Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Samarcand Manor

by Julian M. Pleasants, 2006

See also: Samarcand (Research Branch, NCO&H)

Samarcand Building, 1926. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_187. Samarcand Manor, officially the State Home and Industrial School for Girls, was a humane correctional institution for young women established near Eagle Springs by the North Carolina state legislature in 1918. The purpose of the school was to reclaim and train delinquent girls by providing a "homelike place where those who have fallen may find temporary shelter, and under a firm yet kind discipline, begin to live morally." The school, built on 230 acres in Samarcand (named for the Muslim city conquered by Alexander the Great that served as his empire's seat of learning and culture), was one of the first institutions of its type in the South. The original clients were young girls or women who had been convicted of being prostitutes, vagrants, or habitual drunkards or who were guilty of any misdemeanor suggesting that they were "not virtuous." There were no definite terms, but the clients could not be held more than three years and were to be released on good behavior.

"Our Three Youngest." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call#: N_98_9_189.Agnes B. MacNaughton became Samarcand's first superintendent, and by 1919 more than 200 women between the ages of 10 and 30 had arrived. In the 1920s the daily program emphasized Bible study, manners, cleanliness, music, nature, and sports in addition to the regular academic subjects. The girls also received vocational training in sewing, weaving, canning, laundry work, and poultry and dairying activities. The program stressed self-reliance and pride in one's work. Between 1928 and 1930 a total of 296 girls were admitted, most between the ages of 12 and 16. By 1930 Samarcand had a hospital and an accredited high school.

In 1931, 16 Samarcand inmates set fire to two dorms and were charged with arson, then a capital crime. While awaiting trial, the girls burned their jail cells. Eight of the 12 involved were eventually sent to prison. Samarcand survived this notorious 1931 incident and other difficulties but was unable to withstand the financial strains of the Great Depression and the siphoning off of staff during World War II. In 1974 the state changed the name of the institution to Samarcand Manor and placed it under the purview of the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Youth Division. Samarcand became one of five state training schools designed to rehabilitate delinquent children (both male and female) between the ages of 10 and 17. The school shifted its emphasis to treatment and therapy. In the early 2000s Samarcand had approximately 190 clients (40 females and 150 males) and 210 staff members.

References: "Playtime, children on the wagon." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_188.

Ida Briggs Henderson, "The Work at Samarcand," The State (4 Apr. 1936).

Lisbeth Parrott, "Samarcand Opens Door of Hope to 1,000th Girl in Tenth Year," Raleigh News and Observer, 7 Oct. 1928.

Samarcand Manor: 50th Anniversary, 1918-1968 (1968).

Additional Resources:

State Home and Industrial School for Girls (Samarcand, N.C.). Biennial report of the Board of Directors and Superintendent of the State Home and Industrial School for Girls, Samarcand Manor, Samarcand, N.C. Samarcand, N.C. [N.C.]: The School. 1926-1938. (accessed May 24, 2013).

Samarkand Manor. GoogleMaps.

"Samarcand." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-34, N.C. Office of Archives & History.

McLaurin, Melton Alonza, and Russell, Anne. The Wayward Girls of Samarcand: A true story of the American South. Wilmington, N.C.: Bradley Creek Press. 2012.

Steelman, Ben. "Review - McLaurin, Russell write a gripping yarn." StarNews Media. July 8, 2012.

Gilkeson, Florence. "Samarkand Makes Case to Stay Open." September 24, 2009.  #

Image Credits:

Samarcand Building, 1926. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_187.

"Playtime, children on the wagon." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_188.

"Our Three Youngest." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call#: N_98_9_189.

Origin - location: 



I have NO IDEA what most of these post are even about. Not the Samarkand I attended. I was there in 70-71. And it was the BEST thing that ever happened to me. I loved Carroll Cottage, Mrs. Williamson, Mrs. Patrick, Mrs. Nance, Mrs. Shultz, Mrs. Bower, Worked in the kitchen for a while with Mrs. Britt, tiny little thing best cook ever, Love her to pieces. Worked for Miss. Reva Mitchell most of my time there and she was a wonderful, caring person. She was strict but kind. Mrs. Hull was a very curt, pithy person, but she was fair. We had direction and guidance, school, church. I played basketball, learn to be a life guard. Took part in the state trials in sports. Sang in the choir under Mrs. Albert. I loved her as did everyone else. We had off campus trips for choir, even sang at the Capitol building. We had to work. And so I have for the rest of my life. There was no abuse, no girls being sterilized, no tiny dark cells.
I finished high school, and learned life lesson from people like Miss Mitchell, Mrs. Williamson (Mama) Mrs. Bower all of them cared about us, they listened to us and gave sound advice and positive direction.
For the 13 months I was there I loved it, cried when I had to go home. Begged Miss Mitchell to let me stay.
Went back several times and saw Mrs. Williamson at her house, as well as some of the others including Miss Mitchell.


I remember most of those ladies. And they were all good and kind.


I remember all those ladies to and yes I had a positive experience there to. If it had not been for Samarkand Msnor I never would have finished school. The ladies you mentioned were all as you said very good to us.


This article needs to be totally re-written it was no finishing school but a hell on earth for many young girls.


You are so right, My sister was there in the 60's and still has bruises on her knees from being made to scrub all wax off floors every week. in the time she was there I saw many many girls mistreated, If you even looked at someone else they would take you and put you in THE HOLE is what they called it. y sister has a lot of mental issues from being in that place. I just hope that the ones responsible for the mistreating of those girls have gotten their just rewards.


We weren’t mistreated in any way. Yes we did mop and shine floors on our knees but it was not bad.


i was at samarkand manor in 1995 and 1997 and i'm also a 31 year old black woman now i will say honestly that i was not mistreated did i want to be there no but i can't speak for anyone else


Same for me 1997-1999. And we had boys there then


This is poorly researched and written. It's clear Pleasants did not read any of the trial reports of the inhumane abuse these girls suffered. Not only were they whipped, starved, and illegally incarcerated a majority was also sterilized. Talk about rubbing salt in a wound.


Thank you, we welcome your comments. I have added links in the Additional Resources to articles discussing some of the issues with Samarcand Manor.

Mike Childs, Government and Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at