Bachelor, University North Carolina, 1947. Master of Arts, University Virginia, 1950. Doctor of Philosophy, University Virginia, 1954.
Assistant professor of history, Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, 1953-1957; assistant professor of history, Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1957-1958; professor of history, Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1958-1962; chair department history, Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1959-1990; Dana professor of history, Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1962-1990; Dana professor emeritus, Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina, since 1990. Board directors Piedmont Finance Company.
Board directors Textile History Society, 1962-1965, Science Museum, Inc., Charlotte, 1973-1979, Presbyterian History Society, 1985-1991, Mecklenburg History Society, 1994-2000, consultant Museum New South, since 1990. Member advisory committee Spirit Square Center for Arts and Education, 1995-1998. Board directors Latta Place, Inc., Charlotte, 1972-1975, 85-91, 92-95, 97-2003, president, 1994-1995.
Elder Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte. Member planning group Charlotte-Mecklenburg Cultural Task Force, 1974-1975. Board visitors Queens College, since 1997, Sharon Towers, since 1999.
Board directors Charlotte Museum History, since 2002. Served United States Naval Reserve, 1944-1946. Member Organization American Historians, Southern History Association, Society for the History of the Early American Republic, North Carolina History Society, Mecklenburg History Association.
Married Kathryn Jeanette Cobb, December 15, 1950. Children: Norris Watson Junior, Janet McFadyen Nelson.