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 tagged "directories"


Craven County Materials Now on DigitalNC

1958 The Bruin yearbook New Bern

Students in Industrial Arts at New Bern High School hard at work, 1958 The Bruin

Over 40 yearbooks and other published materials from Craven County are now online on DigitalNC, thanks to the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.  The yearbooks and catalogs come from schools across Craven County and include:

Drawing from the 1924 Mill Stream,,from the Craven County Farm Life School

Drawing from the 1924 Mill Stream, from the Craven County Farm Life School

City directories for New Bern covering 1904-1915 are also included in the batch from Craven County.  To view more materials from across North Carolina, visit DigitalNC.


“Roanoke Rapids…where life may be lived enjoyably”

This week our colleagues at the North Carolina State Library are focusing on Halifax County as their county of the week.  We are taking the opportunity to again dive a bit deeper into some of our city directories from that county.  Two cities from Halifax County have directories in DigitalNC, Roanoke Rapids and Scotland Neck.

RoanokeRapidsCityDirectory1958

The directories from Roanoke Rapids, which cover 1938 until 1963, were all published by the Southern Directory Company, which was based in Asheville, NC, and are all Miller’s Directories.  Roanoke Rapids, which is Halifax County’s county seat, was a rapidly growing town during the period the directories were published.  In addition to the expected listings of businesses and addresses of citizens of Roanoke Rapids, the directories all include detailed descriptions of facilities in the town, including public works, churches, schools, and amusements.  There are also descriptions of the population of the town and all the counties in NC, and the tax rates in the town and county at the time.

Directory of local facilities in town from the 1938 Roanoke Rapids City Directory

Directory of local facilities in town from the 1938 Roanoke Rapids City Directory

 

Information about facilities in town from the 1958 city directory

Information about facilities in town from the 1958 city directory

RoanokerapidsCityDirectory1958_taxes

Taxes in Roanoke Rapids from the 1958 city directory

There are two directories from Scotland Neck, which cover 1960-1962.  Scotland Neck’s directories were published by Hill Directory Co., Inc., based out of Richmond, VA.  These directories do not included detailed descriptions of the town, just the basic ads, telephone directory and address directory for Scotland Neck and the surrounding area.  The ads in the Scotland Neck directories all include well done drawings by the publication company, making that section more appealing for consumers compared to the Miller directories for Roanoke Rapids.

SupermarketAd_ScotlandNeckCitydirectoryFurniture_ScotlandNeckCityDirectory

To learn more about city directories, check out past blog posts here.  And to view more city directories from across North Carolina, visit the City Directories Collection on DigitalNC.


“A Desirable Place for Good Citizens to Live” – A Look at Lumberton’s City Directories

Directory from North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

Directory from North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

Our colleagues over at the State Library of North Carolina are highlighting a North Carolina county every week and in honor of this week’s county, Robeson, we are taking a closer look at the city directories from Robeson’s county seat, Lumberton.

In DigitalNC, we have four city directories from Lumberton, that span the time period of 1916-1956.  The directories highlight the changes and growth in Lumberton over this time as it moved from a town of approximately 3,000 residents to one of 18,119 people by 1956.  City directories, which were printed by private companies, provided many of the services that a telephone book did later in the 20th century, but they tended to include more elaborate information about the residents in the town, had extensive advertisements, and often added civic information.  The Lumberton city directories were no exception.

Example of directory information on residents. Directory is courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Example of directory information on residents. Directory is courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

The directories for Lumberton in DigitalNC were published by three different publishers, all based out of South Carolina; Gardiner, Baldwin, and Nelson.  These publishers took it upon themselves to do a census of all the residents and businesses in town.  The information gathered on the residents not only included their address, but how many people lived in the house and their occupations.  Information such as race and whether or not the house was owned by the resident was also included.

Extensive civic information is also included in several of the directories, particularly those produced by Baldwin.  Not only is a town history provided, with images of the hospital and schools in the town, but also a complete listing of who was in office at the time, both in the North Carolina government and every single member of Congress, and the Supreme Court.

Encouraging business owners to advertise in the directory, as this was the publisher's source of revenue. Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

Encouraging business owners to advertise in the directory, as this was the publisher’s source of revenue. Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

As the city directories were handed out free to those in the town, revenue for the directories came from advertisements, which are a rich source of information about the types of businesses in the town and the types of products they were selling.  You can see over time how there was a shift from locally owned small shops to more franchise based operations.  For example, in 1916 a local millinery shop is advertised and in the 1956 directory, several regional and national department stores are advertising.

Ads in the 1916 City Directory. Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ads in the 1916 City Directory. Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ads from the 1956 City Directory.  Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ads from the 1956 City Directory. Courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lumberton city directories provide a microscope on the town in the early half of the twentieth century and are a rich resource for anyone wanting to learn more about what the 1916 directory advertises as “A Desirable Place for Good Citizens to Live.”

For more information on the history of city directories and their use as a research tool in the 21st century, the New York Public Library has an excellent blog post here.  For more city directories from towns and cities across North Carolina, check out DigitalNC’s City Directories Collection.


Supplement Your 1940 Census Research With North Carolina City Directories

As researchers around the country begin to dig in to the 1940 census records released today by the National Archives, many will be looking for supplemental information to help locate ancestors in the as-yet-unindexed records.  City directories are a great place to start.

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center has digitized directories for 1940 from 20 different cities and towns. These are part of the growing North Carolina City Directories digital collection.

Browse 1940 city directories online.