Local History

The North Carolina Collection is made up largely of materials about North Carolina or by North Carolinians. These materials are considered rare and special, so they have to be used in the building. None of these items may be checked out.

Printed Materials

Books, and many of the pamphlets and government publications, are cataloged and may be located using the Library’s on-line public access catalog. Of special interest to local historians is our collection of Winston-Salem city directories dating back to 1889/90. Some of our early directories are digitized as part of the Internet Archive. The North Carolina Collection also contains biographies, fiction, city and county histories, and much more.

City Directories

Winston-Salem City (1898-present)

Winston-Salem Suburban (1960-)

Vertical Files

The vertical file contains clippings from newspapers, magazines, uncataloged government publications and other ephemeral materials. There are four divisions within the file: Genealogy, Forsyth County, Winston-Salem, and North Carolina. Individual items are arranged by subject within one of these divisions. Vertical file materials range mainly from the decades of the 1950s through the 1990s.

Microfilm & Microfiche

The collection contains a wide range of materials on microfilm that can be accessed in our research room. These collections may contain materials that have been digitized.

County Records (1740-1868)

This collection contains records generated by county departments and the county courts.  They include bonds, cohabitation records, deeds, estate records, vital records, and wills.  Bonds were issued when couples intended to marry (marriage bonds), children became apprentices (apprentice bonds) and when the county requested the parentage information of children born to unwed mothers (bastardy bonds).  Cohabitation records were created at the request of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to document the marriages freedmen had entered prior to emancipation. Deeds, estate records, and wills deal with the distribution of property.

Counties represented in this collection are Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin.


The North Carolina Room is home to several early local newspapers. They include the Winston-Salem JournalTwin City Sentinel  Winston-Salem Peoples Press, The Chronicle  and others. Step back into history with these pages from the past.

Copies made from microfilm are 15 cents each.

    • Winston-Salem Chronicle (1974-present)
    • Winston-Salem Journal (1898-present)
    • Twin City Sentinel (1906-1985)
    • Peoples Press (1851-1892)
    • Raleigh Register (1799-1886)
    • Union Republican (1874-1944)
  • Western Sentinel (1857-1926

Newspaper Index (partial)

Winston-Salem Chronicle (1974-1996)

Winston-Salem Journal (1997 – Present)


The North Carolina Room owns most of the Geological Survey maps for North Carolina, as well as two partial series of modern historical maps. The Hughes maps show early trails, mills, etc., as well as early land owners. The North Carolina Room also owns selected Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for Winston-Salem and other North Carolina cities. Patrons may also consult the county road maps prepared by the state. Some of our early maps are digitized as part of the North Carolina Maps project and for property research the  Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are also digitized.


The North Carolina Room receives tens of magazines including: State, the North Carolina Historical Review, the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, and the Forsyth County Genealogical Society Journal. Earlier years are bound and are found in the North Carolina Room.

Digital Resources

Digital resources such as newspapers, yearbooks, city directories, photographs, and other materials are available through Forsyth County Public Library databases, the State Library of North Carolina databases, Digital Forsyth, and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.