Local History Sources in the North Carolina Collection

The North Carolina Collection has materials on each the state’s 100 counties. The collection attempts to acquire every published regional, county, and town history for North Carolina. The NCC also collects family histories, architectural guides, photographs, maps, city directories and phone books, and some published government records.

Online Catalog

The UNC Library’s online catalog  is the best place to start your search for materials on local history. Most of the holdings of the North Carolina Collection are cataloged online. To search for materials on a specific town or county, search by subject heading and enter the name of the location followed by (N.C.).  For example, to find materials on Graham County, type Graham County (N.C.). Most of the subject headings also include subheadings for more specific information and resources, for example, Wilmington (N.C.)–Architecture or Asheville (N.C.)–Newspapers.

Clipping Files

For more than 50 years, staff members with the North Carolina Collection have clipped articles about notable North Carolinians, important North Carolina places and events, and issues that affect the state’s citizens. Photocopies of these articles are organized alphabetically and bound in volumes. Many of these volumes include an index. The bound volumes are available in the Special Collections Research Room on the second floor of Wilson Library. In addition to volumes with articles about notable North Carolinians (biographical clippings) and significant North Carolina topics (subject clippings), there are volumes on special topics. Several of these touch on local history. They include:

North Carolina People, Places and Things

This search provides citations to books, pamphlets and newspaper clippings about people, places, businesses and issues that relate to North Carolina. This database contains citations to more than five hundred volumes of county, community and organizational histories. It also includes citations to the bound volumes of clippings described above.


The North Carolina Collection’s Photographic Archives includes numerous collections representing all parts of the state. Examples include the county collection (P0001), which contains images from each county in the state, the Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P0077), and the North Carolina County Postcard Collection (P0052). Many of the postcards from these two collections are scanned and available via the North Carolina Postcard online collection.

City directories

The North Carolina Collection has an extensive collection of city directories  from the mid-nineteenth century through the present. You can use the online catalog to search for them. Search the name of the city or county followed by –directories. For example, to find city directories for Elizabeth City, type Elizabeth City (N.C.)–Directories or Pasquotank County (N.C.)–Directories. Many of the city directories in the North Carolina Collection are scanned and available online via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

Phone books

The North Carolina Collection also includes a large collection of phone books from cities and towns throughout the state. You can use the online catalog to search for them. Search the name of the city or county followed by –telephone directories. For example, to find phone books for Whiteville, type Whiteville (N.C.)–telephone directories.


This website is maintained by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, which is housed in the North Carolina Collection. It includes original materials from libraries, museums, and archives throughout North Carolina. Items include yearbooks, newspapers, photographs, city directories, scrapbooks and other memorabilia. It’s possible to browse by county.


The North Carolina Collection includes original copies and microfilm of many of the state’s newspaper titles. You can use the online catalog to search for them by title. Enter the name of the paper in the box labeled journal title. It’s also possible to search for all newspapers in a city or county. In the keyword search box, enter the name of the city or county followed by –newspaper. For example, to find newspapers for Statesville, type Statesville (N.C.)–newspapers.

Many of the newspaper titles held by the North Carolina Collection are also available digitally. Some may require a UNC ONYEN or use of University Libraries computers for access. Sources include: