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1920's North Carolina Information

Mr. N

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I just came from this website that got information about North Carolina from the 1920's, the information was also done in the 1920's. Some of the Eastern North Carolina cities & towns could rival the Piedmont cities. The website is name docsouth.unc.edu and look under author, the author last name is Drummond. Make sure to look at the cities & towns of: Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Durham, Greensboro, Greenville, Rocky Mount, Raleigh, Wilmington, Tarboro, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville and so on. Please comment, after looking at that website?

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One of my very favorite series of books ever printed is the Depression-era Works Project Administration's series of guides to various American states (and a few select cities). The books were basically government-created jobs for writers (the Federal Writers Project) and they document the history of each state. And provide a snapshot in time of the economy, culture and social fabric of the areas they covered (although not without some controversy vis-a-vis the North Carolina guide: <link>). One of the best things about these books are the road tours that are in the back. The tours take you mile marker by mile marker from Point A to Point B across old roads (to us) that often still exist. Historical markers are described and interesting points-of-interest are noted for the traveler. These are all important parts of local heritage that the Interstate Highway System has relegated to the dustbin of history.

The North Carolina guide is called, "The WPA Guide to the Old North State," and is available in reprint. It's published by the University of South Carolina Press (1988) (Search aid: ISBN: 0872496058). It was originally published in 1939.

If you're interested in 1920s and 1930s local history, this book is a must.

For a glimpse into what you can expect to find, see the University of Virginia's on-line table of contents for the WPA Guide to the Old Dominion here. Scroll down to the tours and find one of the many tours that terminate in NC (1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 14, 19, 21) and see exactly what I'm referring to by the incredible detail of tours that take you on roads that are forgotten in a world where travel is all about the final destination, not the journey. (There's a religious analogy to be made here, but it eludes me at 1 a.m.)

If you want an original edition, I encourage you to look for one. They sell for under $50, especially if you pick one up while in a large city outside the area like Washington or New York or Boston. You may pay around that for one that includes the dust jacket and a map (which should be tucked inside a pocket inside the back cover).

Anytime I go to a bookstore I keep my eyes peeled for WPA Guides. They are real treasures and very functional in the 21st century as well!

I hope this doesn't break a rule, because I'm not really trying to sell books, but you can track down the reprint by running this Google search: isbn 0872496058

If you pick this up, you really must check out a few of the driving tours!

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