Category Archives: History

Country Doctor Museum celebrates 50 years on April 21

A daylong celebration at the oldest museum in the nation dedicated to the history of rural health care will be held Saturday, April 21.

From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., the Country Doctor Museum will host “History Alive! A 50thAnniversary Celebration” – a family-friendly event that aims to offer visitors a glimpse into the past. Free activities will include museum tours, a petting zoo and horse-drawn carriage rides from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Acoustic and old-time music will be provided by DryBread Road, and a variety of food vendors will be present.

The Joel Lane House, Imagination Station Science and History Museum, Aycock Birthplace and the Tobacco Farm Life Museum will offer free activities and demonstrations.

The Country Doctor Museum will also showcase a new exhibit, “The Sick Room: Home Comfort and Bedside Necessities,” which illustrates how an extended illness of a family member or loved one was a common part of life at the turn of the 20th century.

The museum, located at 7089 Peele Road in Bailey, is managed as part of the History Collections of Laupus Library at East Carolina University through an agreement with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation.

For more information, call 252-235-4165, visit or visit the Country Doctor Museum Facebook page.


-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communications

‘Death and Diversity in Civil War Medicine’ explains the disparity of mortality

Quinine bottles on display at Laupus Library (Photos contributed by Laupus Library History Collections)

Quinine bottles on display at Laupus Library (Photos contributed by Laupus Library History Collections)

The American Civil War occurred during a time when medicine was just beginning to make great strides. Contemporary doctors did not fully understand the origin of disease, the importance of hygiene, or the need for sterilized tools during surgery, but discoveries such as anesthesia improved the patient experience immensely.

In North Carolina, the war impacted both civilians and the medical community. Young men joined the war effort as soldiers, doctors joined the ranks to provide medical care, and women stepped up to aid with nursing.

Currently on exhibit through June 3 in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery on the fourth floor of Laupus Library, “Fighting for their Lives: Medical Practices During the American Civil War” examines how doctors and medical staff cared for the soldiers, looking specifically at surgery, disease, infection and the role of hospitals.

“The items on display represent an era of medicine that seems quite foreign to us today,” said Layne Carpenter, Laupus Library history collections archivist. “During this time, anesthesia was fairly new. It was also a common belief that liquor could cure multiple ailments, and amputations were frequent.”

Amputation kit on display at Laupus Library

Amputation kit on display at Laupus Library

“The collection of items tells a story about medicine before people knew what germs were,” she continued. “I think viewers of this exhibit will develop a greater appreciation for modern medicine.”

War deaths from disease did not occur at the same rates across national and racial groups. Almost 17 percent of Confederate soldiers died from disease. In the Union Army, three times more black troops suffered disease deaths than white troops.

The Medical History Interest Group will host “Death and Diversity in Civil War Medicine,” presented by Dr. Margaret Humphreys, the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine at Duke University, on March 26 at 4:30 p.m. in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery.

Humphrey’s talk will explore the ways in which social determinants of health, particularly nutritious food and nursing care, explain much of this differential mortality.

The lecture will be followed by an opening reception for the exhibit. Refreshments will be provided. This event is free and open to the public. This is a Wellness Passport Event.

For more information email


-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communications

National Humanities Medal winner to visit ECU

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (Photo by Brad DeCecco)

National Humanities Medal winner Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of “Plato at the Googleplex” and “The Mind-Body Problem,” will discuss “The Curious Relationship between the Sciences and the Humanities” during an April 23 visit to East Carolina University.

Goldstein’s lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in Mendenhall Great Room. The event is free and open to the public.

Goldstein is a philosopher and the author of 10 books of both fiction and nonfiction that blend sciences, humanities and the arts. In 1996, she received a MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the “Genius Award.”

According to the MacArthur Foundation, “Rebecca Goldstein is a writer whose novels and short stories dramatize the concerns of philosophy without sacrificing the demands of imaginative storytelling.”

In 2014, Goldstein was selected as the National Humanities Medalist, and in 2015, she was awarded the medal by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House.

Goldstein’s visit is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Great Books Program, Classical Studies and Gender Studies, and the Departments of English, History, Mathematics and Philosophy.

Individuals requesting accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Department for Disability Support Services at least 48 hours before the event at 252-328-6799 (voice) or 252-328-0899 (TTY).


-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

‘North Carolina in the Great War’ now on exhibit in Joyner Library

Excerpt from a page that features a soldier embracing her sweetheart from the Saturday Evening Post.

Excerpt from a page that features a soldier embracing his sweetheart from the Saturday Evening Post. (Photos contributed by Joyner Library.)

Joyner Library is now displaying “North Carolina in the Great War,” a traveling exhibition on loan from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

The exhibition will be on display until March 25 in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery on the library’s second floor.

“World War I happened over 100 years ago and may not seem relevant to many people today,” said Charlotte Fitz Daniels, programs and events coordinator for Joyner Library. “We hope the exhibit gives viewers more insight, especially about North Carolina’s role in the Great War. It provides a vast overview of how North Carolina participated both on the front line and on the home front.”

The exhibition includes 10 informational panels and artifacts documenting the state’s wartime efforts including a nurse and soldier uniform.

Artifacts from Joyner Library’s special collections also will be showcased, including nine scrapbook pages from Charlotte native Dorothy Repiton Knox. She began creating the 145-page scrapbook when, as she states, “the boys in our crowd went off to camp in 1917.”

During World War I, Knox worked as a Red Cross volunteer, aiding servicemen at the Southern Railway Station as well as destitute families in the poorest section of the city and surrounding mill villages. Her scrapbook includes letters and mementos that tell the story of her life and her friendships with soldiers and pilots who were stationed briefly at Camp Greene. Dorothy played an important role in assisting at the Red Cross Canteen serving troop trains and caring for flu victims in Mecklenburg County.

Excerpt from Dorothy Repiton Knox’s WWI Scrapbook

Excerpt from Dorothy Repiton Knox’s WWI Scrapbook

The display of excerpts from her scrapbook offers a glimpse into the young woman’s life and the lives of the soldiers she became friends with in Charlotte.

“I found Dorothy Knox’s meticulous documentation in the scrapbook very surprising,” said Fitz Daniels. “She is truly telling a story through the correspondence from soldiers, along with the news clippings and illustrations. The entries gave me a sense of who these people were and how in the midst of war, they still had such a strong wit and sense of humor. It’s evident through the funny letters and cartoons they sent to her.”

A small collection of items from Joyner Library’s Federal Documents Collection, published between 1916-19, are also on display. Included are a number of publications from the Committee on Public Information (CPI), which existed from 1917-19.

Dubbed by historians to be America’s “first ministry of information,” the CPI sought to mobilize American public opinion behind the war effort and to shape media coverage in a pro-government direction. Among the CPI publications on display are pamphlets that denounced German imperialism and real or alleged German war crimes.

Other CPI items discussed the Wilson administration’s war aims and provided basic information on the war. The final report of the 1918-19 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee investigating “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda” is also displayed. Chaired by N.C. Senator Lee Overman, the subcommittee is considered the forerunner of the House Un-American Activities Committee and other congressional bodies tasked with investigating domestic subversion.

“These documents help show how America’s involvement in World War I substantially changed our country,” said David Durant, federal documents and social sciences librarian for Joyner Library. “They are artifacts of both the growth of American nationalism and the increasing role played by the federal government in our society. They show the beginnings of many of the trends that continued through World War II and the early Cold War.”

Another exhibit in the Verona Joyner Langford North Carolina Collection is “North Carolina in the First World War,” featuring a rare volume entitled “Tar Heel War Record.” The collection is located on the third floor of the library.

Joyner Library will hold a reception on Friday, March 2 at 5 p.m. in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery. The reception is open to the public and will coincide with Uptown Greenville First Friday Artwalk. Visit to learn more.

Contact Fitz Daniels for more information at 252-328-0287 or


-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communications

Exhibit preserves history of Sycamore Hill community

“Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Revisiting the Sycamore Hill Community,” a photography project that shares the history of the displaced community, has opened at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library.

On display in the Janice Hardison Faulkner gallery through March 26, the exhibit illustrates that a community is much more than the bricks and mortar used to construct its homes. The photographs and narratives featured show how the ties that bind are often found in human connection.

Students, visitors and citizens of Greenville and surrounding areas are invited to visit the exhibit and learn about the predominately African American community that was displaced by a redevelopment project in the 1960s.

According to Joyner Library Director Janice S. Lewis, “The Beyond Bricks and Mortar project furthers the mission of Joyner Library and ECU to celebrate and preserve the life stories, art and images that represent the regional culture of eastern North Carolina. It is particularly timely as the Greenville City Council continues to discuss a planned memorial near the former location of Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church, now part of Town Common. Recent meetings attended by former residents and church members provided an opportunity for us to learn more about the community, its importance, and the need to document its history before more time passes.”

Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1860 and was originally known as the African Baptist Church. The name was changed in the 1880s and referred to the sycamore trees surrounding the church’s location on the corner of First and Greene streets. The large brick church featured in the exhibit’s historical photographs was constructed in 1917 and was a Greenville landmark for half a century. When the Town Common Park was created in the late 1960s, both the church and the vibrant community around it were forced to move.

Houses on West First Street with Sycamore Hill Baptist Church in the background. This area is where Town Commons is now located. (Photo Contributed by Joyner Library Digital Collections)

Houses on West First Street with Sycamore Hill Baptist Church in the background. This area is where Town Commons is now located.
(Photo Contributed by Joyner Library Digital Collections)

“We are honored to help the Sycamore Hill community tell their story and are excited about the possibilities with this project,” said Heather White, assistant director for assessment and engagement at Joyner Library. “It was overwhelming to have such a large participation in the portrait project, which speaks volumes to the strong sense of community and connection this group continues to feel even years later.”

On Dec. 27 and 28, former Sycamore Hill community members and their descendants were photographed as close as possible to the sites of their former homes. Narratives from the former residents and family members about their memories of living in the Sycamore Hill community were collected to accompany the portraits.

Historical images of Sycamore Hill Baptist Church and the surrounding neighborhood from the Joyner Library Digital Collection are also included in the exhibition.

Amber Nannette Harris, who participated with her father in the project, said, “Listening to these stories is a scar for me too. These sacred grounds will forever be home in our hearts,” said Harris. “This acknowledgment is a start of a healing process.”

A public celebration honoring the Sycamore Hill community and recognizing participants in the project will be held 5-8 p.m., March 3 in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery in Joyner Library. The celebration will include a short program at 5:15 p.m. and will be a part of the First Friday Artwalk series with shuttle service by the Jolly Trolley.

After the exhibit closes, the images will be preserved and will continue to be available online as part of Joyner Library’s Digital Collections. The library hopes this project will be the seed for more extensive outreach and collection of regional history, including the history of communities that have been underrepresented in archival collections.
Joyner Library will also hold a Community Scanning Day on March 4 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 1001 Hooker Road, Greenville.

If you have historical photographs of the Greenville area or related items that you would like to have scanned, please contact Charlotte Fitz Daniels at or 252 328-0287.


-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, Joyner Library

ECU professor to serve as Steffy Lecturer

ECU maritime studies professor Dr. David J. Stewart was asked by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) to serve as the 2015-16 J. Richard Steffy Lecturer.

David Stewart

David Stewart

The lecture was established in 2008 to commemorate Mr. Steffy’s work in ship reconstruction and the interpretation of wooden ships.

Stewart will deliver a series of presentations to AIA societies on the Kyrenia Ship, Steffy’s most notable reconstruction achievement. The ship, which sank off Cyprus in about 285 B.C., is the best preserved ancient Greek hull available.

In 2011, Stewart led a team that conducted a complete 3D recording of the hull in Kyrenia Castle. He has been using computer modeling to gain a better understanding of the ship’s shape than was possible without the technology.

The ECU program in Maritime Studies is housed in the Department of History in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

ECU student discusses Tuscarora at UNCC Graduate History Forum

Matthew Esterline, graduate student in history at East Carolina University, discussed John Lawson and the Tuscarora War at UNC-Charlotte’s 25th Annual Graduate History Forum on April 19-20. The presentation, titled “Spanish Oyster-Shell and Blood: An Examination of John Lawson and the Tuscarora,” was presented to faculty from across the state.

The presentation focused on the mystery behind and reasons for Lawson’s execution as well as the tensions between the Tuscarora Indians and colonists which lead to the war.

Esterline also participated with media relations for the Nooherooka 300 Commemoration held at ECU and Snow Hill in March. He said he wanted to raising awareness of the Tuscarora.

The graduate history forum featured guest speaker Dr. William Kimler, NCSU history professor and scholar on the history of biology and evolutionary ideas.

ECU students spend Spring Break conserving shipwreck artifacts

PRESERVING ARTIFACTS: Eleven graduate students from ECU’s program in maritime history and four student interns from UNC-W spent their Spring Break working to conserve and catalogue artifacts from a Civil War-era shipwreck at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site. The artifacts were from the Blockade Runner Modern Greece. (Video courtesy of Brian Nestor, video producer, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.)

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