Louisburg, NC

About the Site

Louisburg is located at the intersection of North Carolina's Tar River and the newly expanded U.S. 401. It is the seat of Franklin County (the county most immediately north-east of Wake County), and is less than an hour-long drive from Raleigh, Durham, and the Research Triangle.

Long-time residents caught in the transition are scrambling to preserve their heritage. One such effort is the Person Place Preservation Society, a group dedicated not only to the care and conservation of the historic Person family home, but also to the documentation and celebration of local history and traditions as well.

We are very grateful to the Person Place Preservation Society for introducing us to this community and very happy to have the opportunity to coordinate our dialect preservation efforts with their Voices of the Century Project.

Research Questions

Linguistically, Louisburg and the Franklin County area provide an exceptional opportunity for dialect studies. Originally settled in the early 1700's by groups from the Tidewater regions of North Carolina and Virginia, Louisburg is uniquely situated at t he intersection of several European settlement patterns and, consequently, the intersection of several dialect regions. Today, rapid growth in the area also provides us with an exceptional opportunity to study rapid language change in progress. While population statistics show that the actual town of Louisburg, the largest in Franklin County, has only grown by about 150 people in the last ten years, the county, on the other hand, has grown as much in this time as it had in the last sixty - a more than fifteen percent increase.

Meanwhile, a more dramatic population expansion in the RDU/Research Triangle area has many metropolitan practices encroaching on those of the traditional, native population of Franklin County, including the county's dialect. Current evidence, from sociol inguistic interviews conducted by the North Carolina Language and Life Project, suggests that while older members of many of the traditional families of Franklin County have some unique local vernacular qualities, many of the younger members of these families are beginning to adopt more standard dialect features.