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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Rare issue of Bessemer City Messenger now on DigitalNC

Front page of the Bessemer City Messenger, dated May 25, 1895.

An issue of the Bessemer City Messenger has been newly digitized and added to DigitalNC. The issue is date May 25, 1895, making the Messenger one of the oldest newspapers we have on file. Unfortunately, not much else is known about this newspaper, including when it began or when it ended. This 1895 issue is only the second instance of the Messenger being preserved to this day. The only other copy of any issue known to exist is an 1892 edition held in the State Library of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.

 

Published out of Bessemer City, the Messenger served the residents of Gaston County during its circulation. Its articles take a distinctly Populist stance, celebrating Populist Party victories throughout the country in the early 1890s, while also arguing for greater distribution of wealth among workers and increased living conditions for children and women. A number of articles are also dedicated to trade protection, wheat production, manufacturing, and tariffs. For example, the article on the right is dedicated to the rapid expansion of cotton production mills in the South, with North Carolina being a particular spot for growth. While there were some notices of local events and local news among Gaston County and nearby towns in Cleveland County, the majority of this paper’s articles were dedicated to national or international events, creating an interesting dynamic when compared to other North Carolina papers of the time on our site. 

 

Having the Bessemer City Messenger added to our collection is an invaluable resource when it comes to learning about the lives of North Carolinians in the late 1800s. 


Labor Day in North Carolina

In 1894, Congress passed into federal law the national observance of Labor Day, a day of “rest and recreation” for the “laboring man” to reinforce his “honorable as well as useful place in the body politic.” Twenty-three states (North Carolina not among them) had already been celebrating a “labor day” in the years preceding 1894, and the tradition garnered enough Congressional attention to rise to the level of a federal holiday.

Because this tradition wasn’t broadly adopted in North Carolina until it became a federal holiday, most mentions in the state’s newspapers preceding 1894 report on other states’ celebrations like this clipping from the September 5, 1888 Daily Review out of Wilmington which warns of “red-handed and black-hearted Anarchists.”

"Monday was Labor Day in the North, East, and West."

From the Wilmington NC Daily Review

While we don’t see them as much today, parades were a near requirement of early Labor Days, with labor organizations creating floats and marching in celebration. The closing of businesses and a rest from all kinds of work were also a requirement. When North Carolina newspapers start mentioning the observance of Labor Day, there’s another recurring theme: Barbecue. One of the earliest examples we could locate, from 1907, talks about “a big barbecue and brunswick stew” served up at the fairgrounds in Raleigh.

From the Smithfield Herald

Barbecue (frequently FREE barbecue) continues to be mentioned as part of the main event. In 1912 Spencer had a “big barbecue” and a “big parade,” along with games, races, fireworks, and “a demonstration in motor plowing.”

Newspaper clipping about Labor Day celebrations in 1912

From the Mebane Leader

We hope you’re celebrating Labor Day by resting from work and enjoying delicious barbecue or the North Carolina delicacy of your choice!

Newspaper clipping of an advertisement for a Labor Day Barbecue


The Richmond Headlight Now Digitized and Online at DigitalNC

The front page of the July 1, 1904 Richmond Headlight

43 issues of the Richmond Headlight have been newly added to DigitalNC and are available now. These are the first issues of the Richmond Headlight to be digitized and uploaded to DigitalNC, covering from March 1901 to September 1906. It is also the first newspaper on DigitalNC from Richmond County. Published as a weekly newspaper in Rockingham, the Richmond Headlight advertised itself as the “only Democratic paper in the county” at the time. As the newspaper folded in late 1906, this batch may represent the entirety of the Richmond Headlight‘s circulation still in known existence, completing the collection.

The Headlight provided local news for Richmond County residents, as well as updates from throughout the state. Rather than specifically focusing on the county seat, the city of Rockingham, it made efforts to include news from all throughout the county, from towns both large and small. Looking through the articles now, it is remarkable to see what news the editors and reporters believed to be important to contemporary readers. The “Local Column” announced what had happened in the previous week; in one issue, it noted the election of Governor Robert B. Glenn in 1904, the creation of a lodge of the Junior Order United American Mechanics, and made mention of one resident spending Sunday with another.

Adding the Richmond Headlight to our collection represents an invaluable resource in helping us learn about the lives of North Carolina in the beginning of the 20th century.  To view more newspapers on DigitalNC, visit our newspaper page.


More issues of The Transylvania Times are now available online

Front page of the March 8, 1934, issue of The Transylvania Times

Front page of the March 8, 1934, issue of The Transylvania Times

Issues from 1933 to 1940 of The Transylvania Times have recently been transferred from microfilm and are now available on DigitalNC. The paper, published in Brevard, North Carolina, recounts news from throughout Transylvania County.

As the “only newspaper published in Transylvania County” at that time, the publication includes information regarding local events, education updates (from both Rosman and Brevard high schools), notices of sales, society and club news, advertisements, as well as news from beyond the county. A regular section called “Scenes and Persons in the Current News” features international news covering topics such as the Spanish Civil War and the shifting hands of the British monarchy. Additionally, many issues include “The Sunny Side of Life,” a series of comics that regularly fill a page of the newspaper.

Front page of the "Special Fair Edition" from October 5, 1933

Front page of the “Special Fair Edition” from October 5, 1933

Significant local events are given special weight in this paper, such as the first county fair, featured in the issue from October 5, 1933. For that special issue, the front page features and the next several pages of the issue provide information regarding fair entries and advertisements for the best clothing to wear to the fair. According to the next issue, from October 12, the fair was a success with between four and five thousand attendees over the course of the two days.

"Great Throngs at First County Fair," from the October 12, 1933 issue of The Transylvania Times

“Great Throngs at First County Fair,” from the October 12, 1933 issue of The Transylvania Times

To browse more of our materials from throughout Transylvania County, visit here. Digitized issues of Brevard News and Sylvan Valley News both predate our holdings of The Transylvania Times, and we also have issues of The Echo, covering the nearby Pisgah Forest, available from 1940 to 1954.  Thanks to our partner Transylvania County Library for nominating this paper for digitization!


Call for Nominations – North Carolina Newspaper Digitization, 2018

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

It’s time to announce our annual round of microfilmed newspaper digitization! As in previous years, we’re asking cultural heritage institutions in the state to nominate papers from their communities to be digitized. We’re especially interested in:

  • newspapers published 1923 or later,
  • newspapers that are not currently available in digital form elsewhere online, and/or
  • newspapers covering underrepresented regions or communities.

If you’re interested in nominating a paper and you work at a cultural heritage institution that qualifies as a partner, here’s what to do:

  • Check out our criteria for selecting newspapers, listed below.
  • Verify that the newspaper you’d like to see digitized exists on microfilm. Email us (digitalnc@unc.edu) if you’re not sure.
  • Send us an email with the name of the newspaper you would like to nominate, along with the priority years you’re interested in seeing online. Please talk briefly about how the paper and your institution meet the criteria below.
  • Be prepared to talk with the local rights holder(s) to gain written permission to digitize the paper and share it online. We can give you advice on this part, if needed.

Nominations will be taken through the end of 2018. However, don’t wait! We typically get many more requests than we can accommodate. Please contact us at digitalnc@unc.edu or 919-962-4836 with any questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Criteria for Selecting Newspapers to Digitize from Microfilm

Titles to be digitized will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Does the newspaper document traditionally underrepresented regions or communities?
  • Does the newspaper include significant coverage of the local community?
  • Does the newspaper come from an area of the state that has little representation on DigitalNC? (Titles that have not previously been digitized will be given priority.)
  • Are the images of the pages on microfilm legible, or are there significant sections where it is difficult to read the text?
  • Is the institution willing to obtain permission from the current publisher or rights holder(s) to digitize older issues and make them freely available online?
  • If the newspaper is digitized, will the nominating library promote the digital project through programs and announcements?

Edenton’s Albemarle Observer now available online

Front page of the August 17, 1917 issue of the Albemarle Observer

Front page of the August 17, 1917 issue of the Albemarle Observer

Eight issues of the Albemarle Observer, from Edenton, North Carolina, are now available online. Issues from the “only newspaper published in Chowan County” date from August to November, 1917, and cover news about individuals and businesses throughout the area.

As these issues were published in the midst of World War I, they include listings of Chowan County individuals who had been drafted to serve in the military, those who were required to report for wartime physical examinations, and other wartime news. For information about additional items on DigitalNC from World War I, visit this blog post.

Ten More Years of The Guilfordian Now Online at DigitalNC

A 2007 article highlighting an exhibition at Guilford College of Ethiopian artist Wosene Worke Kosrof

A new batch of student newspapers have been added to DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, Guilford College. Included in this collection are nearly 250 issues of The Guilfordian, the student newspaper designed to update, teach, and inform students at Guilford College. Stretching from September of 2005 to May of 2015, this collection represents adding the experiences of nearly 3 generations of college students to our holdings.

A list of what was being played by student radio station WQFS during the week of April 10, 2009.

The Guilfordian is mostly dedicated to student activity on campus, advertising clubs, events, or speakers coming to Guilford College, it also included other details that students, alumni, or readers may find interesting. For example, as you can see to the left, for several years, the paper included lists of the top tracks played by Guilford College’s own student-run radio station, WQFS 90.9.

While many of the earlier articles are dedicated to student news, news around Greensboro, and activities on campus, readers can see how the direction and editorial stance of the paper changed with each generation of students. Over time, The Guilfordian has developed a stance more towards individual empowerment and highlighting student growth on campus. Just as the paper changed, adding or removing different sections, it is fascinating to see how the student body changed and reacted to different events over the years. For example, as seen below, The Guilfordian covered how Guilford College students demonstrated in Occupy Greensboro in the fall of 2011.

Guilford College students took to the streets in Occupy Greensboro in fall 2011.

To see more issues of The Guilfordian, click here. To learn more from Guilford College, you can see more information by visiting their partner page or taking a look at their website.


Changes Coming to DigitalNC.org

Towards the end of this year, you’ll be seeing some changes on DigitalNC.org. We’re in the process of migrating out of the software that supports the parts of our site that look like this:

Search results page for a CONTENTdm search for "lumber mill."

and this:

Photograph of a Haywood County lumber mill with title and subject terms.

After years of investigation, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve chosen to migrate DigitalNC’s collections to TIND Digital Archive. TIND is an official CERN spin-off providing library management systems, digital preservation, and research data management solutions based on CERN open source software (Invenio).

Blue text on white background, spelling TINDWhat does this mean for users? The current site will remain active and available right up until we switch everything over. However, until the migration is complete, newspapers will be the items most frequently added to DigitalNC (newspapers live in a different system).

TIND addresses some of the biggest areas for improvement identified through surveys and by looking at years of feedback. Those are:

  • Faster response time for searches and viewing items,
  • More relevant search results,
  • Easier to page through multi-page items,
  • Files that are easier to find and download, and
  • Full text search across ALL yearbooks.

Our partner institutions are already in the loop about the migration. We will give users a chance to preview the new site (or at least extensive screenshots) before we switch everything over. Before we change anything, we’ll give you a heads up via posts to this blog and social media outlets as well as banners on our website. So watch this space in the coming months for updates!

If you manage your own digital collections and would like more technical details related to the migration or information about why we have chosen TIND, just contact us.


Issues of Zion’s Landmarks newspaper from Wilson, NC, are now available

Front page of the April 15, 1870 issue of Zion's Landmarks

Front page of the April 15, 1870 issue of Zion’s Landmarks

Fifty-five issues of Zion’s Landmarks, a Baptist newspaper published in Wilson, North Carolina, are now available online thanks to our partner institution, Wake Forest University. The issues, “devoted to the defense of the Primitive Baptists,” dates from 1869 to 1877. The paper primarily consist of letters to community elders and the paper’s editors, but also often include biblical narratives, such as “Ruth married to Boaz,” in the issue from October 15, 1871, or “David and Goliath,” in the issue from November 15, 1870, as well as announcements to the community of subscribers.

Other newspapers on DigitalNC from Wilson near that time period include The Wilson Advance (1874-1899) and The Wilson Blade (1897). To see more from Wake Forest University, you can visit their partner page here or visit their website for more information.


Redevelopment and urban renewal efforts in Winston-Salem

Man on lawn mower in front of homes on Cleveland Ave. Winston Salem

Man on a lawnmower in front of homes on Cleveland Ave., 1958

Back in May, when the NCDHC staff went to Winston-Salem to do a day of on-site scanning with the Winston Salem African American Archive, the bulk of our scanning was over 200 slides that showed construction of public housing units built by the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, as well as some slides that showed the areas of “urban decay” that were replaced with these developments in initial urban renewal efforts in the city that started in the late 1940s. The housing complexes photographed include Cleveland Avenue homes (built in the mid 1950s as one of Winston-Salem’s first public housing communities), Sunrise Towers, Crystal Towers, the 14th Street Community Center, Northwood Estates, and the Castle Heights neighborhood.

Woman walking with two children down a street past a storefront

Woman walking with two children in Winston-Salem. The slide was included in a section that stated “conditions before redevelopment”. Ca. 1950

See all the slides we scanned from the WSAAA here. To learn more about the archive, visit their website.