North Carolina History

Think history is boring?

You may be nodding your head yes, if your memory takes you back to thinking about high school, state-mandated textbooks, and standardized tests. Yes, you remember it correctly . . . mind-numbing dates and names and tedious lists! But believe me, your teachers could have been just as bored as you were, standing in front of the class and drumming that dry information into your brains all day.

Bored? Learn some real history!
American VIP observers watching atomic testing during Operation Greenhouse at Enewetak Atoll in the South Pacific in 1951.
Source: Public domain

But, history does not have to be boring.

History is full of stories

The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh has begun this blog, A Place & Time, to win you back from all those bad memories from your youth and get you hooked on history, if you are not already. Believe me, history can be interesting and alive; for instance . . .

What stories are associated with this artifact?
Whitlow service banner
Whitlow service banner as displayed in the family’s home, Caswell County, 1943–1945. Six blue stars, one for each member of the family who served in World War II.
Source: North Carolina Museum of History Collection, 1995.52.9

Everyone likes a good story or drama they can relate to, and North Carolina has its own Saving Private Ryan story. The Whitlow family of Leasburg, in Caswell County, had 6 of their 12 children march off and serve in the armed forces during World War II.

History includes stories of events and places . . .
Bataan Death March
Prisoners of war on the Bataan Death March to a prison camp, May 1942. By July 1943 all three servicemen pictured were dead.
Source: National Archives, n. 127-N-11454.

The first to join was Evelyn, who enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps. Not only was she to see the world, but she also lived through an experience that very few soldiers would have to imagine: in April 1942 she was among the first American women to be taken as a prisoner of war (POW) in World War II. She and 77 other nurses became known as the Angels of Bataan and Corregidor. The Whitlow family had no idea if their daughter, Evelyn, was alive or dead until February 3, 1945, when the family saw a picture of her in a copy of LIFE magazine.

. . . but, most importantly, stories of people
Evelyn Whitlow in uniform after World War II. Photo, NC Museum of History
Evelyn Whitlow in uniform after World War II.
Source: North Carolina Museum of History Collection

Did our story have a happy ending? Did all 6 Whitlow children “come marching home”? Yes, they did, and the family’s service banner never had to add a gold star, which would have represented a soldier who sacrificed his or her life in “the Good War,” World War II.

The Museum of History invites you to visit A Place & Time on a regular basis, to see that history is alive—and not so boring, after all!


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