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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Viewing entries posted in July 2020


Oral histories from Mount Airy and Surry County now online

21 new oral histories detailing the lives of those who lived in Mount Airy and Surry County are now online thanks to our partners Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and Surry Community College.  The digitization of the oral histories from Mount Airy Museum was done by our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection and the work was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  

screenshot of a piece of yellow paper with the interview transcript

First page of the transcript from the Margaret Leonard, Evelyn Coalson, and Esther Dawson interview. The women are sisters and were interviewed in 1997.

The participants were primarily interviewed in the 1990s about their lives in the Mount Airy and Surry County region dating from around 1910 until 1970s.  The Spanish Flu pandemic, World War I, World War II, race relations, the Civil Rights movement, and the Great Depression are all topics covered in these oral histories, which feature men and women and Black and white people.  

While these oral histories were digitized last fall and winter, with the COVID-19 situation this spring, they provided a very useful option for enhancement while our staff worked from home.  We have been able to add transcripts for each of the oral histories that didn’t have them, as well as enhanced metadata, making them even more accessible than before for our users.

To learn more about our partners on this, visit their websites at Surry Community College and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.  To learn more about our partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, visit our post here.  And to view and listen to more oral histories on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Oral Histories exhibit.  


DigitalNC on the web: Black Wide-Awake

We love being sent or just stumbling upon, projects on the web that utilize materials digitized through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.  We thought since they have done such a great job highlighting us, it’d only be fair to turn around and highlight a few we’ve found recently.

Today’s featured website is “Black Wide-Awake” which highlights “documents of historical and genealogical interest to researchers of Wilson County, North Carolina’s African American past.”

The site, written by Lisa Henderson and with posts dating back to 2015, utilizes a wide variety of digitized historical resources to document everything from African-American schools in the Wilson area, wills, correspondence, and newspaper articles related to the enslaved people in Wilson County, to official records including marriage, birth, and death records from the black community.

Some of the DigitalNC resources that are featured on Black Wide-Awake include many of the photographs and other materials from the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum’s collection.

Shoe shine kit

Shoe shine kit from the Oliver Nestus Freeman collection, featured in this post on Black Wide Awake.

Wilson City Directories

black and white photograph of two adults picking cotton in a field

Photograph from the 1947-1948 Wilson City Directory, featured in this post on Black Wide Awake.

Yearbooks from Darden High School, made possible by our partner Wilson County Public Library

senior page from a yearbook

Senior page from the 1948 Charles H. Darden High School yearbook, the first yearbook from the school, featured in this post on the website.

Many newspaper article clippings from DigitalNC are also included.  A post discussing the white supremacist views held and pushed by editor of the Wilson Advance, Josephus Daniels, is a recent post that connects directly to the current commentary going on regarding Black Lives Matter and reassessing how we look at our history. 

blog text and newspaper clipping

Post on Black Wide Awake pointing out the racist statements the editor and publisher of the Wilson Advance, Josephus Daniels, made regularly in a call to take down any statue or other dedication marker to him in North Carolina.

The work done on this website is a fascinating look into how resources on DigitalNC can really help illuminate a North Carolina community’s past.  Thanks for using us Ms. Henderson!  We encourage anyone with an interest in genealogy and local history, particularly for the black community in North Carolina, to visit the site.  

If you have a particular project or know of one that has utilized materials from DigitalNC, we’d love to hear about it!  Contact us via email or in the comments below and we’ll check out.  To see past highlighted projects, visit past posts here


R. B. Paschal Diary Transcript Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Chatham County Public Library, a transcript of R.B. Paschal’s diary entries dating from 1860-1861 and 1863-1864 are now available on our website.

In 1854, R.B. Paschal was elected the Chatham County Sheriff and served six consecutive terms.  In addition to his career as sheriff, Paschal served in the House of Delegates in 1865 and North Carolina Senate in 1866. Entries are brief and focus mainly on the weather, daily activities mostly related to farming, and sometimes news of the war.  The diary as a whole gives a window into how the Civil War affected Chatham County directly, with accounts of local men who were arriving back from fighting or taken prisoner of war.  It also includes accounts of Paschal overseeing the trade of enslaved people in Chatham County, a reminder of the duties assigned to the position of sheriff.  Place names and people’s names, white and black, are included in the diary.   

A page of R.B. Paschal's diary entries from late August to early October.

A page from the R.B. Pashcal diary transcript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about the Chatham County Public Library, please visit their website

More information about the diary and R. B. Paschal can be found here.


Eastern Carolina News New to DigitaNC

DigitalNC is happy to announce that we are now home to 51 late 19th century issues of Eastern Carolina News. We would like to thank our partners at Trenton Public Library for contributing this new title to our digital newspaper collection.

This weekly newspaper was based out of Trenton, N.C., located on the eastern side of the state in Jones County. The tagline was “A Paper for all Classes of People Who Want the Latest News”. Front pages contained articles on current local and nationwide news, including the news-about-town section “A Week in Trenton”.

Eastern Carolina News also had interest pieces. An example is “Two of the Queerest Craft Ever Constructed,” an article on the Argonaut submarine and, a “craft electricity has made possible,” the roller boat.

Also of note are the reserved spaces for messages from groups supporting the temperance movement, titled either “Temperance Corner” or “Temperance Topics”. Prohibition was ramping up for a nationwide debate in the late 19th century, eventually culminating in the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1918.

For a complete look at the new issues from Eastern Carolina News, you can browse all the front pages by clicking here. And for more information on Trenton Public Library, you can visit their home page here.


New Photos Added from Johnson C. Smith University

Five new large format photographs have been added to DigitalNC’s image collection thanks to our partners at Johnson C. Smith University. A historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University has been a fixture in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1867.

As these new photos are all from the early 1900s, you may notice an institution name change between the image titles. First established as Biddle Memorial Institute, Johnson C. Smith University was known as Biddle University between 1876 and 1923 before arriving at its current name.

Several of these images capture traditional university moments, such as graduation, class photos, and reunions.

Of note is a panoramic photo taken during a 1929 rivalry baseball game. This candid shot of the crowd avidly watching an Easter Monday match between Johnson C. Smith University and Livingstone College depicts just how well attended baseball games were at the time.

As would have been well known in the early 1900s, white baseball teams barred black players from joining their leagues, effectively segregating the sport. Black communities thus formed their own professional baseball leagues, culminating in a national organization known as the Negro National League, organized by Andrew (Rube) Foster in 1920. Baseball continued to be a popular and lucrative enterprise for the black community throughout the mid-1900s, splitting into western and eastern circuits. The last of the leagues folded in 1962. While Johnson C. Smith University no longer has a baseball team, spectators can still enjoy following the women’s softball team, the Golden Bulls.

To see the newest photos in their entirety, click here. To view all images from Johnson C. Smith University, click here. And to learn more about Johnson C. Smith University, you can visit their home page here.


Columbia High School and Tyrrell High School Yearbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Tyrrell County Public Library, a batch of yearbooks from two Tyrrell County high schools are now available on our website. This batch includes yearbooks from Columbia High School and African American high school, Tyrrell High School, spanning from 1941 to 1962. 

Columbia High School

Tyrrell High School 

Freshman title page

Columbia High School’s 1954 yearbook freshmen title page with an image that shows a student walking the plank with the tempestuous seas of high school below.

For more information about the Tyrrell County Pubic Library, please visit their website.

For more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit our yearbook collection.


Over 200 films from Appalachian State University now on DigitalNC

Three adults playing instruments on a stage

Appalachian Mountain Girls and the Kruger Brothers at Mountain Music Jamboree

Thanks to our partner Appalachian State University and our friends at the Southern Folklife Collection, 243 films documenting music and religious traditions in the Appalachian mountains and surrounding region are now on DigitalNC.  The digitization of the materials for preservation and online access was funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The films come from two collections at Appalachian: William R. and John W. Turner Concert and Dance Videos and the C. Howard Dorgan Papers.  The Turner collection consists of films and audio recordings taken at bluegrass and old time music festivals, fish park gigs, and concerts in primarily the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia mountains.  The Dorgan collection contains films and audio taken at churches, mostly of Baptist affiliation, in Appalachia.  Sermons, singing, and revivals are all documented in the films.  

Thanks to the hard work of the staff of the Southern Folklife Collection these films are now much more accessible for both our partner’s use and a wider internet audience.  

To learn more about our partner Appalachian State University, visit their Special Collections’ page here