Love North Carolina and its history? You’re not alone. There are dozens upon dozens of societies and orders around the state dedicated to remembering the traditions of the Old North State.

Here’s your guide to a few of the most important ones.

Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Since it was established in the early 1960s, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine has been considered the highest honor a citizen of North Carolina can receive. Honorees must have a track record of service to their community and the state as a whole.

How do I join the Order of the Long Leaf Pine?

This award can only be bestowed by the sitting governor. You can nominate somebody for the award here.

See also: The Old North State Award is another governor-designated recognition that’s roughly on par with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

There is also an Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society founded by award recipient Phillip T. Fisher to preserve the history of the award. It’s not a group that can be joined, however.

The award given to a public servant last year. Photo via Rowan County government.

May 20th Society

Established in 2003, this society is dedicated to the history of Mecklenburg County around the time of the American Revolution. Why May 20th? This is the date in 1775 when legend holds that two dozen Charlotte leaders signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

How do I join the May 20th Society?

You can donate through the society’s website and attend events held each year around, you guessed it, May 20.

Photo by the May 20th Society via Facebook.

Historical Society of North Carolina

This group encourages the study of the history of our state. The Historical Society of North Carolina was founded in 1945, and each year confers the Robert D. W. Connor award for the best article regarding North Carolina history.

How do I join the Historical Society of North Carolina?

Active members may nominate people for consideration to join. Nominees are judged on their “research, teaching, writing, and/or public presentation of North Carolina history.”


North Caroliniana Society

This group is dedicated to the “knowledge and appreciation” of the state’s heritage and counts Bill Friday and William S. Powell as past presidents. The North Caroliniana Society Award is the group’s most prestigious, but this group also awards distinctions for the North Caroliniana Book Award, the William Stevens Powell Award, and the H. G Jones North Carolina History Prizes.

How do I join the North Caroliniana Society?

Membership is capped at 200, and new members are elected as vacancies arise. Members are judged on their “support of North Carolina’s historical, literary, and cultural strength.”


North Carolina Society

Moved to the nation’s capitol? The North Carolina Society is dedicated to bringing people together who love the Old North State. It dates back to 1896, making it the oldest in Washington D.C.

How do I join the North Carolina Society?

Membership is $25 per year and gets you access to private lunches, congressional receptions and other events.

United States Capitol. Photo by Doug Kerr via Flickr (Creative Commons).

North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati

This society was founded in 1783, one of 13 such groups organized in the closing days of the American Revolution. The North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati today exists to “perpetuate the ideals of those patriots who, risking their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the struggle for independence, gave birth to the United States of America.”

How do I join the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati?

Members trace their ancestry back to veterans of the Revolutionary War. Inquiries about membership must be made in writing.


Order of First Families of North Carolina

This group is dedicated to preserving the history of North Carolina before it became a royal colony in 1729. The Order of First Families of North Carolina was founded in 1992 and today counts some 400 members.

How do I join the Order of First Families of North Carolina?

Membership is by invitation only, and members must be able to trace their ancestry to somebody who lived in the land that is now North Carolina before 1729.


North Carolina Supreme Court Historical Society

The North Carolina Supreme Court Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the state’s “rich legal heritage.”

How do I join the North Carolina Supreme Court Historical Society?

Members consist of justices, judges, attorneys, law professors, law students and “others who have a genuine interest in the development of the law in North Carolina.”

Student memberships start at $25, and large law firms can join at $2,500.

The Justice Building in downtown Raleigh, home of the N.C. Supreme Court. Photo by the North Carolina Judicial Branch via Facebook.

Looking for more historical societies?

Most counties in North Carolina have some type of historical society. Try the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies. They list more than 100 different historical societies across the state.

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