North Carolina Collection

The North Carolina Collection, part of the Wilson Special Collections Library, traces its origins back to 1844, when university president David Lowry Swain created the North Carolina Historical Society and began collecting books and other materials about North Carolina history. Mary Lindsay Thornton was hired as the first curator of the collection in 1917 and remained in the job for more than forty years, helping grow the collection into one of the largest state historical libraries in the country. In 1935 alumnus John Sprunt Hill, who was already a dedicated supporter of the collection, donated the Carolina Inn to the university with the direction that profits from the inn would be used to support the North Carolina Collection. In addition to its printed materials about North Carolina, the collection also supports a gallery in Wilson Library and a large photographic archive and hosts the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, which provides digital library services for cultural heritage organizations across the state.