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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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North Carolina Historical Review

by Jeffrey J. Crow, 2006

The North Carolina Historical Review was founded in 1924 under the aegis of the North Carolina Historical Commission. Trinity College history professor William K. Boyd proposed the quarterly journal in 1922, and the following year the legislature provided the funding to launch it. The first editor was Robert B. House, who had worked for the Historical Commission since 1919 and attempted to fashion the North Carolina Historical Review after the American Historical Review. He appointed the first three-member editorial board and solicited articles from scholars of North Carolina and southern history. Beginning as an editorial assistant with the second issue, David Leroy Corbitt inaugurated a 37-year career with the Review. For seven years he edited a "Historical Notes" section and later became managing editor of the Review until his retirement in 1961. Though House was the Review's first editor, R. D. W. Connor, the first secretary of the historical commission and by 1924 Kenan Professor of History at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, was in many respects the guiding influence behind the new quarterly. Consulting closely with House, Connor suggested two regular features that were eventually adopted: a "Historical News" section and a bibliography of recent articles on North Carolina history. Connor also chose the publication's title.

In 1952 members of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association began to receive the North Carolina Historical Review as a benefit of membership. Also in that year, the North Carolina Department of Archives and History launched the bimonthly newsletter Carolina Comments as a companion to the Review. Although a Historical News section continued in the Review through 1966, Carolina Comments absorbed much of its content. In 1953 the Historical Society of North Carolina established the annual R. D. W. Connor Award for the best article to appear in the Review.

In 1934 the North Carolina Historical Review began printing an annual bibliography of recently published books about North Carolina, and it added an annual bibliography of theses and dissertations about the state in 1979. For many years the Review published papers delivered at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association during "Culture Week," but that practice was discontinued during the 1980s.

Over the course of its history, the North Carolina Historical Review has published more than 800 articles and thousands of book reviews. While the articles have focused primarily on North Carolina, articles on adjacent states and on the South in general have also appeared. In addition, the Review has published many thoroughly annotated original documents. Two comprehensive indexes to the Review have been published: one covering the journal's first 50 years (1924-73) and one covering the following ten years (1974-83). An Advisory Editorial Committee, today consisting of five members who specialize in the history of North Carolina and the South, assists the editors in appraising articles submitted for publication. Members of the committee serve five-year, staggered terms, with annual rotation.

The Review is a scholarly journal that insists upon high standards of research, writing, and presentation. Fully illustrated and indexed, each volume (4 issues, published in January, April, July, and October) runs between 500 and 600 pages. A typical issue includes 3 articles, a review essay or bibliography, 25 to 30 book reviews, and 5 to 10 book notes. Approximately 1,500 people and institutions subscribe to the North Carolina Historical Review. It is widely regarded as one of the best state historical journals in the nation. Many of its articles are cited in scholarly works, reprinted in anthologies, and assigned as readings in state, regional, and national history courses.


Willard B. Gatewood Jr., "'Rendering Striking Historical Service': North Carolina's Historical Publications Program, 1903-1978," in Jeffrey J. Crow, ed., Public History in North Carolina, 1903-1978 (1979).

Paul Murray, "Thirty Years of the New History: A Study of the North Carolina Historical Review," NCHR 32 (April 1955).

Thomas C. Parramore, "Forging the Tremulous Link: The First Half-Century of the North Carolina Historical Review," NCHR 51 (October 1974).

Additional Resources:

"Complete List of Articles 1924-present." North Carolina Historical Review. Historical Publications Section, North Carolina Office of Archives & History. (accessed August 21, 2012).

"Archived Material FromThe North Carolina Historical Review." North Carolina Historical Review. Historical Publications Section, North Carolina Office of Archives & History.  (accessed August 21, 2012).

North Carolina State Dept. of Archives and History. Carolina Comments. 2002-present. (accessed August 21, 2012).