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 by Lisa Gregory


Six Months Later and We’re Not Done: Underrepresented Voices on DigitalNC

About six months ago we asked our partners to help us increase the diversity of voices shared on DigitalNC. We had an outpouring of interest, and partners have shared a number of rich collections from the African American and LGBTQ communities. Here’s an update of what has been added to DigitalNC as a result of this call.

Excerpt of a census page that includes school house census details and student names.

This 1903 Census Report for Morton Township, Alamance County, lists names, ages, and the names of parents of African American students. 

Alamance County Public Libraries shared a wide variety of materials documenting African American communities in that county. Two groups of photographs, the Heritage of Black Highlanders and Asheville YWCA Photograph Collection, are parts of larger collections held by University of North Carolina at Asheville

Several partners added African-American newspapers to those already shared online at DigitalNC. 

We’ve also been working with University of North Carolina at Charlotte to share issues of Q-Notes, which covers updates, events, and issues of the LGBTQ community.

Diversifying DigitalNC isn’t a one-time event – it’s ongoing every day. If your institution has or will be targeting collections that document racial, ethnic, or geographic communities who are underrepresented on DigitalNC, and you’re interested in sharing these materials online, get in touch.


NCDHC Strategic Themes, 2017-2019

We’re pleased to announce the Digital Heritage Center’s first set of strategic themes, which we’ve just released. These themes reflect what we’ve heard from partners and other institutions around the state over the last year. They join our longstanding but slightly revised Mission and Values statements.

If you’ve followed our work for awhile, these themes will be familiar. But there are nuances here that will drive some of our newer initiatives, such as scanning on location and increasing the diversity of voices available through DigitalNC.

Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to working hard to help our partners share North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

NCDHC 2017-2019; empower cultural heritage professionals by offering services and training;, strengthen community identities through history and culture; increase access to information for all through freely available online resources


We Want to Come to You! New On Location Digitization Service Begins

On Location Digitization Services icon with young boy riding in a toy car

Logo image courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library! “Ricky in Toy Car” 

Have you been interested in working with the Digital Heritage Center but find it difficult to get to Chapel Hill, or have concerns about having your materials off site? We want to come to you! We’ll be working with two or three cultural heritage institutions over the next nine months to try out on-location scanning.  If you’d like to nominate your institution, read on and use the nomination form linked at the end of this post.

What We Do

Here’s what nominated institutions will receive as part of this process.

  • We will bring our scanners, computers, and staff to your institution to digitize and describe materials from your collections. We would be there for one full weekday, at a minimum.
  • We’ll host the scanned images and associated metadata on DigitalNC.org, and give you copies of the original scans to use in any non-profit context.
  • Optionally, we can do a presentation for staff and/or the public related to any of the following topics:
    • The Digital Heritage Center’s services (for staff at your institution and/or other local cultural heritage institutions)
    • A demonstration of what we’re doing while we’re there (for staff at your institution)
    • The variety of resources you can find on DigitalNC.org and other fantastic digital collections in North Carolina (staff or the public)

What We’ll Need from Partners We Visit

If you’re chosen, we’d need:

  • At least one conference call before arrival to clarify expectations, work with you on scheduling, and talk through the materials you’d like scanned.
  • Description and a light inventory of the items we’ll be scanning, if there isn’t one already available.
  • Some assembly and preparation of the materials you’ve chosen. This might include physically pulling all of the content together before we arrive and removing staples if the materials are stapled at the top corners.
  • A designated staff contact regularly available to ask questions regarding what we’re scanning while we’re there, and to help with logistics like getting equipment in and out of the building, etc.
  • An indoor location that has:
    • at least two power outlets,
    • internet connectivity,
    • a work area large enough for 2 scanners and 4 laptops as well as extra room for materials handling,
    • seating for four people, and
    • is away from the public so we can get the most scanning accomplished in our limited time (ideal but not required).

Additional Guidance for Nominations

  • We’ll be giving priority to nominations from institutions furthest from Chapel Hill and to new partners. If you are a prospective partner, please check to make sure you’re eligible.
  • The materials have to be owned by your institution.
  • The materials should cover North Carolina subjects, events, and people.
  • For these on-location sessions, we’re accepting nominations for the following types of items:
    • photographs (prints) and/or postcards
    • looseleaf print materials up to 11×17”
    • bound items may be considered, but in very limited numbers and only if transporting them to Chapel Hill would be impossible
  • Materials can be fragile but should be stable enough to withstand gentle handling and placement on a flatbed scanner.

We’ll review nominations according to the following criteria, so you may want to address these in your nomination form:

Category Point Value
New partner 1
New town 1
New county** 2
Materials document an underrepresented
     community or population
1
Materials are well described/inventoried 5
Majority of materials date from 1945 or earlier        1
Materials are believed to be unique 1

** We have yet to work with any institutions in the following counties: Alexander, Bertie, Bladen, Camden, Caswell, Chowan, Clay, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Graham, Greene, Henderson, Hoke, Jones, Mitchell, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Swain, Tyrrell, Yancey

Use this nomination form to submit!

We’ll start reviewing nominations on September 30 and will notify selected institutions shortly thereafter. If a selected institution ends up not being able to host us, we’ll continue down the list.

We’re excited about trying out this new service. Please contact us with any questions and share this with any institutions you think might be interested.


May Day to Marion Anderson: Heritage of Black Highlanders Photo Collection Shared on DigitalNC

May Day, 1940s, from the Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection

This May Day, we’re pleased to introduce a collection contributed to DigitalNC from the Special Collections and University Archives at UNC-Asheville’s Ramsey Library. It’s the Heritage of Black Highlanders, a group of 216 photographs that document African Americans from the Southern Appalachian Mountains, particularly Asheville, in the early 20th to mid 20th century.

These photographs include many group and individual portraits, with a little less than half related to education (school classes, teachers, and administrators). Other photos are of important community leaders or those working for local organizations and businesses. To a lesser degree are snapshots of events and daily life, like awards being given to boy scouts, an early parade in downtown Asheville, or this visit by Marion Anderson to Stephens-Lee High School. 

If you head over to the Special Collections site at UNC-Asheville, you’ll be able to see the full scope of this collection. Ramsey Library has shared these photos with us as part of our call to increase the diversity of voices available through DigitalNC. You can see more from Ramsey Library on their contributor page or in their own collections.


Six Additional Charlotte Yearbooks from 1966 Added to DigitalNC

Title page of the Tomahawk Yearbook, West Mecklenburg HS, 1966

Tomahawk Yearbook, West Mecklenburg HS, 1966

We have a 50 year embargo for high school yearbooks on DigitalNC, to be considerate to alumni privacy concerns. In practice, this means that each year we can inch forward with a new round of volumes.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library recently brought us six yearbooks from six different high schools all dating from 1966.

And don’t miss the rest of an extensive set of yearbooks and other materials that Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has already shared online at DigitalNC, as well as The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story, their own rich site of Charlotte history.


We Run on IMLS: Who and What Supports NCDHC

We Run on IMLS BadgeDigitization is faceless work – you rarely see the hands that carefully place fragile scrapbooks under the camera and click capture, or hear the voices debating the best description of that great photograph a partner sent us. And we don’t stick a price tag on each item, parsing out how much our funders contributed to get that item online. 

So today’s post is about two things I think don’t get noticed often enough. The first thing is money. All of the accomplishments of the Center have been supported in very large part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through Library Services and Technology Act funding disbursed by the State Library of North Carolina. In other words, we run on IMLS. Digital libraries often include funders in footers or on “About” pages, but I decided to take this opportunity to bring it up front. Together, IMLS, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the State Library of North Carolina are the why, how, and whether DigitalNC exists. The power of this funding partnership is in its efficiency, its statewide view, and the way our work boosts what’s being done by counties and towns in their local institutions. It’s how our partners supercharge their collections, moving them beyond shelves to your screen. And we really hope it sticks around

A Wayne County scrapbook page that includes the gloved hand of the student scanner.

A rare shot that includes the gloved hand of a student worker as they gently lift up a document to capture the letter underneath.

The second thing is people. Behind each of the hundreds of thousands of images on DigitalNC.org are multiple individuals from multiple communities, who want YOU to see, share, build upon, question, and participate in North Carolina’s culture, wherever you are. These are the caring librarians, archivists, curators, or history-minded individuals with a passion not only for preserving their community’s history but also for giving that history legs. These are the full-time NCDHC staff who answer questions, juggle schedules, write code, and try to best serve users. These are the 20 student workers who have scanned, and scanned, and scanned over the last six years, whose professional development we have fostered and who were exposed to information-rich, quirky, poignant, and various special collections from all over the state.

Our goal is to make the materials front and center so you don’t see us or think about us.  But next time you find that great article on your hometown’s history, we hope you’ll think about who helped get it there and the funding it took to make it happen.


Catamounts to Camels: College Mascots in North Carolina

Mascots are a complicated phenomenon. They inspire a spectrum of reactions: ridicule, ambivalence, or fierce loyalty. With thousands of yearbooks online, all of us here at the Digital Heritage Center have probably spent more time looking at yearbooks than anyone else you’re likely to meet. Mascots are a common theme.

I’ve been working on today’s post for quite some time; unable to find a history or comprehensive list of mascots in North Carolina I decided to compile one myself. So here’s a stab at a college mascot overview, drawn from yearbooks and other campus publications. Let me know what I’ve missed or gotten wrong!

Children

In the early 20th century, schools frequently chose children as mascots or sponsors, whether for a sports team or for a particular class. The earliest example we’ve found on DigitalNC is from a 1910 publication by Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, which shows Elizabeth Settle Caldwell as the Senior Class sponsor.

Elizabeth Settle Caldwell, First North Carolina Mascot? From the 1910 Pine Knot yearbook, Atlantic Christian College.

Ms. Caldwell was the daughter of Jesse Cobb Caldwell, the college president. From what we’ve been able to tell, children mascots were frequently younger siblings of students, teachers, or others associated with the school. Students mention that Ms. Caldwell brought “solace to many a lonely, homesick heart” and this may be why children were chosen – to foster a feeling of family and comfort among students. We’ve seen several references to mascots being elected or being chosen through competition, although what this might be we haven’t been able to discover. The trend of choosing children as mascots seems to continue through the 1960s. The latest one we found is Dawn, the Senior Class mascot at Peace College (now William Peace University) in 1966.

Animals

Animal mascots span schools across the state, whether it’s Rameses at UNC-Chapel Hill or WCU’s Catamount. The bulldog and different types of cats win out as most frequently adopted. Pictures of live animal mascots start to appear in yearbooks in the early 1900s, and continue today although much less frequently. For a variety of reasons, including concerns expressed by animal rights activists, schools have shifted away from actual animals to students dressing up like animals, as you’ll see later on in this post. 

“Buc” is described here as East Carolina University’s first mascot. From the 1959 Buccaneer yearbook.

Characters

While about half of the four-year college mascots in North Carolina are animals, most of the others are characters that are historic, mythical, or extraordinary in nature. From what I’ve seen in NC yearbooks, humans dressing up as the school mascot really got traction in the 1960s. Initially, these costumes weren’t the fuzzy creations we think of today, but rather less complicated ensembles where the mascot’s identity (his or her face and body) was often apparent. Yosef the Mountaineer, beloved icon of Appalachian State University, was created sometime around 1942 and looked like this in the 1960s:

Yosef the Mountaineer, aka James Randle Tedder (we think). From the 1969 Rhododendron yearbook, Appalachian State University.

One of my favorites has to be this picture of Duke Blue Devil, from 1950:

The Blue Devil. From the 1950 Chanticleer yearbook, Duke University.

Perhaps it was too hard to maintain a degree of consistency as students graduated over the years, and mascot anonymity seemed like a better idea. Whatever the reason, you start to see fuzzy, oversized costumes with gigantic headpieces in the late 1970s.

The Big Costumes

Whether animal or character, plush mascots that include a single piece body suit with a large plastic or cloth-covered head is something most Americans can identify with, thanks to professional sports. Colleges in North Carolina really embraced these costumes through the 1980s. Here’s what the UNC-Wilmington Seahawk looked like in 1987:

The Seahawk. From the 1987 Fledgling yearbook, UNC-Wilmington.

Some schools have developed multiple mascots dedicated to different audiences. It seems like the difficulty with these types of costumes is how to pull off a fierce facial expression that doesn’t come off as goofy or too scary for children. I think this picture from Davidson College sums it all up:

The Davidson Wildcat and … friends. From the 1983 Quips and Cranks yearbook.

I will also take this opportunity to mention a mascot that routinely makes the “wait … what?” list – the Campbell University Fighting Camels:

The Campbell Camel. From the 1983 Pine Burr yearbook.

Even the humans and human-like creatures are clothed in oversized costumes these days. Wake Forest University’s Deacon is a dapper chap:

Wake Forest’s Deacon poses with fans. From the 1985 Howler yearbook.

In addition to the Demon Deacons and the Blue Devils, North Carolina boasts a number of  other spiritual mascots: North Carolina Wesleyan’s Battling Bishops, Belmont Abbey’s Crusaders, and Guilford College’s Quakers. Meredith College’s teams are known as the Avenging Angels (formerly just the Angels). While Elon University’s mascot is now the Phoenix, before 2000 they were the Fighting Christians:

The Elon Fighting Christian mascot with cheerleaders. From the 1986 Phi Psi Cli yearbook.

Two schools break with the animal/human tradition in North Carolina. The Brevard College Tornadoes and the Louisburg College Hurricanes. Weather phenomena mascots are always difficult to pull off. I couldn’t find one for Brevard, but Louisburg, which currently has a bird mascot, had “Louie” up until 2006:

Louie, the former Louisburg College Hurricanes mascot. From the 1996 The Oak yearbook.

Who knows when the next mascot sea change will happen. Below is a list of mascots in North Carolina; let us know if we got anything wrong. Which one is your favorite?

School Mascot Notes
Appalachian State University Yosef the Mountaineer First appeared in the yearbook in 1942
Barton College Bulldog  
Belmont Abbey College Crusader  
Bennett College   Known as the Bennett Belles
Brevard College Tornado  
Campbell University Fighting Camels The Hornets in the 1920s-1930s
Catawba College Catawba Indian  
Chowan University Hawks The Braves until 2006
Davidson College Wildcats Also a bulldog (1929) and a bobcat (1939)
Duke University Blue Devil  
East Carolina University Pirates Formerly Pee Dee the Pirate
Elizabeth City State University Vikings  
Elon University Phoenix The Fightin’ Christians until 2000
Fayetteville State University Broncos  
Gardner-Webb University Runnin’ Bulldogs  
Greensboro College The Pride Formerly the Hornets
Guilford College Quakers  
High Point University Panthers  
Johnson C. Smith University Golden Bulls  
Lees-McRae College Wily the Bobcat  
Lenoir-Rhyne University Joe and Josie Bear  
Louisburg College Hurricanes  
Mars Hill College Mountain Lion  
Meredith College Avenging Angels Formerly the Angels
Methodist University Eagles  
Montreat College Cavaliers  
Mount Olive College Trojans  
North Carolina A&T Aggie Dog (Bulldog)  
North Carolina Central University Eagles  
North Carolina State University Wolfpack  
North Carolina Wesleyan College Battling Bishops Formerly the Circuit Riders
Peace College Pacer  
Pfeiffer University Falcons  
Queens University of Charlotte Rex the Royal  
Saint Augustine’s University Mighty Falcons  
Salem College Spirits  
Shaw University Bears  
St. Andrews University Knights  
UNC Asheville Bulldog  
UNC Chapel Hill Rameses the Ram Also known as the Tar Heels
UNC Charlotte Norm the Niner  
UNC Greensboro Spartans  
UNC Pembroke Braves  
UNC Wilmington Seahawk  
UNC School of the Arts Fighting Pickle  
UNC School of Science and Math Unicorn  
Wake Forest University Demon Deacons  
Warren Wilson College Owls  
Western Carolina University Catamount “Paws”
Wingate University Bulldog  
Winston-Salem State University Ram  

New Exhibit Shares Largest Collection of Digitized NC African American Newspapers

The only issue we have (so far) of a Carver High School newspaper. Mount Olive, NC, May 1950.

From our estimation, DigitalNC shares more digitized historical North Carolina African American newspapers than any other source. Contributors range from our state’s HBCUs to local libraries and museums. To help pull these titles together, we created an exhibit page through which you can search and browse eleven community papers and nine student papers. There are also links to more available on other sites.

Below we’ve re-posted the essay from the exhibit, giving you a brief history of these papers. We hope that we’ll hear from others who may be interested in sharing more of these rare resources online.

~~

Since the publication of Freedom’s Journal in 1827 in New York City, African American newspapers have had a long and impactful history in the United States. Begun as a platform to decry the treatment of slaves, the earliest African American newspapers appealed to whites, who were politically enfranchised. After the Civil War, as newly freed African Americans claimed the right to literacy, the number of African American newspapers around the country grew exponentially and the editors began addressing blacks instead of whites. Papers turned their focus from slavery to a variety of subjects: religion, politics, art, literature, and news as viewed through the eyes of African American reporters and readers. Communication about black political and social struggles through Reconstruction and, later, the Civil Rights movement, cemented newspapers as integral to African American life. 

In North Carolina, the first African American papers were religious publications. The North Carolina Christian Advocate, which appears to be the earliest, was published from 1855-1861 by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, followed by the Episcopal Methodist, a shorter-lived publication produced during the Civil War by the same organization. After the Civil War, the number of African American newspapers continued to grow in North Carolina, reaching a peak during the 1880s and 1890s with more than 30 known titles beginning during that time.

The longest running African American paper established in North Carolina is the Star of Zion, originating in Charlotte in 1876 and still being produced today. Other long-running papers in the state include the Charlotte Post (begun 1890), The Carolina Times (Durham, begun 1919), the Carolinian (Raleigh, begun 1940), Carolina Peacemaker (Greensboro, begun 1967), and the Winston-Salem Chronicle (begun 1974). Many of these long running papers powerfully documented black culture and opinion in North Carolina during the 1960s-1970s, with numerous editorials and original reporting of local and national civil rights news.

Occasionally overlooked sources for African American newspapers are North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and, before integration, African American high schools. You’ll find links on DigitalNC to newspapers from eight of North Carolina’s twelve current and historical HBCUs as well as two African American high schools.

While many African American newspapers have found their way into archives and libraries, it’s common to see broken runs and missing issues. You can find a great inventory of known papers from the UNC Libraries. If you work for a library, archive, or museum in North Carolina holding additional issues and would like to inquire about digitizing them and making them available online, please let us know.


Announcing a 6-Month In-Depth Digitization Effort at NCDHC: Underrepresented Communities

The Wilson Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Date Unknown

Here at the Digital Heritage Center we’ve been talking about what we can do to increase representation of underrepresented communities on DigitalNC.org. Serving these communities in ways that respect their priorities and beliefs has become a focus for many libraries, archives, and museums, and we hear partners and other DigitalNC fans asking us about this as well.  We have a few ideas in the works that we’ll be talking about over the next year.

I’m writing today about one of those ideas. We’d like to try a 6-month in-depth digitization effort during which we focus on working with you to share items in your collections representing traditionally underrepresented communities. This may be groups including but not limited to African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos/as, American Indians, LGBTQ. If you feel sharing those items online would be useful to your users, we’d like to make that happen.

Our goals with this idea are to (1) bring partners together in a shared initiative (2) discover new collections and (3) better represent the diversity of North Carolina on DigitalNC.org.

If you are eligible to work with the Digital Heritage Center, have something that fits with this effort, and would like to collaborate, contact us.

Have other digitization priorities? No problem! This won’t preclude other projects you had intended to plan with the Center. 

Thanks for considering participating in this effort, and please share this post broadly.


“I Said ‘NO’ in the Best Way That I Was Able”: Images of Student Protests over Time in North Carolina Student Publications

The quote in this post’s title comes from a student who participated in a 1989 protest at UNC-Chapel Hill, pictured below.

One of the most historic student protests in the United States happened on this day in 1960 right here in North Carolina. NC A&T students protested segregation by sitting down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro. The first images in this post were taken at that event and come from the 1960 Ayantee yearbook. Other images come from schools in all parts of the state, and date from 1960 through 2012. 

North Carolina college students have passionately protested a variety of issues and events over the years. Looking back through yearbooks and student newspapers, you’ll find editorials with strong opinions and photographs of students standing up and speaking out in this most public of ways. Today we’re sharing the tradition of protest by students over the years, as reported in their own media. 

 

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, 1960, Segregation (Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, Greensboro)

North Carolina Central University, 1960, Segregation (Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, Durham)

Livingstone College, 1961-1962, Segregation (Capitol Theater, Salisbury)

Wake Forest University, 1969, Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saint Augustine’s, 1970, Vietnam War

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1977, B-1 Bomber and Nuclear Armament

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1989, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Mitchell Community College, 1990-1991, Hazardous Waste and Environmental Pollution

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1993, Racism

UNC-Asheville, 2012, Hate Crimes