A Lasting Gift of Heritage: A History of the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, 1939-1974

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A Lasting Gift of Heritage: A History of the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, 1939-1974. By DAVID LouIs STERRETT BROOK. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1998. xx, 205 pp. $24.00.

A history of the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities is a welcome addition to efforts to tell the story of preservation at the level at which it is most effective, that is, the state or local level. And it is in this vein that David Louis Sterrett Brook's history has its greatest value. Brook displays a detailed knowledge of all the transactions and personalities of those who were active in establishing one of the nation's most effective and respected private preservation programs.

The publication is beautifully illustrated with a rich collection of historic photographs that depict not only the resources of the Tar Heel State but also the people who worked so hard to save them. A selected bibliography and detailed appendices, lengthy lists of officers and board members of the society, and a particularly valuable inventory of buildings that have been mentioned in the text will be useful tools for scholars who pursue further study in the field of local preservation efforts. The book offers a detailed and helpful index as well. Although it is understandably difficult to cite sources for all the minutiae covered in the book, the lack of endnotes or footnotes is distressing for a scholarly volume; they would certainly have enhanced the publication. Somewhat tighter copy editing would also have been welcomed in light of errors such as referring to Lyndon B. Johnson as "Pres." Johnson (p. 110) or a spelling error on the opening page.

Although there is some effort early in the text to put private preservation efforts into a larger context of preservation generally, the greatest attention is paid to endless details of meetings, awards, and financial problems of the society. Again, for a scholarly publication that is not intended to be a social study, the discussion of personalities and bickering within the ranks is somewhat disconcerting to any reader outside North Carolina. …