The Special Collections Research Center of the NCSU Libraries recognizes that legacy in an exhibit exploring the role of tobacco research at this university through the books, manuscripts, and historical documents in its collections. Despite the health and legal issues that are currently facing the manufacturers of tobacco products, tobacco is still the largest-grossing agricultural crop in North Carolina. The state's production of flue-cured tobacco is the largest in the world, and the combined crop continues to gross at or near one billion dollars each year. Writing in the 1994 North Carolina Tobacco Report, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham reported that "the outlook for 1994 and beyond is guarded. Many issues must be worked out in order for growers to continue to be successful. Rising excise taxes, increasing imports, declining domestic consumption, restrictions on advertising and outright bans on smoking in public places are only a few of the problems. Growers must become more involved in the public issues that affect their welfare." Against the backdrop of a seemingly imminent shift in this powerful and defining emblem of North Carolina and the university’s cultural heritage, we hope that “Bright Leaves: Tobacco Materials in the Collections of the NCSU Libraries” inspires the viewer to reflect upon and recognize tobacco's place in North Carolina history.
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