North Carolina Office of Archives & History Department of Cultural Resources
Historical Publications Section Records of the Moravians
C. Daniel Crews and
Lisa D. Bailey, Editors
Historical Publications Section
4622 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4622
Phone: (919) 733-7442
Fax: (919) 733-1439

'Records of the Moravians'
Moravian Records

Last Updated 9/21/10


RECORDS OF THE MORAVIANS OF NORTH CAROLINA

The Moravian immigration has always been considered an important element in the settlement of western North Carolina. Along with the Scotch immigrants in the south of the state, the Germans on the Catawba River and in adjacent sections, and the Quakers in neighboring counties, the Moravians brought a wholesome moral, social, and religious influence to bear upon the future destinies of North Carolina.

In another way also the Moravian settlement was of importance. Owing to their world-wide connections in the Unitas Fratrum, and the scholarly methods of their leaders, they brought with them the habit of keeping precise records of all current events. Copies of these were communicated to their Brethren in other parts of the world, and the originals were carefully deposited in their Archives, now in Winston-Salem. In the later colonial years of North Carolina's history the contemporary accounts were sparse and unconnected; there were many breaks and gaps in the story of the state. The Moravian Records are perhaps the only consecutive historical account which North Carolina possesses for those critical years of her development.

The Moravians were acute and watchful annalists. They recorded not only the doings of their own religious body, but made note of the state of the weather, incidents of travel, prevailing fashions, and features of topography. They mentioned the many distinguished men of the state who visited them, and whose descendants were a valuable element in the early twentieth century. These accounts are given in Moravian Diaries, in Travel Diaries, and in the “Memorabilia,” as they are called, which are the accounts of the successive years from 1753 to the 1920s.

Beginning in 1920 and continuing through 1968, first the North Carolina Historical Commission and then the Department of Archives and History published eleven volumes of Records of the Moravians. The first volume was published in 1922. Editors of the series have included Drs. Adelaide L. Fries, Douglas L. Rights, Minnie J. Smith, and Bishop Kenneth G. Hamilton. The first eleven volumes are now out of print.

Editorship of the Moravian Records has required both an understanding of the people involved and the ability to translate the early German in which the records were kept until 1879 into today’s English. The detailed minutes which the Moravian ministers kept on congregational activities reflect the joys, the achievements, the problems, and the disappointments of the several different congregations forming this religious denomination. Present-day researchers will be rewarded with rare insights into the close-knit way of life of a group that is unique in North Carolina history.

The intention of volume 12 is to help fill the gap that Adelaide Fries, translator and editor of the first seven volumes, discerned in 1936. That gap, from about 1856 through 1876, spans some of the most momentous years in the history of North Carolina and the nation—the Civil War and Reconstruction. Volume 12, edited by C. Daniel Crews and Lisa D. Bailey, covers the years 1856-1866 and is now available. Volume 13 covers the years 1867-1876 and is also now available.

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