Chapel Hill Historical Society

Research Materials on our Website

Guide to Collections

A listing of research resources held by the Chapel Hill Historical Society in our office at the Chapel Hill Public Library (some available online).

Chapel Hill Newspaper Inventory

The Chapel Hill Historical Society maintains an archive of Chapel Hill and Orange County newspapers from 1923 to 2011 in its offices in the Chapel Hill Public Library. This includes the Chapel Hill Weekly (1923-1973), the Chapel Hill Newspaper (1973-1992), the Chapel Hill News (1992-2011), the Chapel Hill News Leader (1954-1959), and the News of Orange County (1962-1966). Please contact the historical society for information on access to these archives.

The Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website provides on-line access to historic newspapers from around the country, including digital copies of the Chapel Hill Weekly (from 1923-1977)

Resources for Genealogists and Family Historians

Resources for genealogists and family historians at the Chapel Hill Historical Society.

Cemetery Resources at the Chapel Hill Historical Society

Information on area cemeteries held by the Chapel Hill Historical Society.

James Webb Interviews

James Murray Webb (1908-2000) was a nationally known modernist architect and fifth president of the Chapel Hill Historical Society. He was interviewed by Doug Eyre of the Chapel Hill Historical Society in 1997. The interviews, which run over four hours, have been digitized and divided into 11 segments.

CHHS Newsletters 1967-2012

These are the monthly newsletters published by the Chapel Hill Historical Society from 1966 to 2012. They contain meeting reports, descriptions of local history projects, and other items of historical interest.

CHHS Newsletters 2019 - 

Quarterly newsletters published by the Chapel Hill Historical Society

FNCHS Federation Bulletins 2016-

The quarterly newsletters published by the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies. They contain information on the activities of historical societies statewide.

Links to Other Sites

Digital copies of the Orange Echo and the Lincoln Echo (1944-1965)

Copies of the Orange Echo, the student newspaper of the Orange County Training School, and the Lincoln Echo, published by students of Lincoln High School, have been digitized and placed online by the the DigitalNC North Carolina Newspapers Project.

Maps, Plats and Architectural Drawings of Chapel Hill, 1921-1960

Maps of various areas of Chapel Hill, cemetery plats, and architectural drawings of residences and municipal buildings created by the Town of Chapel Hill between 1921 and 1960 have been digitized by DigitalNC and may be viewed online. An additional set of maps recently added by DigitalNC can be viewed here.

This is Chapel Hill (1948)

Black and white film describing the history of Chapel Hill and the history and activities of the University of North Carolina, especially the consolidation of the University. Frank P. Graham, R. B. House, and other university administrators make brief appearances. There are descriptions of Franklin Street businesses, like Andrews-Henninger Co. and Varsity Department Store, Wentworth & Sloan Jewelers, The College Shop and Carolina Bootery, Jack Lipman. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Merchants Association. The Hospital Savings Association. City Hall, Village Mayor R. W. Madry, the police department, the WDUK radio station, the Carolina Theater. Agricultural resources of Orange County, Farmers Cooperative Dairy Inc. Hill Bakery & Pastry Shop. Montjoy & Leigh Food Store. Seafood Grill. Harry's Delicatessen. Danziger's Coffee Shop. Digitized from a VHS tape by DigitalNC, the film's visuals can be blurry or poor quality.

Movies of Local People - Chapel Hill, NC 1941/1939

Professional "Home Movies" of local residents of Chapel Hill, NC, photographed by Filmmaker H. Lee Waters. Waters would film local residents and then invite them to come see themselves in the movie, which was projected at a local cinema (in this case the Hollywood Theater). Most of the subjects are African-American and Waters seems to take care to engage with his subjects rather than just observe. This film is taken from the H. Lee Waters Film Collection, 1936-2005, at Duke University Libraries.

Digging in Our Heels: Women's History Walking Tour Audio Tapes and Interviews

The UNC Southern Oral History Program Sound Cloud Playlist contains audio recordings relating to the presence of female students on the UNC campus, and how gender attitudes have changed over the years. The audio recordings also have links to text-based interviews of the participants. This material was developed by the Southern Oral History Program as part of a campus walking tour, and was also used in the March 20, 2016 Historical Society Presentation, "Digging In Our Heels, Angels on Campus: The History of Women on Campus at UNC," presented by Taylor Livingston.

Re/Collecting Chapel HIll

These podcasts by Chapel HIll Library staff and community members uncover the untold histories of Chapel Hill.

Launching of the Chapel Hill Victory

Victory ships were a type of cargo ship mass-produced during World War II. Many were named after towns and cities in the United States. The launching of the SS Chapel Hill Victory took place on December 4, 1944. The launch ceremony was attended by many Chapel Hill area notables, including Congressman Carl Durham and Chapel Hill Mayor Robert Madry. View a photo album of the event and a photo of the box containing the champagne christening bottle online.

Patterson's General Store Ledger

The Digital Heritage Center has just finished digitizing a ledger from Patterson's General Store, which covers the store's accounts in the years 1910 and 1911. The store was located on East Franklin Street near the intersection with Henderson Street, across from the University of North Carolina campus. The store was established by H. H. "Hoot" Patterson in the late 19th century. The store was operated by his son Fred until his death in 1914. The ledger, from the Chapel Hill Historical Society, contains the names and accounts of a number of North Carolina residents and businesses. Many faculty members and administrators from the University of North Carolina were customers, including Edward Kidder Graham, Kemp Plummer Battle, and Horace Williams.

Chapel Hill High School Hillife Yearbooks 1925-1965

Do you have old copies of the Chapel Hill High School Hillife yearbook? If so, we would like to borrow them so we can digitize them and make them available on our website. We are currently looking for yearbooks for the years 1927, 1932, 1933, and 1935. If you have any of these volumes, and would be willing to lend or donate them to the Historical Society, please contact us at 919-929-1793 or

Chapel Hill Airport Photos 1930s

Photos loaned to the Chapel Hill Historical Society by Bruce Martindale, son of Charlie Lee Martindale. The elder Martindale created Martindale Field, later Horace Williams Airport, in 1928. The airport was closed by its owner, the University of North Carolina, in May 2018. Photos of the airfield after closing can be viewed here.

Photos of Franklin Street, Local Businesses and Cemeteries

Selected photos of Franklin Street, local businesses and cemeteries from our collections have been digitized and added to the DigitalNC online collection.

Our History Blogs

Want to know the history of Orange County?
Read all about it in a series of columns
written by our president, Richard Ellington:
Did the Revolutionary War Start in Orange County?
Locavores are nothing new!
Where is/was Jones Ferry?
Prisoners of War in Carrboro

McCauley Family Cemetery Project

This is the first of a series of blog-like emails I'm forwarding describing the work vis-a-vis the McCauley Cemetery since I began in February of 2017. These are being sent to several newcomers to the project as well as to the website of the Chapel Hill Historical Society. The first emails about the Cemetery anticipated discussions at Board meetings of the Chapel Hill Historical Society throughout the winter and spring. As this presentation circulates, I hoped it would generate recognition of our early history in colonial times as well as support for this undertaking. I searched unsuccessfully for a concise biography of Matthew McCauley. Not finding much of anything, I wrote my own for our purposes and here it is. So, BEGIN this adventure with the first attachment. As information accrues I will edit this document for accuracy - Bill Burlingame.

Read Bill Burlingame's ongoing blogs about the effort to restore the McCauley Family Cemetery.

Scott's Hole: The Story So Far

Compiled by Peter White, with contributions from Mark Chilton, Carl Anderson, Carol Ann McCormick, Johnny Randall, the late Rogers McVaugh, Ken Wurdack, and others. The story of Scott's Hole, its history, and the attempts to determine its precise location.


The publications are in PDF format and require Adobe Reader in order to view them.
Adobe Reader