North Carolina’s Endangered Artifacts

Quick Links To Endangered Artifacts Descriptions
Caswell Family Bible
Orange Guard Civil War Flag
Philomathesian Literary Society Banner

North Carolina’s Endangered Artifacts is a statewide preservation awareness and fundraising campaign sponsored by the North Carolina Preservation Consortium that promotes the survival of tangible heritage in our state’s archives, historic sites, libraries, museums, and other collection institutions.

From North Carolina’s mountains, through the piedmont, to the coast, artifacts attract students, scholars, and tourists. Native North Carolinians and newcomers enjoy a quality of life enriched by artifacts of history and culture. Artifacts are used for education by school teachers, college and university professors, and people engaged in life-long learning.

These artifacts include paintings, sculpture, ceramics, furniture, textiles, rare books, manuscripts, documents, maps, photographs, films, sound recordings, natural history specimens, monuments, and historic structures. Connecting with an artifact can be a transformative experience so significant artifacts are placed in the stewardship of cultural institutions. We trust that artifacts there will endure.

Unfortunately, many artifacts in our state’s cultural institutions are in danger. All artifacts decay over time due to the internal vice of their composition. Temperature, humidity, light, and pollution are harmful. Hurricanes, fires, and floods are also a risk. Even long term exhibition and handling can damage artifacts.

Conservation can save damaged and decaying artifacts for future generations. Professional conservators apply art and science to their craft. However, it can be costly. North Carolina collection institutions need your help. Many do not have the funds to pay for conservation. Without intervention these artifacts will perish.


The first step to saving these artifacts is submitting a nomination form. Archives, historic sites, libraries, museums and other institutions with cultural, historical, educational, or research collections in North Carolina are eligible to nominate one artifact in need of professional conservation treatment.  The nominator must be an official representative of the institution owning the artifact.  If you are not affiliated with the institution you can participate in the nomination process with a letter of support.  A strong case for conservation should include the context for the artifact’s significance and commentary of its value to the community the institution serves.

The NCPC Board of Directors will review nominations and select artifacts for this program.  A committee of preservation professionals will review all nominations and present recommendations to the NCPC Board of Directors for approval.


Once on the list, a call for donations to fund artifact conservation will be launched. Selected artifacts will be featured on the North Carolina Preservation Consortium website and social media sites.

NCPC will issue a press release to news agencies to kick off the public awareness and fundraising campaign.

Articles about the artifacts will be published in the NCPC newsletter NCPreserves.

You can help spread the word about North Carolina’s Most Endangered Artifacts. Post an artifact profile on your social media and web sites. Talk to people about this campaign. Become a preservation ambassador!


We encourage you to contribute to the conservation of North Carolina’s Endangered Artifacts.  Your donation goes directly to the institution that holds the artifact.

Donations may be given in honor or memory of someone special to you.

Ask your employer about matching contributions.

Give today to connect your legacy with the preservation of cultural treasures!

North Carolina’s Endangered Artifacts

Caswell Family Bible
North Carolina Museum of History

Caswell BibleThis family bible once belonged to North Carolina Governor Richard Caswell and contains much of the Caswell family history. The title on the preface page reads, The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testament: newly translated out of the original toungues and with the former translations diligently compared and revised by His Majesty’s special command appointed to be read in churches. This bible was published in Oxford, England, in 1740, John Basrett, printer to the University MDCCXL. Richard Caswell (August 3, 1729 – November 10, 1789) was the first and fifth governor of the State of North Carolina, serving from 1776 to 1780 and from 1784 to 1787. His tenure was during and immediately after the American Revolution. Artifacts from the Colonial and Revolutionary periods are rare, this bible is more so because it is associated with an eminent North Carolinian. This artifact is important to many state public history agencies. The North Carolina Museum of History seeks to preserve this bible because it is a tangible artifact from the State’s first governor and should be placed it the exhibition gallery of The Story of North Carolina. It is valuable to the North Carolina State Archives for the genealogical information contained in the Caswell family section and would like to produce high quality digitization images of those pages. North Carolina Historic Sites would like to borrow the bible for short term exhibition at the Caswell Memorial Site in Kinston, which interprets the life of Richard Caswell.

This artifact cannot be placed on exhibit, scanned for digitization, or used for research without conservation. The textblocks are separated into multiple sections with numerous damaged leaves. The board of the binding is also severely damaged. The proposed treatment will straighten the pages, deacidify the paper, rebind the textblocks, and create a custom housing. The cost for conservation is $14,305.

If you would like to help pay for this artifact conservation, please make checks payable to the North Carolina Museum of History, write “Caswell Bible Conservation” in the memo line, and mail to:

Heyward H. McKinney, Chief Operations Officer
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

You may also Donate Online. Select Artifact Conservation from the online donation menu and write “Caswell Bible” in the “Additional Instructions” box.

If you have questions about donations to conserve this artifact please contact:
Heyward H. McKinney
Phone (919) 807-7871

Orange Guard Civil War Flag
Orange County Historical Museum

OCHM FlagThis Orange Guard Civil War Flag was constructed when the Orange Guard reorganized in 1870’s. The roughly 6’ by 4’ flag is constructed of a solid blue silk ground fabric. The fabric was painted with a central medallion depicting two women in an outdoor ocean coast setting near a rock structure with two sailing ships in the background. One is a ghost of the ship on the reverse of flag. The woman on the left represents Liberty .She is seated in front of the rocks holding a document titled “The Constitution” in her right hand and a long staff with a red and blue Liberty cap on top in her left hand. The woman on the right represents Plenty. She leans on a huge cornucopia and holds an ear of corn in her right hand. Both women are dressed in classical robes and are barefoot. Above the medallion is a painted red banner with “ORANGE GUARDS” written in gold lettering. Below this banner is smaller one that declares “SEMPER PARATUS.” A third banner documents the establishment and reorganization of the Guard, “ORG. OCT. 1st, 1855 RE-ORG. AUG.1st. 1877.” This flag is bordered with 2” gold silk fringe on three sides. The hoist end has been folded back to fit the flag into the frame.

The Orange Guard was a militia group from Orange County North Carolina that went on to become Company G, 27th Regiment, North Carolina Troops. Several times during the Civil War the North Carolina Regiments joined with General Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Although they suffered a large loss of men at Sharpsburg they fought on with Lee during the Gettysburg Campaign. The Orange Guard Flag is the only known Civil War Era flag from Orange County to still exist. The Flag helps tell the story of the Orange Guard, who were not only the young and old left behind to guard the region, but also the men who served in the 27th regiment, whom would then lose their lives later in the war. The Civil War plays a significant role in Orange County history. The town of Hillsborough was the site of the Hillsborough Military Academy and the Dickson House where Generals Johnston and Hampton stayed before their surrender at Bennett Place, the largest surrender of southern troops during the Civil War. Very few artifacts that tell these stories remain in the public trust and the Orange Guard Flag is the most prominent Civil War artifact in the Orange County Historical Museum.

According to the Hillsborough Historical Society’s records the flag was donated by Mrs. EM Lockheart in 1959. It was placed in its current frame by staff at the North Carolina Department of Archives and History. According to Mrs. Lockheart, the flag was passed down to her husband by his uncle, who was a member of the Orange Guard.

This artifact needs conservation to save the silk fibers that have deteriorated from light exposure and physical stress. Silk fiber fragments are most pronounced on the blue backing fabric. The fly end is the also damaged from hanging and movement. The bottom left corner has a large area of loss and there are two missing areas in the fringe. The cost for conservation is $20,157.

If you would like to help pay for this artifact conservation, please make checks payable to the Orange County Historical Museum, write “Flag Conservation” in the memo line, and mail to.

Brandie Fields, Executive Director
Orange County Historical Museum
201 North Churton Street
Hillsborough, NC 27278

If you have questions about donations to conserve this artifact please contact:
Brandie Fields
Phone 919-732-2201

Philomathesian Literary Society Banner
Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University

ZSR WFU Philomathesian BannerThe Philomathesian Literary Society Banner (circa 1835 or 1850s) is painted silk with fringe on three sides, mounted on a display rod. The banner includes emblems as well as the motto of the Society, Esse quam videri malo (to be rather than to seem). The banner was presented to Wake Forest University by Sarah Wait, wife of the university’s first president, Samuel Wait, at a public celebration on July 4, 1835. This banner is one of the earliest artifacts representing the history of Wake Forest University. Its preservation provides many opportunities for bringing together generations of alumni at the present Winston-Salem campus as well as the Birthplace Museum in the town of Wake Forest in Wake County.

The Philomathesian Society was one of two literary groups that began at Wake Forest College in 1835 (the Euzelians being the other). Both were discontinued in 1959. For much of the 1800s, these societies challenged young farmers and ministerial students to study and debate historical, political, and philosophical questions of the day. In addition to intellectual stimulation, the societies gave the members a sense of fellowship and belonging. With formal education at Wake Forest College still in its infancy, the societies emerged to meet “a thirst for intellectualism unquenched in the classroom,” wrote Timothy Joseph Williams (2003) in his history honors thesis on the literary societies . With no other student organizations at the time, the societies also provided a sense of camaraderie. For a century, the societies guided students’ intellectual, moral, and social development, and heavily influenced campus life, from governing student behavior to selecting Commencement speakers. The societies met weekly in separate but equally ornate halls that had expensive carpets and draperies and portraits of distinguished alumni members covering the walls. Each society stocked its bookshelves with periodicals and history and reference books. The society libraries merged to form the College library in the 1880s.

This Philomathesian Literary Society Banner needs conservation to save the painting which has separated from the silk foundation. The cost for conservation is $1,500.

If you would like to help pay for this artifact conservation, please make checks payable to the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, write “Philomathesian Banner Conservation” in the memo line, and mail to:

Susan Sharpless Smith, Associate Dean
Z. Smith Reynolds Library PO Box 7777
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC 27109

If you have questions about donations to conserve this artifact please contact:
Susan Sharpless Smith
Phone 336-758-5828


Most Endangered Artifacts Success Stories

These Endangered Artifacts are endangered no more. The funding has been secured and the projects are either underway or completed. Congratulations!

Zebulon Vance Monument
City of Asheville, North Carolina