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Community Connections, LGBTQ+ Publication from the 1980s-2000s, Encouraged and Mobilized Community

Front page of October 1996 Community Connections newspaper with black and white photo of smiling African American man behind microphone and smiling crowds with campaign signs

Issues of CLOSER and it’s successor, Community Connections, have been shared online thanks to Buncombe County Public Libraries and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The issues date from 1987-2002.

CLOSER is the acronymn for Community Liaison Organization for Support, Education and Reform. According to a newspaper article from April 2020 published in the Mountain Xpress, this organization’s mission was “to serve as a liaison organization between the gay/lesbian community and the larger population, to provide mutual support, education and information regarding problems and concerns of the gay/lesbian community, to work for reform of social prejudices and discrimination practices and attitudes, and to foster for individuals and the community a sense of gay/lesbian identity.”

The paper, particularly in the earlier issues, includes very heartfelt reflections over the accomplishments of those involved in CLOSER. There are always announcements about events, and even lists of birthdays for that month. Coverage of the community members grappling with and documenting discrimination and hate speech is unfortunately a thread. However the paper shows local efforts to mobilize and provide mutual support. Through the 90s and early 2000s, the paper covers even more statewide and national news of impact to those in the community.

Many issues were scanned by the Pack Library in Asheville, which houses the organization’s archives. Some additional issues from the early 90s were added from the collections at UNC-Chapel Hill. You can view other newspapers on our newspaper landing page. Additional materials from the Pack Library can be found on our site as well as in their own digital collections.

Play the Game of Student Life with 80 Yearbooks From Randolph County

A high school student in a suit and bow tie standing behind another student seated in a chair. The seated student is wearing a strapless dress with a full skirt.
Miss Oak Leaf (Pat Reynolds) and Mr. Acorn (D.J. Cagle) in the 1955 edition of “Oak Leaves” (Star High School).

Eighty high school yearbooks from Randolph County have been added to our site thanks to our partner, the Randolph County Public Library. This batch includes yearbooks from 15 schools: Trinity High School, Randleman High School, Star High School, Asheboro High School, Gray’s Chapel High School, Eastern Randolph Senior High School, Franklinville School, Coleridge High School, Biscoe High School, Farmer High School, Seagrove High School, Ramseur High School, Staley High School, Bennett High School, and Troy High School.

These yearbooks also span several decades of the county’s history, starting in 1944 with The Ash-Hi-Life and running through 1973, with four yearbook editions from Trinity, Randleman, Asheboro High, and Eastern Randolph.

Some of the special features in these yearbooks include a homecoming court straight out of a Ralph Lauren ad, the requisite reference to The Byrds, and pages of heartfelt notes from classmates. But one yearbook staff got especially creative, designing a board game that students can play with just their yearbooks and a coin to toss.

A spread of two blue yearbook pages with a winding yellow path called "The Game of Student Life." Each space on the path describes an event in the life of a high schooler and directs the player to make their next move.
The Game of Student Life from the 1972 “Links” (Eastern Randolph Senior High School).

The game, presumably modeled after the game Life, describes events that still sound familiar to contemporary high school students. One square reads, “Back to school. Laugh at sophomores — get lecture on maturity. Lose 1 turn.” Others are less relatable: “Term papers: your typist charges you $1.50 a page and you run out of money on page 2 — Lose turn.” While the board does seem to be weighted toward academic and social pitfalls, at least all players start with a credit (since “Everybody passes biology first time around!”).

You can see all 80 yearbooks (so many!) here. You can also explore all of our digitized high school yearbooks by school name, location, and year in our North Carolina Yearbooks collection. To see more from Randolph County Public Library, visit their partner page and their website.

Drama in the Classified Ads in the Latest Batch of Asheboro’s “The Courier”

A newspaper clipping of the banner above the classified ad section

More issues of Asheboro’s The Courier are now available on our site thanks to our partner, the Randolph County Public Library. The new issues, digitized from microfilm, range from 1925-1937. One of the ways that these issues give us a slice of life from Asheboro in the early 20th century is through their classified ad sections.

The classified ads in the February 28, 1929 issue of The Courier have an interesting overlap with the ones we might see in newspapers or online today. Some still seem relevant, like the one selling a hot water tank, the one advertising an auction of personal property (“Household and kitchen furniture, organ, bedsteads, mattresses, quilts, sewing machine, blankets, cooking utensils, and other things too tedious to mention”), or the one searching for a lost gold watch. Others seem like they have been mostly displaced by contemporary markets, like the one selling “Good old homemade Alabama can sugar syrup,” or the one advertising a stay at a private home for “Transient visitors to Washington, D.C.” And, like any good classified ad sections, there are the unexpected; one reads: “Will pay the highest cash prices for opossum, muskrat, mink and raccoon hides.” The intended use of the hides is unspecified.

A black-and-white photo of a farmer in overalls holding a cabbage plant

Marshall Hedrick holding a cabbage plant with 52 small heads that he found in his garden. He purchased Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage seeds, but the outcome led him to believe they were not that variety. (Catawba County, 1941)

The real star of this classified ad section, though, is cabbage. Five of the ads are for cabbage plants, including the two longest. This may be partly due to the time of year and the fact that these cabbage plants are apparently frost-proof; one reads, “Frost Proof Cabbage Plants, Early Jersey and Charleston, the kind you need to head early.” Another sounds similar: “FOR SALE—Front Proof Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage plants.” A more detailed one advertises, “Over 30 Acres Frostproof Cabbage Plants not pulled over yet to select from that has not been stunted much by cold and guaranteed to reach you alive and stand the cold in Randolph county.”

But the best ad by far takes a more narrative approach. R.O. Parks’ ad begins: “In 1910 I sowed half pound cabbage seed. People laughed at me. They said cabbage plants can’t be grown in Randolph county. They grew nicely and I have some fine plants.” He goes on, sticking it to his doubters, “Since them [sic] I have been growing plants with unusual success. I sow thousand pounds of seed each year. I grow sweet potato plants and tomato plants. I will have genuine purple top Porto Rico potato plants, the first ever offered in Randolph county, ready May 1st.”

R.O. Parks, despite the hate he got for his ambitious cabbage planting, does not hold a grudge against his potential buyers; he notes that his early tomato plants are “guaranteed to please” and that “If your plants get killed by cold I will replace free.”

You can read even more classified ads, as well as the rest of the news, in the full batch of issues of The Courier here. You can also explore our full collection of digital newspapers by location, type, and date in our North Carolina Newspapers collection. To see more materials from the Randolph County Public Library, you can visit their partner page and their website.

Over 45 New Yearbooks from Randolph County Now Available on DigitalNC

An exterior shot of Asheboro High School, 1966

A new batch of yearbooks from Randolph County are now available on DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, the Randolph County Public Library. Included in this collection are over 30 yearbooks from Randolph County schools across the area from the 1930s to 1960s. Also included are over a dozen yearbooks specifically from Liberty High School in Liberty, North Carolina.

Two Randleman High seniors of the class of 1965

These yearbooks contain individual portraits, class portraits, as well as photographs of student activities, sports teams, faculty and clubs. Some of the yearbooks also include class poems and class songs, class and school histories. Readers can also find “last wills and testaments”, where the graduating class leaves behind objects or memories to the next class, and class prophecies, where the students imagined where they would be in the future.

Follow the links below to browse the yearbooks from the schools included in this batch:

Students from Franklinville School gathered to take a 1966 group photo

This new batch of yearbook is a valuable addition to DigitalNC, having these yearbooks illustrate what life was like across Randolph County in the 20th century. To see more from the Randolph County Public Library, check out their partner page, or visit their website.

World War II Scrapbooks and More from Randolph County Public Library Now Online at DigitalNC

A flyer celebrating the service of North Carolinians in the war effort, as well as information war bonds

Four new World War II era scrapbooks have now been digitized and are now available on DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, the Randolph County Public Library. Stretching from 1943 to 1945, three of the scrapbooks are made up of documents, programs and news clippings about Randolph County service members in the Army and the Navy.

A 1952 advertisement supporting a local vote to construct new buildings for Randolph County schools

Many of the news clippings found in these scrapbooks are of service members being stationed overseas, where they are deployed, soldiers being labeled missing or killed in action, awards given, and more. Looking through these scrapbooks reminds us of the sacrifice that these soldiers gave in support of our state and our country.

The fourth is a scrapbook from 1952 consisting of documents and photos of buildings located throughout Asheboro. Created by Toby Samet, an art student at Asheboro High School, this scrapbook contains photos and other important papers, like a report from the city Asheboro’s 1952 campaign to clean up the city. It is a fascinating look into the past to see what Asheboro was like at that time, and what was considered important by the city.

To see more of their materials and learn about the Randolph County Public Library, visit their partner page or take a look at their website.

New Photographs and Documents from Randolph County Now Online

Outside view of the Strieby Congregational Church in Asheboro, N.C.

A new batch of photographs from Randolph County have been digitized and are now online at DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner Randolph County Public Library. Included is nearly a dozen photos from various people and places in Randolph County, including Strieby and Asheboro.  The materials are part of our effort to highlight underrepresented groups in North Carolina.  

A 2013 newspaper article announcing a plaque to memorialize the sit-ins in Randolph County

There are also several documents that have been digitized, including interviews and newspaper articles that stretch from the 1950s to 2013. They primarily cover the civil rights movement in Randolph County, including sit-ins at the Walgreens, Hop’s Bar-B-Que and a theatre in Asheboro.

Several of the articles are about the commemoration of a plaque in Asheboro to memorialize the sit-in campaigns throughout Randolph County. Reading these articles help give us perspective on the long lasting change and impact of the civil rights movement in North Carolina.

Articles about the growing Latino community in Asheboro and Randolph county are also included and can be seen here.

The photos from Randolph County are available here, and the articles are available here. To view more photos and documents from Randolph County Public Library, click here to view their partner page, or take a look at their website.


Amazing panoramic WWI images from Randolph County Public Library now available!

North Carolina Brigade at Camp Stewart, El Paso, Texas

Panoramic photos of Company K and the 120th Infantry, provided by Randolph County Public Library, are now online at DigitalNC. These photos, taken from 1914-1919, show Company K, which was comprised of men from Asheboro, and the larger North Carolina Brigade in a variety of locations.

Company K, 120th Infantry 30th (Old Hickory) Division at Camp Jackson, S.C.

The locations of the photos include Camp Sevier and Camp Jackson, both located in South Carolina, and Camp Stewart in El Paso, Texas. One photo of Camp Sevier shows an aerial shot of soldiers in formation along with camp structures and buildings. Many of these photos include some identifying information including names of soldiers or commanding officers in the photo. The panoramic nature of these photos gives the viewer a unique sense of these camps and required us to use special photo equipment reserved for digitizing large materials!

120th Infantry at Camp Sevier, S.C.

Click here to browse the photos. To see more materials from Randolph County Public Library visit their partner page or take a look at their website.

Company K, 120th Infantry 30th Division at Camp Sevier, S.C.

New partner and new yearbooks – Winchester Avenue High School from Union County Public Library

Thanks to our new partner, Union County Public Library, DigitalNC now features 3 yearbooks [1956, 1958, and 1962] from Winchester Avenue High School, which was the Black high school in Monroe, North Carolina.  Winchester first opened as a K-12 school serving the Black community in the 1920s.  It was an important institution in Monroe’s Black community, serving as a community center and point of pride for the many students who graduated from the school.  That all changed in March 1966 when a fire heavily damaged the school.  The high school students and teachers were sent to Monroe High School for the remainder of the 1965-1966 school year, making it the first fully integrated high school in the state. Though plans were already in place for the students to attend Monroe in the 1966-1967 school year, the fire forced the time table for this to speed up. It was particularly hard on some of the seniors of Winchester, who thought that they would be the last graduating class of the historic school. The extra celebrations that were being organized for the “last” class never took place. The lower grades of Winchester were able to continue the school year in the building that was undamaged as well as the gymnasium. It is also believed that the community center and some area churches housed some students.*  


One of Winchester’s graduates is a trailblazer whose story has been highlighted very recently, Christine Darden. Darden is a retired engineer and executive from NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, and her story is one of the one’s highlighted in the book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”  Darden [Christine Mann is her maiden name] attended Winchester School through sophomore year before transferring to the Allen School, a boarding school in Asheville in 1956.  She served as a sophomore class officer while at Winchester. 

To learn more about our new partner, Union County Public Library, visit their partner page here.  To see more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit here.

*Thanks to Patricia Poland for additional information related to the school fire and its aftermath.

More Photos by M.S. Brown — Hell Drivers and More from the Edgecombe County Public Library

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Above photos: 1939 Fair and Helldrivers, Image 37, 38, 39

The Hell Drivers (pictured above) were a prominent feature at the 1939 State Fair in Raleigh, N.C. They were also a prominent feature of amateur photographer, M.S. Brown’s, documentation of the fair.  Fires, stunt drivers, flipped vehicles, and crashes were all part of this exciting show!

In addition to these photographs of the State Fair, more than 200 other new photos are now available on DigitalNC, added to the M.S. Brown Collection. Thanks to the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, this collection continues to grow.


Boy Scout Camporie – Tarboro, Image 15

Milton Steele Brown, now well known to DigitalNC, owned a Coca-Cola bottling plant and Tarboro and was an active amateur photographer. With hundreds of individual and groups of photos already available online, this latest batch adds to the depth of the collection. Branching across many of Brown’s different subject interests, the batch includes additions to his Majorettes, Coca-Cola Bottling Plant and Horse Show objects. Some of the new subjects include Boy Scouts, Easter Egg Hunts, the Tarboro Milk Plant and trains.

To learn more about M.S. Brown and see all his photos available on DigitalNC, please visit the exhibit page or check out the DigitalNC Blog. To see all of the items contributed by the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, visit the contributor page or see their homepage.

Additional Finer Carolina Scrapbook from Asheboro now Online

Randolph County Public Library has contributed an additional Finer Carolina scrapbook to the others currently on DigitalNC. This scrapbook, from 1955, is similar to the others in this series. It includes photographs of the community service during that year’s Finer Carolina campaign – beautification and cleanup activities as well as social events like parades, plays, and contests. A miniature train, the Asheboro Flyer, was also installed.

You can view all of the Finer Carolina scrapbooks from Randolph County on DigitalNC.

Miniature Train, Asheboro, 1955

Miniature Train, Asheboro, 1955

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This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features the latest news and highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from organizations across North Carolina.

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