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About the Collection

Housed in specially designed facilities in the Louis Round Wilson Library, the North Carolina Collection preserves an incomparable assemblage of literary, visual, and artifactual materials illustrating four centuries of the colony and state of North Carolina. Its uniqueness is explained by a distinguished history of missionary zeal, unwavering leadership, and citizen support.

The North Carolina Collection traces its origins back to the establishment of the North Carolina Historical Society, organized in 1844 by University President David L. Swain. In its first report the following year, the Society recorded the acquisition of thirty-two publications and eleven manuscript collections. Though the Society had a tenuous existence for many years, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century University President Kemp P. Battle took up Swain's collecting mantle and acquired additional materials. After Louis Round Wilson became University Librarian in 1901 he organized the North Carolina materials into a special department of the Library. In 1917 Mary Lindsay Thornton was appointed as the first librarian of the Collection.

Today more than 170,000 books and 110,000 pamphlets form the core of the North Carolina Collection, but these formats are supplemented by newspapers, journals, maps, broadsides, photographs, audiovisuals, microforms, and other materials. The Curator of the Collection is Robert G. Anthony, Jr. The department is divided into several administrative units of public interest. These include the Research Library, North Carolina Collection Gallery, and Photographic Archives.

Mission Statement

The North Carolina Collection documents the history, literature and culture of our state by actively collecting, organizing, and providing access to publications, photographs, and artifacts. We seek to build a comprehensive and lasting collection which represents the diversity of North Carolina and its people. The Collection encourages use of its holdings by the University community and citizens of North Carolina, and by other researchers throughout the world regardless of affiliation.