A Brief History
A Brief History of Greensboro covers the period from the city’s founding in 1808 to its place in the history of the Civil Rights movement. Gayle Fripp, local historian and retired assistant director of the Greensboro Historical Museum, wrote this summary, which is accompanied by a video about Greensboro history produced during the city's 2008 bicentennial.
Below are snippets of Greensboro's first 200 years, covering all aspects of life in Greensboro, from the minutiae to the magnificent. There is at least one fact for every day of the year. Library staff members created these as part of Greensboro's bicentennial celebration in 2008.
January-March April-June July-September October-December
What Should I Read?
People frequently ask, “Which books should I read about Greensboro history?” While there are many books on the subject, those mentioned below cover various aspects of Greensboro history over long periods of time. Whether you want to read an entire book or just check a fact or two, you’ll find these helpful.
Arnett, Ethel Stephens. Greensboro, North Carolina: The County Seat of Guilford. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1955.
This history covers Greensboro from its beginnings into the early 1950s. It is arranged by such subjects as government, churches, educational institutions, transportation, manufacturing, and businesses. A timeline at the beginning of the book and an index will help you find the information you need. Black-and-white photographs illustrate the volume.
Covington, Howard E. Jr. Once Upon a City: Greensboro, North Carolina’s Second Century. Greensboro: Greensboro Historical Museum, 2008.
This is a history of Greensboro from the 1920s to the present, with an emphasis on the long career and public service of Jim Melvin -- his work with the Jaycees, his years as mayor, and his leadership in private business and as head of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation. While the book does not cover all aspects of Greensboro history during this period, it does update and add depth to certain parts of the city’s history during the 20th century.
Fripp, Gayle Hicks. Greensboro. Dover, NH: Arcadia Publishing, 1997.
Here is a picture history of the city, with a brief description accompanying each picture. Fripp is the former assistant director of the Greensboro Historical Museum and most of the pictures come from its archives. You’ll enjoy these pictures from the Greensboro of long ago (and also from not so long ago).
Fripp, Gayle Hicks. Greensboro: A Chosen Center, an Illustrated History. Sun Valley CA: American Historical Press, 2001.
This chronologically arranged history has numerous illustrations, some in color, and provides information for almost 50 years after the publication of Arnett’s history. It includes economic, political, cultural, and social events, and there are long descriptions of many of the major companies in Greensboro. An index is helpful in finding topics.
Schlosser, Jim. The Beat Goes On: A Celebration of Greensboro’s Character and Diversity. Greensboro: Greensboro Bicentennial Commission, 2008.
While this collection of columns by a retired reporter and columnist for the Greensboro News and Record is not a history as such, it illuminates many aspects of Greensboro history over a wide span of time. Schlosser wrote his columns during his 40-year career, and many columns tell about events prior to his writing.
Sieber, Hal. Drinking Gourds of Guilford: A Story of Change, 1771-2005. 2nd ed. High Point: Stanford Publishers, 2005.
This history of black-white relations and the African American struggle for justice in Guilford County is written by a well-known local historian and activist. While the book covers the county rather than just Greensboro, there is no comparable book that is limited just to Greensboro.