The historiographer is the official historian of the Diocese, nominated by the bishop and confirmed by the Convention. It’s a position originally created in 1877 to facilitate the collection of parish histories and the compilation of information about the history of the Church in North Carolina.
Since that time, those who have filled the office have written books and articles about the history of our Church, and they have overseen the management of the archival records of the Diocese. Today the historiographer’s role is much the same as it has always been, but the ways of presenting historical information, and the focus of interpretation, have changed with the times.
To make the history of the diocese broadly and quickly accessible, there are now quick overviews of our history and thumbnail sketches of our bishops posted on the diocesan website. Also available are more specialized writings and presentations. (A list of these resources, with links for downloading or viewing them, appears elsewhere on this webpage). The most comprehensive study remains The Episcopal Church in North Carolina, 1701-1959, edited by Lawrence London and Sarah Lemmon (1987). Copies of this book are still available for purchase at $10/copy, and arrangements can be made by contacting the archivist, Lynn Hoke.
Another way the historiographer serves the Church is by providing historical background and context for current diocesan initiatives. When the 2006 General Convention called upon all dioceses to document and examine their racial histories, this office co-sponsored events and presentations with our School of Ministry and Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee, and that work has been ongoing to the present.
In 2017, we observed the 200th anniversary of the organizing convention of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina, held in New Bern on April 24, 1817. To help us mark that event, we worked with the other two North Carolina dioceses to highlight distinctive chapters in our history by holding annual “history days” every spring beginning in 2012 in various locations across the state. These bicentennial activities culminated in a year-long celebration, capped off by a service in New Bern in April, 2017.
It would be wonderful for every congregation to compile or update their parish history. Indeed, this was the primary reason for creating the office of historiographer in the first place: to help ensure that the stories of our various churches are properly documented. To that end, we hold periodic diocesan workshops on parish archives and history.In the meantime, please feel free to contact either me or diocesan archivist Lynn Hoke at [email protected] for help with specific research requests or general archival information.
-The Rev. N. Brooks Graebner, Ph. D. Historiographer