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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Document Classification Guidelines


Document Classification Guidelines

The documents in "The Colonial and State Records" are all categorized using the terminology of the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus. Unless otherwise indicated, the definitions below come from the Getty thesaurus. In cases where the thesaurus does not provide a complete definition or any definition for a term, a definition from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) or one specifically for this project (CSR) is provided instead or as a supplement to the thesaurus definition.


  • Accounts

    Documents in which monies or goods received and paid or given out are recorded in order to permit periodic totaling.

  • Advertisements

    Public notices or paid announcements, especially those in print.

  • Affidavits

    Sworn statements in writing; especially made upon oath before an authorized magistrate or officer.

  • Agreements

    Writing made to evidence the terms and conditions, or the fact, of an accord or arrangement.

  • Annotations

    Notes added as comment or explanation.

  • Articles

    Literary compositions prepared for publication as an independent portion of a magazine, newspaper, encyclopedia, or other work.

  • Bills (legislative records)

    Drafts of proposed laws introduced in a legislative body.

  • Bill of Sale

    Formal instruments attesting to the transfer of ownership of personal property.

  • Biographies

    Written accounts of the lives of individuals.

  • Bonds (legal records)

    Use for agreements pledging liability for financial or personal loss caused to another party.

    A deed, by which A (known as the obligor) binds himself, his heirs, executors, or assigns to pay a certain sum of money to B (known as the obligee), or his heirs, etc. (OED)

  • Business Letters

    Correspondence pertaining to a person's official or professional duties as a whole. (CSR)

  • Census Records

    Official, usually periodic, lists of persons or property with varying degrees of descriptive detail.

  • Certificates

    Documents giving authoritative recognition of a fact, qualification, or promise.

  • Charters

    Documents, usually sealed, granting specific rights, setting forth aims and principles of a newly established entity, and often embodying formal agreements and authorizing special privileges or exemptions.

  • Circular Letters

    Letters intended for circulation, either widely or throughout a particular group.

    A letter directed to several persons, who have the same interest in some common affair. (OED)

  • Civil Court Records

    Records of the legal proceedings pertaining to the private relations between members of a community. (CSR)

  • Clippings

    Illustrations, pages, articles, or columns of text removed from books, newspapers, journals, or other printed sources.

  • Commercial Correspondence

    Correspondence dealing with the buying, selling, trading, and/or exchange of merchandise. (CSR)

  • Commissions (permissions)

    Includes authorizations granting the power to perform a task or duty and documents appointing or hiring someone to perform a task.

  • Constitutions

    Documents embodying the fundamental organic law of government of a nation, state, society, or other organized body; laying down fundamental rules and principles for the conduct of affairs.

  • Correspondence [General]

    Any forms of addressed and written communication sent and received, including letters, postcards, memorandums, notes, telegrams, or cables.

    Used for written addresses, talks, and other forms of written communication, not including business letters, commercial correspondence, memorandums, or personal correspondence. (CSR)

  • Criminal Court Records

    Records of legal proceedings pertaining to acts punishable by law, as being forbidden by statute or injurious to the public welfare. (CSR)

  • Declarations

    Documents conveying formal statements intended to create, preserve, assert, or testify to a right.

    A proclamation or public statement as embodied in a document, instrument, or public act. (OED)

  • Decrees

    Includes judicial decisions issued in an equity or probate court and doctrinal or disciplinary religious orders applying or interpreting articles of canon law.

    An ordinance or edict set forth by the civil or other authority; an authoritative decision having the force of law. (OED)

  • Deeds

    Documents, usually executed under seal, containing a conveyance, especially of real estate.

  • Depositions

    Testimonies of witnesses, under oath or affirmation, before a person empowered to administer oaths.

    The giving of testimony upon oath in a court of law, or the testimony so given; spec. a statement in answer to interrogatories, constituting evidence, taken down in writing to be read in court as a substitute for the production of the witness. (OED)

  • Diaries

    Refers to books containing the daily, personal accounts of the writer's own experiences, attitudes, and observations. Use "journals (accounts)" when referring to an individual's or an organization's account of occurrences or transactions.

  • Election Returns

    Certified reports by election officers on the outcome vote in an election.

  • Essays

    Short literary compositions on single subjects, often presenting the personal view of the author.

  • Estimates

    Rough or approximate calculations of cost or value, such as statements of price for which certain work will be done by one who is willing to undertake it.

  • Histories

    Use to designate chronological records of events, as of the life or development of a people, country, or institution.

  • Hymns

    Songs of praise in honor of gods, countries, famous people, or other objects of high esteem, especially settings of metrical strophic nonbiblical texts intended to be sung at religious services.

  • Indictments

    Formal written accusations originating with a prosecutor and issued by a grand jury against a party charged with a crime.

  • Instructions

    Information in the form of outlines of procedures, as directions or commands.

  • Invoices

    Documents showing items supplied, together with the prices charged for each; also, itemized bills or accounts.

  • Journals (accounts)

    Use for books containing accounts of an individual's or organization's occurrences or transactions, including records of financial transactions.

  • Land Grants

    Official documents from a government to an individual conveying fee simple title to public lands.

  • Lectures

    Documents containing the text of expositions of a given subject delivered before an audience or class, especially for the purposes of instruction.

  • Legislative Acts

    Laws or statutes passed by a legislature.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    A letter recommending a person; in later use, a letter of introduction. (OED)

  • Letters Testamentary

    Written communications from a court, usually a probate court, or an officer informing an executor of his appointment and authority to execute the will of the testator.

  • Licenses

    Documents evidencing a right or permission, granted to an individual or organization in accordance with law by a competent authority, to engage in some transaction, business, or occupation, or to do some act.

  • Lists (document genres)

    A catalogue or roll consisting of a row or series of names, figures, words, or the like. (OED)

  • Local Histories

    Histories that are distinctly localized in subject matter or source materials, focusing on specific neighborhoods, communities, counties, or other specific subdivisions of larger geopolitical bodies.

  • Loyalty Oaths

    Oaths, usually mandatory, affirming the loyalty of the takers, such as to a government, ruler, constitution, or set of principles.

  • Manifestoes

    Formal written declarations, promulgated by a sovereign or by the executive authority of a state or nation, such as to proclaim its reasons and motives for declaring a war, or other international action; also public declarations or proclamations of political, social, artistic, or other principles.

  • Manuscript Maps

    Originals of compiled maps, drawn but not printed; loosely, any map drawn by hand.

  • Maps [General]

    Refers to graphic or photogrammetric representations of the Earth's surface or a part of it, including physical features and political boundaries, where each point corresponds to a geographical or celestial position according to a definite scale or projection.

  • Memoirs

    Narratives or histories autobiographical in nature or stressing the author's personal experience of the events.

  • Memorandums

    Documents recording information used for internal communication.

    A message in the form of a simple note, without the formulas and signature characteristic of a letter, and conventionally bearing the heading 'Memorandum' and the sender's name. (OED)

  • Military Commissions

    Warrants conferring authority to raise and command a body of troops; certificates conferring military or naval rank and authority on officers of certain rank.

  • Military Passes

    Documents giving permission to one or more military persons to travel unimpeded, although usually with some restrictions, in a territory occupied by a military force; issued to a person or persons living in, or visiting in, the occupied area, by the commander of the military force in control thereof.

  • Minutes

    Records of what was said and done at meetings or conferences.

  • Muster Rolls

    Lists of troops actually present, made on the day of muster or review of troops in order to take account of their condition; used as the paymaster's voucher for the pay he issued.

  • Narratives (document genres)

    An account of a series of events, facts, etc., given in order and with the establishing of connections between them; a narration, a story, an account. (OED)

  • Oaths

    Any forms of attestation by which persons signify that they are bound in conscience to perform an act faithfully and truthfully; also affirmations of the truth of a statement given before testifying, as in a court of law.

  • Obituaries

    Published notices of a death, usually with a brief biography of the deceased.

  • Orderly Books

    Books kept at the headquarters of a military unit, such as a regiment or company, in which orders received from higher authorities are recorded.

  • Orders (military records)

    Documents containing directives or commands issued by a military superior to a subordinate.

  • Ordinances

    Statutes or regulations, especially as enacted by local government.

  • Pamphlets

    Use for complete, nonperiodical printed works generally of fewer than 80 pages, often with a paper cover, sometimes short treatises on arguments or topics of current interest.

  • Pardons

    Official documents declaring the exemption of a convicted person from the penalties of an offense or crime by the power of the executor of laws.

  • Payrolls

    Lists, sometimes recorded in book form, of those entitled to receive compensation at a given time and of the amounts due to each.

  • Permits

    Documents which grant a person the right to do something not forbidden by law but not allowable without such authority.

  • Personal Correspondence

    Correspondence of, relating to, concerning, or affecting a person as a private individual (rather than as a member of a group or the public, or in a public or professional capacity). (CSR)

  • Petitions

    Includes any written requests and lists of signatures submitted to an authority to appeal for the performance of specific action.

  • Poems

    Written or oral compositions characterized by condensed language chosen for sound and suggestive power as well as meaning, and by the use of such literary techniques as structured meter, natural cadences, rhyme, or metaphor.

  • Powers of Attorney

    Legal instruments authorizing one to act as the attorney or agent of the grantor, either generally for the management of a specified enterprise or, specifically, for the accomplishment of a particular transaction.

  • Prefaces

    Texts preceding the main work and containing comments about such matters as the reason for or circumstances of the author's writing the work, or comments by another about the author or the work.

  • Proclamations

    Documents that are publicly announced or officially declared; especially a public notice by an official of some order, intended action, or state of facts.

  • Proposals

    Includes offers by one person or organization to another of terms and conditions with reference to some work or undertaking and plans or schemes put forward for consideration, discussion, or adoption.

  • Protests

    Declarations made by the master of a vessel before a government official, indicating that any damage incured during a voyage was due to sailing conditions rather than neglect or misconduct.

  • Receipts (financial records)

    Written acknowledgment of the receiving or taking of goods or money delivered or paid.

  • Reports

    Documents containing presentations of facts or the record of some proceeding, investigation, or event.

  • Requisitions

    Written demands that something be furnished; also demands or applications made, usually with authority, as a demand made by military authorities upon civilians for supplies.

  • Resolutions

    Formal expressions of the opinion formed by some superior authority on matters referred to its decision and forwarded to inferior authorities for their instruction and government.

  • Returns (military reports)

    Use for official reports or statements submitted by military officers to their superiors, especially those accounting for personnel, property, or supplies.

  • Rosters

    Use generally for any list of names of persons enrolled or enlisted for a particular purpose, as a list of names of military personnel enrolled for active duty.

  • Speeches

    Documents containing the text of any public address or talk.

  • Subpoenas

    Commands to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony upon a certain matter.

  • Tax Records

    Records pertaining to compulsory contributions to the support of government, levied on persons, property, income, commodities, transactions, etc. (CSR)

  • Testimonies

    Solemn declarations, usually made orally by a witness under oath in response to interrogation by a lawyer or authorized public official, reduced to writing.

  • Treaties

    Agreements or contracts made between two or more states, formally signed by duly authorized representatives, and usually ratified by the lawmaking authority of the states, as treaties of peace or alliance, or commercial treaties.

  • Warrants

    Documents giving authority to do something; especially used in civil and criminal law for the arrest of persons or for their production in court as witnesses.

  • Weather Diaries

    Daily records of the condition of the atmosphere (at a given place and time) with respect to heat or cold, quantity of sunshine, presence or absence of rain, hail, snow, thunder, fog, etc., violence or gentleness of the winds. (CSR)

  • Wills

    Legal instruments in which a person declares the disposition of his/her property, to take effect after his/her death, and which is revocable during the lifetime of that person.

  • Writs

    Orders in writing, issued under seal (in the name of the sovereign or a court or judicial officer) from the proper authority, commanding the person to whom it is directed to perform or refrain from performing an act specified therein.


How to Cite Colonial and State Records Materials

This guide is designed to assist researchers with the documentation of digital resources from the digital edition of The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. The following are examples of styles recommended by the Modern Language Association and the Chicago Manual of Style:

  1. An Example using MLA style:

    Vassall, John. Letter to John Colleton. [Nansemond, Virginia], 6 October 1667. The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Ed. William L. Saunders. Vol. 1. Raleigh, N.C.: P. M. Hale, Printer to the State, 1886. 159-160. Documenting the American South. 2007. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 27 November 2007 <http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0061>.

  2. An Example using Chicago style:

    Vassall, John. Letter to John Colleton. [Nansemond, Virginia], 6 October 1667. William Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, vol. 1 (Raleigh, N.C.: P. M. Hale, Printer to the State, 1886), pp. 159-160. Documenting the American South. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007. http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0061.

For instructions on citing other Documenting the American South materials, please refer to the general citation guide.


Frequently Asked Questions


Contact Us

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Contact: wilsonlibrary@unc.edu