At the Office of Archives and History we aim to preserve and promote North Carolina history. What better way than to start with young children and their parents. To achieve that aim, Archives and History has launched a series of books designed to introduce young readers to our past.

Our First Title: The Life and Times of Thomas Wolfe

With Jennifer Prince’s biography of Thomas Wolfe, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History inaugurates a new series, True Tales for Young Readers. 

In his short life of 38 years, the Asheville native took the literary world by storm. His Look Homeward, Angel remains a favorite of readers three generations later. A genius, a giant figuratively and literally, the mountain writer angered many in Asheville with his depictions. But, late in life, he did go home again, sitting with his mother on the steps of the boarding house and renewing old acquaintances. It is our hope that this book will introduce Wolfe to new readers, young and old. 

Jennifer Prince is a librarian in the Fairview branch of the Buncombe County Public Library.

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We Who Believe in Freedom: The Life and Times of Ella Baker

The second volume in the True Tales for Young Readers series, this short biography of the civil rights leader is intended for middle school and high school readers.

Ella Baker, who grew up in Littleton, North Carolina, is best remembered for the role she played in facilitating in April 1960 the organizational meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at Shaw University, her alma mater.

With passion and clear understanding, Lea E. Williams outlines the life that brought Baker to this crucial point in U.S. history.

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Pitch Your Idea for the Series

Our state’s history is replete with compelling, colorful, and instructive stories. An example is that of the Wright Brothers but the book market presently has many titles available that relate the exploits of the Ohio brothers on the Outer Banks.

Consider other potential subjects: American Indian leaders like Junaluska, early Spanish explorers like De Soto, waves of emigration via the Great Wagon Road, champion thoroughbred Sir Archie, tales of enslavement and freedom such as those of Harriet Jacobs and Elizabeth Keckley, craftsmen like Thomas Day and Ben Owen, the inventor of the Gatling Gun, the Plott Hound, and civil rights landmarks. 

We believe that biography offers many opportunities, including the stories of familiar names such as Governor Zeb Vance, President James K. Polk, and educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Lesser known tales might include those of Peter Francisco, the “giant” who turned the tide of the American Revolution; Ralf Freeman, a free black man denied the right to preach in 1835; or Gertrude Weil, the outspoken advocate for women’s rights.

Our primary initial objective is to edit, design, and publish hardcover and softcover illustrated books for preschoolers and K-6 students. We will also consider manuscripts intended for older readers, perhaps in the eighth grade or in high school. For example, a young people’s biography of author Thomas Wolfe is now in the works.

The publications, while factual, should also be imaginative and creative. We have faith in the community of writers and illustrators in North Carolina and confidence that through collaborative efforts we can reach young readers. 

We invite prospective authors and illustrators (first-time or veteran) to contact us with proposals. Get in touch with Joseph Beatty:

Historical Research Office
Archives and History
4610 Mail Service Center
Raleigh N.C. 27699-4610