Copyright Notice

This page is from The Way We Lived in North Carolina, copyright 2003 by the University of North Carolina Press. Classroom use of the materials on this web site is permissible, as is classroom presentation of this Web site. Linking from another web site is permissible. Materials including maps, text, and photographs, may be downloaded, printed, and/or copied for classroom or other educational uses provided that they include attribution to Joe A. Mobley, the University of North Carolina Press, and the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Any other use including commerical use of these materials are not allowed without the express permission of the rightsholders. For other uses not expressly allowed under the guidelines above, please contact the publishers.

Printer-friendly page

The Quest for Progress: North Carolina 1870-1920

By Elizabeth A. Fenn, Peter H. Wood, Harry L. Watson, Thomas H. Clayton, Sydney Nathans, Thomas C. Parramore, and Jean B. Anderson; Maps by Mark Anderson Moore. Edited by Joe A. Mobley. From The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 2003. Published by the North Carolina Office of Research and History in association with the University of North Carolina Press. Republished in NCpedia by permission.

See also: The Way We Lived in North Carolina: IntroductionPart I: Natives and Newcomers, North Carolina before 1770; Part II: An Independent People, North Carolina, 1770-1820Part III: Close to the Land, North Carolina, 1820-1870Part IV: The Quest for Progress, North Carolina 1870-1920Part V: Express Lanes and Country Roads, North Carolina 1920-2001

Photograph of Goldsboro, N.C. ca 1870, showing the railroad station and business district on Main Street. Item PhC68_1_34 from Carolina Power and Light (CP&L) Photograph Collection (Ph.C.68), Courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina.Part IV: North Carolina 1870-1920

Few would have guessed in 1870 that within fifty years, North Carolina would be the most industrialized state in the South. The pages contained in this collection recount that half-century of turbulent change and growth.

An accelerating pace of life was evident everywhere in North Carolina at the turn of the century, from mill villages to mushrooming towns. Skyscrapers and suburbs, country estates and mountain resorts testified to the state's new wealth. But new conflicts marked the era as well. Farmers plagued by debt fought back in a Populist movement that carried its cause to the nation. Working men and women fought to keep their independence on the factory floor. Black North Carolinians, despite violence and disenfranchisement, built the churches, colleges, and businesses that prepared the next generation to reclaim its rights. By 1920, North Carolina was a state transformed.


The Quest for Progress, Transformation of North Carolina 1870-1920: Overview
The Rural World
Industry Comes of Age
The Urban Magnet
From Jubilee to Jim Crow: African American History
The New Leisure
The Price of Progress

Keep reading  >> Transformation of North Carolina 1870-1920 Keep reading


Fenn, Elizabeth Anne, and Joe A. Mobley. 2003. The way we lived in North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC [u.a.]: Published in association with the Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, by the University of North Carolina Press.

Image Credit:

PhC68_1_34, From Carolina Power and Light (CP&L) Photograph Collection (Ph.C.68), Courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina.