UNC Special Collections

The Wilson Special Collections Library, located on Polk Place at the heart of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, is home to the University Library’s North Carolina Collection, Rare Book Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, Southern Historical Collection, and University Archives and Records Management Services.

The The Wilson Special Collections Library, located on Polk Place at the heart of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, is home to the University Library’s North Carolina Collection, Rare Book Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, Southern Historical Collection, and University Archives and Records Management Services. The five special collections hold unique and rare books, organizational records, personal and family papers, photographs, moving images, sound recordings, and artifacts that document the history and culture of the University, the state, the region, the nation, and the world. Conservation and sound preservation laboratories that serve the special collections are also located within the building. The Wilson Library is recognized as a place where all students, scholars, and visitors are welcome to pursue their research and interests. Throughout the year, the collections in the Wilson Library offer public events and exhibitions that highlight their renowned collections.

The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) has developed a large-scale digitization program that is designed to provide online access to entire manuscript collections or to substantial portions of collections. The Digital Southern Historical Collection contains materials from more than 300 individual collections (more than 100,000 scanned pages).

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North Carolina Miscellany

Notable Manuscript Collections

North Carolina Collection – Click to Expand

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.

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.

Southern Historical Collection - Click to Expand

Long at the center of inquiry into the history and culture of the American South, the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) is a vast collection of distinct archival collections. These collections are comprised of unique primary documents, such as diaries, journals, letters, correspondence, photographs, maps, drawings, ledgers, oral histories, moving images, albums, scrapbooks, and literary manuscripts.

Guide to African American Resources In the Southern Historical Collection - Click to Expand

The majority of the collections documented in this online guide are plantation records from the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction period. Entries for these collections discuss topics such as slaves and plantation labor, and later, the hiring of freedmen. There are also twentieth-century collections covering topics such as desegregation, busing, race relations, and civil rights. View Guide

Arnold and Screven Family Papers, 1762-1903 - Click to Expand

1 volume, microfilm

Collection Number: 03419

5.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2400 items)

Papers of the Arnold family of Providence, R.I., and Bryan County, Ga., and Screven family of Savannah, Georgia.

Financial and legal documents relating to Richard James Arnold’s plantations in Georgia. Indentures, deeds, bills of sale, and mortgages, together with Arnold’s own memoranda, provide ownership histories for his many land holdings. Depositions and other papers document Arnold’s property disputes, especially his disagreement with William Way over the boundary between Sedgefield and Silk Hope (1850-1853).

Documents show that in addition to White Hall and Cherry Hill, Arnold acquired the plantations Silk Hope in 1840, Sedgefield in 1848, Mulberry Hill in 1849, and Orange Grove in 1857, along with various other tracts of land before the Civil War. In 1861, he deeded all of these holdings to his son Thomas Clay Arnold (7 May 1861).

Labor arrangements, chiefly for White Hall and Cherry Hill plantations, are documented by overseers’ contracts and slave lists, which usually show food allowances and sometimes ages of individual slaves, or numbers of field hands and household servants. Cash accounts for 1867 document the amount of wages and provisions paid to contract laborers. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

Kelvin Grove Plantation Book, 1853-1868 – Click to Expand

1 volume, microfilm

Collection Number: 02771

Record kept by James P. Postell of Kelvin Grove Plantation, St. Simons Island, Ga., including lists of slaves and stock, diagrams of the plantation, and notations, 1853-1854, of daily work in growing cotton, corn, and potatoes. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

Louis M. DeSaussure Journal, 1835-1865 – Click to Expand

Collection Number: 02251-z

1 volume

Louis M. DeSaussure was a physician and planter of Beaufort County, S.C., son of Henry W. DeSaussure, longtime state chancellor. The collection is a plantation journal of Louis M. DeSaussure relating to his Beaufort County, S.C., cotton plantation. Entries vary in length and frequency, with many entries being monthly or annual summaries of activities at the plantation. Topics include crops, slaves, diseases, and weather conditions. Entries during the period 1861-1864 include brief comments on DeSaussure’s wartime activities as a surgeon with the 8th and 4th South Carolina Infantry regiments, C.S.A. Also included are poems and sayings that DeSaussure collected; recipes; remedies; lists of slaves, including one that shows family relationships among the slaves; notes on bequests of others to various activities of the Episcopal Church of which DeSaussure was a member; and cattle inventories. The journal contains no information on DeSaussure’s medical practice outside of his military service. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

Notable Collections: Digital Southern Historical Collection

J. Hamilton Couper Plantation Records, 1818-1854 – Click to Expand

Collection Number: 00185-z

4 volumes

This collection consists of plantation owner and scientific agriculturalist James Hamilton Couper’s four volumes from Hopeton Plantation, Glynn County, Ga.: a ledger, 1826-1853, of personal and plantation accounts; a journal, 1838-1854, of similar accounts; crop records, 1818-1831, chiefly for cotton, rice, sugar cane, corn, and peas; and “Notes on Agricultural and Rural Economy,” containing extracts from agricultural journals, information from friends, and notes of Couper’s own experiences. Among additional subjects noted or discussed in these volumes are expenses for slaves, the estate of James Hamilton (d. ca. 1837), orchards, canal excavation, and voltaic batteries. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

John Edwin Fripp Papers, 1817-1944 – Click to Expand

Collection Number: 00869

John Edwin Fripp was a cotton planter of St. Helena Island and Chechessee Bluff, Beaufort County, S.C. The collection includes manuscript volumes and papers relating chiefly to the cotton plantations and family life of John Edwin Fripp; his wife, Isabelle Jenkins Fripp (1833-1883); and their eleven children. The plantations were located on St. Helena Island and at Chechessee Bluff (“The Bluff”), Beaufort County, S.C. Materials also relate to Fripp’s holdings in “The Village” on St. Helena Island and in Grahamville, S.C. Antebellum materials document plantation life and include slave lists, records of slave religious services, and Fripp’s accounts with various factors in Charleston, S.C. Post-war materials include records of how Fripp retired his debts and the small farming in which he engaged. Starting in the late 1880s, there is material relating to Fripp’s position as overseer for the Chelsea Plantation Club, Beaufort County, S.C., where he managed the hunt and rounded up poachers. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

George J. Kollock Plantation Journals, 1837-1861 – Click to Expand

Collection Number: 00407

George Jones Kollock of Savannah, Ossabaw Island, and Clarksville, Ga., was a lawyer and cotton planter. The collection consists of plantation journals for Kollock’s three Georgia plantations–Retreat, Rosedew, and Ossabaw Island–from 1837 to 1861, with most of the journals devoted to Ossabaw Island. The journals contain detailed information on the management of planting and farming on plantations using overseers and slave labor. Kollock’s cash crop was Sea Island cotton, and he also planted corn. The journals also provide a record of the lives of the slaves on Kollock’s plantations: their births and deaths, sick days, and daily tasks are noted. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

Lipscomb Family Papers, 1791-1926 – Click to Expand

Collection Number: 00429

Lipscomb family, planters of South Carolina and Alabama, were chiefly descendants of John (fl. 1791) and Sally Lipscomb (born 1767), among them Smith Lipscomb Junior (born 1804) and his wife Sally Draper Lipscomb (1806- 1875) of Spartanburg District, S.C., and, after 1844, of Benton County, Ala. The collection is chiefly correspondence among members of the Lipscomb, Draper, and related Littlejohn families of South Carolina, Alabama, and Lamar County, Tex. Most antebellum letters relate to agricultural activities and family matters. Civil War letters from relatives and friends in the 7th and 9th Alabama regiments, 51st Alabama Regiment, and Holcombe’s Legion (South Carolina Volunteers) chiefly discuss camp life, illnesses, and family matters. Letters from the Reconstruction period mention economic and social conditions and family matters. Scattered papers, 1909-1926, relate to Edward S. Lipscomb of Jacksonville, Ala. There are also account and day books, 1843-1867 and 1874, concerning various agricultural matters, cotton planting, and supplies and labor bought and sold, and a notebook listing birth dates of members of the Lipscomb family and another relating to six slaves owned by Smith Lipscomb Junior. View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

Elizafield Plantation Record, 1838-1861 (bulk 1838-1858) – Click to Expand

Collection Number: 03213-z

Elizafield Plantation on the Altamaha River in Glynn County, Ga., was owned by rice planter Hugh Fraser Grant (d. 1873). The collection is a plantation journal, 287 pages, with entries 1838-1861, but chiefly 1838-1858. Included are journal entries on planting and farming, accounts with factors, tax return information, miscellaneous crop records, records relating to slaves, and a few notes on family activities.View Item in UNC Special Collections Catalog

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