Braswell Memorial Library

More Local History & Genealogy

Braswell Memorial Library collects old and current materials pertaining to the history of Rocky Mount and Nash County for use in meeting the research, educational, and recreational needs of its patrons. Works about North Carolina and Nash County’s parent county, Edgecombe, that assist patrons in putting the history of Nash County in perspective are collected as well. Other areas collected are: places from and to which significant numbers of Nash County residents emigrated/immigrated; counties through which the Tar River flows, as this is the target area for the local genealogical society; and other North Carolina counties of interest. 

The Charles S. Killebrew Collection
Charles S. Killebrew, A Tarboro, NC native, joined the Air Force after high school and developed an interest in photography. When he left the service in 1945, he was offered a job at the Rocky Mount Telegram, formerly The Evening Telegram. For many years he was a freelance and staff photographer for the Telegram, operated a studio in Rocky Mount, and ran an aerial photography business, Carolina Aerial Mapping Service Inc.   Many of his aerial shots were done on contract with the government and were taken with a 250-pound camera mounted on the belly of his Cessna 195 airplane.

Mr. Killebrew’s collection of photographic negatives spans his career, 1948 to 1997. While its focus is primarily on Nash and Edgecombe Counties, North Carolina, many other areas of Eastern North Carolina and other states are also represented. Over the course of his career, Mr. Killebrew won awards for his photography, most notably for images of train wrecks in Four Oaks, NC and in South Carolina.

The collection of approximately 500,000 images is just now starting to be processed.

John TaylorJohn I. Taylor was a Rocky Mount, NC native and lifelong area resident. He was owner-operator of Carolina Electronics in Rocky Mount from 1969-2004, during which time he served Eastern NC as an electronics repair-broadcast engineer consultant.
After retiring in 2004, he devoted time to his many hobbies, including postcard collecting, researching local history and genealogy, reading, and traveling.  During this time, his thoughts turned to the historical value of his extensive postcard collection, and he desired to share it, along with his knowledge of our area.

Mr. Taylor graciously transferred ownership of the collection to Braswell Memorial Library in 2007, and the digitization of the collection began. Mr. Taylor intended to contribute his personal knowledge of each postcard and its image to the project, but to our great loss, he passed away June 14, 2010 before this could be accomplished.

As his obituary states, “He was a friend to everyone he met.”

A Letter from John Taylor

Welcome to the Braswell Library's Rocky Mount postcard presentation. The collection you are about to view contains a wealth of architectural and scenic documentation of Rocky Mount's past and progress as presented through the medium of postcards.

Rocky Mount occupies a midpoint between the northern states and the vacationland of Florida. The railroad and the famous Highway 301 brought many visitors establishing Rocky Mount as a favorite spot to catch a night's rest and enjoy good meals. The favored mode of communication (even after the telephone advent) was simply to write a few lines on a postcard to say hello and announce your whereabouts to family and friends. The postcard allowed a pictorial of Rocky Mount to serve both as travel information and as advertisement for a potential travel stop for future visitors. There were many places such as the train station, tourist homes, hotels, retail shops, and cafes where postcards were easily purchased and mailed. Postcard salesmen must have been fond of the area because so many scenes of the city were captured and many postcards were sold.

My involvement with Rocky Mount postcards began in the early seventies and continued until the library obtained my collection in November 2007. Most of the cards were found in antique hunting grounds of the Northeastern United States. It is interesting to note that this area probably had more affluent travelers and as they passed away their estates were sold. Antique dealers and collectors of historical paper items gladly bought the "travel news" postcards to sell to people like me.

For many years this collection was open to all who desired to look and reminisce. Often I was asked to share the cards for historical documentation or some pursuit for posterity. Parts of the collection were displayed in my office and generated much conversation. Much local history and family anecdotes were enjoyed about card scenes remembered.

I came to know Traci Thompson, the local history librarian, as I began my family history search in 2006. She not only was helpful and most capable, but a very pleasant person. In one of our conversations, she was very excited to learn of my extensive Rocky Mount postcard collection and I was happy to share some of the highlights with her. She asked if it was possible for the library to acquire the postcards. After some thought I agreed, stipulating that the collection would always remain with the library and be available to the people of Rocky Mount.

As you enjoy browsing these postcards, please remember that each card has a story, either written on it by a long ago traveler or told by someone connected to its scenery. Please remember too that, as a collector and caretaker of this slice of history, I spent thirty-four happy years finding and researching this effort. Each card has a special significance as I remember the special vacations and times spent looking. If you are a Rocky Mount native, these cards will afford you a peek through the windows of time and certainly jog memories. For those who may be "just looking" you will find a unique visual of small-town America. Have a pleasant trip.

John Taylor

Schedule of Fees

Obituary requests: please note that 1955-1965 of the Rocky Mount Telegram is a free resource available through this website. All other years of local newspapers are only accessible on unindexed microfilm, and the fees below apply.  Dates to within at least a month are required for microfilm newspaper lookups of any kind.

To scan and send file(s) by email:  $3 per first page scanned, $1 per additional page(s)

To photocopy and/or scan and send pages (including genealogical reports) by regular mail:  $3 per first page scanned or photocopied, $1 per additional page(s); no charge for postage ($5 per page for estate services)

To conduct research for patrons not present in building (email or telephone requests):  $20 per hour

To burn files to a CD and mail CD:  $3 per first page scanned, $1 per additional page(s) + $2 per CD; no charge for postage

To copy a CD:  $2 per CD + $1 for staff time
To travel to North Carolina State Archives (or other offsite repository) to do research: $90


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