Literacy tests for WWI Recruits and Black Voters


WWI literacy test for recruits


Page 3 of a 1962 near impossible literacy test for African American in Louisiana in order to keep them from voting

There is a great new history blog in called The Vault.  It highlights historical gems that the writer Rebecca Onion pulls out of the archival void into the sunny view of the readers.  Two very interesting artifacts that she found are two very different literacy tests.  The first is an innocuous, but almost existential, literacy test for American recruits for the armed forces at the beginning of the First World War.  The second has more sinister intentions and is meant to keep African Americans from voting with its inscrutable 30 questions that  require a nearly impossible score of 100 percent in order for the individual to be allowed to vote.

Test your American Dialect

my dialectBert Vaux and Scott Golder have created the Harvard Dialect Survey which  is a collection of 140 questions that will tell you what regional dialect you speak.  Joshua Katz, a statistician at the NC State Department of Statistics has created some lovely maps of the results of this survey.  Take the test here, but be warned the server can but quite slow at times.  My dialect results does have my hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina in the red and continues through the Piedmont sections of the South and conversely has New England dialects being the most dissimilar.  Test your dialect here

Source Gene Expression

Even More New Materials

ImageThanks to the Wilson County Genealogical Society we have some super, new books!  I didn’t make the list all fancy today but there’s nothing wrong with a minimalist approach

  1. Duplin County Heritage
  2. Colonial Families of Surry and Isle of Wight Counties, VA, Vols. 3, 5, 6 & 8
  3. Colonial Records of Surry and Isle of Wight Counties VA, Vol. 11
  4. Abstracts of Pasquotank Co, NC, Deeds 1750-1770
  5. Abstracts of Currituck Co, NC Deed Books 3-4
  6. Annotated Abstracts of Colonial Currituck Co, NC Wills
  7. Abstracts of Carteret Co, NC Deeds, 1713-1759
  8. Annotated Abstracts of Southhampton Co, VA Deed Book 1, 1749-1753
  9. Abstracts of Beaufort Co., NC Deed book 2, 1729-1748
  10. Transcription of lower Norfolk Co. VA Wills and Deeds1656-1666
  11. Transcription of lower Norfolk Co. VA Records, Vol 2, 1651-1656
  12. A Very Mutinous People: The Struggle for North Carolina 1660-1713
  13. Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 1
  14. People and Plantations, Wayne County, NC 1701-1860
  15. Jamestown People to 1800: Landowners, Public Officials, Minorities, and Native Leaders
  16. Charles Lee Coon: North Carolina Crusader for Social Justice (From an anonymous donor)
  17. Charles Lee Coon (1868-1927): North Carolina Crusader for Educational Reform (From an anonymous donor)

Don’t let a Puritan Name your Child


Welcome to the world little Puritan! Here is your name and here is your hat, please don’t enjoy it.

Over at they have some lovely lists of the extremes that Puritans went to tone down the worldlyness of their children through naming them the most audaciously pious names that they could think of.  Here are some examples:

Meerly Strange

  1. Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar. Son of Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar, born 1676.
  2. Praise-God. Full name, Praise-God Barebone. The Barebones were a rich source of crazy names. This one was a leather-worker, member of a particularly odd Puritan group and an MP. He gave his name to the Barebones Parliament, which ruled Britain in 1653.
  3. If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned. Praise-God’s son, he made a name for himself as an economist. But, for some inexplicable reason, he decided to go by the name Nicolas Barbon.
  4. Fear-God. Also a Barebone.
  5. Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes
  6. Has-descendents
  7. Wrestling
  8. Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith
  9. Fly-fornication
  10. Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world- to-save. Brother of “Damned Barebone”. I can only imagine this name shortened to “Save.”
  11. Thanks
  12. What-God-will
  13. Joy-in-sorrow. A name attached to many stories of difficult births.
  14. Remember
  15. Fear-not. His/her surname was “Helly”, born 1589.
  16. Experience
  17. Anger
  18. Abuse-not
  19. Die-Well. A brother of Farewell Sykes, who died in 1865. We can assume they had rather pessimistic parents.
  20. Continent. Continent Walker was born in 1594 in Sussex.

Downright mean

  1. Humiliation. Humiliation Hynde had two sons in the 1620s; he called them both Humiliation Hynde.
  2. Fly-debate
  3. No-merit. NoMerit Vynall was born in Warbleton in Sussex, a fount of beautiful names.
  4. Helpless
  5. Reformation
  6. Abstinence
  7. More-triale
  8. Handmaid
  9. Obedience
  10. Forsaken
  11. Sorry-for-sin. Sorry-for-sin Coupard was another resident of Warbleton.
  12. Lament

103 years of North Carolina City Directories Now Online


This is great news to any genealogist or historian or for people who just want to a call a number from 1914. There are 939 directories available from the year1860 to 1963.  This project is through The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

The directories are a valuable tool for genealogists, historians, city planners, and anyone curious about the state’s past, said Nick Graham, program coordinator for the Center. “City directories don’t sound interesting until you realize how much is in them,” he said.
You can access the directories through Digital NC