DigitalNC: North Carolina's Digital Heritage

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 "newspapers"

New Exhibit Shares Largest Collection of Digitized NC African American Newspapers

The only issue we have (so far) of a Carver High School newspaper. Mount Olive, NC, May 1950.

From our estimation, DigitalNC shares more digitized historical North Carolina African American newspapers than any other source. Contributors range from our state’s HBCUs to local libraries and museums. To help pull these titles together, we created an exhibit page through which you can search and browse eleven community papers and nine student papers. There are also links to more available on other sites.

Below we’ve re-posted the essay from the exhibit, giving you a brief history of these papers. We hope that we’ll hear from others who may be interested in sharing more of these rare resources online.


Since the publication of Freedom’s Journal in 1827 in New York City, African American newspapers have had a long and impactful history in the United States. Begun as a platform to decry the treatment of slaves, the earliest African American newspapers appealed to whites, who were politically enfranchised. After the Civil War, as newly freed African Americans claimed the right to literacy, the number of African American newspapers around the country grew exponentially and the editors began addressing blacks instead of whites. Papers turned their focus from slavery to a variety of subjects: religion, politics, art, literature, and news as viewed through the eyes of African American reporters and readers. Communication about black political and social struggles through Reconstruction and, later, the Civil Rights movement, cemented newspapers as integral to African American life. 

In North Carolina, the first African American papers were religious publications. The North Carolina Christian Advocate, which appears to be the earliest, was published from 1855-1861 by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, followed by the Episcopal Methodist, a shorter-lived publication produced during the Civil War by the same organization. After the Civil War, the number of African American newspapers continued to grow in North Carolina, reaching a peak during the 1880s and 1890s with more than 30 known titles beginning during that time.

The longest running African American paper established in North Carolina is the Star of Zion, originating in Charlotte in 1876 and still being produced today. Other long-running papers in the state include the Charlotte Post (begun 1890), The Carolina Times (Durham, begun 1919), the Carolinian (Raleigh, begun 1940), Carolina Peacemaker (Greensboro, begun 1967), and the Winston-Salem Chronicle (begun 1974). Many of these long running papers powerfully documented black culture and opinion in North Carolina during the 1960s-1970s, with numerous editorials and original reporting of local and national civil rights news.

Occasionally overlooked sources for African American newspapers are North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and, before integration, African American high schools. You’ll find links on DigitalNC to newspapers from eight of North Carolina’s twelve current and historical HBCUs as well as two African American high schools.

While many African American newspapers have found their way into archives and libraries, it’s common to see broken runs and missing issues. You can find a great inventory of known papers from the UNC Libraries. If you work for a library, archive, or museum in North Carolina holding additional issues and would like to inquire about digitizing them and making them available online, please let us know.

Pine Knoll Shores newspaper issues through 2016 now online


A pine woods snake hatching and adult shown in the December 2016 issue of The Shoreline

Issues of the Pine Knoll Shores Newspaper, The Shoreline, from 2015 through 2016, are now online courtesy of the History Committee of the Town of Pine Knoll Shores. These issues join 4 decades of The Shoreline that were added to DigitalNC a year ago.

The Shoreline is a monthly publication that covers various aspects of life in Pine Knoll Shores, and includes articles on community events and clubs, stories about local businesses, notes from the mayor, book reviews, and more. As Pine Knoll Shores is a beach town located along Bogue Banks, there is an emphasis on the great outdoors, including  news stories and event coverage pertaining to fishing, hunting, hiking, and beach-going.

A recent article in the December 2016 issue of The Shoreline tells the story of the 1871 discovery of a new species of snake, the pine wood snake, by botanist Dr. H.C. Yarrow, in present day Pine Knoll Shores. Pine wood snakes are common throughout the southeastern coastal plain, and are completely harmless to humans and pets. They are considered in the article to be “a living piece of Bogue Banks history.”

Click here to view over 40 years of The Shoreline. To learn more about the History Committee of the Town of Pine Knoll Shores, take a look at their partner page, or website.

“I Said ‘NO’ in the Best Way That I Was Able”: Images of Student Protests over Time in North Carolina Student Publications

The quote in this post’s title comes from a student who participated in a 1989 protest at UNC-Chapel Hill, pictured below.

One of the most historic student protests in the United States happened on this day in 1960 right here in North Carolina. NC A&T students protested segregation by sitting down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro. The first images in this post were taken at that event and come from the 1960 Ayantee yearbook. Other images come from schools in all parts of the state, and date from 1960 through 2012. 

North Carolina college students have passionately protested a variety of issues and events over the years. Looking back through yearbooks and student newspapers, you’ll find editorials with strong opinions and photographs of students standing up and speaking out in this most public of ways. Today we’re sharing the tradition of protest by students over the years, as reported in their own media. 


North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, 1960, Segregation (Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, Greensboro)

North Carolina Central University, 1960, Segregation (Woolworth’s Lunch Counter, Durham)

Livingstone College, 1961-1962, Segregation (Capitol Theater, Salisbury)

Wake Forest University, 1969, Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saint Augustine’s, 1970, Vietnam War

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1977, B-1 Bomber and Nuclear Armament

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1989, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Mitchell Community College, 1990-1991, Hazardous Waste and Environmental Pollution

UNC-Chapel Hill, 1993, Racism

UNC-Asheville, 2012, Hate Crimes

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Black Ink, a publication of UNC’s Black Student Movement

image_638x817_from_079_to_27673621-1The above image is the front page of the February 2001 edition of Black Ink, a publication started by the Black Student Movement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1969. According to the Black Student Movement website, “Black Ink started off as a newsletter, revolutionized into a newspaper, and later transformed into a magazine…it grew to become the source of communication for black students, a voice for black issues and the training grounds for black journalists and business leaders at UNC.” DigitalNC has digitized 212 issues of Black Ink from 1969-2001.

To see more materials from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, visit their partner page. To see more recent issues of Black Ink, visit the Black Ink Magazine’s website.

Documenting Hanukkah in NC through the Charlotte Jewish News

Charlotte Jewish News, December 1, 2003, page 3

Charlotte Jewish News, December 1, 2003, page 3

The Charlotte Jewish News, December 1, 1984, page 16

The Charlotte Jewish News, December 1, 1984, page 16

Thanks to our partner the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Charlotte, DigitalNC has a wealth of information about how some Jewish North Carolinians celebrate the holidays, including Hanukkah, which begins on December 24th this year.  

The Charlotte Jewish News documents stories from the Jewish community, especially events, awards, education, and holidays. The stories and advertisements date from the late 1970’s to 2013. They are full of photos, schedules, and recipes like this one for Creamy Broccoli Latkes. Community newspapers can be excellent windows into the holiday traditions of people across North Carolina.

In addition to newspapers, the Jewish Historical Society has also contributed a number of images documenting celebrations and traditions of all kinds in the Jewish community.


Kraft Family Bat Mitzvah Celebration



To see more newspapers and photos from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Charlotte located at the Levine-Sklut Judaic Library and Resource Center, visit the contributor page or the website.

The Flavor Lasts! Wrigley’s Ads from 1914-1918

Wrigley's Ad 1914 The EnterpriseAfter catching sight of the bizarre Wrigley’s gum ad seen above (cools your mouth! heartburn and flatulence disappear!), I dug up a number of interesting Wrigley’s ads in North Carolina newspapers from the years before and during World War I.

Before the War, ads focused on the health-related claims made by the manufacturers:

Ads from 1914-1918 show the Spearmint/Pepsin variety, then add Doublemint (a peppermint flavor) and finally Juicy Fruit.

The “Wrigley Spearmen” brand mascots begin appearing around 1915, especially in ads that suggested the gum as a “goody” for children. You could send away for a Wrigley’s Mother Goose book, with the Sprightly Spearmen featured in favorite fairy tales and encouraging gum chewing. The book was distributed nationwide to schools as well.

Two Wrigley's Spearmen, from 1917 (L) and 1915 (R)

Two Wrigley’s Spearmen, from 1917 (L) and 1915 (R)

Wrigley's Ad 1915 Polk County News

Then, beginning in 1917, ads turn to Wrigley’s gum as a comfort and aid to soldiers abroad. One ad claims “All the British Army is chewing it” and the one shown below says it’s the “great wartime sweetmeat.”

Wrigley's Ad 1918 Brevard News

According to the ads, soldiers from the Arctic to the Southern Cross chewed Wrigley’s. The company also announced its substitution of waxed paper for tin foil to assist with the war effort.

From the Wrigley website, I learned that the company invested heavily in marketing in the early 20th century. The proliferation and variety of ads I found definitely supports this. Most of the other ads in newspapers of the time period are smaller, with the largest ones promoting local businesses like banks and stores rather than individual products. Few of the ads have the eye-catching and detailed illustrations of the Wrigley’s ads, which is probably why these caught my eye.

I’ll close with this last ad from 1916, which adopted an image of the “caveman” character that had entered American popular culture a few years earlier. This ad has a very different style from the others I located from the early 20th century. Perhaps Wrigley was trying out a different direction, only to return to more traditional pitches during the War.

Wrigley's Ad 1916 Sylvan Valley News

This post was greatly facilitated by our Advanced Search page, which helped me narrow down my search by year. Feel free to browse a variety of front pages from 1914-1918, or my original Wrigley’s search.

The Rocking Chair Marathon of 1933


I was poking around in the newspapers on our site looking for mentions of “Mickey Mouse” (it’s his birthday today) and did a double-take when I noticed the headline above. Dance marathons? Yes. Running marathons? Of course. Rocking chair marathons? Do tell.

Rocking_Chair_Marathon_AdElkin, NC (Wilkes County) held a rocking chair marathon in June of 1933, billed as the “second of its kind” in one issue and the “first of its kind” in another*. Contestants had to keep their chairs rocking 50 minutes out of every hour, 24 hours per day, for as long as possible. The last person standing (swaying?) and the runner-up would each receive a portion of the gross receipts from the minimal admission price charged to spectators.

This event featured a new entertainment each evening, including Garley Foster “the human bird,” a “Mickey Mouse” circus on a tiny stage, a baby bathing beauty contest, and all sorts of exhibits. Master of ceremonies was Lippincott the Magician. Area businesses capitalized on the festivities, offering specials like the one mentioned at right (a free cheese sandwich with each bottle of beer)!

The rockers (mostly men and boys, along with a single woman) were still going strong after more than 48 hours, and the organizers decided to extend the festivities until all but one were eliminated. I really regret to inform you that I couldn’t find out who won the contest. I didn’t see any follow-up in any of the adjacent Elkin newspaper issues. If anyone has any ideas regarding where I might dig up such a small detail about 1930s Elkin, please let me know!

*Decatur, Ill. held a rocking chair marathon in 1929.

A peek into the 1780s from the Kings Mountain Historical Museum

Crowders Mountain Mining Co. Invoice

Crowders Mountain Mining Co. Invoice

Six new artifacts and two newspaper titles are now available on DigitalNC from our partner, the Kings Mountain Historical Museum.

The items date from as early as the 1780’s and reflect depth of the collection of this unique partner institution. The Kings Mountain Heritage Museum began as a storage space in the attic of the old city hall and moved to local homes and offices until a new location could be secured. The museum now resides in the former city post office and houses collections that foster a deeper understanding of the material culture of North Carolina’s Piedmont region.

The items that relate to land grants and court appearances in the surrounding area. Some of the locations mentioned in the documents may be familiar to locals and offer interesting stories about the area. These items could be useful for anyone interested in genealogical research or anyone looking for teaching tools about contracts and agreements from the period.

You can see all of this batch at the links below:

In addition, two newspaper titles have also been added. Several issues from the Kings Mountain Herald are now available, including two from 1914, more two decades earlier than the next issues. Also available is a new title, the Progressive Reformer, with an issue from 1894.

To learn more about the Kings Mountain Historical Museum please visit their contributor page or their homepage.

20 Years of the Johnstonian-Sun Now Available on DigitalNC

The Johnstonian-Sun, October 30, 1930, page 2

The Johnstonian-Sun, October 30, 1930, page 2

Nearly 20 years of newspapers are included in the latest batch from the Johnston County Heritage Center.

These issues of the Johnstonian-Sun cover the 1930’s through the 1950’s, which were fascinating times in North Carolina. Issues from the 1930’s have a strong focus on business and the local economic temperature, especially in Selma. The depression-era coverage also focused on politics, elections, and party platforms, many of which were printed in the paper weekly. The heading above is featured in several issues. Stories like these could be useful for teachers creating lesson plans centered on elections, demonstrating how every vote counts. The 1940’s issues often have detailed coverage of War World II, both at the local, national, and international level.

The Johnstonian-Sun, July 20, 1933, page 2

The Johnstonian-Sun, July 20, 1933, page 2

The Johnstonian-Sun, October 10, 1940, page 2

The Johnstonian-Sun, October 10, 1940, page 2

There are no known copies of these issues on microfilm and DigitalNC is excited to help make them more accessible.

To learn more about the Johnston County Heritage Center please visit the contributor page or the website. To see more historical newspaper from North Carolina, check out the North Carolina Newspapers Collection.

High Point High School newspapers now online



Two students are named the “most-typical” teenagers in a Pointer sponsored contest

50 issues of The Pointer, a student newspaper published by the High Point High School senior class, and provided by the High Point Museum, are now on DigitalNC. The issues span 1921-1954 and provide a glimpse into the lives of students in the High Point area. Although the newspaper was published by the Senior class, it was expressly written for the whole district, including town members, to read. In the November 21, 1921 issue, there’s even a short article about Principal Ada Blair of the Grimes street school using the newspaper as a reading text for her 6th grade class.

Articles highlight topics that include changes in faculty, athletic events, and information on school clubs. Some articles talk about school sponsored social events. In the January 17, 1923 issue of The Pointer, rules are laid out for what activities can occur at a school sponsored party. The rules state that dancing is not allowed as “the majority of the people in High Point disapprove of dancing”, but “suitable games and other similar activities to engage the attention of students attending must be prepared” in order for the High School to sponsor a social event. In accordance to these rules, the Sophomore class came up with an interesting party idea described in the February 14, 1923 issue of The Pointer. Members of the class attended an automobile themed party that included tire changing and radiator filling contests.


Headline from January 17, 1923

For more information about our partner, the High Point Museum, visit their contributor page, or take a look at their website.