Jack Kerouac’s Chickens– Kinston, N.C., 1951

I found Jack Kerouac’s ode to Kinston, N.C.'s old-fashioned chicken coops in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library.  The Berg Collection holds the letters, original manuscripts and other personal papers of some of America’s greatest writers, including Kerouac, the Beat Generation's godfather and the man that wrote On the Road.

On Cotton Mill Hill

I found these photographs of child mill workers in eastern North Carolina at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.  I think they mostly speak for themselves. A photographer named Lewis Hine took them on at least 3 visits to the state between 1908 and 1914. He was employed by the National Child Labor Committee to document the exploitation of children in factories and other workplaces across the U.S.

The Swedish Nightingale

Last night I saw a scene on PBS’s drama Victoria in which the Swedish opera star Jenny Lind sang for Queen Victoria. That was an actual event: it happened on April 26, 1846. But of course I thought immediately of the little community called “Jenny Lind” that is located 10 miles west of Kinston, in Lenoir County, N.C. According to legend, Jenny Lind sang there, too.

A Death of the Heart

"At this point in my research, I was wishing that I could write something about my beloved home state’s history—anything—and not have it come around to race and white supremacy....  So much for telling an innocent little story about a family of bird egg collectors and the popular passion for oology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."