Free Access to Historical Documents from the American South

While browsing at the local library, I came across a book that listed a large number of local and family histories that are available for viewing free online. The book, The Genealogist's Virtual Library: Full-Text Books Books on the World Wide Web, was an amazing find, especially since it wasn't anywhere near the history or genealogy section in the library.

One of the sites listed in the book was Documenting the American South, available through the University of North Carolina website. DocSouth in short, it is a gathering of fifteen collections. Part of the collections are specific to the state of North Carolina, while others cover the South as a whole. Collections include:
  • The Church in the Southern Black Community
  • The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
  • The First Century of the First State University
  • First Person Narratives of the American South
  • Going to the Show
  • The James Lawrence Dusenbery Journal (1841-1842)
  • Library of Southern Literature
  • North American Slave Narratives
  • The North Carolina Experience
  • North Carolina Maps
  • North Carolinians and the Great War
  • Oral Histories of the American South
  • The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865
  • Thomas E. Watson Papers
  • True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students at the University of North Carolina
Visitors to DocSouth can browse by collection, author, title, subject or geographic location. You can also search using the box at the upper right of the screen. In addition to books, the collections hold letters, diaries, government papers, posters, pamphlets and more. Even if you don't find anything specific to your family, it's really worth taking a look to get a better sense of the culture and history of the South.


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