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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.

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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: 



this place should be bulldozed off the face of the earth for the lives it ruined.

I was sent there for "running away" to be with my father, whom my mother had kicked out.

I ran away a total of 1/2 mile up the road, several times to be with my father.

this was my "crime"!

Ihad no representation in juvenile court - the state had to meet their quota of residents, and I was a number.

Had my hands tied to a dental chair and 4 front teeth pulled out, and partial plate put in, so that the school could meet their quota for the year in dental/medical work --

I have been to hell and back -- this was a concentration camp on US SOIL.


I have to agree. The worst memories of my life. I was sent there because of running away from abusive foster homes. I went twice. You know as bad as it was I would to.go see that place now. I'm an hour and a half from there.


Linda, did you have a twin there named Brenda?


Linda your name seems so familiar to me what years were you there my name is Doniese & I was there 1967-1971. I am a black female & I sang in the choir


I was in the choir ...Ms.. Alpert was great


I was surprised at the variance in comments from many people regarding their time spent here. I think it depends on the time frame one was there as to their memories. I was sent there from 1966-1968, along with two of my friends, because we skipped school and like others had no legal representation, we were sent there for an "unlimited" time. I remember shining the floors, being placed on silence, having to count sheets of toilet tissue, being unable to say the word boy and other such things. When I was there, we had to work half a day and go to school half a day. Your work assignment could be anything from farming, cooking, sewing, working in the cannery etc. It was a very structured environment. At the time I was there, I thought it was the worst place in the world. However, looking back I realize that the lessons I learned there were valuable to this day. It was NOT a "camp" with singing and playing as someone suggested but there were times when we had fun. I too was in the choir under Ms. Alpert's direction and therefore was allowed to leave campus to perform at functions arranged by the school. We were allowed to go to camp while I was there also. For anyone who may remember me, I was Barbara Bradley at the time and I was in the New Cottage then transferred to Ireland Hall.


I was there then. I graduated in 1969. My name was Thelma Poindexter. at the time. I stayed in the New Cottage, Carroll Hall and I believed I stayed at Ireland Hall to. I don't remember the name though. Some of these people have some wild imaginations though. lol None of these happened to me.


I was there at that time and was the youngest on campus...


I was there then also. Would love to talk to someone who was there when I was.


I came there in 65 and I left in 66 Addie McFarland were you there

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