North Carolina history and geography available online via “North Carolina Gazetteer”

Press release

RALEIGH, N.C. — NCPedia and the N.C. Government and Heritage Library, in cooperation with the University of North Carolina Press, now make the entirety of “The North Carolina Gazetteer” available online through NCPedia at,

The free online encyclopedia features thousands of articles and resources about North Carolina culture and history. It is hosted by NC LIVE, and managed by the State Library of North Carolina’s Government and Heritage Library within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

“The North Carolina Gazetteer” is a dictionary of North Carolina’s geographical place names documenting their location, history and origins.

First published by the UNC Press in 1968, it was compiled by noted North Carolina historian William S. Powell, Professor Emeritus of history at UNC-Chapel Hill. A revised 2010 edition co-edited with Michael Hill of the N.C. Office of Archives and History updated and expanded the volume. It contains information on more than 20,000 places in North Carolina.

“The key is that, whereas other sources list just the name, Powell’s book included the stories and derivations behind the names,” says Hill. “No other state has anything like it. I was pleased to work with Professor Powell and UNC Press on the revised edition.” Hill is lead research historian in the Office of Archives and History at the N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources. “‘The North Carolina Gazetteer’ has had a prominent place on the bookshelf of North Carolinians for more than a generation,” says UNC Press Editorial Director Mark Simpson-Vos. “Journalists, librarians, and teachers have told me they cannot do their work without its handy reference to our state’s places.” Nearly 21,000 place names are in the expanded “Gazetteer.”

“Together, Mike Hill and Bill Powell were able to update this resource for the 21st century, and we are thrilled that it is now so easily accessible for all readers through the NCPedia website,” added Simpson-Vos. “I know plenty of folks are going to spend hours like I have losing myself in the important, surprising, and sometimes quirky history of these places and their names.” The local color in the text gives a unique richness to each place.

“‘The North Carolina Gazetteer’ is a tremendous resource for anyone who lives in, or has ever traveled through, North Carolina,” says State Librarian Cal Shepard. “Where else would you go to find out Hanging Dog Creek was named after a Cherokee legend, or that Wolf Pit Township was named for the way colonists trapped wolves? We are excited to make it available through the NCpedia site.” Since its first printing the “Gazetteer” has been an essential reference for anyone with a serious interest in the Tar Heel state.

The “Gazetteer” is the third work to be made available online through NCpedia’s partnership with UNC Press. The agreement to make the content from both the “Encyclopedia of North Carolina” and the six volumes of the “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography” available online was announced Feb. 9, 2012. All articles from the “Encyclopedia of North Carolina” were added by the end of 2012. NCpedia is on schedule to complete the process of integrating articles from the “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography” this year. The NCpedia expansion to include resources from the University of North Carolina Press has been funded through a Library Services and Technology Act grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of Archives and Records, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit .


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