A variety of organizations offer expertise, education, funding, archives, and other resources to assist with efforts to preserve and promote the heritage of Western North Carolina.
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
NEH provides grants for humanities projects in four funding areas: preserving and providing access to cultural resources, education, research and public programs. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations and to individual scholars.
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service. Click here to download a list of sites in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area that are listed on the National Register.
North Carolina Department of Commerce – Heritage Tourism Program
Two Heritage Tourism Development Officers are available to provide technical assistance with heritage tourism and cultural development projects and programs in Western North Carolina.
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The state agency works to preserve history and culture and to recognize and promote the state’s cultural resources. Some of its main divisions are:
• North Carolina Office of Archives and History
• North Carolina Historical Commission
• Western Office of Archives and History
• North Carolina Arts Council
• North Carolina State Library
• NC Echo (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online)
Center for Appalachian Studies, Appalachian State University
In addition to coordinating undergraduate and graduate coursework in Appalachian Studies, the Center encourages research and collaborative projects with local scholars, community groups and other organizations concerned with the region’s past, present and future.
The Center for Diversity Education
The Center works to increase the ways diversity is covered in the daily life of the classroom and workplace. Historical exhibits on regional communities are available to travel to schools (at no charge) as well as businesses and organizations (for a fee).
Friends of Mountain History
This private, non-profit organization provides advocacy, educational support, and financial assistance to heritage organizations, museums and cultural organizations within the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. It is also the parent organization for Museums in Partnership, a network of the museums in Western North Carolina.
Heritage Area Resources
Local website featuring a cultural heritage resource directory with links to hundreds of organizations and programs.
Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University
The Mountain Heritage Center celebrates the natural and cultural heritage of the southern Appalachian region through exhibitions, publications and educational programs.
National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust champions preservation by providing leadership, education, advocacy and resources to people working to preserve, improve and enjoy the places that matter to them.
North Carolina Folklife Institute
The North Carolina Folklife Institute supports programs and projects that recognize, document, and present traditional culture in North Carolina.
North Carolina Folklore Society
The Society was founded in 1913 to promote the appreciation and study of North Carolina’s folklife.
WNC Nonprofit Pathways
The website of WNC Partners for Nonprofit Success offers a wide variety of information on learning opportunities and resources available to nonprofits in Western North Carolina.
Collections and Archives
Appalachian State University – W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection of Belk Library
The W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection is a repository with more than 37,000 volumes of books and over 200 periodical subscriptions related to the Southern uplands, with strengths in the social sciences, regional history, folklore, music, religion, genealogy, fiction and African and Native Appalachia.
Ashe County Public Library
The Heritage Room houses a genealogy/local history collection that is used by researchers from all over the United States.
Caldwell County Public Library
The Local History/North Carolina Room provides to the public genealogy, local history and North Carolina materials.
Caldwell Heritage Museum
The museum’s collection contains information and pictures on the formation of Caldwell County and the establishment of the town of Lenoir as the county seat.
Collections include Carson family manuscripts and vertical files on the history of the house, the Carson Family, the Greenlee family and other topics of local historical and genealogical interest.
The Lanier Library in Tryon, NC includes a collection of the works of poet Sidney Lanier, the Morgan Memorial Collection of works of the performing and creative arts, and collections of other art books.
Isothermal Community College Library
The library’s Old Tryon Historical Collection includes research materials for the geographical area once known an Old Tryon County and the southwestern region of the state. The collection includes reference books, local and state publications, copies of state and county records, oral histories, vertical files and original documents.
Maimy Etta Global Black Fine Arts Museum and Historical Society
404 Hardin Road or PO Box 1690
Forest City, NC 28043
The Society holds the Thompson family records and other Black family histories.
Mars Hill College – Renfro Library
The Special Collections in the Appalachian Room at Renfro Library includes the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Folk Music Collection, the Southern Appalachian Photographic Archives, the Gertrude M. Ruskin Collection of Cherokee Indian artifacts and materials, the Long Collection of Baptist records and the college archives including papers relating to the history of Mars Hill College.
McDowell County Public Library
The library’s North Carolina Collection/Abe Simmons Room provides secondary and primary sources to study of North Carolina, regional and McDowell County history and genealogy, family history and documents on the gem and mineral mining industry in the area.
North Carolina School for the Deaf
The school’s Historical Museum and Archives includes scrapbooks, histories, artifacts and yearbooks documenting the school since its founding in 1894.
Polk County Historical Museum
Among the museum’s collection are the letters of former state senator Carroll Pickens Rogers and a large collection of Polk County and regional photographs.
Saluda Public Library
The library’s collection includes history of the railroad and Saluda Grade and a collection of Hart family papers.
University of North Carolina – Asheville – D.H. Ramsey Library
Special Collections at the D.H. Ramsey Library include the “Heritage of Western North Carolina” collection with drawings, photographs, documents, maps and oral histories in and near Asheville, NC, from Pack Library, Asheville Art Museum and UNCA collections.
The museum provides historical and genealogical information about the Waldensians, immigrants from North Italy who founded Valdese, NC in the 1800’s.
Western Carolina University – Hunter Library
The Special Collections in this library include manusrcipts, books, and various digital collections focused on Horace Kephart, the Cherokee Phoenix, Cherokee Traditions, Civil War Letters, the Craft Revival, and Travel in Western North Carolina.
Western Piedmont Community College
The Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. Library located in the Phifer Learning Resources Center includes books, professional and family memorabilia, political cartoons, awards and other materials collected by Senator Ervin during his many years of public service.
Wilkes Community College
The Pardue Library collection includes clippings, slides, CDs, DVDs and photographs concerning the history of Wilkes County, as well as genealogies with special collections from Ivey Moore, Judge Johnson J. Hayes and Paul Gregory. J. J. Anderson historical materials are also included, as well as the personal library of James Larkin Pearson, Poet Laureate, 1910-1981.
Appalachian Regional Library
Provides free access to Heritage Quest via NCLive for library cardholders.
North Carolina African-American Historical Society
P.O. Box 26334
Raleigh NC 27611
Toe Valley Genealogical Society (Mitchell and Yancey counties)
Wilkes County Public Library
The library’s Local History and Genealogy Room houses the genealogy collection owned by the Wilkes Genealogical Society.
North Carolina African-American Historical Society
P.O. Box 26334
Raleigh NC 27611
Rutherford County Historical Society
PO Box 1044
316 N Main Street
Rutherfordton, NC 28139
Yadkin County Historical Genealogical Society, Inc.
P O Box 1250
Yadkinville, NC 27055
Yancey County History Association
PO Box 1088
11 Academy Street
Burnsville, NC 28714