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Materials dating back to 1876 now online from Union County Public Library

In a new batch of items from partner Union County Public Library, which they digitized themselves, there are materials that date all the way back to 1876.  A catalog for Monroe High School from 1876 details all the classes one could take at the school, which was a white, private, co-educational school that advertised not only to those who lived in Monroe, but in the surrounding area, including South Carolina.  In the first section of the book it lists the enrollment at the school and hometowns of each student.  The cost for 20 weeks at the school was $10-$16 tuition plus $50 for room and board.  page listing the students enrolled at Monroe High School

Other materials from this batch include several Chamber of Commerce publications promoting Monroe, NC, a feature on the new library in Monroe, and the minutes of the Union County Medical Association from 1902 to 1922.  The Medical Association minutes are particularly interesting in mentioning about a Black doctor, Dr. J.S. Massey, being a member in 1903 in what was otherwise an all white organization.  This would have been during a time of increasing segregation and aggression by whites against Black in North Carolina following the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision and the 1898 race riots in Wilmington and the shift in the government in 1900 to a white supremacist Democratic leadership. 

There is also a yearbook from 1954 from Union High School that was located in Lanes Creek Township.  

To view more materials from Union County Public Library, visit their partner page.  

New batch of yearbooks from Union County now available

Winchester Avenue School’s Library Club in the 1965 Buffalo

A new batch of high school yearbooks, provided by Union County Public Library, are now available on DigitalNC. These yearbooks are all from Union County schools, and include Benton Heights High School, Fairview High School, Indian Trail High School, Walter Bickett High School, Wesley Chapel High School, and Winchester Avenue School. The yearbooks include individual and class portraits, photos of student organizations, senior superlatives and more!  

The Wesley Chapel High School Biology and Science Club in the 1951 edition of Chapel Hi-Lights

To view the new additions, follow the links below:

To learn more about our partner, Union County Public Library, visit their partner page or take a look at their website.

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.

Learn About Dr. Moses Ray of Tarboro With New Edgecombe County Materials

Thanks to our partners at the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, Digital NC has digitized new materials from Tarboro and Edgecombe County, North Carolina. These documents include architectural photographs; minutes, photographs, invitations, and other records from the Edgecombe Magazine Club; a new W.S. Clark ledger from 1909; a scrapbook from the Gettysburg Veterans Reunion of 1913; and a family Bible from the Bridgers family of Edgecombe County.

Additionally, we have added a new collection of materials from Dr. Moses A. Ray (1920-1995), a dentist, mayor, community advocate and leader in Tarboro. Dr. Ray was a graduate of Shaw University and Howard University, where he earned his doctorate in dentistry. After settling in Tarboro in 1946, he helped establish the Edgecombe Credit Union for African-Americans, was a trustee of the Edgecombe Technical Institute, led the East Tarboro Citizens League, was a member of the North Carolina Board of Transportation, and served on the Tarboro Town Council and as the first post-Reconstruction African-American mayor of Tarboro. This list comprises only a portion of the many leadership roles he held in Tarboro over the second half of the twentieth century. His community service was honored with many certificates and plaques that are now available as a part of the collection on Digital NC.

Visitors to the site can also see photographs from throughout Dr. Ray’s life depicting some of his work in the Tarboro community. We have also added a program from a 2015 Phoenix Historical Society educational program honoring his life of service, which further details some of his accomplishments like helping establish low-income housing and paved roads in East Tarboro. The Phoenix Historical Society records and promotes the African-American history of Edgecombe County; researchers can learn more online or in the East Carolina University Manuscript Collection. View the Dr. Moses Ray Collection here and see the rest of our Edgecombe County Memorial Library materials here.

Yearbooks From Our New Partner, Riverside Union High School Alumni Association, Now Available

A photo of five cheerleaders; three are standing, and three are seated in front.

Cheerleaders from The Riviera, 1967.

Thanks to the work of our new partner, the Riverside Union High School Alumni Association, we’ve added several new yearbooks from the Franklin County Training School/Riverside Union High School from 1943-1967. We’ve also included a 1955 graduation program with photos of the graduates.

A group of many students gathered closely together. Most are standing in a semi-circle around a table; six are seated at the table.

Riverside High School student council (from The Riviera, 1967).

Franklin County Training School began as one of many “Rosenwald schools” in North Carolina⁠—which erected 813 buildings through the project by 1932, more than any other state in the country, according to the North Carolina Museum of History. For background, “Rosenwald schools” were developed by Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute as a way to improve formal education for Black children in the South. The project soon received funding from Julius Rosenwald, then-President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, resulting in over 5,300 buildings in 15 states.

Although Rosenwald provided significant financial backing, much of the money for these schools came from grassroots contributions by community members. The terms of Rosenwald’s fund stipulated that communities had to raise enough money themselves to match the gift, so George E. Davis, the supervisor of Rosenwald buildings in N.C., often held dinners and events to encourage local farmers to contribute. By 1932, Black residents had contributed more than $666,000 to the project.

Though many schools built in part with Rosenwald Fund grants were designed to be small (typically one to seven teachers per school), Franklin County Training School was once the only Black public high school in the county. As a result, the student body expanded; many students lived nearby, and others were bused from farther away (102). In 1960, the original building burned down, and the school was rebuilt as Riverside Union School and then Riverside High School (103).

A yearbook photo of a young man in a graduation cap and gown

James Harris, The Riviera, 1967

“I’d say very jovial, it’s a family type atmosphere. I felt very safe,” James A. Harris, who attended the school from 1955 to 1967, recounted in 2004. “Teachers were very caring and provided not only just classroom instruction, but a lot of values. Teachers were held to a higher standard. If you look at people in the community that people looked up to, [teachers] were right behind the minister. They were held in high esteem.” (From John Hadley Cubbage, 2005.)

When North Carolina racially desegregated schools in 1969, Riverside High School was converted to Louisburg Elementary School. Today, it’s the central office for Franklin County Schools. The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places (Reference Number: 11001011). 

To see all of the materials from the Riverside Union High School Alumni Association, you can visit their partner page or click here to go directly to the yearbooks. You can also browse our entire collection of North Carolina yearbooks by school name and year.

Clear Run High School Annual Reunion Programs Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Clear Run High School Alumni Association, a batch expanding our holdings of Clear Run High School’s annual reunion programs to include 2010 to 2013 are now available on our website. These programs include lists of Alumni Association officers, a schedule of events, lists of students in graduating classes, a history of Clear Run High School, and special features on alumni.

A result of consolidating two high schools that served Sampson County’s Black community, Clear Run High School opened its doors in 1957. The school’s first class included about 260 students and 11 staff members with enrollment increasing each year until the integration of North Carolina schools in 1969.  As a result of the integration, Clear Run students were moved to Union High School while the Clear Run building was converted to a middle school.  Today, the Clear Run High School Alumni Association remains active by hosting annual reunions, having quarterly and annual meetings, and awarding an annual scholarship for descendants of Clear Run graduates.

Cover from the 12th annual reunion for Clear Run High School. In elegant script, the page reads "Clear Run High School Twelfth Annual Reunion." Below the script is an image of the high school. In the top left corner there is an image of the school mascot--a green hornet with yellow wings.

To view more Clear Run High School annual reunion programs, please click here.

To learn more about the Clear Run High School Alumni Association, please visit their website.

To view more materials from African American high schools in North Carolina, please click here.

New High School Yearbooks from Bethel in Pitt County Just Added

Thanks to our partnership with The Ward House: Bethel Heritage Center in Bethel, North Carolina, DigitalNC recently added fifteen yearbooks from Bethel High School (1949-1970). These yearbooks shed insight into the lives and activities of white students in northern Pitt County in the mid-twentieth century, particularly before the school was integrated with Bethel Union High School in the late 1960s. The class of 1970 was the final graduating class from Bethel High School. The following fall, North Pitt High School opened for students of Bethel, Belvoir, Pactolus, Stokes, and Staton House. Click here to browse all of the yearbooks from Pitt County on DigitalNC.

Click this link to see all fifteen yearbooks added in this batch. To learn more about The Ward House: Bethel Heritage Center, visit their contributor page here. To view more high school yearbooks from throughout North Carolina, check out our list here.

New scrapbooks documenting Iredell County schools are now on DigitalNC!

Fourteen scrapbooks about Iredell County public schools are now available on DigitalNC, thanks to our partner, the Iredell County Public Library. These scrapbooks document the schools throughout the county from 1970 to 1981, including Mooresville High School, South Iredell High School, North Iredell High School, West Iredell High School, East Iredell High School, Statesville High School Union Grove Elementary School, Troutman Elementary School, and the Board of Education.

One notable topic in these scrapbooks is the planning for and opening of West Iredell High School in 1972. The article below is an announcement of the land for the school being purchased in August 1971. 

"School Site Purchased," August 1971

“School Site Purchased,” August 1971

Another event covered in the scrapbooks is the November 1979 Statesville Christmas Parade. The clipping below shows the North Iredell High School marching band in the parade.

North Iredell High School marching band, November 20, 1979

North Iredell High School marching band, November 20, 1979

Click here to see all Iredell County schools scrapbooks. To learn more about our partner, the Iredell County Public Library, visit their partner page here or their website here.

Civil War Correspondence, Letters, and a Memoir by Civil War Veteran J.M. Hollowell from the Wayne County Public Library

The ripples of the Civil War still resonate throughout the United States, especially in the south. North Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861 and joined the confederacy in its fight to maintain the institution of slavery. North Carolina was host to numerous battles during the war and there has been much historical research of those encounters and how towns and people were affected by those tumultuous events. Primary source materials from the Civil War and Reconstruction era are useful for better understanding our past, present, and improving our future as fellow citizens of North Carolina.



Letter certifying that Hollowell was a prisoner of war

Now on our site you can read, though it may be disconcerting at times, original letters and correspondence from J.M. Hollowell, thanks to our partner Wayne County Public Library.  Hollowell was a confederate soldier from North Carolina who was imprisoned by Union troops for a period of time during the Civil War. Included in this collection is a memoir, of sorts, by Hollowell that was published in 1939. Based on a series of articles he wrote in 1909 for the Goldsboro Weekly Record,  this memoir published nearly thirty years after his death, gives the reader insight into the life, culture, and prejudices of a North Carolina citizen and confederate soldier. Reflecting the views of his peers at the time who were also fighting to maintain the status quo of slavery in the South during the Civil War, this collection of Holloway’s letters and writings gives insight into the daily thoughts of those fighting for the confederacy and how they reacted to Reconstruction, racial progress, and politics following the war.  Explore J.M. Hollowell’s documents here.

Cover of Book

War-Time Reminiscences and Other Selections by J.M. Hollowell

Substantial and Varied Collection from Rockingham County Now Online

The latest materials digitized from Rockingham County Public Library are online now, and oh are they wide-ranging. Included in this batch are church bulletins, postcards, audio recordings, local histories, genealogical records, and even an intricate cross stitch of Rockingham County’s not-quite-neighbor, Person County.

Many of these items recount the history of the towns of Leaksville, Draper, and Spray before the three were consolidated into a single town, Eden N.C., in 1967. One of these is the book Leaksville-Spray, North Carolina: A Sketch of its Interests and Industries, which is one of only two copies known to exist today. It gives extensive details about textile and other manufacturing industries in the area during the early twentieth century.

Morehead Cotton Mills Co.

Leaksville’s Morehead Mills was founded by future governor John Motley Morehead, also known as “the Father of Modern North Carolina.”

Other materials included in this batch were created well after Leaksville, Draper, and Spray were incorporated as Eden. The song “The Ballad of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper,” written by Leaksville native John Marshall Carter, laments the merger of the three cities with its chorus of, “I can’t believe that they’ve done this to me, I can’t conceive that they’ve killed history.” This song along with “Olden Days” were digitized from an original 45 rpm record.

Header for the Farmer's Advocate Newsletter

“Published Sporadically But Enthusiastically” reads the tagline on the first edition of the Farmer’s Advocate Newsletter.

Also digitized were 70 editions of The Farmer’s Advocate Newsletter from the Historic Jamestown Society — a group dedicated to the preservation of the stories and structures of Jamestown N.C. — spanning from 1975 to 2018.

Rockingham-area genealogists may find some gems in the records of family reunions, vital statistics, church publications, or cemetery survey included in this batch.

All of the items from the most recent batch can be accessed here. To learn more about the Rockingham County Public Library, visit their partner page on DigitalNC or their website.

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