippi; Tennessee; Kentucky; Louisiana; Virginia; South Carolina, and Florida. The majority of the interviews were conducted during summers between 1993 to 1995, with additional interviews added from 1995 to 2004. These interviews, originally recorded by Behind the Veil staff and volunteers on audiocassettes, have been digitized; in addition, all other project records and images are currently being digitized and will be made available as they are ingested into the Duke Digital Repository.

A second core component consists of over 2100 historical and contemporary photographic images in the form of black-and-white and color slides, photographic prints, and negatives. These form several large groups: donated historical materials imaged at interview locations by BTV staff; contemporary photographs taken by staff as they gave interviews and explored local communities; and photographs of BTV staff at work, BTV offices, and project events and training. Historic images in slide format include many photographs of African American individuals and families dating from the 1880s to the mid-20th century; they also include images of documents such as news clippings, military papers, political ephemera, school diplomas, and brief publications. The images are described in more detail in their listings in this collection guide.

The remainder of the collection consists of project administrative records. These files - in paper and electronic format - include National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant information; correspondence; staffing records; meeting notes and minutes; outreach; files on publication and exhibit projects; and information on classes, seminars, and training given for students and project staff.

The Behind the Veil collection not only focuses on the experiences of individuals, but also reflects the importance of black institutions as the backbone of black communities. The interviews, documents and photographs reflect the crucial role that black churches, fraternal societies, women's clubs, and political organizations played in African American community life. The testimony of educators and students from historically black colleges, agricultural schools and institutes enrich conventional beliefs about black agency in segregated schools.

Although the focus of the interviews was on the Jim Crow era, the life history format of most interviews led informants to comment on events after segregation. Information about civil rights struggles in the 1960s, African American participation in desegregation within local communities, and post-1965 activism and community work are also included in many Behind the Veil interviews. The interviews in this collection also raise crucial questions about the shape of memory and the creation of narratives that can inform not only research in oral history but also literature and anthropology. Research into black religion can be enriched by the voices of Behind the Veil. Studies that examine oppression and resistance could be informed by the rich documentary record of labor and social culture that the collection presents. The Behind the Veil collection illuminates innumerable topics, time periods, and research interests.


Charles L. Abernethy Sr. papers, 1713-1972, bulk 1907-1959 85 Linear Feet — 160 boxes; 2 oversize folders — Approximately 60,855 items

Charles L. Abernethy, Sr. (1872-1955) was a Democratic Congressman representing eastern North Carolina from 1922-1935. His professional papers consist chiefly of correspondence and records from his law practice and legal cases, with smaller amounts of writings and speeches, financial papers, printed materials, diaries, and some personal papers, including early deeds. There is also a large group of photographs, photo albums, and clippings scrapbooks chiefly documenting Abernethy's political career. One album from 1907 contains postcards of Beaufort, N.C.; another contains photographs of a three-month Congressional trip to Alaska, 1923, and includes images of President and Mrs. Harding and a diary transcript of the trip. Other items include some papers of his son, Charles Laban Abernethy, Jr., also a lawyer, and a volume of his poetry.

The collection principally comprises a large series of correspondence and legal records accumulated by North Carolina lawyer and politician Charles L. Abernethy, Sr. during his tenure as U.S. Congressman. There are papers relating to the senior Abernethy's law practice and business dealings in Beaufort and New Bern, N.C. (including legal papers concerning land development in Carteret County, Cape Lookout, and Horse Island maintained by both father and son).

Other materials include deeds and other early papers, political speeches, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks of Abernethy's political career, a diary, and the Abernethy coat-of-arms. There are also papers assembled by Abernethy's son, Charles L. Abernethy, Jr., a lawyer in his father's firm, and a volume of his poetry.

A lare group of photographs and albums includes a photograph album containing snapshots the elder Abernethy took during a congressional trip to Alaska for three months of 1923 (including photographs of President and Mrs. Harding), as well as a typescript of his diary from the trip; and an album containing postcards of Beaufort, N.C, in 1907, featuring a celebration of either the 200th anniversary of the town's founding or the opening of passenger and rail service to the town (or both).

Ledger of an unknown merchant in New Bern, N.C. Transactions appear chronologically by account holder, and reflect the sale of general merchandise, such as cloth and clothing, food, rum, seed, pitch, tar, and turpentine. Accounts were settled with either cash or goods. Formerly known as Anonymous ledger C, 1767-1776.

Ledger of an unknown merchant in New Bern, N.C. Transactions appear chronologically by account holder, and reflect the sale of general merchandise, such as cloth and clothing, food, rum, seed, pitch, tar, and turpentine. Accounts were settled with either cash or goods.

Formerly known as Anonymous ledger C, 1767-1776.


Samuel S. Biddle papers, 1764-1895 and undated 2 Linear Feet — Approx. 3,500 Items

Planter and merchant families of New Bern (Craven County), North Carolina. Business and personal correspondence of four generations of the Biddle and Simpson families of New Bern, N.C. Most notable are the papers of John Simpson (1728-1788), locally a prominent Revolutionary figure; his son, Samuel; and his great-grandson, Samuel Simpson Biddle (1811-1872). Topics include financial affairs, including deeds, property in Boston, and the shipment of goods; activities of the Baptist Church in the New Bern area; agricultural and business interests; education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and children's education in the 19th century. Many letters were written during the Civil War and revolve around the activities of S.S. Biddle, Jr. and James W. Biddle, containing brief descriptions of campaigns, troop movements, traitors, fortifications in South Carolina, camp life, and epidemics. The collection also has 12 volumes of plantation and personal accounts, bills, and receipts, loose deeds and notes, as well as information from the estates of Samuel Simpson and William Biddle.

Business and personal correspondence of four generations of members of the Simpson and Biddle families in North Carolina, principally those of John Simpson (1728-1788), locally a prominent Revolutionary figure, his son Samuel, and his great-grandson Samuel Simpson Biddle (1811-1872), both families being prominent in local affairs. The early letters, including several from John Simpson's brother in Boston, are largely concerned with business, including deeds, Simpson's property in Boston, and shipment of goods. One letter, in 1790, indicates that Simpson was associated in business with Dr. Hugh Williamson in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Other correspondence is concerned with probable purchase of land from John Haywood; one contract, 1810, with a tenant on Simpson's land; agricultural and business interests of Samuel Simpson Biddle in the 1840's and 1850's; the education of Samuel Simpson Biddle at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and the education of several of his children at various schools in North Carolina, including Wake Forest College, Louisburg Academy, Chowan Female College, Oxford Female College, and a school at Warrenton.

William P. Biddle, father of Samuel Simpson Biddle, was a Baptist minister, who associated with his father-in-law in farming and business. Many letters of other ministers are included, with considerable information on activities of the Baptist Church in the area of Fort Barnwell and New Bern. There are also minutes of Neuse (Baptist) Association, November 4, 1843, and of a conference meeting of the Baptist Church of Christ at Harriett's Chapel, September, 1853.

A large proportion of the letters refer to the Civil War, S. S. Biddle, Jr., and James W. Biddle having enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861. These letters contain descriptions of campaigns, troop movements, camp life, and epidemics among soldiers and civilians. References are also made to naval conflicts along the coast, Federal prisoners, execution of deserters and of Southern traitors, fortifications at James Island, South Carolina, various generals, including P. G. T. Beauregard and Wade Hampton, and the confiscation of Southern property by Federal forces. There are also comments on the comparative merits of Z. B. Vance and W. W. Holden as governors.

There are many notes, deeds, and wills, and numerous letters from two of Samuel Biddle's daughters, Mary and Rosa, and from a son, B. F. Biddle, at Wake Forest College, and lists of names and valuations of slaves left by Samuel Simpson and William P. Biddle to their children. There are eleven account books, five small stud books, and a large number of bills and receipts concerned with the mercantile and farming interests of the Simpsons and Biddles. Among the correspondents are John D. Bellamy, William Gaston, John Haywood, Thomas Meredith, and John Stanly.