Sources for researching people and UNC history

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1. Introduction
2. Preparing to Process
3. Arranging
4. Describing
5. Housing and Preserving
6. Finishing the Job

Appendix B. How to Research People in the North Carolina Collection

  • UNC - Chapel Hill Libraries online catalog. From the library's web site at, you can search the holdings of all of the campus libraries, including the North Carolina Collection. From the drop-down menu, select a subject search and enter the name of the person you are researching (last name first). For family histories, simply enter the last name and the word "family" (for example, "Cameron family"). Please note: the North Carolina Collection has not yet entered all of its holdings in the online catalog. Remember to look at the card catalog to make sure that you have checked everything.
  • North Carolina Collection Card Catalog. Many of the books and pamphlets in the North Carolina Collection are listed only in our card catalog.
  • Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. If you are looking for a well-known person, chances are that they will have an entry in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, a six-volume set edited by William S. Powell and published by the University of North Carolina Press. Researchers on the UNC campus can access this source online using [ NetLibrary].
  • Biographical Database. The North Carolina Collection has compiled a cumulative index to more than 500 books containing biographical information about North Carolinians. This is now available online at
  • Biographical Clippings. The North Carolina Collection has been collecting newspapers articles about individuals since around the 1920s, although this collection is strongest for the mid 20th century through the present. These clippings containing obituaries and other articles about North Carolinians. Bound clippings through 1989 are available in the reading room, and more recent articles are held behind the reference counter. An index to the clipping files is available online at
  • Government Records. When all else fails, government records remain as a possible source for finding information about individuals. The North Carolina Collection does not hold original documents (those are, in most cases, at either the State Archives in Raleigh or in county courthouses), but the library does have many published transcriptions of state and county records and North Carolina census records on microfilm. For published county records, search the library's catalogs by subject using the name of the county, for example, "Carteret County, N.C."
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