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Genealogical History of Gaston County Families Now Online

A new family genealogy history from Gaston County has been added to DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, the Gaston County Museum of Art & History. The book, Our Kin, Being a History of the Hoffman, Rhyne, Costner, Rudisill, Best, Hovis, Hoyle, Wills, Shetley, Jenkins, Holland, Hambright, Gaston, Withers, Cansler, Clemmer and Lineberger Families, was originally published in 1915, but has been reprinted by the Gaston County Historical Society several times since and is now digitally available for all to read.

group portrait with two people in back wearing suits, and three people in front, two in dresses and one in a suit

A photo of author Laban Miles Hoffman (center) and his family, undated

The book focuses on the individual families of Gaston County, including their common ancestors dating back to the 18th century. Many of the family members noted have long descriptions of who they were, what they accomplished in life, how their family names changed over the years, and more. This copy is quite special, as it has retained notes and highlighted terms that one of the authors made in his original edition, preserved in this reprinted version.

Written by Laban Miles Hoffman of Dallas, North Carolina, this book was conceived as a history of his own family, but rapidly grew into an exploration of the histories of all the associated families in his genealogy. He includes a short preface of his own personal story, how he grew up in Lowell, North Carolina, studied at Davidson College, and later went to work in Raleigh under Governor Holden before moving to Arkansas.

As a record of ancestors for over a dozen local families, it is a valuable resource for Gaston County historians, Gaston County residents, and family descendants. We are privileged to make it available on DigitalNC. To learn more about the Gaston County Museum of Art & History, visit their partner page or their website.

Pamphlets, Booklets, Reports, and More from Gaston County Public Library Now Online


Photo from the advertising pamphlet “Gastonia, Your Convention City”

Back in February, some of the NCDHC staff travelled down to our partner Gaston County Public Library and set up to do two days of on site scanning.  The materials we scanned during that visit, as well as materials we brought back with us to scan in Chapel Hill, are now online.  

While on site, we scanned a chattel mortgage book from 1915, documents relating to a distillery in the area in the 1890s, and several local history books put together by students in the local schools in the 1950s and 1960s.  

Dozens of new reports, documents, and programs from Gaston County are also now available after we scanned those back in Chapel Hill.  Over 50 items in total, these documents, pamphlets, and booklets paint a greater picture of what it meant to live in Gaston County in the beginning and middle of the 20th century.

The 1976-1977 annual report from the Gastonia Housing Authority. The report includes stats on the types of houses and apartments under their management.

Many of these items are informational booklets, some published by the Gastonia Chamber of Commerce, telling readers about the population, GDP, schools, and industries throughout Gastonia. Others are specific booklets or programs from certain events. One program is from the 1974 dedication and recognition of Zoe Kincaid Brockman, a former editor of the Gastonia Gazette. There are other programs, including church programs from First Baptist and First Presbyterian in Gastonia. A few of the other booklets included in this collection also detail the towns outside Gastonia, like Mount Holly, Cherryville, Ranlo, and Lowell. These collections can be viewed here, and here.

Also included in this collection is a dozen booklets about the Gastonia Debutante Club, from 1976 to 1987. These booklets celebrate the Debutante Club and honor the individuals who helped put it on. Certain editions also include a list of members, the by-laws of the Debutante Club, a list of past Presidents, the history of the organization, and the debutantes of various years.

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

Gaston Club Yearbooks and Newspapers Now Online Courtesy of Gaston County Public Library

Page 4 from the July 28, 1950 issue of Mount Holly News.

The cover of the Gastonia Music Club’s 1942-1943 yearbook.

A batch of new materials from our partner, Gaston County Public Library, is now available on DigitalNC. The new materials include club yearbooks, high school yearbooks, selections from the newspaper Mount Holly News, and informational pamphlets and programs.

The club yearbooks include yearbooks from the Gastonia Women’s Club from the 1920s through the 1960s as well as a yearbook for the Gastonia Music Club, and the Gaston County Medical Society. Other booklets include a program for the 1945 Annual Horse Show, the Lions Club Thirtieth Anniversary Program, and a Gaston Memorial Hospital Informational Booklet.

Selections from the paper Mount Holly News come from a commemorative bound volume created in 1970, and includes a few pages of each issue of Mount Holly News from 1950. The selected pages tend to include the issue’s front page and “Women’s Activities” section.

Yearbooks from the 1960s at schools such as Dallas High School, Mount Holly High School, Highland High School, and Hunter Huss High School are now available as well.

To see more materials from our partner, Gaston County Public Library, check out their DigitalNC partner page, or take a look at their website.

New Yearbooks from Gaston County Public Library

2 Untitled 4

Above, left to right: Eagle [1956], page 78, page 80, page 67

20 new yearbooks from Gaston County Public Library are now available on DigitalNC. They cover a period from the late 1930’s to the early 1960’s and are good resources for genealogy research about the Gaston County community. While most of the yearbooks are fairly traditional, the “Eagle” from Cramerton High School has quite a few interesting and unique images of their students and teachers. Like the senior superlatives pictured above, many of the yearbooks on DigitalNC contain humorous and sometimes weird depictions of the character of North Carolina high schools.

These yearbooks represent the high schools listed below:

For more information about the Gaston County Public Library, please visit the contributor page or the website. To view yearbooks from the high school or colleges in your community, check out the North Carolina Yearbooks collection on DigitalNC.

Additional issues of The Gastonia Gazette are online now at DigitalNC

Front page of the June 25, 1896 issue of The Gastonia Gazette

Front page of the June 25, 1896 issue of The Gastonia Gazette

Issues of The Gastonia Gazette from 1895 to 1904 have recently been transferred from microfilm to be available on DigitalNC for you to peruse. Thanks to this addition, our digital holdings for this title now span from 1893 to 1909.

The paper, “devoted to the protection of home and the interests of the county,” covers news from Gaston County and beyond. It features stories about individuals, administrative developments, local industry, and events of interest throughout the county (but particularly in Gastonia).

These issues are an addition to an already significant amount of materials from Gaston County, including many other newspaper titles from Gastonia.

12 Days of NCDHC: Day 3 – We’ll Come to You

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 3: We’ll Come to You

In 2017 we introduced a new initiative – DigitalNC on the Road! in which we pack up our scanners and laptops and travel to partners to scan items in their collections.  One of our favorite parts of being part of the NCDHC is getting to see our partners’ institutions (and get in a little NC sightseeing and tasting too!)

People sitting around a table scanning materials

NCDHC staff scanning at Johnston County Heritage Center

Several partners so far have taken us up on the offer including City or Raleigh Museum Johnston County Heritage Center, Winston Salem African American Archive, Gaston County Public Library and Graham County Public Library

The length of time we will come for is flexible.  Some partners we just visit for a day, other partners we come to for two or three days to really work through a collection.  The process to visit starts at least a month beforehand where we meet with you via the phone to discuss what collections we can work on, how many materials we can get through, and discuss initial metadata needs.  As far as resources needed once we arrive – a few tables and chairs and outlets near those tables is really it.  We have been in community rooms, board rooms, and research rooms for our scanning setups!  We welcome the public to view us and ask us any questions they might have.  Our blog post announcing the initiative gives a good overview of how the process works.  We have done photograph collections, news clippings, student history projects, and slides as part of our on site visits.  Starting in January however we’ll have new scanners that will also allow us to easily do bound materials, including yearbooks.  

Three people talking around a table of archival materials

Lisa chatting with board members from the Winston Salem African American Archive

We are also happy to come visit and just talk through the collections you have and what might be candidates for digitization back at NCDHC in Wilson Library, and if you’re ready, take some of those materials back for us.  

If you’re interested in talking with us to set up an on site visit let us know.  We’re always up for a road trip across North Carolina!  

Check back on Wednesday as we reveal Day 4 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!

New Newspaper Issues and Yearbooks from Kings Mountain Now Online

Masthead from 1988 for Kings Mountain Herald newspaper.

The Kings Mountain Herald, July 6, 1988.

Photo of freshman band members in uniform at Kings Mountain High School in 1969.

Freshman band members, Milestones, 1969.

Thanks to our partners at Mauney Memorial Library, DigitalNC is proud to add 1,700 new additions of The Kings Mountain Herald as well as 3 Kings Mountain High School yearbooks. Digitization of the newspapers was funded by Mauney Memorial Library, with hosting provided by DigitalNC.

Distributed from the city of Kings Mountain, the many additions of The Kings Mountain Herald span 1982 – 2015, covering decades of local Cleveland and Gaston county news. Traditional newspaper topics, such as sports, obituaries, and opinion pieces, are continuously explored throughout the years, interspersed in the ’00s with supplements such as “The Great Home Search” and “Medical Matters“. Of note, police reports appear frequently in all decades.

Article on closure of local barber shop in 1996.

Local barber shop closure, November 27, 1996.

TV listings for Charlotte area stations in 1988.

TV listings, March 23, 1988.

Article on Betsy Wells attending the inauguration of President Obama in 2009.

Local attends President Obama’s inauguration, January 21, 2009.

The newest Kings Mountain High School yearbooks, each titled Milestones, come from 1967, 1968, and 1969. They showcase the high school activities of ’60s Kings Mountain teens, including a wide array of clubs.

Photo of Aerospace club members at Kings Mountain High School in 1967.

Aerospace club members, Milestones, 1969.

Photo of majorettes posing on the football field at Kings Mountain High School in 1969.

Majorettes, Milestones, 1969.

Photo of VICA auto mechanics club members at Kings Mountain High School in 1968.

VICA (Vocational Industrial Club of America) Auto Mechanics club members, Milestones, 1968.

To learn more about The Kings Mountain Herald and see all issues, click here. For more information on Mauney Memorial Library, visit their homepage here, and to view more digitized materials from Kings Mountain and beyond, click here.

Rare issue of Bessemer City Messenger now on DigitalNC

Front page of the Bessemer City Messenger, dated May 25, 1895.

An issue of the Bessemer City Messenger has been newly digitized and added to DigitalNC. The issue is date May 25, 1895, making the Messenger one of the oldest newspapers we have on file. Unfortunately, not much else is known about this newspaper, including when it began or when it ended. This 1895 issue is only the second instance of the Messenger being preserved to this day. The only other copy of any issue known to exist is an 1892 edition held in the State Library of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.


Published out of Bessemer City, the Messenger served the residents of Gaston County during its circulation. Its articles take a distinctly Populist stance, celebrating Populist Party victories throughout the country in the early 1890s, while also arguing for greater distribution of wealth among workers and increased living conditions for children and women. A number of articles are also dedicated to trade protection, wheat production, manufacturing, and tariffs. For example, the article on the right is dedicated to the rapid expansion of cotton production mills in the South, with North Carolina being a particular spot for growth. While there were some notices of local events and local news among Gaston County and nearby towns in Cleveland County, the majority of this paper’s articles were dedicated to national or international events, creating an interesting dynamic when compared to other North Carolina papers of the time on our site. 


Having the Bessemer City Messenger added to our collection is an invaluable resource when it comes to learning about the lives of North Carolinians in the late 1800s. 

Fans Share Their Stories: Professor Bobby Allen, UNC-Chapel Hill

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Professor Robert C. Allen, Professor in the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and faculty lead of the Community Histories Workshop. Dr. Allen shared the thoughts below in support of our Medal application and we reshare them today with his permission.

Looking down a main street in Gastonia, NC, showing a line of striking men and women while crowds watch from the sidewalks.

Textile Workers Marching in Gastonia, NC, 1929. From the Gaston County Museum of Art & History

“Since 2013, I have been working closely with the N.C. Digital Heritage Center on ‘Digital Loray,’ the most ambitious public humanities program ever undertaken by UNC. This project uses the adaptive reuse of an iconic industrial structure—in this case, Gastonia’s Loray Mill, one of the largest cotton mills built in the state—as a catalyst for a long-term community history and archiving initiative. The ‘heart of this open-ended project is an archive of more than 2500 digital objects, brought together in a single interface from the UNC North Carolina Collection and other Wilson Library collections, other institutional archives, community cultural heritage organizations, churches, and individual community contributors.

“The NC Digital Heritage Center was absolutely instrumental in our ability to undertake this kind of deeply collaborative community history work. It worked with the Gaston County Museum of Art and History—the primary cultural heritage organization in the county—to identify, digitize, and publish material from its collection that could be ‘added’ to Digital Loray. Three community members had saved many documents, photographs, maps, mementos, and other material from the mill at the time of its closing in 1993. Working with the N.C. Digital Heritage Center, we encouraged them to donate this material to the Gaston County Museum of Art and History, which, in turn, allowed the center to facilitate the digitization and publication of these unique artifacts…

In short, I could not extend my teaching, graduate training, and the work of my unit into communities in North Carolina without the invaluable assistance of the N.C. Digital Heritage Center. But I am not the most important beneficiary of its effectiveness and leadership: it enables hundreds of small museums, public libraries, historical societies, and other cultural heritage organizations to add a digital dimension to their work and, in doing so, to preserve and share the histories of their communities. These perennially threatened local organizations can undertake what otherwise would be impossibly expensive and technically complex digitization projects without the need for technical specialists or third-party software and hosting solutions.

“The N.C. Digital Heritage Center should be a model for other states. It deserves much more attention on a national level than it has received, particularly in the realms of public history, digital history, public humanities, and digital humanities. I have reviewed and attended presentations about ‘sexier’ and much better resourced projects over the past few years, but none I think has had a greater or longer-lasting impact than the quiet but profoundly important work of my colleagues in the N.C. Digital Heritage Center. I congratulate them and thank them for all they do to make my university a great resource for the people of North Carolina.

Loray Digital Archive expanded to include 1980s union efforts at Firestone Mill

We were excited this past semester to partner with the AMST 475H, Documenting Communities class here at UNC to show them how a digitization project works from star to finish.  This is a guest post from the class.

Written by: Dani Callahan and Lucas Kelley

New material that documents the unionization of the Gastonia’s Firestone Mill have been added to DigitalNC’s existing collection on the mill: the Loray Digital Archive. The Gaston County Museum of Art and History provided the materials for digitization, and UNC-Chapel Hill students in Professor Robert Allen’s Documenting Communities course scanned the material, researched the unionization movement, and added metadata to the documents.

The unionization of the Firestone Mill occurred in the late 1980s and was particularly contentious both within the mill community and throughout the region. The violent unionization efforts of the 1920s, exemplified in the Loray strike of 1929, had left deep wounds within Gastonia, and area residents and workers had traditionally distrusted subsequent unionization attempts. The widespread economic downturn in the textile industry in the 1980s, however, meant harsher conditions and less pay for the workers at Firestone, and some workers hoped the United Rubber Workers Union could provide protection from the difficult economic climate.

 Pro-union pamphlet distributed to employees at Firestone Mill in the late 1980s. It was produced by the AFL-CIO.

The materials added to the Loray Digital Archive document the pro-union and anti-union campaigns. Each side sought to attract workers to their cause with flyers, posters, stickers, buttons, and pamphlets. Initially, the anti-union forces held off the unionization attempt in 1987. Widespread media coverage turned the referendum into a political circus and leaders of the pro-union movement could not overcome area residents’ distrust. Yet a year later, Firestone workers voted to join the union in a campaign that was much more subdued. The success of pro-union forces was due in large part to the diligence of the union’s committee members working inside the mill. While the 1987 vote had turned into a regional and even national media circus, the 1988 vote remained an internal debate housed within Firestone itself. When the workers at the Firestone Mill voted on April 14th, 1988 to join the United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers by a narrow margin, it was a victory nearly sixty years in the making.  Click the link view all the materials from the 1980s union effort.

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