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R. D. W. Connor (Robert Digges Wimberly), 1878-1950
A Manual of North Carolina Issued by the North Carolina Historical Commission for the Use of the Members of the General Assembly Session 1913
Raleigh: E. M. Uzzell & Co., State Printer, 1913.


Robert Digges Wimberly Connor (26 Sept. 1878-25 Feb. 1950), an archivist and historian, was born in Wilson, North Carolina, the son of Judge Henry Groves Connor. After working briefly in the public schools, he was appointed secretary to the newly established North Carolina Historical Commission in 1903, which he subsequently developed into one of the nation's leading public history agencies. In 1943, the commission became the Department of Archives and History. In 1921, Connor became Kenan Professor of History at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, where he had served as archivist of his student literary society. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him the first archivist of the United States in 1934. Connor and his new staff created what is now the National Archives and Records Administration from the ground up. Following Roosevelt's desire to form his own library, Connor also set in place the nation's current presidential library system. A prolific writer of North Carolina history as well as a leader in archival work, Connor returned to the UNC classroom in 1941. He retired in 1949, and died the following year.

The North Carolina Manual, begun in 1874, was intended to provide members of the North Carolina General Assembly with "information about the State which otherwise would require much investigation in many different sources." (p. 3) The Manual was published sporadically until 1917 when it assumed a regular biennial publication schedule. The North Carolina legislature published the early volumes, followed by the North Carolina Historical Commission, which oversaw publication from 1909-1939. The office of the Secretary of State assumed responsibility for the book in 1941 and continues to publish the North Carolina Manual today.

The 1913 edition was a hefty volume, totaling over one thousand pages. It lists officers of state government, including elected officials, members of commissions, justices and judges (along with biographical information, in most cases); rules, committees, and officers of the state house and senate; overviews of various state expenditures; the state constitution; election results by county; and descriptions of the activities and responsibilities of state government agencies, such as the State Board of Health and the State Geological and Economic Survey. It briefly describes each state-supported institution of higher learning (from the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School to the University of North Carolina) and state charitable institutions, (e.g., Central Hospital for the Insane, the Oxford Orphan Asylum, and the Soldier's Home). Of particular interest are the registers, along with dates of service, of colonial officials, including chief executives, councilors, attorneys-general, members of the House of Commons, Provincial Councils, Councils of Safety, and chief justices, among others; state officials, including governors, commissioners of agriculture, judges of the superior court, members of the General Assembly, auditors, etc.; and those North Carolinians who served the nation in Federal offices.

Works Consulted: Powell, William S., ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979.

Kevin Cherry

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