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Celebrating 110 years of History

What excites you about history? Is it a fascinating story? Or is it an interesting artifact? Or perhaps it’s some other intriguing aspect of a past era that engages your curiosity . . .

As we celebrate our 110th anniversary, we remember that it was such a curiosity that impassioned the “father” of our museum, Colonel Frederick Augustus Olds.

In 1883, the Raleigh News and Observer was presented with "a ponderous key" and the claim that it had unlocked a door in North Carolina's first Capitol, a building that had been destroyed by fire in 1831. This gifted key sparked “awareness” for Olds, the newspaper’s city editor, and prompted him to advocate readers of his editorials—titled “Some Old Relics”—to bring him “curiosities” from the state's past.

Olds later traveled the state and became known as an avid collector. In fact, he eventually accumulated more than 300 curiosities. These artifacts were the seeds of the Hall of History, a collection he founded in the State Museum on December 5, 1902.

During his 32 years as the Hall of History’s chief administrator, Olds continued crossing the state, visiting every county at least three times and amassing nearly 30,000 artifacts for the collection. But, it was not merely the collection of artifacts that was his passion—he also collected the stories that linked them to our past. By today’s standards, his methods may seem unorthodox, as he would sometimes embellish stories to bring history to life. However, his overall purpose was to entertain and instruct—to make history interesting and exciting. To many North Carolinians, Olds was the key to unlocking a wonderful curiosity of history.

The Museum of History Associates was established in 1975 by civic-minded individuals who were interested in broadening the passion and curiosity for history that Olds unlocked. As a united group, our members strive to strengthen and continue that legacy, and today we are the keys to ensuring our mission: to create awareness and provide funding for the many needs of our museum. As we celebrate another decade, we look to you, our entire membership, as a unified group with one mission, to help unlock all the potential of our museum.