New Hanover County Creates Online 1898 History Resource

Posted August 17, 2020 at 9:25 am     Category: NewsMuseum

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. – In a joint collaboration, New Hanover County’s Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, Public Library and Information Technology Department have worked together to create a map and timeline documenting the events of 1898 in Wilmington. This comprehensive resource evolved out of a project to digitize three late 19th century and early 20th century city directories. These directories were transcribed, mapped and made searchable to provide a way to view the city’s population at the time.

The new map and timeline allow the public to explore the context and history of the 1898 massacre and coup. The map plots the events onto the city’s streets and shows important landmarks of the time. The timeline starts with Emancipation and ends when the first Black city council member since the coup was appointed in 1972. It was written and created by Dr. Jan Davidson, historian at Cape Fear Museum. The new online tool may be accessed here: This digital asset was designed as part of the Museum’s continuing efforts to provide inclusive information that address African American experiences in the Lower Cape Fear.

“This resource is an accessible and engaging way to explore the history of Wilmington’s white supremacist massacre and coup d’etat. We’re happy to provide it to people at this time, when the subject matter is so relevant, and people cannot visit the Museum in person or see our exhibition on the topic,” explains Dr. Davidson. She further stated, “We can all learn important lessons from the history of 1898 about the role of democracy in our society, and about the deep, longstanding, and violent effects that racism can have on a community.”

In addition to the map and timeline, the New Hanover County Public Library has digitized three Wilmington City Directories that provide information about the people and businesses in the city in 1897, 1900 and 1902: New Hanover County’s IT Department also created a set of demographic maps that show where the African American population of Wilmington was concentrated in the late 1890s and early 1900s:

These tools are all resources to help people better understand Black history and an important moment in the region and state’s history.

About Cape Fear Museum
Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is located at 814 Market Street in Wilmington, North Carolina. The museum is temporarily closed until further notice due to COVID-19. Upon reopening, museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Standard admission prices are $8 for adults; $7 for seniors, students and military with valid ID; $5 for children 6-17; and free for children 5 and under and for museum members. New Hanover County residents’ free day is the first Sunday of each month. More information at 910-798-4370 or

News Release Contact: Dr. Jan Davidson,, 910-798-4354

814 Market Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-4370 • Fax 910-798-4382
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