Library seeks historic State Fair premiums

The State Library of North Carolina is looking around the state for extra copies of old N.C. State Fair Premium Lists that could be donated to the library or loaned for digitization. The North Carolina State Fair, first held in October 1853, has a long tradition of encouraging agricultural improvements through competitions. Each year, the fair publishes a Premium List that describes what awards people can win for their prize pumpkin or outstanding heifer.

With the help of several area universities like N.C. State University, Duke, and the University of North Carolina, the State Library has been able to fill in a lot of holes in its own collection. Over 100 Premium Lists have been digitized and are available online in the North Carolina Digital Collections. Premium Lists not only tell us a lot about the history of promoting agriculture in North Carolina, but they also feature advertisements that show how industry and entertainment have changed throughout the state’s history.

The library is asking for your help. If you have old Premium Lists you’d be willing to donate for permanent preservation in the library’s print collection or who would consider loaning to the library to be digitized, please contact

Years for which Premium List loans and/or donations are requested:
1853-1859, 1883, 1886, 1888, 1890, 1894-1895, 1920, 1935

Years for which Premium List donations are requested:
1939, 1941, 1969, 1986-1988, 2002-2010

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