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34 Newspaper Titles up on DigitalNC!

Headmast for May 5, 1881 issue of Railroad Ticket from Weldon, N.C.

This week we have another 34 titles up on DigitalNC! In this batch we have an article from the Durham Tobacco Plant describing the construction of a new factory being built by W. Duke, Sons & Co., which contained a machine that would revolutionize their tobacco business: The Bonsack machine.

Clipping from July 16, 1884 issue of Durham Tobacco Plant detailing the construction of a new Duke Tobacco factory, including the Bonsack cigarette rolling machine.

Durham Tobacco Plant, July 16, 1884

In 1881, Virginia native James Bonsack created the first industrial cigarette rolling machine, a task that was done meticulously by hand up until this point. Bonsack partnered with W. Duke, Sons & Co. in 1884 and supplied them with one of his machines that could roll 250,000 cigarettes in a single day, the equivalent of 48 employees. While this acquisition would make the Dukes the leading cigarette producer in the country, the automation of the process forced many skilled rollers out of work.

Factory built by W. Duke, Sons & Co. in 1884

W. Duke, Sons & Co. 1884 factory. Image via opendurham.org

Over the next year, we’ll be adding millions of newspaper images to DigitalNC. These images were originally digitized a number of years ago in a partnership with Newspapers.com. That project focused on scanning microfilmed papers published before 1923 held by the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Special Collections Library. While you can currently search all of those pre-1923 issues on Newspapers.com, over the next year we will also make them available in our newspaper database as well. This will allow you to search that content alongside the 2 million pages already on our site – all completely open access and free to use.

This week’s additions include:

If you want to see all of the newspapers we have available on DigitalNC, you can find them here. Thanks to UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries for permission to and support for adding all of this content as well as the content to come. We also thank the North Caroliniana Society for providing funding to support staff working on this project.


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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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