Charles N. Hunter papers, 1850s-1932 and undated

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Hunter, Charles N., circa 1851-1931
Black educator, journalist, and reformer from Raleigh, North Carolina. Correspondence, scrapbooks of clippings, print material such as articles and reports, and other papers, all dating from the Civil War into the first few decades of the 20th century. Includes a fourth edition of Lunsford Lane's slave narrative. The material discusses and illuminates the problems experienced by emancipated blacks during Reconstruction and into the early 20th century, encompassing agriculture, business, race relations, reconstruction, education, politics, voting rights, and economic improvement for African Americans. Other topics include Durham and Raleigh, N.C. history; the temperance movement, Hunter's personal matters and family finances, the North Carolina Industrial Association, and the N.C. Negro State Fair. Significant correspondents include Charles B. Aycock, Thomas W. Bickett, William E. Borah, Craig Locke, Josephus Daniels, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles G. Dawes, John A. Logan, Lee S. Overman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Sumner, Zebulon B. Vance, and Booker T. Washington. There is also correpondence from two early African American Congressmen, Henry P. Cheatham and George H. White. Also included is a draft of a speech given by Frederick Douglass in 1880 at the 2nd Negro State Fair.
7.3 Linear Feet
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Charles N. Hunter Papers date from the 1850s to 1932 and consist of Hunter's personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks of clippings, articles, reports, and memorabilia. Correspondence relates to personal and financial matters, as well as to Hunter's various activities to improve African American education and economic well-being, particularly in the South. Specific topics touched on throughout his papers include race relations, voting rights, creating an educational system for African Americans, the temperance movement, reconstruction, African American business and agriculture, the North Carolina Industrial Association, and the North Carolina Negro State Fair. The three correspondence subseries form almost half of the Personal and Professional Papers Series . The correspondence subseries are: Business/Community Incoming Correspondence, Personal Incoming Correspondence, and Outgoing Correspondence. Among the correspondents are several African American Congressional representatives such as George H. White and Henry P. Cheatham; major political figures like Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Alexander Logan; important African American scholars including W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington; and many North Carolina governors, in particular Zebulon B. Vance, Charles B. Aycock, Locke Craig, and Thomas Walter Bickett. Although these letters address professional and political issues, Hunter established friendships with many of the noteable correspondents. The incoming correspondence has been arranged into letters pertaining to Hunter's business or community activities and letters relating to Hunter's personal life. There are also numerous drafts and copies of outgoing correspondence that Hunter wrote.

In the Other Professional Papers Subseries, there is a variety of miscellaneous printed materials and papers that cover Hunter's career as a teacher and principal, involvement in the N.C. Industrial Association, and role in the N.C. Negro State Fair. Included in this subseries is an array of print materials that provide a view of African American life in the South. This includes commencement invitations from historically black colleges and universities, a fourth edition of Lunsford Lane's slave narrative, and newspaper clippings. The bulk of this subseries deals with the larger Raleigh area, though some items address national issues.

The Writings and Speeches Subseries includes addresses given by Hunter and others. Most noteable is a transcription of Frederick Douglass' speech given at the 2nd Annual N.C. Negro State Fair. Amongst Hunter's writings are several pieces intended for a local encyclopedia which detail historic locales and important North Carolina men. Writings cover topics such as African American voting rights and post-Reconstruction analysis. Overall, Hunter's writings provide historical sketches of important figures, events, and reprecussions with an emphasis on local history.

The Scrapbooks Series is made up of seventeen scrapbooks assembled by Hunter which contain clippings and other items concerning race relations and other social, political, and economic affairs pertaining to African Americans. They are composed principally of newspaper clippings published in North Carolina, but their scope is national as well as local. The clippings have been copied and arranged chronologically; the originals are closed to use.

Biographical / historical:

Charles Norfleet Hunter was born of slave parentage in the early 1850s in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hunter was the son of artisan Osborne Hunter, slave of William Dallas Haywood, a member of one of Raleigh's most prominent families. Hunter's mother died when he was three and he was raised by an aunt. Hunter was prominent in efforts to provide better educational facilities and curriculum for African Americans in North Carolina and was instrumental in constructing several schools for African Americans in the state. He served as principal for many schools in the state and served as editor of several newspapers and publications. As a member of the North Carolina Industrial Association, he also sought to expand the opportunities for African Americans in agriculture and industry.

Chronology List
Date Event
circa 1851
Born of slave parents, Osborne and Mary Hunter, in Raleigh, N.C.
Employed at Raleigh Branch Freedman's Savings Bank; assistant cashier by 1874, when the bank failed
Began teaching in Maxton, N.C.
One of the founding members of North Carolina Industrial Association, along with brother, Osborne Jr.
Secretary of North Carolina Industrial Association and editor of its publication, Journal of Industry
Worked as clerk in Raleigh Post Office
Teacher in Durham Colored Graded School; editor of Progressive Educator of N.C.
Principal of Garfield Graded School in Raleigh, N.C.; agent for A.S. Barnes and Co. publishers, New York
Principal of Oberlin Graded School in Raleigh, N.C.
Treasurer of North Carolina Industrial Association
Appointed Principal of Garfield School in Raleigh, N.C.
Brother, Osborne, Jr., died
Partner with J. H. Lewis in Inter State Real Estate and Employment Agency, Trenton, N.J.; Principal of Oberlin School in Raleigh, N.C.
Member of the faculty of North Carolina State Colored Normal School, Franklinton, N.C.
Appointed Principal of Colored High School in Raleigh, N.C.; daughter, Eva, died of pneumonia and possible malaria in July; son, Charles, died of illness in December
Appointed Principal of Chavis School in Raleigh, N.C.
Played an active role in preparing the N.C. Negro Exhibit for the Jamestown Exposition; Colored Secretary of the N.C. Commission of the Jamestown Exposition; Secretary of Negro Development and Exposition Co. of USA; Superintendent of the Raleigh Branch of the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association
Traveling Agent of the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association; Member of the North Carolina Republican Executive Committee
Editor of Our Advance, a paper in Raleigh; Principal of Public School, Method, N.C.
Leading figure in building of Berry O'Kelly Training School (previously known as Method School) in Method, N.C.; served as the school's principal
Secretary of N.C. Republican Executive Committee
Editor of Raleigh Independent
Moved to Portsmouth, Va. in Jun.; served as foreman for laborers in the Norfolk Navy Yard
Moved back to Raleigh, N.C.; again made editor of Raleigh Independent
Assigned teaching position at Pleasant Hill School, Garner, N.C.
Served as Principal of Haywood High School in Haywood, N.C. (Chatham County); Principal of Horton Public School in Pittsboro, N.C.; wife, Eliza, died after stroke
Appointed Principal of Booker T. Washington School in Wilson's Mills, N.C. (Johnson County)
Served as teacher in Manchester, N.C.
Served as teacher in Bridge, N.C.
Author of review of Negro Life in North Carolina with My Recollections
Died in Raleigh, Sept. 4; survived by daughters, Emma Hunter Satterwhite and Lena M. Hunter
Acquisition information:
The Charles N. Hunter Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 1941.
Processing information:

Processed by Colby Bogie, Jessica Carew, and Carrie Mills.

Encoded by Colby Bogie, Jessica Carew, and Carrie Mills.

Updated to include digital content by Noah Huffman, April 2013

The complete 1941 accession is represented in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NC EAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.


Arranged into the following series and subseries: Personal and Professional Papers Series, organized into the following subseries: Business/Community Incoming Correspondence, Personal Incoming Correspondence, Outgoing Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, and Other Professional Papers) and Scrapbooks.

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

African Americans -- History
Educators -- Correspondence
Educators -- North Carolina -- Raleigh
Fairs -- North Carolina -- Raleigh
African American teachers -- Correspondence
African Americans -- North Carolina -- Durham -- History
African Americans -- Education -- North Carolina
African Americans -- North Carolina -- Social conditions -- To 1964
North Carolina State Fair -- History
African American business enterprises -- North Carolina
African American farmers -- North Carolina
African American teachers -- North Carolina
Temperance -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
Racism -- United States -- History
Freedmen -- North Carolina
North Carolina Industrial Association
Aycock, Charles B. (Charles Brantley), 1859-1912
Borah, William Edgar, 1865-1940
Bickett, Thomas Walter, 1869-1921
Sumner, Charles
White, George H. (George Henry), 1852-1918
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
Overman, Lee S. (Lee Slater), 1854-1930
Vance, Zebulon Baird
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
Hunter, Charles N., circa 1851-1931
Roosevelt, Theodore
Lane, Lunsford, b. 1803
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Dawes, Charles Gates, 1865-1951
Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895 -- Speeches
Cheatham, Henry Plummer, 1857-1935
Logan, John Alexander
Craig, Locke, 1860-1925
Durham (N.C.) -- History
North Carolina -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
North Carolina -- Social conditions
North Carolina -- Race relations


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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. Digitized documents are made available by Duke University Libraries for the purpose of research, teaching, and private study. For all other uses, such as commercial uses, researchers must contact the Rubenstein Library to request permission.

Digitized materials from this collection are made available for use in research, teaching and private study. The digital reproductions have been made available through an evaluation of public domain status, permissions from the rights' holders, and authorization under the law including fair use as codified in 17 U.S.C. ยง 107. Although these materials are publicly accessible for these limited purposes, they may not all be in the public domain. Users are responsible for determining if permission for re-use is necessary and for obtaining such permission. Individuals who have concerns about online access to specific content should contact the Rubenstein Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Charles N. Hunter Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.