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 Kristen Merryman


Van Eeden books now online

Van Eeden pamphlet published in 1913
Yesterday, on April 18, a new historical marker was unveiled in Pender County honoring the farming community of Van Eeden.  Van Eeden was located north of Burgaw and was owned by Hugh MacRae, who tried to start a farm colony with Dutch settlers there in the early 1900s that was named for Frederik Van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist and author, who helped MacRae recruit Dutch immigrants.

We digitized a pamphlet that was put out in the Netherlands to promote the colony in 1913.  The pamphlet is in Dutch and English.

The colony was not very successful, but in the late 1930s, it fulfilled a new purpose.  Alvin Johnson, the founder of the New School in New York, was working hard to bring as many Jewish refugees from Germany as possible, but was having difficulty working through the rules of the State Department.  He found a loophole in the law though; there was no quota on those who came as farm workers.  Working with MacRae, Johnson brought several Jewish families to Van Eeden to escape the Nazis.  Susan Block wrote a book about the experience of those families who came from Germany and adjusting to life on a farm in eastern North Carolina titled Van Eeden, which we digitized as well.  

To learn more about our partner Pender County Public Library, visit their partner page.  And to learn more about Van Eeden, visit the great libguide built by Pender County Public Library.  


A Visit from Wayne County Public Library

A few weeks ago, our partner Wayne County Public Library brought three over-sized materials for us to scan here at the NCDHC while they waited.  The items were a beautiful map of Goldsboro from 1881, and two posters related the building campaign for a memorial building in honor of those from Wayne County who died in World War I.  

1881 map of Goldsboro, NC

While we scanned these items, folks from UNC Communications stopped by to see us in action.  You can see the footage they shot of our scanning processes here.

Learn more about our partner Wayne County Public Library on their partner page, or on the Wayne County Public Library website.


16 Wilmington newspapers from the 19th century now on DigitalNC

Last summer we hosted students from a middle school in Wilmington who did extensive research on the 1898 riots in Wilmington.  They came along with staff from the Cape Fear Museum, who brought the issues of the Wilmington Daily Record the museum held.  We scanned those newspapers on site, along with clippings from papers around the state and country with articles about the riots.  To learn more about their visit, read the post we did about it during the summer during the summer here.

January 7, 1883 masthead of the Wilmington Paper, The New South

This fall, as a continuing part of our work with this group, we were pleased to make available 16 newspapers published in Wilmington during the 19th century, ranging in dates from 1803 to 1901.  Some of the papers have several years of content available and several have just an issue or two.  But together, they paint a rich picture of what life in Wilmington looked like during the 1800s and the wide variety of political viewpoints that were held in the city, and North Carolina as a whole.  The papers shed light on a port town that was instrumental in the Civil War and in the politics of Reconstruction afterwards, which culminated in the infamous riots of 1898. 

News of Wilmington in Nov 4, 1803 Cape Fear Herald

The news in Wilmington, as told in the Cape Fear Herald, published on Nov. 4, 1803

The sixteen papers now available are: 

The Cape Fear Herald 
The True Republican or American Whig 
The Liberalist and Wilmington Reporter 
Wilmington Advertiser and
Merchants’ and Farmers’ Gazette 
Our Rights 
Sunday Morning Mail 
The New Era 
The Wilmington Gazette 
The Wilmington Post 
The Evening Post 
The Daily Review 
The Weekly Star 
The Wilmington Democrat 
The New South
The Wilmington Dispatch 

View other newspapers on DigitalNC here. 

 

 


Loray Digital Archive expanded to include 1980s union efforts at Firestone Mill

We were excited this past semester to partner with the AMST 475H, Documenting Communities class here at UNC to show them how a digitization project works from star to finish.  This is a guest post from the class.

Written by: Dani Callahan and Lucas Kelley

New material that documents the unionization of the Gastonia’s Firestone Mill have been added to DigitalNC’s existing collection on the mill: the Loray Digital Archive. The Gaston County Museum of Art and History provided the materials for digitization, and UNC-Chapel Hill students in Professor Robert Allen’s Documenting Communities course scanned the material, researched the unionization movement, and added metadata to the documents.

The unionization of the Firestone Mill occurred in the late 1980s and was particularly contentious both within the mill community and throughout the region. The violent unionization efforts of the 1920s, exemplified in the Loray strike of 1929, had left deep wounds within Gastonia, and area residents and workers had traditionally distrusted subsequent unionization attempts. The widespread economic downturn in the textile industry in the 1980s, however, meant harsher conditions and less pay for the workers at Firestone, and some workers hoped the United Rubber Workers Union could provide protection from the difficult economic climate.

 Pro-union pamphlet distributed to employees at Firestone Mill in the late 1980s. It was produced by the AFL-CIO.

The materials added to the Loray Digital Archive document the pro-union and anti-union campaigns. Each side sought to attract workers to their cause with flyers, posters, stickers, buttons, and pamphlets. Initially, the anti-union forces held off the unionization attempt in 1987. Widespread media coverage turned the referendum into a political circus and leaders of the pro-union movement could not overcome area residents’ distrust. Yet a year later, Firestone workers voted to join the union in a campaign that was much more subdued. The success of pro-union forces was due in large part to the diligence of the union’s committee members working inside the mill. While the 1987 vote had turned into a regional and even national media circus, the 1988 vote remained an internal debate housed within Firestone itself. When the workers at the Firestone Mill voted on April 14th, 1988 to join the United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers by a narrow margin, it was a victory nearly sixty years in the making.  Click the link view all the materials from the 1980s union effort.


Photographs by Madlin Futrell now online from new partner City of Raleigh Museum

Madlin Futrell and a police officer walk down Fayetteville Street in Raleigh in the late 1950s

Back in August, DigitalNC was excited to road-trip over to Raleigh and test out our plan for onsite digitization at the City of Raleigh Museum whose staff kindly agreed to be our pilot location.  The collection we worked on while there was the Madlin Futrell Photograph Collection, a great collection of photographs primarily from the 1950s.  Madlin Futrell was a professional photographer who lived in Cary, NC and worked for the Raleigh Times, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History (now part of the North Carolina Department of Cultural and Natural Resources), and on a contract basis for several other institutions.  The photographs we digitized include location photographs of the Raleigh area, employees in the NC Office of Archives and History, historic sites around the state, and of President Eisenhower’s visit to the state in 1958.  They offer not only a look at places around NC in the 1950s but also a look at the life of a career woman in mid 20th century North Carolina. 

Staff of the Hall of History in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photograph was taken in April 1960.

To view all the photographs digitized from the Futrell collection, go here.  To view other photographs on DigitalNC, visit our Images of North Carolina site here.  And if you’re interested in learning more about our onsite digitization program, please read about it here and apply if interested!


Mapping the path of eclipses of the past through NC newspapers

This afternoon, the western portion of North Carolina will experience a total solar eclipse and the rest of the state will experience almost a total eclipse.  A peak into the newspapers on our site show that the rhetoric around eclipses has not changed too much over the years.  

Danger to one’s eyes is still the number one warning about watching the eclipse.  The front page of the March 5, 1970 Warren Record in Warrenton shouts “Danger!” about looking directly at the eclipse that was happening on March 7.

 

The New Bern Mirror noted about the same eclipse that the safest place to watch it would be on your television.

The Mirror was not the only paper in 1970 to discuss watching on TV.  It was a topic in the Raeford News-Journal as well.

In 1923, many of the papers on DigitalNC ran a feature about the ability to watch the eclipse that year at the movie theater – a big innovation for the day.

Perhaps our favorite find – and what may be of particular interest to those out in the western portion of the state – is an article found in the January 29, 1925 issue of the Brevard News, which noted a partial eclipse visible the weekend before.  It also stated at the end that “Scientists tell us that not for 300 years will North Carolinians be able to see another one in their own state.”  So either it was a misprint or scientists have had to do some recalculations!

Wherever you watch today’s eclipse from – be careful of those eyes!  And to read more eclipse stories in DigitalNC’s newspapers, visit here.


Students help bring new light to the Wilmington riots of 1898

In July, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center was pleased to welcome a group of middle school students from Williston Middle School and Friends School Of Wilmington. With them were writers Joel Finsel and John Jeremiah Sullivan and staff from the Cape Fear Museum, all of whom worked with the students over the past semester.  This visit was the culmination of a project for the students who had studied the Wilmington riots of 1898 and worked specifically with original copies of the Daily Record, held by the Cape Fear Museum. 

Original issues of the Record, which was the black-owned newspaper in Wilmington in the late 1890s, are incredibly hard to find: their offices were destroyed during the riots.  (Learn more about the riots on NCpedia.)  The museum staff brought along their copies of the paper, as well as original copies of the reaction to the riots as found in both black-owned and white-owned papers across the country.  We scanned all of the materials on site with help from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries’ Digital Production Center staff. Students watched and got to learn more about our work.  Now all of those materials are online not only for future students to work with, but for anyone from the general public to access.  

To learn more about the students’ work, read this great article from the Wilmington Star News . As the article states: “The project is still looking for any more copies of the Record that might turn up… Anyone who finds one is urged to email dailyrecordproject@gmail.com.”

And to view more newspapers on our site, visit our newspaper site here


New partner and new yearbooks – Winchester Avenue High School from Union County Public Library

Thanks to our new partner, Union County Public Library, DigitalNC now features 3 yearbooks [1956, 1958, and 1962] from Winchester Avenue High School, which was the black high school in Monroe, North Carolina.  Winchester first opened as a K-12 school serving the black community in the 1920s.  It was an important institution in Monroe’s black community, serving as a community center and point of pride for the many students who graduated from the school.  That all changed in March 1966 when a fire heavily damaged the school.  The high school students finished the year in the undamaged parts, but it was the end of Winchester as a high school.  As a result, with no other options,  the black students and faculty from Winchester all went to the all white Monroe High School for the 1966-1967 school year, making Monroe High the first fully integrated high school in the state.  

 

One of Winchester’s graduates is a trailblazer whose story has been highlighted very recently, Christine Darden. Darden is a retired engineer and executive from NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, and her story is one of the one’s highlighted in the book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”  Darden [Christine Mann is her maiden name] attended Winchester School through sophomore year before transferring to the Allen School, a boarding school in Asheville in 1956.  She served as a sophomore class officer while at Winchester. 

To learn more about our new partner, Union County Public Library, visit their partner page here.  To see more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit here.


Francis B. Hays tells the story of Hurricane Hazel

Included in the latest batch of Francis B. Hays scrapbooks from Granville County Public Library is one entirely about North Carolina’s devastation from Hurricane Hazel which struck in October 1954.  The scrapbook mostly contains newspaper clippings from the aftermath of the storm, which is still one of the biggest hurricanes to ever hit the state.  The focus of the clippings are not only on the Oxford area, where Hays lived, but across the state, particularly the Raleigh area and the coast, which were especially hard hit.  

To see more scrapbooks from Francis B. Hays, visit the exhibit page here and learn more about them in previous blog posts here, here, and here.  To see other Hurricane Hazel related materials on DigitalNC, visit here.  


Issues of Wake Forest University’s The Student from 1906-1935 added

Additional issues of Wake Forest University’s The Student are now online.  The additional issues cover 1906 through 1935.  The Student was typically published quarterly and featured articles, opinion columns, and stories written by the students of what was then Wake Forest College, located in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  The later issues, published in the 1930s have more of a magazine feel than the earlier issues, which are focused literary journals.  Topics covered include World War I, the depression, college life, dating, and social issues such as homelessness, the mentally infirm, and the death penalty.  Each issue includes a humor section as well.  The later issues also include a number of advertisements for both local businesses in Wake Forest and Raleigh and a number of full color cigarette ads.  

To read about previous batches of The Student we have digitized, visit here and here and here.  Visit Wake Forest University’s partner page to learn more about what they have contributed to DigitalNC.