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North Carolina City Directories Collection Continues to Grow

The North Carolina City Directories collection in DigitalNC continues to grow. There are now more than 900 directories online, spanning more than a century. Published from early 1860s to the early 1960s, the directories cover cities and towns across North Carolina. There are 107 cities and 63 counties represented in the online collection. Most of the directories that were digitized come from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, though several other libraries have contributed copies, including the Durham County Library, Duke University, the Forsyth County Public Library, and the Hickory Public Library.

We are making an effort to include every available North Carolina city directory published through 1963 (later editions have a different copyright status). If you know of city directories in North Carolina libraries that are not included on this site, please let us know.

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. You can also browse our collection of city directories from 1940.


Transylvania County Telephone Directories and More Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Transylvania County Library, 28 telephone directories for Transylvania cities from 1956 to 1997, a program for the county’s centennial celebration, a brochure for Camp Sapphire, and more are now available on our website.

An intriguing piece from this batch is the 1914 Camp Sapphire brochure. The brochure provides a look into what kind of activities were considered fun and available in Brevard, N.C., camp life, and the importance of staying on top of education during the summer months. One fascinating piece of information about camp life is that students could smoke as long as they had permission from their parents and could bring their own shot guns for trap shooting. Thankfully, the students had to deposit the guns with camp directors for safe keeping. 

A group of boys in hats standing together before going on a hike. The caption under the photo reads: off for a hike.

To learn more about the Transylvania Public Library, please visit their website.

To view more city directories, please visit our North Carolina City Directories Collection.


List of Public North Carolina African American High Schools Enhances Efforts at Preserving Their History

Red and beige yearbook cover with title The Hawk 62

Cover of the 1962 Johnston County Training School yearbook.

Beginning in the early 1900s, North Carolina citizens segregated their schools. African American and Native American children were forced to attend separate schools from their white counterparts. Sometimes within the students’ own towns, sometimes a county away, these segregated schools often operated with fewer resources and poor infrastructure. 

We help cultural heritage institutions scan high school yearbooks. To date we’ve added over 8,200 to DigitalNC. Less than 5% come from African American high schools*. There are a lot of reasons for this – sometimes African American schools couldn’t afford to create a yearbook, or few members of their student population could purchase one. There were a lot fewer African American schools compared to white schools, too. Many cultural heritage institutions, due to implicit or explicit bias, haven’t collected them over the years. In addition, families may be less likely to give them up to a predominantly white collecting institution. We’re always so glad to see them come through our doors, with an awareness of the fact that they represent vibrant communities flourishing within a repressive social structure.

To highlight the rarity of these yearbooks and to possibly help locate more, we’ve created a list of the names and locations of all of the public African American high schools compiled from the North Carolina Educational Directory around the time that the schools were desegregated.

five line excerpt from the full list of african american high schools

You can see from the image above that the list includes

  • the school’s name along with any variants we’ve uncovered,
  • city,
  • county,
  • whether or not we have any yearbooks on DigitalNC.org,
  • a link to a known alumni association’s website, and
  • links to the Educational Directories where the school’s name was located.

The Educational Directory series was compiled and produced by the State Department of Public Instruction. These directories are incredibly useful for researching public school history. They list the names of schools along with locations and statistics. In the years leading up to 1964, “negro” schools were listed separately from white schools for each county, as shown in the excerpt below.

Printed black and white text in several columns. See caption for more information.

This excerpt comes from page 95 of the 1963 North Carolina Educational Directory. It notes the White and “Negro” schools of Rocky Mount, NC.

Beginning in the 1964-1965 Educational Directory – a full 10 years after the federal abolition of school segregation – schools were no longer designated as “negro” or white. Full integration in North Carolina took even longer, only completing in 1971. 

In addition to the list of schools, we’ve created a North Carolina African American High Schools exhibit page through which you can more easily browse or search the African American high school yearbooks currently available on DigitalNC.

We hope that both the exhibit page and the list are useful for those who may not know the name of the African American high school that used to exist in their county or community, or who may be looking for yearbooks from a particular school or area of the state. Both will be updated if our partners are able to locate more yearbooks for digitization. If you have questions, check our Yearbook Digitization page for more information or contact us.

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* During segregation Native Americans were a significantly smaller portion of the population compared to African Americans. Native American children were not allowed to attend white schools. In a few cases they had their own schools; in many they were sent to the “negro” schools. We use the term “African American high schools” for brevity, acknowledging that these institutions educated students with many identities. 


Yearbooks and city directories for Cumberland County now available

Page 56 from the 1969 Smithsonian

A superlative from the 1963 LAFAMAC

14 more Fayetteville yearbooks and 12 more city directories from our partner Cumberland County Public Library are now available on DigitalNC. The yearbooks include 7 editions of The LAFAMAC by Fayetteville High School from 1963-1969, and 7 editions of The Smithsonian by E. E. Smith Senior High School from 1956, 1963, 1964, and 1966-1969. These yearbooks join previously digitized editions. The city directories in this batch cover Fayetteville from 1937, 1939, 1941, 1954-1955, 1957, and 1963-1969.

The LAFAMAC shows a glimpse at student life at the primarily white Fayetteville High School (now called the Terry Sanford High School) with The Smithsonian doing the same at the primarily Black E. E. Smith Senior High School. Both yearbooks include student portraits, superlatives, events, and activities. Both schools continue to serve the Fayetteville area today.

To browse through materials from Cumberland County Public Library take a look at their partner page. To learn more about Cumberland County Public Library visit their website.


Learn about New Bern people and places with city directories

An advertisement from the 1954 city directory.

An aerial view of New Bern from the introduction of the 1967 city directory.

A new batch of directories from New Bern, North Carolina are now available thanks to our partner, New Bern-Craven County Public Library. These directories are a great source for learning about the population in New Bern, North Carolina from the 1940s through ’60s. These directories provide names and address for citizens and businesses, and are a great genealogical resource. All directories are fully text-searchable and many include buyer’s guides with advertisements and additional business listings. The 1967 edition provides a brief history and introduction to New Bern before the directory information.

To view the directories, follow the links below:

Water skiers on Trent River from the introduction of the 1967 city directory.

To learn more about New Bern-Craven County Public Library and see more of their materials, check out their partner page or visit their website.


1964-1965 City Directories Now Available for Albemarle from the Stanly County Museum

Hill's Albemarle (Stanly County, N.C.) City Directory [1965], page 19

Hill’s Albemarle (Stanly County, N.C.) City Directory [1965], page 19

Thanks to the Stanly County Museum, two city directories for Albemarle are now available online!

The new additions bring the count of Albemarle city directories to nine, documenting the business history of the city from 1910 to 1965. These directories, as well as all of those hosted on DigitalNC, are full-text searchable across the site. This makes it easy for researchers to find the names, locations, and dates of relevant information.

City Directories are useful for more than just research. They are also full of unique, local advertisements, like the one shown below. Ads like these demonstrate the creativity and style of business owners of the time period. They can also be a lot of fun!

The two directories are linked below:

To learn more about the Stanly County Museum, please visit the contributor page or the website. To view more city directories from your area, please browse the North Carolina City Directories Collection.

Hill's Albemarle (Stanly County, N.C.) City Directory [1965], page 73

Hill’s Albemarle (Stanly County, N.C.) City Directory [1965], page 73


Telephone directories highlighting areas from around eastern North Carolina now online

Brawell Memorial Library (Rocky Mount, N.C.), covers

Braswell Memorial Library (Rocky Mount, N.C.), covers

14 phone directories are now available for search and use on DigitalNC!

Phone directories, like city directories, offer a wealth of information for researchers and genealogists. Each contains pages dedicated to using the directory and even using a phone. Some of the younger users of this site may have never used a physical phone book, made a collect call, or utilized a phone booth. While that may be shocking to some, resources like these could serve as excellent teaching tools to help younger users and students understand the differences in how people have communicated over the past few decades.

You can see all of the newly digitized directories at the links below:

Telephone Directory for Rocky Mount, Enfield, Nashville, Spring Hope, Tarboro, and Whitakers [1937], page 4

Telephone Directory for Rocky Mount, Enfield, Nashville, Spring Hope, Tarboro, and Whitakers [1937], page 4

To learn more about Rocky Mount, N.C. and the surrounding areas, check all of the materials that Braswell Memorial Library has contributed to DigitalNC. To learn more about the library, please visit the website or the contributor page.


New Directories from Cabarrus County Public Library

phone phone2    phone3

Featured above (left to right): Telephone Directory for Kannapolis, China Grove, Landis, and vicinity [1961], Telephone Directory for Kannapolis, China Grove, Landis, and vicinity [1962], and Telephone Directory for Kannapolis, China Grove, Landis N.C. [1965]

Twenty-two new city and telephone directories are now available on DigitalNC. Thanks to the Cabarrus County Public Library, it is possible to research information regarding Kannapolis, China Grove, Landis, Concord, and several surrounding areas from 1933- 1965. You can search all of the new additions here.

Besides the names and business data typical of city directories, they also include many advertisements and illustrations. They would also serve as excellent resources for those interested in genealogical research in Cabarrus County.

For more information about the Cabarrus County Public Library, please visit the contributor page or the website. To see more city directories like this from other cities in North Carolina, please visit the North Carolina City Directories Collection.


Now Online: New Yearbooks and Directories from the Stanly County Museum!

The Stanly County Museum has provided a number of additional high school yearbooks and directories for the city of Albemarle to be added to DigitalNC. The yearbooks come from Albemarle High School, Norwood High School (now South Stanly High), New London High School (now North Stanly High), Endy High School, West Stanly High School, and Stanfield High School.

Sports page from the 1960 Cross Roads yearbook, "Then and Now"

Sports page from the 1960 Cross Roads yearbook, “Then and Now”

Future Homemakers of America, West Stanly High School 1965

Future Homemakers of America, West Stanly High School 1965

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Farmers of America, West Stanly High School 1965

Future Farmers of America, West Stanly High School 1965

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These yearbooks provide an intriguing look into the lives of students. They showcase the fashions, clubs and activities of North Carolina students, some that will be familiar to students today and some that have been abandoned over time (Did your class have child mascots? How about a superlative for Best Looking?).

For more information about the Stanly County  Museum and their materials, visit their contributor page on DigitalNC or their home website.


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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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