he North Carolina Office of Archives and History and the University of North Carolina Press have collaborated to issue a revised and updated single-volume edition of The Way We Lived in North Carolina, which originally appeared in 1983 in five separate volumes. Edited by Joe A. Mobley, retired administrator of the Historical Publications Section, the new edition includes a set of twenty-eight full-page maps produced by Archives and History researcher Mark A. Moore.
The first edition rode the crest of enthusiasm for social history, appearing in an era when professors, graduate students, and public historians in increasing numbers were looking at the past from the perspective of the common man and woman. The concept for the series was novel but simple. Weaving research and interpretation around dozens of historic sites, the authors created a social history of the Tar Heel State from precolonial times to the present.
Underwritten in part by a grant form the National Endowment for the Humanities, the publication in 1983 of The Way We Lived in North Carolina was the culmination of a six-year project. Larry Misenheimer, then assistant administrator of the Historic Sites Section and William S. Price Jr., director of Archives and History, served as principal consultants. They persuaded Sydney Nathans, a history professor at Duke University but not to that point a specialist in the Tar Heel State, to serve as general editor. That "outsider" perspective in the end proved valuable and made the series especially useful to the reader with no preconceptions about the state's past.
The first edition met a ready audience. Historian Guion Griffis Johnson, who in the 1930s had pioneered the study of social history in her Ante-Bellum North Carolina, hailed the work and credited the authors for their ability to encapsulate the central themes of state history and identify forces at work. The American Historical Association in 1984 recognized the initiative with the James Harvey Robinson Prize.
The organizational arrangement of the first edition is preserved, with five discrete parts prepared by historians Elizabeth A. Fenn and Peter H. Wood, Harry L. Watson, Thomas H. Clayton, Sydney Nathans, and Thomas C. Parramore. Editor Mobley extended the original story down to the present and incorporated marginal sidebars prepared by Jean B. Anderson for the original volumes into the main text. Hundreds of newly selected photographs were chosen by the editor.
Mark A. Moore, responsible for creating the maps for the new edition, has also designed this companion Website, which is intended to complement the book and to extend its audience. The online version features the full set of specially designed maps, approximately twenty percent of the text of the volume, and over 100 photographs from the book. Students and readers studying state history, or anticipating a visit to one of the State Historic Sites, should find the Website an inviting avenue to learn more about North Carolina's past. Newcomers to the state or seasonal tourists likewise can prepare for field trips from the comfort of their homes or offices.
Jeffrey J. Crow, deputy secretary of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, notes that the new edition appears in the Office's centennial year. Founded in 1903 as the North Carolina Historical Commission, Archives and History, in the words of longtime director Christopher Crittenden, was an advocate of "history for all the people." The Way We Lived in North Carolina, in Crow's estimation, "embodies what Archives and History has done for a century so well."