Variety Vacationland! Every Month a Vacation Month!
Following the Great Depression, state leaders looked to tourism to boost North Carolina's struggling economy. The enthusiastic slogans of Variety Vacationland and Every Month a Vacation Month were adopted by the state-sponsored tourism program of the 1930s as part of a concentrated effort to entice visitors to North Carolina.
The Division of State Advertising was created in 1937 and received $125,000 to publish the official state guide for tourists, entitled North Carolina: Variety Vacationland. As part of the campaign, 32 promotional postcards were published in 1939.
The Variety Vacationland campaign met with great success. In 1938, the year after the publication of the first brochure, over 20,000 people requested North Carolina tourism information. That same year tourists were expected to contribute more than $50 million to the state's economy. The growing number of visitors to places like Asheville, Pinehurst, and the Outer Banks only heightened their reputation as excellent vacation areas.
Throughout the first decades of the 20th century state leaders realized that improving tourist facilities such as hotels, parks, and especially roads was essential to the growing tourism economy. During this period a new road system was built to connect all the county seats, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. The diverse regions of North Carolina became more accessible than ever to tourists who utilized the flexibility of car travel to explore the state's scenic drives and new attractions.
This collection of postcards, from the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, contains pictures from around North Carolina and particularly the scenic mountain region. Some of the pictures highlight aspects of North Carolina's economy and rural industries, while others portray the natural beauty of the state. Water sports and horseback riding represent tourist activities, but pictures of scenic drives are also prominent. In order to encourage tourists to travel by car, many of the postcard captions include directions to the sites they picture. The images on the postcards and the accompanying captions describe the appeal of North Carolina as a vacation destination, and illustrate the attractions most appealing to tourists of the 1930s and 1940s.
Note: The North Carolina Collection is missing postcards 19, 28, and 29.
Laura Smith, April 2006
North Carolina: Variety Vacationland, Raleigh, N.C.: Dept. of Conservation and Development, 1939. Cp917 N87c3 1939.
Starnes, Richard D., ed., Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South, Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 2003. C917 W576p.
Starnes, Richard D., Creating the Land of the Sky: Tourism and Society in Western North Carolina, Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 2005. C917.5 S795c.
"Traveling Down the Outer Banks of North Carolina," in Variety Vacationland, Raleigh, N.C.: Department of Conservation and Development, . North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cp917 N87c3 1939.
"Bridal Veil Falls, across Route 64 in Nantahala National Forest," in Variety Vacationland, Raleigh, N.C.: Department of Conservation and Development, . North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cp917 N87c3 1939.