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 "moving images"

Arts in Durham: More than Disco!

Durham has long been a center of the arts in the Triangle, with dance being no exception. The American Dance Festival (ADF) has been a part of the Durham community since 1978. The ADF began in 1934 at Bennington College in Vermont and moved to several other New England campuses, until it finally settled at Duke University, where it has remained for almost forty years. This event helped to foster the many dance and performance organizations in the area and increase the popularity of dance in the local Durham community, as well as around the Triangle.

The “Arts in Durham” television broadcast documented several studios and clubs that stemmed from this popularity during the late 1970’s. Although the ADF focused primarily on modern dance, many different genres were represented in these broadcasts, including disco, ballet, jazz, and clogging. Below are three “Arts in Durham” broadcasts from DigitalNC’s North Carolina Sights & Sounds Collection, highlighting the wonderful and weird dance styles from the Durham community.

Arts in Durham: Arthur Hall Dance Company


Arthur Hall teaching technique at the American Dance Festival.

Arthur Hall, founder of the Dance Company with his name sake, came to the ADF from Philadelphia to teach techniques based in traditional African movements. Trained under a Ghanaian instructor, Hall dedicated his life to creating a space for black dancers to practice and perform traditional and original choreography. Outside of dance, Hall created a museum, cultural center and archive in Germantown. He has been called the “father of the black arts movement in Philadelphia,” and his techniques inspired the Durham Arts community during his time with ADF.



Arts in Durham: C’est La Vie Disco


C’est La Vie Disco

Although ADF showcased professional dancers and choreographers, professional dance was not all that existed during this period in Durham. C’est La Vie Disco embraced the disco craze of the seventies in a way that amateurs and professionals alike could enjoy. Located in Durham’s old Five Point Neighborhood, C’est La Vie Disco was housed in a restaurant that made room for DJs and dancers in the evenings. The broadcast features several professional teachers, demonstrating disco techniques, but the true highlights are the intro and concluding pieces that showcase community members busting some moves.


Art in Durham: New Performance Dance Company, April 1979


Probably the most entertaining of all of the dance-related audiovisual material on DigitalNC, this broadcast features the New Performance Dance Company, once located on Chapel Hill Street in Durham. The company choreographed and performed in the area and taught classes of various styles. The broadcast features several modern performances, disco choreography, and children’s classes. Many of these dance styles are quite unique and definitely worth watching!



You can see all of the dance-related moving images at the links below or continue exploring the Arts in Durham . Many thanks to the Durham County Library for contributing these pieces of history from the Triangle.

Durham Chose Me: Yusuf Salim Remembered in Moving Image


Yusuf Salim interviewed for Durham Technical Institute and Arts in Durham.

From Durham Technical Institute’s Community Video Services and the Durham Arts Council, Cynthia Watts interviews Yusuf Salim in Arts in Durham, Brother Yusuf, 1979. This moving image can be found in DigitalNC’s  new North Carolina Sites and Sounds Collection. It was contributed by the Durham Public Library.

Born Joseph Blair in Baltimore in 1929, Yusuf Salim was a lifelong Jazz pianist and composer, performing in several bands in Baltimore, New York City, and Durham. Salim was a well-known figure in Durham, but apart from his small collection of archival material, his memory now resides mainly in the hearts of Durhamites who knew him. He served as a resource for the growing jazz community and often helped and hosted musicians who were settling in or passing through the Triangle. He was also known as a humanitarian and community activist, promoting peace among the rapidly diversifying population in the Triangle.

In the film, Watts askes Salim “Why did you choose Durham?” (3:14)
“Durham chose me.” Salim continued to describe his love of the Triangle area. He discussed the many “points of reference” by which he compared his experience. One such moment was his time as a Marine in Eastern North Carolina. Even in his full Marine uniform he was forced to walk in the dirt to let white people pass. But times had changed in the Triangle and Salim’s attitude and outlook were positive, which he credits to his Islamic faith. Salim also spoke openly about his struggle with heroin and how his faith freed him from his addiction. He went cold-turkey upon his move to Durham in 1974 and was clean from then on.

More than half of the moving image is dedicated to what Salim did best– jazz performance. The film documents 15 minutes of Salim’s skill on the jazz piano.

Two other moving image items from the the Durham Public Library that also feature Salim are available on DigitalNC:

Salim died in 2008 after a battle with prostate cancer. His memorial was held at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham. This moving image offers a warm memory of a beloved Durham jazz icon and captures a moment of the art scene in the Triangle during the 1970’s. For more information and research about Yusuf Salim and his life in Durham, please visit Duke University’s Rubenstein Library where his collection is housed. It holds many of the original scores that he composed. Related material about Jazz in Durham can be found at the Durham Main Library in the Bus Brown Collection. You can also view many other materials shared by Durham County Library on DigitalNC or in their own digital collections.

Fourteen North Carolina Film Board Films on DigitalNC

Film still from The Road to Carolina

Film still from The Road to Carolina

In the early 1960s, North Carolina’s state government created a Film Board to “portray and illuminate the people, problems, themes, and life of the State” (Oettinger 1964/1965, p. 1). Championed by Governor Terry Sanford, the Board operated from 1962-1965 and created 19 films. As part of our recent audio-visual project, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library contributed eight of these films for digitization.

During the Board’s operation, “ideas and requests for the films came from various state departments, individuals on the Governor’s staff or historical associations from around the state” (Ferrara 1981, p. 23). Production costs for each film averaged $30,000. James Beveridge, a filmmaker from Canada, was brought in to head the Board. (The State Archives has shared film clips from Beveridge online as well.)

The Board aimed to produce films that were documentary in nature, looking at different industries, locations, or segments of the population. Some addressed politically charged issues; the Minority Report series is a stark exploration of race relations. “Goodbye to Carolina,” was coordinated with the help of the Intercollegiate Council for Human Rights, chaired by then A&T student Jesse Jackson.

Below is a list of the films produced by the Board that are currently available on DigitalNC*:

Film still from Welcome to Work

Film still from Welcome to Work

  • The Ayes Have It (1963) A behind-the-scenes look at the North Carolina General Assembly.
  • Minority Report: A Series Stating the Opinions and Experiences of Negro Students in North Carolina
    • Goodbye to Carolina (1964) Interviews with North Carolina A&T College (now University) about their reasons for seeking jobs outside of North Carolina.
    • A Knocking at the Gate (1964) Interviews with North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) students about civil rights.
  • North Carolina’s Tribute to President John F. Kennedy (1964) Covers the memorial ceremonies for the late President held at UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • The Road to Carolina (1963) Commissioned by the NC Tercentenary Commission and created for eight graders, this illustrated film recounts the first hundred years of the state’s colonial history.
  • The Search for Excellence (1965) Follows rural residents’ experiences as communities around the state were consolidating educational resources and schools to a centralized model.
  • The Vanishing Frontier (1963) The state’s Appalachian communities are documented through first-hand accounts with citizens, revealing the area’s “poverty and promise” (Ferrara, p. 28).
  • Welcome to Work: The Siler City Story (1964) Describes the changes in Siler City as it transitioned from an agricultural-based to an industrial-based economy.
  • Updated March 21, 2019

It’s interesting to see the film topics chosen during this time period. Instead of shying away from hot button issues or glossing over the widespread demographic, economic, and social changes of the era, the Film Board tackled them with a freer hand than might be expected. Such ambitious and frank efforts eventually contributed to the Board’s dissolution.

You can view additional items on DigitalNC from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


*The other films are: Land of Beginnings; Minority Report: Vote and the Choice is Yours; Minority Report: We’re Not Alone; Nine Months To Go; The Outer Banks (possibly lost, according to Ferrara)


Ferrara, Susan E. “The Demise of the North Carolina Film Board: Public Policy Implications.” M.A. thesis., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981.

Oettinger, Elmer. “The North Carolina Film Board: A Unique Program in Documentary and Educational Film Making.” The Journal of the Society of Cinematologists 4/5 (1964/1965): p. 55-65.

Welcome to the Movies! North Carolina Sights and Sounds Collection now Online

Governor Scott Receives His License Plate

Governor Robert W. Scott receives a “Bob Jr.” license plate in this footage of his inauguration and subsequent celebrations. Contributed by the State Archives of North Carolina.

Almost one year ago, we asked our partners for nominations of audio and video media from their collections to digitize, using funding from the Digital Public Library of America. From all corners of North Carolina came suggestions for moving images and sound. Some items were well documented, with descriptions or finding aids [?] in tow. Others were accompanied with the words “We think this is … but we really have no idea.” Thanks to George Blood, L. P., who digitized these items for us, and Andrea Green, our former Community Digitization Manager, we ended up with over 140 physical items digitized from 11 institutions.

Here’s an overview of what’s been added to DigitalNC to our new Sights and Sounds collection (some of our partners will be posting their digitized media on their own digital collection sites instead). Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more posts taking a closer look at some of our favorites.

Braswell Memorial Library

Throughout the 1990s, Mary Lewis Deans spearheaded an ambitious and well-documented oral history campaign in Nash County. She and her colleagues spoke with long-time residents about rural farming life, military service during World War II, segregation, and family traditions. Deans was businesslike yet friendly, no-nonsense and yet genuine. Listen to and read Deans’ oral histories.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Three of the films contributed by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library help document the history of Charlotte. The Charlotte Mecklenburg United Appeal campaign from 1952 shows numerous Charlotte places.

Davie County Public Library

From Davie County Public Library comes a two-part series on Davie County History, and a home video of local personality Louise Graham Stroud, who performed monologues as her self-created character, “Miss Lizzie.”

Cynthia Watts interviews Joan Bennett

Cynthia Watts (left) interviews actress Joan Bennett in one of the Arts in Durham films contributed by the Durham Public Library.

Durham Public Library

Love Durham? Love the Arts? Love the late 70s? Some of our staff favorites come from Durham Public Library’s collection of “Arts in Durham” films. Produced by the Durham Arts Council, these films showcase local bands, dance groups, visual artists, and more. We’ll definitely be blogging about our favorite moments. Durham Public Library also contributed a taped lecture by Dr. Charles Watts on the history of Lincoln Hospital, and two-part coverage of the Durham County Centennial Parade of 1981.

Edgecombe Memorial Library

Tobacco Perspectives is an amateur recording of a two-night event in the early 1980s during which a historian, a political scientist, and representatives from farm, industry, and public health agencies lectured on the tobacco industry both past and present.

Rockingham County Public Library

We’ve already announced the bookmobile film from Rockingham County, but we’re still looking for someone who can identify the school that’s shown. In this film boys and girls eagerly peruse and check out books from local librarians. It’s even got Jim, the library dog.

State Archives of North Carolina

We were pleased to join for the first time with the State Archives during this project, as they chose a number of films that document the state’s history. Among the films from the Archives that we’ve added online are coverage of Governor R. W. Scott II’s inauguration and U. S. Coast Guard Appreciation Day (1970).

Still from No Handouts for Mrs. Hedgepeth, 1968, which documented a Durham family living below the poverty line.

No Handouts for Mrs. Hedgepeth, 1968, documented a Durham family living below the poverty line. Contributed by the North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

From 1962-1965, the North Carolina Film Board produced films tackling some of the most pressing issues in North Carolina: race relations, education, and economic opportunity. Eight of those films join others from the North Carolina Collection and Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill on DigitalNC. As might be expected, some are about UNC and Chapel Hill. Fans of the Hugh Morton Collection will also see several films believed to have been filmed by Morton or his colleagues. There’s even footage of Mildred the Bear.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

In 1960, Dr. Bertha Maxwell-Roddey became the first chair of what is now the Department of Africana Studies at UNC-Charlotte, which contributed three items related to her career. A scholar, educator, and community icon, one of these shows children in a classroom being taught by Maxwell-Roddey’s students. The others show a night of live poetry and music.

We hope you enjoy North Carolina’s Sights and Sounds. Click to view all of the films and oral histories together.

Rockingham County Bookmobile Film Now Available Online


We are very excited to share a new addition to the DigitalNC collections: video! Over the winter we began work on a new effort to digitize a selection of audiovisual materials from around the state. We gathered a wide variety of films, videotapes, and audio cassettes from some of our partner libraries and worked with a vendor to have everything digitized. The results are starting to come in, and they’re a lot of fun.

In honor of National Library Week, and in special recognition of National Bookmobile Day, we are sharing our first film: a terrific recording of the Rockingham County bookmobile visiting a local school in 1939. The film enables us to take a glimpse into the past as we watch a pretty fancy looking bookmobile pull up to the school, some earnest and well-dressed librarians getting ready for the kids, and then we can see the excitement of the children as they browse and pick out books from the mobile shelves. And of course, there’s Jim the library dog, who liked to ride on the front seat and was a fixture at every bookmobile visit.

The film is from the Rockingham County Public Library, which has also contributed a great selection of photographs of the bookmobile in action. Digitization was made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation through the Digital Public Library of America. Look for more moving images and audio recordings coming to DigitalNC very soon.