About the North Carolina History Project

DURING THE PAST FEW DECADES, scholarship has minimized what most know to be true—that individuals can make a difference and that ideas matter. Meanwhile, the powers of abstract social and economic forces have been overemphasized and a presumption that government should perform societal functions has been fostered. In the process, many good things in North Carolina’s history—the creation of personal wealth, the benefits of private property, and the positive influence of religious and free market ideas, to name some examples—have been misunderstood. As a result, a vast resource of good ideas and exemplary personalities are forgotten, and possible solutions to current societal problems are overlooked.

To compensate for such cultural losses and fill a void in historical scholarship, the John Locke Foundation started the North Carolina History Project. The History Project’s purpose is not only to encourage a wide variety of historical questions and provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas but also to emphasize overlooked or forgotten historical themes. Such themes include entrepreneurship, private sector problem solving, the importance of individuals and ideas, and the positive role of free markets.

By providing free resources, the North Carolina History Project seeks to involve individuals and communities in the study of history. In particular, the History Project offers an evolving, comprehensive, and non-polemical encyclopedia of the Tar Heel state called northcarolinahistory.org. The site also contains a separate commentary section, where historians can offer explicit historical interpretations and engage in historical debate; an educator’s corner, where teachers can use lesson plans, primary sources, and worksheets; and a community calendar, where local historical museums, parks, and societies can post event announcements.

But that is not all. The North Carolina History Project hosts a lecture series and a book club, in which leading historians from all historical perspectives, including Wilfred M. McClay and Gordon S. Wood, present their latest research. North Carolinians can also read the History Project’s innovative scholarship in various publications and participate in upcoming historical tours. The North Carolina History Project staff is also available to deliver various lectures to civic, education, and religious groups.

Explanation of the Timeline

Encyclopedia entries and commentaries are identified by their time period in North Carolina history (as well as by their subject matter). Those periods can be summarized this way:

• Pre–1585
North Carolina before contact with Europeans.

• 1585-1663
From the first European and Native American contact to the Charter of Carolina under the Lords Proprietors.

• 1664-1775
From life under the Lords Proprietors, followed by the separation of North and South Carolina, to the start of the American Revolution

1776-1835
From North Carolina’s first constitution as an independent state to the revision of its constitution in 1835.

• 1836-1865
From North Carolina’s life under a modified constitution through the state’s secession and the Civil War.

• 1866-1915
From Reconstruction to the imposition of Jim Crow segregation.

• 1916-1945
North Carolina during the two world wars and the Great Depression.

• 1946-1990
Following World War II, the period of civil rights and a growing economy.

• 1990-present
The blossoming of North Carolina’s economy as it begins to draw out-of-staters.

Editorial Advisory Board & Policy

The following historians and specialists offer their expertise to help make NorthCarolinahistory.org an authoritative source of North Carolina history.

Jeff Broadwater, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History

Barton College

His books include Eisenhower and the Anti-Communist CrusadeAdlai Stevenson and American Politics: The Odyssey of a Cold War Liberal, and George Mason, Forgotten Founder (UNC Press, 2006).  Before teaching at Barton College, Dr. Broadwater was Director of the John C. Stennis Oral History Project at Mississippi State University.

Richard Gamble, Ph.D.

Margaret Ross Alexander Professor of History

Hillsdale College

Professor Gamble recently published The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation (ISI Books, 2003). His essays and reviews have appeared in The Journal of Southern HistoryThe Intercollegiate ReviewChroniclesThe Freeman (now Ideas on Liberty), The Independent Review, and Humanitas, for which he also serves on the editorial board.

Larry Odzak, Ph.D.

Archivist-Historian, State Archives, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and Visiting Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Before working for the State Archive, Dr. Odzak taught at various post-secondary institutions, including the University of North Florida. His publications include “Demetrios Is Now Jimmy”: Greek Immigrants in the Southern United States, 1895-1965 (Monograph Publishers, 2006).

About Our Founding Director

Dr. Troy L. Kickler

is the Founding Director of the North Carolina History Project and Editor of NorthCarolinaHistory.org.

He holds an M.S. in Social Studies Education from North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee. He has taught at the University of Tennessee, Barton College, and North Carolina State University. In 2023 he was appointed to the prestigious American Semiquintennial Committee created by the North Carolina General Assembly to observe the 250th anniversary of the nation’s birth.

Kickler is author of The King’s Trouble Makers: Edenton’s Role in Creating a Nation and State. He is also co-editor, with Dr. Jeff Broadwater, of North Carolina’s Revolutionary Founders. He is also editor of an upcoming research volume Nathaniel Macon: Selected Congressional Speeches and Correspondence.

Some of Kickler’s publications include “Caught in the Crossfire: African American Children and the Ideological Battle for Education in Reconstruction Tennessee,” in Children and Youth During the Civil War Era, James Marten, ed. (New York University Press, 2012,) and “Why The Constitution is Essential,” as part of State Policy Network’s We The People series. He is currently working on a study of Andrew Jackson’s leadership style.

He has been invited to write and has written various forwards and introductions to scholarly works. Such publications include Riot and Resistance in County Norfolk, 1646-1650, The Impact of the English Colonization of Ireland in the Sixteenth Century, and The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide.

He has written articles and reviews for such publications as American Diplomacy, Chronicles, Constituting America, Imaginative Conservative, Independent Review, Journal of Mississippi History, Modern Age, Tennessee Baptist History, Tennessee Historical Quarterly, and The Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians.

Kickler has presented at numerous academic conferences and venues including the American Political Science Association and the First Principles Program of Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In addition, he has presented dozens of lectures to civic groups across North Carolina exploring, respectively, the history of North Carolina and the United States and the North Carolina Constitution and United States Constitution.

His commentaries have appeared in major North Carolina newspaper outlets, and he has been interviewed for several North Carolina talk-radio stations and news programs. He also has blogged for History News Network. Kickler has a monthly column for Carolina Journal.

Directing several educational programs, Kickler was co-creator of the popular A Citizen’s Constitutional Workshop. He also directed the John Locke Foundation’s State of Our Constitution symposia series, a program created to foster state constitutional literacy.

Kickler serves on various boards, including the Scholarly Advisory Board of The Religion in North Carolina Digital Collection, a collaborative project of Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University, and the College Level Advisory Board of Constituting America, an online essay series exploring the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the Founding Era.