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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. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll9/id/4894 (accessed May 24, 2013).

Samarkand Manor. GoogleMaps.

"Samarcand." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-34, N.C. Office of Archives & History. https://www.ncdcr.gov/about/history/division-historical-resources/nc-highway-historical-marker-program/Markers.aspx?sp=Markers&k=Markers&sv=K-34

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. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120708/articles/120709845

Gilkeson, Florence. "Samarkand Makes Case to Stay Open." ThePilot.com. 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: 

Comments

Comment: 

I did kinda like this place call me stupid if you want to BUT it was a whole lot better place to live than where I came from. I sister was there too her name was Peggy

Comment: 

Please let me know if you are out there LIZ I miss you!! Addie 1966 graduate

Comment: 

Anyone still alive that was there over 50 years ago?? Well I am graduated in 1966

Comment: 

Yes, I was there 1956 - 1958, will be 77 years old in October! Wonderful place, very thoughtful workers. I can't remember the name of the gall I lived in but was beside Ireland hall, I think it was the oldest building. I do remember that there were lock cells in the hall where I lived and runaways or trouble makers were put there. My favorite counselor was a Mrs Cameron and I crocheted her a bedspread with yellow roses. I still have the pattern after all these years and I still crochet just about every day!

Comment: 

Wow so nice of you to write!! Wish I knew you then and now!!

Comment: 

I was there. I graduated in 1969. I didn't think it was a bad place either. I was resentful of being sent there at first but I got over it. Probably was best thing that could have happened to me. I remember a Mrs. Cameron, Mrs. Butoni, little indian lady. Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Albert. Did you know any of them?

Comment: 

Mrs. Oatman, Do you remember an African American girl named Constance (Connie) Williams from Charlotte? I believe she would have been there at that time. She's my sister. She passed last year. I heard minimal stories about her time there but I'm keenly interested in what it was like for her. Much Thanks.

Comment: 

Yes I knew of them all did you say you remember a girl named Brenda Pruitt? You must have came right when I left. Were you there for the 66 graduation do you remember Judy Clemons? I live in Raleigh nc

Comment: 

Thank God that we're still alive.
I was there when I was about 12 or 13 years old; I'm 62 now. I still have an 'Honor Pin' that I received while there.
I remember being an escorts for the other girls around the campus. A lot was learned and utilized even to this very day. Thank you to all of the folks there at Samarcand that helped me during that time of need in my life.
Please I'd like to hear from anyone that might remember me from that time.

Comment: 

Where were you from? I knew a Patricia Lee but I think she lived in Reidsville, NC

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