North Carolina in the 1920’s

Life in the 1920 is not life in the 2010’s.  I went searching for information in the 1920’s, specifically about North Carolina, to try and gather some perspective about the life of Jennie Elizabeth Payne and how her life was different than mine.

I know that prohibition began in the 1920’s and women were given the right to vote.   I wonder if my grandmother voted in the 20’s? Warren G Harding and Calvin Coolidge were the presidents in the 1920’s.  What did she think of them?  And did the family respect prohibition or was it just something they had to work around?

I found an interesting site NCpedia which had a article Women in the 1920s.  It is interesting to note that NCSU began accepting women in 1921 but didn’t actually have one graduate until 1926.  UNC also allowed women to attend in 1921, but “the student newspaper headlined, Women Not Wanted Here. ” Yikes!  I know that grandmother worked as a nurse at one point, so she probably had some education.

Crowder Mountain was a rural area, and electricity was not the norm and bathrooms were usually outhouses.  I would not have done well.1 Life could not have been easy on the farm.

I know that I saw that some people were working in Mills in the 1930s in the surrounding houses. I need to do a survey of the census and see what people did for a living and how that changed from 1920 to 1930s. Another task for the to-do list.

The Library of Congress does not have any North Carolina newspapers digitized.  I’ve had a lot of luck with Virginia newspapers.

GenealogyBank has digitized images of the Charlotte Observer in the 1920’s.  I doubt I’ll find any of my Payne’s in there, but it would be good just to get a feel for what was important.  I’ll put that on the list for another day.

I’m going to tackle the survey of the census next to try and understand the neighborhoods they live in.  And I think it is time for a timeline.  Nothing puts details together like putting them in chronological order.

1. Government and Heritage Library at the State Library of North Carolina,”Women in the 1920s in North Carolina, ( : accessed 3 Jun 2012).

6 thoughts on “North Carolina in the 1920’s

  1. Theresa Casteel

    I love perusing and using old newspapers. I found they are being digitized daily so don’t give up = just check back in every couple of months to see if any NC papers get added.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Kathy Nitsch

    Anne, I completely agree with you. I want to know my ancestors’ stories and not just their names and dates. In my current research project, I’ve been trying to understand what the lives of my NC ancestors were like. Here are a few resources that I’ve used to learn more about life and times in North Carolina.

    First, some online digitized newspaper resources for NC:

    >The North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project ( of the NC State Archives is one free source for historic newspapers from locations throughout the state (papers date from 1752-1890s, so it’s too early for your 1920s project). The collection is fully searchable, their viewer is easy to navigate, and you’re given several options for downloading individual page images or a PDF of the entire issue of the newspaper. (While you’re in the neighborhood, why not take a look at the complete list of Online Projects at the NC State Archives,

    >The website also has free historic newspapers online at Some papers have only a limited number of issues available while others have a much larger collection. It’s definitely worth looking into. (This is part of the NC Digital Heritage Center, a joint project of the State Library of NC and the UNC-Chapel Hill Library at They have collected and digitized a lot more than just newspapers to help you with your research.)

    >The Google News Archive includes some historic NC newspapers. Start here for help on navigating the archives: Since I find it cumbersome to try to identify NC historic newspapers in Google News Archives, I’ve come to rely extensively on the next resource.

    >North Carolina Online Historical Newspapers ( Miriam Robbins has created an extensive survey of the NC newspapers that are available online (free and subscription services are included). It’s your one-stop shopping location for newspapers. (And don’t miss her separate listings for historical directories at

    Finally, although these last two NC resources aren’t newspapers, you can find detailed historical information about life in NC (including excerpts from original sources) at:

    >North Carolina: A Digital Textbook ( is an amazing resource created by the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. It includes excerpts from newspapers and magazines, as well as personal diaries, and many other unique sources. There is definitely information about the 1920s and 30s on this website.

    >Antebellum North Carolina (again, too early for your 1920s project) ( is a website created by the NC Museum of History for teachers. But it’s the kind of resource that’ll make a genealogist’s heart beat a little faster–if you’re looking for help in understanding life in NC before the Civil War. For anyone with ancestors in NC during this time period, it’s a must-see. In addition to articles, the website includes some great multimedia exhibits.

  3. Kathy Nitsch

    Anne, the blog of the State Archives of NC (History for All the People) just released some good news today for those of us who are looking for more historic NC newspapers. Over the next three years there will be more digitized newspapers added online…and they’re planning to make it so we can access all of the newspapers from different sources at one central location. Here’s a link to the announcement: More News on 19th and Early 20th Century NC Newspapers.

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