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State Doc Pick of the Week: A Guide to Shipmasters Visiting the Cape Fear and Other Rivers

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The year is 1881. Malaria is common in the coastal regions of North Carolina but it has not yet been discovered that mosquitoes transmit malaria. The most popular theory at the time was that the odor given off by decaying vegetation in a hot and humid environment was the cause of the chills and fevers of malaria. In fact, the name malaria is from the Italian for “bad air”. This guide was to help shipmasters prevent and treat “river fever” among their crew. It had been observed that the illness was prevalent among crewmen along the southern rivers, especially in August, September and October.  “Sleeping on board during the months named does not always cause sickness, but it does nearly always.”

The guide contains instructions on using a fever thermometer, a relatively new devise at the time, suggestions for avoiding river fever and how to prepare various medications for the treatment of the fevers.

This publication can be downloaded, printed, saved, and viewed by clicking here.

World of Bluegrass fest coming to Raleigh, 9/30-10/4: Digging up North Carolina’s Bluegrass Roots

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EarlScruggs, San Francisco 2005, by Volker Neumann on Flickr. Used under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Earl Scruggs, San Francisco 2005, by Volker Neumann on Flickr. Used under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In a few weeks Raleigh will host the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Wide Open World of Bluegrass” festival on September 30-October 4.  With the event just around the corner, I’m inspired to go digging once again into NCpedia to share the collection and North Carolina’s contribution to this ever-evolving, deeply rooted, and uniquely American art form.

The origins of the name “Bluegrass” are often associated with the legendary mandolin player Bill Monroe, native Kentuckian who named his band the “Blue Grass Boys” for his home state in the late 1930s.  The term “bluegrass”, however, appears not to have been applied to the developing form until well into the 1940s or 1950s. The roots of the genre itself are old and wide, originating from a deep and complex mix:  the folk music and dance forms of Appalachia brought to North America by European immigrants beginning in the 17th century (especially from the British Isles); traditional music brought by African slaves and handed down into the African American traditions of gospel and blues; and particularly in the innovative, front and center use of the banjo which came to colonial America with African slaves.

North Carolina’s own Earl Scruggs is credited with developing Bluegrass’s emphasis on the banjo played in a unique style.  Born in Shelby in Cleveland County, Scruggs utilized a three-finger roll or crawl style that helps give Bluegrass its bright sound and drives its forward momentum and energy.  Scruggs played with Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys for a time, then formed his own band the Foggy Mountain Boys, and later teamed up as a duo with Foggy Mountain’s guitarist Lester Flatt.  For a time Flatt and Scruggs called Raleigh home.

And if you’d like to listen to some Flatt and Scruggs from the archives, visit for a sampling —

Over the next few weeks, we’ll feature more on North Carolina’s Bluegrass legends.  In the meantime, visit NCpedia to learn more about Bluegrass and Earl Scruggs, and dust off your dancin’ shoes for the festival.

Earl Scruggs on NCpedia

Bluegrass Music on NCpedia

– Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

NC County of the Week: Union County

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The NC County of the Week for September 14, 2014  through September 20, 2014 is Union County, NC! 

Union County sealUnion County was formed in created in 1842 from Anson and Mecklenburg Counties.

For more information on Union County this week, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation by using hash tag #nccotw. Be sure to also check out our Pinterest board!


State Doc Pick of the Week: Low- and Moderate-Income Homeownership and Wealth Creation

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Is homeownership a reliable wealth-building mechanism for low- and moderate-income families? There have been claims that it is not. This study from the UNC Center for Community Capital looks at the changes in wealth of low- and middle-income homeowners from 2005-2012 (a time period that captures the financial crisis). It examines the net worth of owners who retained their homes, owners who transitioned out of home ownership, renters who bought during the period and renters who were renters throughout the time period. An important finding of the study is that consistent owners reported greater levels of median wealth than the other groups.

This publication can be downloaded, printed, saved, and viewed by clicking here.

This blog is a service of the State Library of North Carolina, part of the NC Department of Cultural Resources. Blog comments and posts may be subject to Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.