About The Historical Marker Program

 About the Program 

In 1935 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program (Public Laws, Chapter 197). From that time forward, the program has been administered as a cooperative venture among state agencies. It is presently the joint responsibility of the Historical Research Office, Division of Historical Resources, Department of Cultural Resources, and the Traffic Engineering Branch, Division of Highways, Department of Transportation. The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program is one of the oldest such programs in continuous operation in the United States.
Prior to 1935 the North Carolina Historical Commission, which had been established in 1903, and private organizations (such as the Daughters of the American Revolution) sponsored a small number of historical markers and plaques. The state program, modeled after one begun in Virginia in 1926, was an effort to standardize the practice of marking sites of statewide historical significance. The silver and black markers have become a familiar part of the state's landscape since the first one was put in place in Granville County on January 10, 1936. Over 1,500 state highway historical markers have been erected. At least one stands in every county.
For young people, the markers may spark a curiosity that leads to further study of and appreciation for the historical development of the region. For visitors the signs may be their only exposure to the history of the Tar Heel State. For residents the presence of a state marker in their community can be a source of pride, a signal that an event of historical significance took place close to home. The Department of Cultural Resources and the Department of Transportation remain committed to the program as it moves toward its centennial.

Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee

Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee
Established by the 1935 enabling legislation was the Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee, the group responsible for oversight of the program. The committee is composed of ten faculty members from four-year colleges and universities who are experts in one or more aspects of the state's history. Over the years many of this century's leading scholars of North Carolina history have served on the committee.
Members are appointed by the secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources and serve five-year terms. The committee generally meets twice a year, in the spring and fall. Their specific charge is to advise the secretary on the historical authenticity, relative merit, and appropriateness of each subject brought to their attention; to approve or disapprove each proposal; to fix the wording of the inscriptions; and to establish criteria for carrying out the program.

North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee 2021

Dr. Judkin Browning    
Department of History    
Appalachian State University    
Boone, NC 28608-2072     
browningjj@appstate.edu        
Term expires: 2021    

Dr. Alvis Dunn
Department of History
University of North Carolina Asheville
CPO 2830
One University Heights 
Asheville, NC 28804
adunn1@unca.edu
Term expires: 2025

Dr. Robert Hunt Ferguson     
McKee 225
Department of History
Western Carolina University    
Cullowhee, NC 28723
rhferguson@email.wcu.edu
Term expires: 2023

Dr. Joey A. Fink
High Point University
One University Parkway
David Hayworth Hall, History Department
High Point, NC 27268
jfink@highpoint.edu 
Term expires: 2024    

Dr. Watson Jennison
University of North Carolina Greensboro
History Department, 2143 MHRA
1111 Spring Garden St.
Greensboro, NC 27412
wwjennis@uncg.edu 
Term expires: 2024

Dr. Blair Kelley
North Carolina State University
Interdisciplinary Studies
Campus Box 7107
Raleigh, NC 27695
blmkelley@ncsu.edu
Term expires: 2025

Dr. David La Vere
Department of History
University of North Carolina Wilmington
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403-3297
lavered@uncw.edu
Term expires: 2022

Dr. Jaime Martinez    
Department of History    
University of North Carolina Pembroke
PO Box 1510        
Pembroke, NC 28372    
jaime.martinez@uncp.edu    
Term expires: 2022        

Dr. Arwin D. Smallwood
N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University
324 Gibbs Hall
1601 East Market Street
Greensboro, NC 27411
asmallwo@ncat.edu
Term expires: 2021

Dr. Sarah C. Thuesen
Department of History
Archdale Hall
Guilford College
5800 West Friendly Avenue 
Greensboro NC 27410
thuesensc@guilford.edu 
Term expires: 2023

Maintenance

Maintenance

Many of the state highway historical markers have now been in service for sixty years or longer. The marker materials and design were selected in part for their permanence and the fact that they wear well under all weather conditions. Still, regular maintenance, such as painting, straightening, or post replacement, is required from time to time. The Department of Transportation conducts such maintenance as necessary.

Each year a few signs are destroyed by vandals or in traffic accidents. Individuals can assist by reporting missing signs or maintenance needs to the Research Branch of the Office of Archives and History.