Two days in Raleigh State Archive & Library

This was my second visit to the Raleigh state archive and library in downtown Raleigh. I spent a day there when I was last in Raleigh four years ago. The first day I spent in the library looking at the family books and files they had on the McIver family. For family members this is on the McGillivray line so the Boyd side through Mary Jane McGillivray. Her great grandmother was Ann McIver who lived well into her 90s on the Isle of Skye. She is closely related to the McIvers who settled in North Carolina from the Isle of Skye in the late 1700s.  She was married to Archibald McGillivray grandfather of Alexander who migrated to Australia.


There were two family genealogies researched collaboratively by two authors in the library around the year 2000. They had built on earlier work and backed it up with references and further research. I attempted to contact them and although their email addresses were no longer valid I was able to track them down through my good friend google. Susan contacted me and we spoke on the phone as she lives in Georgia although she had recently spent two days in the archive at Raleigh. We just missed each other! She kindly sent me a copy of her book and I am reciprocating with information I have on Ann and her family. It’s wonderful how our genealogy world works sometimes.


I had concentrated on the McGillivray side last time I was at the library so this time I concentrated on the McIver side of the family. When I was in Raleigh four years ago I visited some of the churches that the McGillivray family had worshiped in and been ministers in so long ago. They were the Pocket Presbyterian church in Sanford and the Buffalo Presbyterian church and cemetery in Sanford. I also visited the library in Sanford and was able to copy some information held there. We also visited the Evander Scotch-Ever McIver cemetery in West Sanford.


This time we drove through Carthage a gorgeous little town with beautiful houses in the countryside that I didn’t realize had family connections until I visited the library in Raleigh. We went for a drive to look at the pottery in and around Seagrove near Ashboro. It is a famous Carolinian pottery area with many individual potters spread through the local countryside. On the way there we stopped at Johnstones family store where we bought some produce and she gave us each a piece of her banana cake. She gave all her customers a piece of her cake! It was delicious. What a lovely thing to do for your customers. We bought some Amish butter there that was good as well.


The pottery was more old-fashioned than we had hoped but the lady in their discovery centre was delightful and when she asked where we were from said we won the prize for the day being from Australia and Zimbabwe. We had lunch in an Asian, predominantly Vietnamese restaurant in Greensboro near the university. Then we visited the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro. It is in the old Woolworths building where the events actually unfolded. The cafeteria is almost as it was in the 1960s except that they have replaced the black seats with alternating pink and green ones. I don’t know why they changed them, but they did look good. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do the guided tour which would have been excellent. There was one in progress while we were there and we would have learned more. If you get to go there make sure you do the tour. It is the same cost if you do the tour or not.


In the genealogy section of the library in Raleigh you can take in your phone, computer, Ipad but not any portable scanning equipment. I had a usb with me that I was able to use to download their digitized archives but not for any copies or scans. They are not set up for that. They are rapidly digitizing many of their archives particularly newspapers in conjunction with local universities (I hope I have that right). I found both families mentioned in newspaper articles from the early 1800s. I was able to copy some wills from the State Archive on another floor in the same building. There are two books that all the existing wills are indexed in: North Carolina Wills: A Testator Index, 1665–1900 by Thornton W. Mitchell, it is a great resource. The wills were all on microfilm and you print your own copies.  However the first film I looked at was illegible, it was so faded, but luckily they had the originals. I was able to order the box of originals up in five minutes! Then I was able to have them copied on the spot and given to me. Next time I go I’d like to look at land records and see what else is held there for the family. There will also be items in local county and town libraries.

I don’t think they have too many visitors from Australia. The policeman on the security counter remembered me as did some of the libraries when I visited the second time a week later.   Most of the staff were so helpful and friendly. You had to show ID for both areas and sign in initially at the main counter inside the front door. There were lockers on each floor for your belongings, there was no cost for a key.


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