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Women in North Carolina: General Resources

A guide celebrating the contributions women have made and continue to make to North Carolina and the United States.

General Resources

  • Government and Heritage Library Resources
    The Government and Heritage Library has many resources about women in North Carolina in the catalog.
  • NC Digital Collections
    The Government & Heritage Library and NC State Archives have a number of digital resources about women in the North Carolina Digital Collections. Try an advanced search on "Women" in the title or subject fields.
  • NCpedia
    Read about women in North Carolina's history in our online encyclopedia.
  • North Carolina Museum of History Women's History Timeline
    Designed with students in mind, this online resource lists important dates for women’s history in North Carolina.

    The first book published in North Carolina was written by a woman, Winifred Marshall Gales. This book is entitled Matlida Berkely; or, Family Anecdotes and a digitized version is available through the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Individual Women

  • Etta Baker, Legend of Piedmont Blues (1913-2006)
    Listen to Etta Baker, a famous blues guitarist from Morganton, NC, in these clips from Morning Edition, an NPR radio program.
  • Penelope Barker and the Edenton Tea Party (1728-1796)
    Penelope Barker hosted the Edenton Tea Party in Edenton, NC, in 1774, in which 51 women signed a declaration supporting a boycott of British products.
  • Westray Battle Boyce: The Story of a WAC
    Westray Battle Boyce, a native of Rocky Mount, NC, enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) during World War II. She went on to lead the WAAC as a colonel.
  • Tiny Broadwick: First Lady of Parachuting (1893-1978)
    Tiny Broadwick, the first woman to make a parachute jump from an airplane, had a long career of parachuting around the country.
  • Biography for Kathryn Grayson (1922-2010)
    This native of Winston-Salem, NC went on to star in notable musicals such as "Anchors Aweigh" and "Show Boat."|92691/Kathryn-Grayson/
  • Rose O'Neal Greenhow (1817-1864)
    Rose O'Neal Greenhow was a successful and determined Confederate spy, who ended up perishing off of the North Carolina coast. Her diary can be found at the State Archives of North Carolina (Call No. PC.1226). A collection of her papers is available from Duke University, and some items can be found online at the site below.
  • Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897)
    These websites give biographical information about Harriet Jacobs, a slave who secretly escaped via boat from Edenton, NC, and fled to Philadelphia and then New York City. She went on to publish an account of her life, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
  • Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1818-1907)
    Elizabeth Keckley's autobiography recounts her life as a slave living near Hillsborough, NC. She purchases her freedom and then goes on to become a close friend of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
  • Nell Battle Lewis (1893-1956)
    "Nell Cornelia Battle Lewis (1893-1956) was a journalist, feminist, lawyer, educator and a strident human rights advocate in Raleigh, N.C., in the early twentieth century."
  • Flora MacDonald: "The Bright and Particular Star" (1722-1790)
    "Although Flora MacDonald lived in North Carolina only a short time, her legend took strong hold within the Scottish population here and has continued as an important symbol of North Carolina’s Scots history." Her name was adopted for the Flora MacDonald College in 1916, an insitution which was dedicated to the higher education of women. It still exists as the Flora Macdonald Academy. In addition, images of students from the early 20th century can be found at the State Archives of North Carolina.
  • The Dolley Madison Project (1768-1849)
    Dolley Payne, born and raised in Guilford County, NC, grew up to become the wife of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. This site contains letters, maps, essays, and other resources related to Dolley Payne Todd Madison.
  • Alice Person: Good Medicine and Good Music (1840-1913)
    "Professional musician, patent medicine entrepreneur, women's rights advocate—all are appropriate titles for colorful North Carolinian Alice Morgan Person (1840-1913). This digital collection, ... celebrates Alice’s unique life by presenting digitized versions of her published folk tune arrangements in both audio and visual formats along with a broad range of other images collected by Alice’s biographer and ECU music librarian, David Hursh."
  • Gertrude Weil (1879-1971)
    Gertrude "Weil stood courageously at the forefront of a wide range of progressive and often controversial causes, including women's suffrage, labor reform and civil rights."

Image credit: Bayard Wootten: North
Carolina Collection, Univ. of N.C. at
Chapel Hill Library. Used with

  • The Photographer Bayard Wootten (1875-1959)\
    Bayard Wootten (seen right), a native of New Bern, NC, traveled around the state as an "activist photographer," with some of her most significant documentary photographs coming from the North Carolina mountains.
  • Oral Histories of North Carolina Women
    The Oral Histories of the American South Project features extensive interviews with women from all over the South, and especially North Carolina.

Places to Visit in NC

  • Ava Gardner Museum
    Born in Brogden, NC, a small rural community near Smithfield, Ava Gardner went on to become an international film star. She starred in over 60 movies throughout her career, including Show Boat and Night of the Iguana. This museum, located in Smithfield, features a large collection of Gardner memorabilia.
  • Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum (Palmer Memorial Institute)
    "Founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Palmer Memorial Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students. Today, the campus provides the setting where visitors can explore this unique environment where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century."
  • Elizabethan Gardens
    The idea for the Elizabethan Gardens, located in Manteo, NC, was first proposed in 1951 to the Garden Club of North Carolina, a non-profit organization of 17,000 women. Since then, through the efforts of a number of women, this extraordinary monument to the first English settlers of Roanoke Island has grown and flourished.
  • Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Duke University Libraries
    "The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture in Duke University’s Special Collections Library acquires, preserves and makes available to a large population of researchers published and unpublished materials that reflect the public and private lives of women, past and present."


UNC-G began as a women's college. Today, North Carolina is home to four colleges for women.

Bennett College, Greensboro, NC - est. 1873, exclusive to women in
Meredith College, Raleigh, NC - est. 1891
Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC - est. 1772

An entry on the history of women's colleges in NC may be found in the NCpedia at