A Red Record

Revealing lynching sites in North Carolina and South Carolina

About

The Red Record documents lynchings in the American South using DH Press.

Started in February of 2015, The Red Record aims to

  • identify, using latitude-longitude pairs, the locations of lynchings in North Carolina and South Carolina, and over time, the former Confederacy
  • provide access to relevant manuscript material about lynching events
  • remember the targets of lynching as whole persons with families, jobs, and identities beyond that of victims
  • offer users both broad and specific information about lynching for research, teaching, and other uses
  • create a space for one facet of an important conversation about race, violence, and power in the United States

This project seeks to address the irony that despite the fact that members of lynch mobs documented their activities deliberately and prolifically, the physical spaces where lynchings took place by and large remain unmarked. This project visualizes lynchings in new ways, to the extent possible privileging images of modern sites of historic lynchings over the mob-produced images of damaged black bodies that were intended to terrorize the wider black community.

Future iterations of the project will seek to engage community partners in diverse styles of documentation; integrate lynching and death penalty data; address the politics of press coverage; and include attempted lynchings, not just those that resulted in a death.

The title, The Red Record, is drawn from Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work by the same name.

Authors

Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch direct this project. Undergraduate student historians include Jennifer Davidowitz, Sarah Dwyer, Dallas Ellis, Jared Feeny, Ava Gruchacz, Robert Haisfield, Jennifer Hausler, Harry Heyworth, Kara Kochek, Daniel Lee, Landon Mays, George Pancio, Ellis Pearson, Sara Pyo, Austin Seamster, Holden Shearin, Courtland Stout, Nik Stylianou, Zachary Sukkasem, Alondra Vargas, Patrick Vickers, Lauren Wagaman, Marianna Baggett, Gabrielle Brown, Anna Conway, Connor Davies, Dylan Farrow, Katelin Franklin, Patrick Hargrove, Georgina Ho, Courtenay James, Joel Janssen, Michael Johnston, Sami Kerker, Christina Kochanski, Mackenzie Kwok, Anna L’hommedieu, Taylor McCarn, Shuler Mehaffey, David Mossman, Kirsten Paulus, Marshall Ranson, John Ronan, Maher Shukr, Anji Sivakumar, Ward Snyder, Alex Taub, Kate Terentieva, Emily West, Basil Williams, Hannah Williams, Maggie Bauer, Laura Blinson, Flare Brown, Elissa Dawson, Ian Dewars, Hattie Ferguson, Lauren Fitzgibbons, Myranda Harris, Chrisana Hughes, Iqra Javed, Eimi Ledford, Molly McConnell, Blake Morgan, Rob Murphy, Namiko Nagata, Jack Palagruto, Jackson Parrish, Corbin Phifer, Nick Polino, Hudson Spangler, Jason Strowbridge, Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme, Morgan Vickers, and Joanna Williams.

Graduate student historians include Kawan Allen, Ina Dixon, Gale Greenlee, Josh Parshall, and Matt Swiatlowski.

Community historians include Sarah Carrier, Jan Davidson, Ina Dixon, Dr. Rhonda Jones, Peter Newport, Crystal Regan, Jane Sellars, and Victor Yang.

24 Comments

  1. This is very interesting and horrifying. Perhaps companion maps of police shootings and judicial executions will follow. Come on, geographers and sociologists.

    Keep up the great and useful work.

  2. There is a lynching in the 1930’s, I think, that is referenced in the book, Zeb’s Black Baby, about the history of Vance County, NC that is not on this map.

  3. As an unofficial town historian for Dobson, the Surry County seat, I keep reference information about the Tom Allison lynching. I would be happy to donate scans of local press coverage of the lynching. It appears that almost everyone involved in the lynching was white – except the major witnesses, who were black. Allison was taken out of the Surry County jail and hauled through the town’s African American section to what became known at the “Allison Tree.”

    • Is that store called the “Allison Tree” because of that event?
      I’ve read two different newspaper articles about that lynching, but unfortunately they are very short and not much detail is found about it at all. I’m curious to know more about the history around these places.

    • Mr. Badgett, I am very interested in obtaining additional information about the Thomas Allison lynching, as he was my Great Uncle. From my Grandfathers’s memoirs:

      “…Thomas Hampton Allison, was lynched by the friends of a man he had shot and killed in a fit of anger. This brought such shame and degradation upon the family that the incident was thereafter kept a dark and closely guarded secret. I never heard the matter discussed by anyone and learned of it long after Mother and Dad were both gone, through a cousin who claimed to have heard of it in some mysterious way.”

  4. Here is a blog post I did on Henry Swaim, who was lynched in Forsyth County in 1884…the only known lynching in county history…

    https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/swinging-into-eternity-part-3/

  5. I knew there were alot more than just 150 in the state. These people made lynching a hobbie. They posed in pictures with lifeless bodies. This was fun to them. I’m pretty sure that there are alot more undocumented lynchings in NC. Caswell county has its own chapter of the kkk, so might wanna start with checking the history there.

  6. Judith Elaine Bush

    July 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I was looking at the map for Chatham county. Mack Best’s location of death is depicted near Jordan Lake, but Garland, NC is in Sampson County.

  7. Will there be any work to create physical memorials or monuments at the sites where lynchings occurred? Anything in conjunction with EJI?

  8. I am interested in lynchings in Martin County North Carolina–Williamston or nearby Darden. last name Rodgers around 1935-1940’s. This was my gra ndfather and the body was never recoverd according to relatives. gblackwell2@verizon.net

  9. Is there anything in the works to get monuments, memorials, or plaques to honor the victims of lynching in NC? If so, how do I contact the people involved?

    • Seth Kotch

      September 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      There have been some small but significant movements in this direction. We hope this conversation is coming.

    • 60 Minutes is on NOW, Oprah interviewing Bryan Stephenson of EJI, Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, AL
      The lynching memorial opens there on 4/26/2018!
      I’ll see you there. There will be metal monuments available, one for each county—to TAKE HOME and display them within the county in which lynvhings occurred. Each victim’s name is inscribed upon the metal sculpture—but one post for each county where this occurred. America will catch up with its history. We will be stronger together, now, after starting this conversation.

  10. Clifford K. Stephens, Ph.D.

    October 2, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Dear Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch,
    I discovered news on the Red Record when I was at the Library of Congress this summer looking for information germane to a non-fiction novel that I am start ing to write about a cousin that was lynched before I was born. Although I know little about North Carolina lynchings, my cousin’s lynching may have been unlike any other there because of what he did that got him lynched. I grew up with an account from multiple family members about why he did what he did. Thus far, in none of the newspaper articles that I have seen was there any reference to this account I know … but it’s possible in archives somewhere, this sensitive information may have been recorded … or not. Whatever the case, my mother, who passed away this past December at the age of 89, commented to me in 2016, “He never had his day in court.” I am hopeful I might open a dialogue with you. I myself am a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology graduate school (on campus 1979-1983, degree conferred 1990. My grandfather’s nephew, Govan “Sweat”Ward was in the Louisburg, NC area when he was taken to be lynched on July 30, 1935 (as best I can discern). Any assistance provided will be greatly appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    Cliff Stephens

    • Hi, Cliff:
      Thanks for your comment, and glad you discovered the site. Seth and I would be glad to give you any information we have (which is probably less than you’ve already found) and certainly glad to talk with you. I do recall that we’ve got some information on Govan Ward but I’m sure you’ve already seen that. If you’d like, you can send either of us an email and we can either communicate that way or set up a time to talk via phone if that’s more convenient. Looking forward to hearing from you.

      -Elijah

      • Clifford K. Stephens, Ph.D.

        October 4, 2017 at 3:36 am

        Thanks, I wrote both of you at UNC and Auburn … provided my contact info … shared one article from 1935.

  11. Hey Folks,

    I am a high school history teacher in Alamance County and use this resource quite often in my American History course. I just want to thank you for all of the work and research you have put into this project, it is quite overwhelming the amount of detail that can be found within. This project has also driven me to do some more research into the lynching of Wyatt Outlaw, the then sheriff of Graham, N.C., in front of the Courthouse in Graham by the KKK as well as the greater Kirk – Holden War in N.C. It just pains me to drive to work each day as the town decided to place a Statue in honor of the former Confederate Soldiers of the town. Who also happen to be named as the members of the mob that killed Wyatt Outlaw as can be found in your research here. It just feels like it is a statue for a bunch of murderers, on the exact spot where they murdered the first African – American Sheriff of the Town.

    Thanks,

    Sean

    • Seth Kotch

      November 3, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Sean,
      It is hugely gratifying to receive notes like this. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. The detail about the former CSA soldiers who names appear both on the statue and in accounts of the mob is … remarkable. Not unexpected but among the first concrete instances I’ve learned of of the bright line connecting those who fought for the Confederacy and those who kept fighting that battle after the CSA lost. Here in Chapel Hill we have a much more generic monument to the innocent sacrifice of our duty-bound students–your research reminds us that the dark net of violent white supremacy catches up the minnows as well as the sharks.

      If you have a photo of those names we can add it to our map. Thanks again!

      Seth

  12. B. Ronald Scales

    April 19, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I am a direct descendant of at least one man on this list of those murdered extra judicially in North Carolina. George Ritter of Carthage NC was my great grandmother Laura Ritter Harrington’s older brother. My grandmother, Ruth Jane Harrington Monroe was born in 1909, but remembered the story from when she was growing up. I discovered the lynching in a book titled “100 years of lynchings” in 1968. I was surprised to see a family name from my ancestral area. I asked my grandmother about it and she told me the story. The legend that she told had a mysterious and ominous twist to it. She said that the man who shot Uncle George after they hung him was married and his wife was pregnant. My grandmother said that there were stories told that the man’s wife had a child with a hole through it’s body in the same place Uncle George got shot. I know that it sounds unbelievable now, but to a young Black girl in the early 1900s in rural Moore County it might as well been fact. Thanks for making these sadistic actions out there for the public to see the hidden and distorted history of post Civil War America. My goal is to never allow the memory of these hangings be forgotten.
    Ron Scales

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