Useful Books: Community Libraries in Antebellum North Carolina

Patrick Valentine


While little has been published on libraries and print culture in the antebellum South, citizens were aware of the need to accumulate and disseminate knowledge in the form of books and magazines. North Carolina was not renowned for its schools or literary culture but it did witness over thirty attempts to establish community libraries between the American Revolution and the Civil War. This paper examines this library movement in its historical and cultural context as a reflection of the importance of print culture and voluntary associations within American civil society. By surveying a wide range of often-neglected primary and secondary literature, this article stands as a model for further research.

Law to establish the Allemance [sic] Library Society, Guilford County: "For the purpose of procuring and establishing a circulating Library of Useful Books..." Laws of the State of North Carolina... 1.

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