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DPLA News: Elon University, Pender County Public Library, and UNC-Charlotte now Included

DPLA Logo (square)Elon University, Pender County Public Library, and UNC-Charlotte are the three newest North Carolina institutions to join the Digital Public Library of America. North Carolina institutions are now represented with almost 160,000 digital items.

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is the DPLA’s hub in North Carolina. You can read more about the DPLA and North Carolina in an earlier blog post from the official launch last month.

Pender County Jaycees Scrapbooks Now Online

We’ve just finished digitizing a dozen scrapbooks from the Pender County Public Library documenting the diverse activities of the Burgaw Jaycees, primarily in the 1950s. The scrapbooks contain photographs, newspaper clippings, and a few documents related to the work of the Jaycees.

I especially like the “For a Finer Carolina” volume, compiled in 1954 in celebration of the town’s Diamond Jubilee (the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Burgaw). The scrapbook includes photos from parades, contests, and celebrations and is an interesting look at life in southeastern North Carolina in the mid 20th-century. It also includes this great photo of “Carolina Beach’s Famous Whale Float.”

Photo of a whale float from Carolina Beach

Burgaw High School Yearbooks Available Online

A handful of student yearbooks from Burgaw High School are now available in the North Carolina High School Yearbooks collection. The yearbooks, from the years 1956 through 1962, are from the local history collection at the Pender County Public Library.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took us a while to figure out the origin of the title of the yearbooks: “The Wagrub.” We thought first that it might be a Native American name, or maybe something from a school song or cheer, before finally realized that it is, simply, the name of the town spelled backwards.
These yearbooks complement other materials from the Pender County Public Library already available on DigitalNC, including a great set of scrapbooks compiled by the Burgaw Jaycees in the 1950s.

Van Eeden books now online

Van Eeden pamphlet published in 1913
Yesterday, on April 18, a new historical marker was unveiled in Pender County honoring the farming community of Van Eeden.  Van Eeden was located north of Burgaw and was owned by Hugh MacRae, who tried to start a farm colony with Dutch settlers there in the early 1900s that was named for Frederik Van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist and author, who helped MacRae recruit Dutch immigrants.

We digitized a pamphlet that was put out in the Netherlands to promote the colony in 1913.  The pamphlet is in Dutch and English.

The colony was not very successful, but in the late 1930s, it fulfilled a new purpose.  Alvin Johnson, the founder of the New School in New York, was working hard to bring as many Jewish refugees from Germany as possible, but was having difficulty working through the rules of the State Department.  He found a loophole in the law though; there was no quota on those who came as farm workers.  Working with MacRae, Johnson brought several Jewish families to Van Eeden to escape the Nazis.  Susan Block wrote a book about the experience of those families who came from Germany and adjusting to life on a farm in eastern North Carolina titled Van Eeden, which we digitized as well.  

To learn more about our partner Pender County Public Library, visit their partner page.  And to learn more about Van Eeden, visit the great libguide built by Pender County Public Library.  

The Seven Cleverest North Carolina Yearbook Titles

Here are our picks for the 7 cleverest North Carolina yearbook titles in our collection.

Hickory Log Yearbook, 1962

#7 “Hickory Log” Hickory High School

A clever play on words for this “log” of the year’s activities. View all Hickory High School yearbooks, courtesy the Hickory Public Library.

Si Si Yearbook, 1961

#6 “The Si Si” University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte was formerly known as Charlotte College. View all University of North Carolina at Charlotte yearbooks.

Gray Matter Yearbook, 1972

#5 “Gray Matter” Wake Forest School of Medicine

There are all kinds of clever covers for this intellectually themed, physiologically fitting title. View all Wake Forest School of Medicine yearbooks.

Hacawa Yearbook, 1921

#4 “Hacawa” Lenoir-Rhyne University

“Hacawa” is a one-word abbreviation of Halls, Campus, Walls. In and around these centers the whole student life here. The Hacawa is an emanation from the work, play, joys, trials, and triumphs of the entire college for the year.” (1909 Hacawa, p. 8) View all Lenoir-Rhyne University yearbooks.

Quips and Cranks Yearbook, 1932

#3 “Quips and Cranks” Davidson College

“Haste thee nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles…” – L’Allegro, by John Milton

View all Davidson College yearbooks

The Wagrub Yearbook, 1959

#2 “Wagrub” Burgaw High School

We like this title because the students capitalized on the school name they were dealt. View all Burgaw High School yearbooks, courtesy the Pender County Public Library.

Ayantee Yearbook, 1970

#1 “Ayantee” North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

You may need to say our the title out loud before it sinks in. This one has stumped staff in the past, making it our #1 pick. View all North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University yearbooks.

Disagree with our picks? Let us know.

Womanless Weddings

Today’s @ncnewspapers headline, from Raeford in 1953, reads “Lions Club Plans Womanless Wedding.” While womanless weddings of a different sort are in the news these days as North Carolina prepares to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment, the event mentioned in the headline was a popular form of entertainment in small towns a few decades ago.

A “womanless wedding” was usually held as a fundraiser and involved prominent men of the community dressing up in full bridal outfits for a mock wedding ceremony. From the stories I’ve heard, it was common practice to get the burliest man in town to play the part of the bride, backed up by a train of equally rough-looking bridesmaids.
I found a couple of newspaper photos of womanless weddings in the DigitalNC collection. The first is from Burgaw in 1957 and was held as a fundraiser for the local high school (from the Burgaw Jaycees Scrapbook, 1957-1958, contributed by the Pender County Public Library). The second is from a Bennett College fundraiser in 1974 (from the Bennett College Scrapbook, 1972-1977).

Girl Scouts in North Carolina

As the Girl Scouts of the USA celebrate their centennial this year, I wanted to look for historic images of Girl Scouts in North Carolina on DigitalNC. It’s clear that the Girl Scouts have been active throughout the state for many decades. Here are a few highlights from the handful of interesting photos and items relating to Girl Scouts on

Eleanor Roosevelt receiving flowers from Girl Scouts, 1945

Girl Scouts in Greensboro welcome First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during her visit to Bennett College in 1945. Image from the Bennett College Library.


Image of a Girl Scout receiving a badge

Girl Scout receiving a pin during Scout Week, 1951, in Rocky Mount. Image from the Braswell Memorial Library (Rocky Mount, N.C.).


Girl Scouts in Ashe County circa 1940

Girl Scouts in Ashe County, ca. 1940s. Image from the Ashe County Public Library


A Finer Carolina

From 1952 to 1959 the Carolina Power and Light Company (CP&L) hosted a “Finer Carolina” contest, in which cities and towns in the CP&L service area vied for cash awards by engaging in community improvements. From a history of CP&L I learned that over the seven years the competition was held 4,600 projects were undertaken, including those aimed at “beautifying residential areas, improving cultural opportunities, upgrading municipal facilities, stimulating business, and attracting new industry.”

Some materials on DigitalNC are evidence of the participation of North Carolina’s communities, such as this 1954 scrapbook from the town of Burgaw documenting their Finer Carolina activities. The year 1954 was a banner year for the contest, according to a front-page article in the February 25, 1954 issue of the Raeford News-Journal. During this year there were 160 entries, including Raeford, N.C., competing for $6,750 in prizes. The Architectural History of Randolph County, N.C., also mentions the Finer Carolina contest, as the city of Asheboro took home the winning prize in 1954, as well as 1955, 1956, and 1958. But perhaps these awards weren’t such a boon for Asheboro after all, as the history describes the city’s improvement projects as resulting in “the nearly total destruction of the city’s nineteenth-century heritage”.

Items featured in this post are shared on DigitalNC by Pender County Public Library and Randolph County Public Library.

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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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