DigitalNC: North Carolina's Digital Heritage

Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Photographs from the M.S. Brown Collection Now Available

M.S. Brown

Self-portrait of M.S. Brown

Photos from the M.S. Brown Collection are now available on DigitalNC. The collection includes hundreds of photographs taken by Milton Steele Brown throughout the early to mid 1900s, and prominently features citizens, organizations, and events taking place in Tarboro, N.C., Rocky Mount, N.C., and surrounding Edgecombe County areas.

Grand Stands in the Baseball Field

Grand Stands in the baseball field

Known locally as “Coca Cola” Brown, M.S. Brown opened a Coca-Cola plant in Tarboro in the early 1900s and served as a town commissioner. He was active in community organizations and local government, regularly attending and assisting with various events. As an avid photographer, Brown documented Coca-Cola sponsored events, town social gatherings – such as baseball games, 4-H Club meetings, and the Gallopade Parade – and historical sites such as the Tarboro Town Commons and the Barracks.

Annual Meeting for Edgecombe County Bureau at the Baseball Field. August 24, 1946. (left and center). People at the Baseball Field during a 4-H Club Event, surrounding the Coca-Cola crates. (right)

Annual Meeting for Edgecombe County Bureau at the baseball field. August 24, 1946. (left and center). People at the baseball field during a 4-H Club Event, surrounding the Coca-Cola crates. (right)

Additionally, Brown photographed active community members, including the Tarboro Merchants Association secretary Mary Godfrey and Congressman L.H. Fountain.

Miss Mary Godfrey at her desk and Congressman L.H. Fountain (center) at Belk-Tyler's ribbon cutting.

Miss Mary Godfrey at her desk and Congressman L.H. Fountain (center) at Belk-Tyler’s ribbon cutting.

This extensive collection covers over 40 years of Tarboro and Edgecombe County history. It is an ongoing project with the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, with more images expected in the future.

UNC Library Extension Publications Now Online

Assorted UNC Library Extension Publications

English History through Historical Novels (1957), Thomas Wolfe: Carolina Student (1950), Africa: South of the Sahara (1955), The Southern Garden (1934), and Books as Windows to Your World (1956).

Interested in studying reading, writing, or politics? Check out these newly digitized UNC Library Extension publications from 1934-1958. The Library Extension Publications provided introductory essays and accompanying short study outlines based on library materials. The essays cover a wide range of contemporary literary and academic issues, either addressed in a standalone issue or in a series (e.g. “Adventures in Reading” and “Other People’s Lives”). Particularly interesting are the articles covering the political turbulence in Europe leading up to the second world war. Europe in Transition [1935] takes a brief early look at the contemporaneous rises of Mussolini and Hitler, as well as the political climate of the rest of Europe. For more on the politics of Europe at that time, check out Political Problems in Present-Day Europe 1938 and 1939.

Yearbooks now available from Chapel Hill Historical Society

1956 Hillife depiction of freshman

1956 Hillife freshman

Hillife, the yearbooks from Chapel Hill High School, are now accessible on DigitalNC.  The yearbooks online cover 1929 through 1961 and were made available by the Chapel Hill Historical Society.

To view more North Carolina yearbooks, visit the North Carolina Yearbooks collection on DigitalNC.

Tarboro’s Home Front News now Available Online

Mothers of Servicemen portraits, May 1945.

Mothers of Servicemen portraits, May 1945.

Twenty-two issues of The Home Front News are now available on DigitalNC! The Home Front News was a World War II newspaper produced by the Tarboro Rotary Club in Edgecombe County, N.C.. Edgecombe County Memorial Library provided us with issues from March 20, 1943 to the last issue on September 20, 1945.

The newspapers are full of jokes, clever rhymes, and drawings of pin-up girls. Not only did the paper provide entertainment for the soldiers overseas, but it also served as a register for births, marriages, and deaths.

There was even a dedicated Mothers of Service Men issue in May 1945 which featured portraits of over a hundred local mothers dressed in their Sunday best (pictured above). These portraits were taken by M.S. Brown, a Tarboro resident and photographer who owned the Coca-Cola factory. Brown almost always contributed at least one photograph per issue, usually a full page toward the back of the newspaper with a portrait of a community resident and caption. For more photos taken by “Coca-Cola Brown”, view the M.S. Brown Digital Exhibit.

"Now the point is, you won't get stuck if you pin me up." From September 20, 1943 issue.

“Now the point is, you won’t get stuck if you pin me up.” From September 20, 1943 issue.

Ledgers and Other Items now Online from Montgomery and Stanly Counties

The Stanly County Museum and Montgomery County Public Library recently asked us to add some items they digitized to DigitalNC. There are a range of items, from late 18th century business documents in the Forrest Family Manuscript Collection to ledgers from stores in Montgomery County, to this striking panoramic photograph of Lillian Mill.

Lillian Mill Panoramic Photograph

Here’s a list of the other items. You can also view everything from Stanly County Museum or Montgomery County Public Library.

Fairview Memorial Park Brochure
Forrest Family Manuscript Collection
Norwood Elementary School Signature Book of Ronnie Melton

East Main Street, Albemarle, NC
Farmers and Planters Hotel, South Third Street, Albemarle, NC
John Odom Ross
Panoramic View of Lillian Mill and Group Portrait
Stanly County Public Library
Sid Austin House
Miller Family Bible Page

John B. and H. Martin’s Rocky Springs Store Ledger or Day Book
Blacksmith’s Ledger
Ledger of a Store on the Little River, Montgomery County, NC [1829-1830]
Ledger of a Store on the Little River, Montgomery County, NC [1831-1838]
Stanly County School Ledger for District 47

Yearbooks from Benson Museum of Local History now online


Yearbooks from two schools in Benson, North Carolina are now available online on DigitalNC.  The yearbooks are from two different high schools, Benson High School’s The Tatler, covering 1928-1964, and Meadow High School’s Tuscarora, covering 1941-1969.


The yearbooks were made available by the Benson Museum of Local History.  To view more North Carolina Yearbooks, view our site here.

Pitt County Genealogical Quarterly now available on DigitalNC


Issues of the Pitt County Genealogical Quarterly from 1994-2013 are now available online through DigitalNC.  The quarterly, which is published by Pitt County Family Researchers, Inc., covers a wide variety of topics, from obituaries and church memberships to court cases and family bible records.

The quarterly is made available through Farmville Public Library.

Changes Coming to the North Carolina Newspapers Collection in 2014

Big changes are coming to the North Carolina Newspapers collection on DigitalNC. We are hard at work on migrating the papers to new software that will provide a more reliable and user-friendly way for everyone to search and browse our growing collection of historic North Carolina papers online.

Over the past couple of years we have heard from many users who expressed frustration with our newspaper collection. There have been regular reports of images not appearing, pages loading slowly, and especially inconsistent keyword highlighting in search results. We have explored several alternatives for presenting the papers online and have talked with colleagues at newspaper collections at libraries around the country. We wanted to make sure that we chose an alternative presentation that could handle a lot of content (we have over 200,000 pages online now and that number is rapidly growing) and make the content available in a quick and easy-to-use online interface.

Beginning this summer, we will begin presenting our collection of historic newspapers using the Library of Congress Newspaper Viewer. This software, developed by the Library of Congress, is used for their Chronicling America collection of historic papers and is also being used by the Historic Oregon Newspapers project and a few others around the country.

We will make every effort to make this transition as smooth as possible. The address for the main page for each newspaper title (for example: will remain the same, but URLs for specific newspaper issues and pages will change. And for those users who have not used Chronicling America, it will take a little getting used to the new interface. However, we would not go through all this effort unless we were certain that it would result in a better overall experience for our users. Newspapers make up the largest collection on DigitalNC and we are committed to continuing to provide access to these fascinating and important materials. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at at any time with any questions or concerns.


“The Debate over the Sweatiest Professor” – April Fool’s Day in NC Newspapers

April Fool’s Day is upon us.  (We thought Google Chrome’s support for emoji translation could be really useful for transcribing some of our newspapers!)  These days it seems April Fool’s is mostly played out online, with websites jockeying for the best prank.  Taking a look through DigitalNC’s Newspaper Collection shows that pulling pranks on April Fool’s via [print] media is nothing new.


The oldest reference found to April Fool’s Day in the newspapers is from The Wilson Advance in 1897, which reminded its readers which day it was and to be on the alert for pranksters.  The small news item gives a glimpse of what April Fool’s jokes entailed in the late 1890s. (for context, $10 in 1897 would equal approximately $268 today)


Starting with the 1937 April Fool’s Day issue of the Clarion from Brevard College, which is the first appearance of an April Fool’s themed paper in NC Newspapers,  it appears that special April Fool’s Day editions of student newspapers were popular across North Carolina, as they remain today if you browse through some campus newspapers online.  Some of the funnier news headers we found included a color by number of Elon’s Pendlelum in  1999 and the 1991 Goofordian [regularly the Guilfordian] from Guilford College, which also noted that you can read all about the debate over the sweatiest professor on page 2.



To view more newspapers from across North Carolina, visit the North Carolina Newspapers collection and to view specifically more papers from April 1 through the years, check out the “Today in North Carolina History” section on the right side of the page.