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.

RSS Subscribe By Mail UNC Social Media Statement


Durham County Aerial Photographs from 1980 and a 1951 Zoning Map Recently Added to DigitalNC

Comparison of part of I-85 from 1980 and 2019

Thanks to the Durham County Library, DigitalNC now hosts several aerial photographs and maps of the county from the second half of the twentieth century. Among the 1980 aerial photographs is a 1951 zoning map, which focuses mainly on the borders of the county and shows all major roads, bodies of water, and railroads. Landmark Engineering Company from Cary, NC, took the aerial photographs on March 13, 1980. They document the landscape of much of Durham County, though some are annotated to include street names.

Each photograph is identified by a four digit number followed by a two digit number in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. This index shows all four digit zones and how they split into four sections with two digits each. Use landmarks such as roads to identify the location of the photograph or map, then these locations can be matched to current landmarks on Google Maps or a similar tool. The hand drawn sketch (left) shows which segment of the county each grouping of photographs documents.

  1. Northwestern Durham County
  2. Northern Durham County
  3. Northeastern Durham County
  4. Northeastern Durham County
  5. Northwestern Durham County
  6. Northern Durham County
  7. Northeastern Durham County
  8. Eastern Durham County
  9. Eastern Durham County
  10. Southeastern Durham County
  11. Not included in this batch

To view all maps and photographs in this batch, click here. To learn more about the Durham County Library, visit their contributor page here or their website here.


More yearbooks from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library now online

Thanks to our partner the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, we now have yearbooks from local Charlotte high schools on our website up to 1969. The yearbooks are from several Charlotte, NC high schools, including Independence Senior High School, Garinger High School, Central High School, Harding High School, West Charlotte High School, East Mecklenburg High School, Myers Park High School, Charlotte Country Day School, and West Mecklenburg High School.  These yearbooks are in addition to an already large collection of yearbooks from Charlotte on DigitalNC, which can be viewed here and span 1909 to 1969.

The cover for the 1969 edition of The Tomahawk, the yearbook from West Mecklenburg High School, in Charlotte, NC.

For more information about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, check out their website and their partner page.


New materials from Rockingham and Stokes Counties are now online!

New materials from the Rockingham County Public Library are now available on DigitalNC. This batch includes photographs, remembrance books, neighborhood histories, newspaper clippings, and a football schedule poster.

Photographs include the one above of Lowes Methodist Church, now Lowes United Methodist, in Reidsville, and one of Charlie Jackson Bennett laying in state in 1953. There are remembrance books for the same Bennett, as well as Carrie Lee H. Bennett and Sylvia Bennett Brown. The funeral home where Sylvia Bennett Brown was laid to rest also created a remembrance plaque, included in this batch of items.

Other items include a variety of materials documenting the history of Mayodan and Stoneville, North Carolina, mostly from the twentieth century. The Carolina Heights neighborhood in Eden, North Carolina, is also represented here by a leaflet sharing its history. Carolina Heights was formerly in Spray, which was consolidated into Eden in 1967. To see all materials on DigitalNC from Spray, click here.

DigitalNC is thankful to our partner, Rockingham County Public Library, for enabling access to these materials online. To learn more about the Rockingham County Public Library, visit their partner page here or their website here. To see all items in this batch, click here, and to see everything contributed by the library, click here.


New High School Yearbooks from Bethel in Pitt County Just Added

Thanks to our partnership with The Ward House: Bethel Heritage Center in Bethel, North Carolina, DigitalNC recently added fifteen yearbooks from Bethel High School (1949-1970). These yearbooks shed insight into the lives and activities of white students in northern Pitt County in the mid-twentieth century, particularly before the school was integrated with Bethel Union High School in the late 1960s. The class of 1970 was the final graduating class from Bethel High School. The following fall, North Pitt High School opened for students of Bethel, Belvoir, Pactolus, Stokes, and Staton House. Click here to browse all of the yearbooks from Pitt County on DigitalNC.

Click this link to see all fifteen yearbooks added in this batch. To learn more about The Ward House: Bethel Heritage Center, visit their contributor page here. To view more high school yearbooks from throughout North Carolina, check out our list here.


New Chatham County Photographs and the Story of Navigation on the Cape Fear and Deep Rivers

Thanks to our partners at the Chatham County Historical Association, DigitalNC now hosts nearly 100 new photos of Chatham County, as well as a profile of the Cape Fear and Deep River Slack Water Navigation from 1851 and the story of the Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company.

The Cape Fear and Deep River profile and its story are DigitalNC’s first additions to provide insight into North Carolina’s inland navigation system, though this information is complemented by several photos of the Cape Fear river on our site. The Deep River, along with the Haw River, is a tributary of the Cape Fear River. The two rivers meet just south of Jordan Lake in Chatham County, near Moncure and Haywood, North Carolina. The Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company was organized in 1849 in Pittsboro, NC, to enable steamboats to traverse the rivers. The company ensured navigation of the rivers by building dams and locks as a slack water system of navigation. To learn more about the company, visit Wade Hadley, Jr.’s history of the organization from 1980.

This batch of materials also includes nearly 100 new photographs of twentieth century Chatham County. Several showcase local high schools, activities at the Gilmore Hunting Lodge, dam construction, the Carolina Power and Light Company, churches in Mount Vernon, and other subjects.

To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association, visit their contributor page here or their website here.


200 More Photos from Central Carolina Community College are Available Now!

Thanks to our partnership with Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), there are 200 new photographs on DigitalNC, making our total number of photographs nearly 4,000! These latest photographs document happenings at the college form the 1960s until 2001, focusing mainly on staff and faculty portraits and activities. CCCC originally opened as Lee County Industrial Education Center in the early 1960s, and later became Central Carolina Technical Institute, then Central Carolina Technical College, and finally Central Carolina Community College.

To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, please visit their partner page or their website. To see more photos like these from CCCC, check out the nearly 4,000 photos in the collection A Pictorial History of Central Carolina Community College.


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 12 – A Big Newspaper Announcement!

Today is the last day in our holiday series: The 12 Days of NCDHC. Each day we’ve posted short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 12: Your Organization Can Fund Additional Microfilmed Newspaper Digitization

Sepia colored newspaper ad with boy holding folded newspaper, caption Big News!Today we are sharing an exciting newspaper announcement! Each year we offer a limited amount of microfilmed newspaper digitization funded by the State Library of North Carolina through IMLS’ LSTA program. In the fall we issue a call for title nominations, and we receive many. Because we serve the entire state, we geographically spread around our efforts. This means that we are rarely able to do an entire run of a community newspaper, which can be frustrating for researchers and our partners. 

Last June our Advisory Board approved a pilot project where NCDHC partner institutions can pay for additional microfilmed newspaper digitization. We’ve done this with two partners successfully so we are opening up this pilot project more broadly. Here are some details:

  • To participate your organization must be eligible to become an NCDHC partner.
  • This project only includes North Carolina newspapers on microfilm. That can either be microfilm your institution is able to lend and/or microfilm available in the collection here at UNC Chapel Hill (you can search the catalog for holdings). If it’s something you’re lending, just know that it may be off site for as much as 6 months.
  • We don’t have a limit on how much we can do and there’s no nomination to submit. If the request is large, we may have to complete it in batches.
  • If we haven’t worked on the newspaper before we’ll have to have permission from the current rights holders or you’ll need to complete a copyright review. We can talk further about this; just contact us.
  • During this pilot we are asking you to pay exactly the same amount the vendor charges us. Your organization would not need to pay for the ongoing hosting on DigitalNC.org or our staff time and effort, all of which is jointly covered by UNC Chapel Hill and the State Library. 
  • The cost is currently $0.25 per page, which covers the necessary images and markup. The only other cost is for shipping the film to and from the vendor. We usually estimate between 800-1200 pages on a microfilm reel, though that can vary widely. 

A note about cost – we know that there are companies or individuals scanning microfilm that charge less. Our cost includes a specific type of markup in order to make the newspapers full-text searchable on our website.  If you do decide to go with a cheaper option elsewhere, still consider giving us a call. We can share some questions to ask the vendor to make sure you get your money’s worth and end up with a usable product.

We’re really happy to help accommodate additional demand. We aren’t discontinuing our other newspaper digitization efforts – we plan to continue issuing the call for nominations each fall, and we will continue to scan print student newspapers and very limited runs of community papers. But if seeing your community’s newspapers online is a priority and you’re interested in pursuing this funded option, get in touch!


11 Days of NCDHC: Day 11 – We’re Consultants

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 11: We’re Consultants

Woman seated before a computer while instructor bends close and points to floppy disk

Secretarial Science student using a computer, contributed by Central Carolina Community College.

When NCDHC first began about 10 years ago, one of the main goals was to serve many institutions from a single location. The benefit of this approach means that resources and expertise can be consolidated. Instead of setting up a local digitization program, an organization can test the digitization waters by working with us before tackling their own projects, or they can choose to accomplish all of their digital collections goals through NCDHC.

We love to see institutions supporting their own digital collections almost as much as we dislike seeing people reinvent the wheel. We are happy to share advice on best practices in digitization, metadata, and hosting digital cultural heritage collections online. We can visit collections to look through materials and to talk about the commitment involved in a digital collection. We can present to stakeholders on the importance of thinking long term when beginning a digital collection.

Because of our statewide reach, we are able to help connect institutions who have similar or complementary goals. We frequently give advice related to applying for grants, particularly the State Library of North Carolina’s LSTA grants. If we don’t know the answer, we probably know someone who will. More than anything, we want to see successful and sustainable digital collections, even if they’re not on DigitalNC. So if you have a question or three, get in touch.

Check back on Monday as we reveal Day 12 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 10 – Community Scanning Days

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 10: Community Scanning Days

color image of three individuals facing camera and smiling, in traditional Hmong dress

Hmong New Year festival in Newton, North Carolina. The photograph was scanned at a community scanning day hosted by Catawba County Library and the Historical Association of Catawba County.

Community scanning days are a popular way for many of our partners to bring historical materials into their collection from their community without needing to take physical possession of the objects.  Instead, the community is invited to come in with their personal collections related to the town, or a particular historic event, or from a particular group, and have it photographed or scanned.  Information about the object, as well as information about the owner, is recorded at the time of scanning as well.  Then, depending on the infrastructure at the institution, the digital files and associated metadata are saved for research in the reading room or somehow made accessible online.  Community scanning days are often a really good way to engage the community with their local history collection while at the same time filling in holes in that collection.  

Where does the NCDHC come in?  Well, we can help with these events in a variety of ways.  One way is to come and offer technical support the day of the event, including bringing our scanners and doing a lot of that work.  We are also happy to consult with partners who are planning such events and pass along metadata templates and scanning specifications we would suggest using.  We can take the images and metadata from the scanning day and host those on DigitalNC.  If you are interested in us hosting the materials, we do ask that you talk to us before your scanning day so we can be sure the image quality and metadata collected fit with our system.  This page on our site is a good run down of what we’ll provide during and after scanning days.  

We have had the pleasure of working with several institutions already with community scanning days, including the Hmong Keen Kwm: Hmong Heritage Project by Catawba County Library and the Massey Hill Heritage Discovery Project by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.  

If your institution is looking to do a similar scanning project, please get in touch!  

Check back on Friday as we reveal Day 11 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 9 – We’ll Host Items You Scan

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 9: We’ll Host Items You Scan

Many of our partners have done scanning on their own.  However, as we like to joke here at the NCDHC, the scanning is the easy part!  It is getting those materials online for the public to view that can be really complicated.  Hosting materials online is a key part of our expertise and we are happy to take any items you’ve scanned yourself and load them into DigitalNC for you.  We have helped partners who have just scanned a yearbook or two, as well as partners who have embarked on large scale community projects such as DigitalKM, or who have had to migrate their digital collection from their own system, as in the case of Harnett County Public Library

Screenshot of a scrapbook in a content management system

One of over 200 scrapbooks Transylvania County Library scanned themselves and sent to us to host on DigitalNC

If you are interested in sending us materials you’ve scanned yourself, we have some guidelines for how we’d like to receive it.  

  • All scanned images must have a minimum image quality of 300 dpi, and preferably come as TIFFs, although we will take JPEGs. There can’t be any watermarks on the images.
  • We’ll need at least minimal metadata with a title and unique filename for each item.  We will be happy to share a template for you to fill out to send along with the objects and can discuss any questions that arise with that template.  This page on metadata requirements is also a handy guide to check.

The scanned items and their corresponding metadata can be sent via FTP, a cloud based storage site such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or you can send us an external hard drive or thumb drive.  Once we receive the items, we add it to our normal queue and get them online.  

Check back on Thursday as we reveal Day 10 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!