Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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New to DigitalNC: More Smithfield High School Memorabilia, Photos, Newspapers

Red white and blue paper shield, next to paper cut out that includes menu grapefruit, boiled ham, vegetable salad, potato chips, pimento cheese sandwich, tomato, pickle, rolls, butter, ice cream, cake, tea

Program from the 1942 Smithfield High School Junior-Senior banquet

DigitalNC has added additional photos and ephemera from Smithfield High School, located in Smithfield, Johnston County, North Carolina. This most recent batch documents SHS Junior-Senior banquets, music and drama, and graduates/graduations, and also includes issues of the student newspaper, the Smithfield High Times. This addition was made possible thanks our partners at the Smithfield High School Alumni Association.

Thirty-five issues of the High Times have been added, spanning the early 1950s to the late 1960s.  Starting in 1937 and lasting until 1969, High Times was published semi-regularly by students at Smithfield High School As a high school newspaper, topics ran the gamut, from informational to entertaining. Examples of material covered include school clubs, contests, career days, scholarships, field trips, sports, honor roll announcements, gossip, and fashion. While the newspaper wasn’t published on a set schedule, issues often came out around Thanksgiving, winter break, and at the end of the school year. Each issue features a hand drawn cover page while various smaller drawings add homemade detail to columns within the newspaper. There is a marked switch to a more professional layout in 1968, only spanning two issues.

Among the photos and ephemera added in this most recent batch you’ll find photographs of graduating classes, along with ephemera about graduates dating from 1909-1969. Snapshots and programs from Junior-Senior banquets are another highlight, with handmade menus based on each banquet’s theme. Finally, there are collections of programs, newspaper clippings, and photos related to music and drama activities at the school.

To view all issues of the Smithfield High Times by cover page, click here. You can view everything the Alumni Association has shared on DigitalNC on their contributor page. You can view the items by subject on their exhibit page. To learn more about the Smithfield High School Alumni Association, you can visit their homepage here.


Ahoskie Woman’s Club Scrapbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, the Ahoskie Woman’s Club, a batch containing three new scrapbooks have been added to our website. These scrapbooks contain beautiful watercolor paintings, newspaper clippings about the town of Ahoskie, Junior Woman’s Club events, and more. 

Scrapbook page discussing the Junior Woman's Club Valentine danceTo learn more about the Ahoskie Woman’s Club, please visit their website

To view more scrapbooks, please click here.


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Vicki Coleman

Head and shoulders view of smiling woman indoors wearing black blazer

Vicki Coleman, Dean of Library Services at the F. D. Bluford Library, at North Carolina A&T State University

This year marks the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s 10th anniversary, and to celebrate we’ll be posting 10 stories from 10 stakeholders about how NCDHC has impacted their organizations.

Today’s 10 for 10 post is from Vicki Coleman, Dean of Library Services at the F. D. Bluford Library, at North Carolina A&T State University. We’ve partnered with NC A&T (Library home page | NCDHC contributor page) to digitize yearbooks, catalogs, and student newspapers. The Library also has their own extensive digital collections online, where you can find faculty research, agricultural history, and history about NC A&T. Read below for more about our partnership with NC A&T.

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Happy 10th anniversary to the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center!

Over the past decade, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (NCDHC) has played a vital role in helping the F.D. Bluford Library at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) ensure the success of its digital conversion projects. More specifically, the NCDHC’s digitization services have aided Bluford Library by providing the infrastructure to create thousands of preservation-quality digital images and other historical materials that are now accessible by students, faculty and researchers world-wide.

Working collaboratively with the NCDHC has opened opportunities for Bluford Library to give visibility to the wealth of history stored in its archive and to the many resources accessible from the DigitalNC website. Listed below are examples of how some digitized collections are used:

  • The university’s digitized yearbooks (1939-2013), catalogs and bulletins (1895-2013) and student newspaper (1915-2010) serve as indexes, directing researchers to names, places, photos and historical events that helped shape the university, the surrounding Greensboro community, and the history of African-Americans with regards to higher education and the civil rights movement.
  • In 2015, I oversaw the publication of NC A&T’s pictorial history book commemorating the university’s 125th anniversary. When it came to the digitization of some of our most brittle materials for inclusion in the book (e.g., minutes from an 1891 Board of Trustees meeting) it was the NCDHC that got it done.
  • Over the past three years, James Stewart, the Archives and Special Collections librarian at Bluford Library, has taught more than 300 students how to access community histories about NC A&T and African-American history via the DigitalNC website.
  • This past summer, Mr. Stewart and I conducted research pertaining to the naming of all the buildings and streets on the NC A&T campus. We were able to locate much of the historical information in the A&T Register, the NCA&T student newspaper that was digitized by the NCDHC and by searching the Newspapers collection on the DigitalNC website.

The NCDHC has advanced Bluford Library’s efforts to make historical materials accessible online by providing visionary guidance, high-level expertise and access to state of the art scanning equipment. I appreciate the great skills of the many individuals that make up the NCDHC and look forward to continuing a productive partnership with them. Congratulations to the NCDHC on its tenth anniversary and I await with pleasure another 10 years of remarkable achievements in increasing open access to the state’s cultural heritage.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


Women in Leadership Panel discussion from Mitchell Community College now online

DigitalNC has a hit a new milestone – a virtual panel held during the COVID era is now part of the NCDHC collection, thanks to our partner Mitchell Community College.  

screenshot of a google form

From the Google form used to sign up to attend the virtual panel

Recorded using the software Blackboard Collaborate, the panel hosted by the community college library featured four Iredell County women Dr. Porter Brannon, Dr. Camille Reese, Sara Haire Tice, and Dorothy Woodard, who answered questions about what inspires them, how they overcame obstacles along their career paths, and more.  You can watch the panel yourself here

To view more materials from Mitchell Community College, view their partner page here.  To view more audiovisual materials on DigitalNC, visit our collection North Carolina Sights and Sounds


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – David Wright

Smiling adult with grey beard wearing blue collared shirt standing under trees on a sunny day

David Wright, Associate Dean, Learning Resources, Surry Community College

This year marks the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s 10th anniversary, and to celebrate we’ll be posting 10 stories from 10 stakeholders about how NCDHC has impacted their organizations.

Today’s 10 for 10 Q&A is from David Wright, Associate Dean for Learning Resources at Surry Community College. We’ve partnered with Surry CC (Library home page | NCDHC contributor page) to digitize yearbooks, newspapers, and genealogical collections. Surry CC Library has been active in digitizing a lot of Surry County history, making connections with area groups and institutions to share their history online at Surry County Digital Heritage. Read below for more about our partnership with Surry Community College.

What impact has NCDHC had on your institution and/or on a particular audience that means a lot to you?

NCDHC has been an advocate, a source of information about the process of digitization, and has provided our rural community with the tools to bring a digital history project to fruition. Surry Community College has benefited from the expertise of the NCDHC as well as a partner in digitizing yearbooks from the county. At the beginning of our digital history project, I felt like I had a sounding board (& expertise) in Lisa Gregory and the staff at NCDHC. A project of the size and scope of the Surry County Digital Heritage had not been attempted anywhere in our area. We needed good advice and found it at NCDHC.

Do you have a specific user story (maybe your own!) about how DigitalNC has boosted research or improved access to important information?

The “yearbook project” that NCDHC has helped us bring together is an amazing resource. It has been a lot of footwork and many deliveries and pickups in Chapel Hill, but the libraries in Surry County can refer patrons who inquire about yearbooks to DigitalNC, where all the yearbooks are gathered in one place and are easy to browse and use and not scattered in locations throughout the county. As in many counties, before school consolidation, there were lots of community schools, many that were K-12. This is a valuable resource for genealogists, other family history researchers, and just fun browsing for people who remember the community schools.

If you were asked to “describe what makes NCDHC great” in a few words, what would they be?

A dedicated and helpful staff who want to preserve the historical records of communities.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


“Chinese Girl Wants Vote” film now on DigitalNC thanks to Levine Museum of the New South

Black and white photograph of a woman

Still from the film “Chinese Girl Wants Vote”

A film created as part of the exhibit “Counting UP: What’s on Your Ballot” at the Levine Museum of the New South to highlight the importance of voting is now on DigitalNC.  “Chinese Girl Wants Vote” was created by Jinna Kim to tell the story of suffragist Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and touches both on the themes of voter rights and immigrant rights in light of the political environment of 2020 and in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment.  

To view more materials from the Levine Museum of the New South, visit their partner page here and their website here.  To see more audio-visual content on DigitalNC, visit North Carolina Sights and Sounds.  


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Jennifer Finlay

Four individual taking a selfie with a stuffed toy dog, all wearing masks

Staff at Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library (L-R) Destinee Williams, Claudia Resta, Brandy Goodwin, Larry the Mascot, and Jennifer Finlay

This year marks the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s 10th anniversary, and to celebrate we’ll be posting 10 stories from 10 stakeholders about how NCDHC has impacted their organizations.

Today’s 10 for 10 Q&A is from Jennifer Finlay, Chowan County Librarian at Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library. (Library’s home page | NCDHC contributor page) We’ve worked with the Library to digitize issues of The Chowan Herald out of Edenton, NC. We were happy to work with them in a successful trial project to accept additional funds from partner organizations for newspaper digitization, too. Read below for more about our partnership with the Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library.

What impact has NCDHC had on your institution and/or on a particular audience that means a lot to you?

We had the good fortune of being chosen to have part of our local newspaper, The Chowan Herald, digitized by NCDHC in 2018. I then proposed an innovative approach to digitizing more years of the paper by having our local historic preservation grantors help fund more years. NCDHC had not done this in the past and the Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library was part of a pilot program. This helps small, rural and lightly funded libraries to be able to do digitization without having to learn all the technical aspects of digitization and hosting the results.

Do you have a specific user story (maybe your own!) about how DigitalNC has boosted research or improved access to important information?

This saves us so much time when we get the phone calls from out of state asking about a Chowan Herald article. We no longer have make time to go upstairs, fire up the microfilm machine, try and find an article with limited reference information and no index. We can either look for it ourselves while on the phone or give the link to the caller and they can have fun reliving the past.

If you were asked to “describe what makes NCDHC great” in a few words, what would they be?

NCDHC as a website is so much more user friendly than the state archives. (Sorry state archives). I love that Lisa Gregory and the decision makers of DigitalNC took a chance on us and tried something new.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


Book about the History of Wake County Now Online

Thanks to our partner, the Olivia Raney Local History Library, we now have volume 1 of Wake, Capital County of North Carolina on our website.

The title page of Wake, Capital County of North Carolina, Volume 1: Prehistory through Centennial.

This volume of Wake, Capital County of North Carolina focuses on the history of the region from the prehistoric era through the late 19th-century celebration of the centennial of the county’s founding. However, the bulk of the book starts with the history of eighteenth-century Wake County history. The work discusses Wake County’s role and experiences through its own history and in the context of major national and international events such as the Revolutionary War and the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Image from Wake, Capital Country of North Carolina, Volume 1: Prehistory through Centennial.

The Olivia Raney Local History Library is a branch of the Wake County Public Library system. It houses a host of research materials on a variety of historical and genealogical topics related to Wake County. Interested parties can also purchase volumes I and II of Wake, Capital County of North Carolina and The Historic Architecture of Wake County, North Carolina here. For more information about the Olivia Raney Local History Library, please visit their website.


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Beth Blackwood

Head and shoulders view of archivist with glasses and long straight hair

Beth Blackwood, Digital Archivist at the John Spoor Broome Library at California State University Channel Islands

This year marks the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s 10th anniversary, and to celebrate we’ll be posting 10 stories from 10 stakeholders about how NCDHC has impacted their organizations.

Today’s 10 for 10 Q&A is from Beth Blackwood, Digital Archivist at the John Spoor Broome Library at California State University Channel Islands. From 2015-2017 Beth was a graduate student employee at NCDHC as she attended the School of Information and Library Science at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Our graduate student employees work hard scanning and describing our partners’ collections. You can see some of the collections Beth worked on here. They also write blog posts and work on special projects. Read below for Beth’s thoughts about NCDHC.

What impact has NCDHC had on your career?
I actively believe I got my first job out of graduate school because of NCDHC. I received profound mentorship from my supervisors and colleagues and had hands-on, regular experience with both physical processes and digital systems. I felt prepared and knowledgeable in my first job because of my time there. It was my first step in a career that I sincerely love.

What item or group of items on DigitalNC.org do you think everyone should know about?
During my first few months at DigitalNC, I spent a lot of time processing course catalogs, especially those from Sandhills Community College. I remember asking Lisa, “why would anyone need these?” These items always seemed so dry and dated. Lisa informed me that they could be useful for someone who was trying to recall what courses they had taken at the community college during their tenure and NCDHC might be the only online copies. I now work at a university that has many transfer students who are hoping to transfer credit from a long ago class a at Community College. I have had more than one successful case of helping a student find a digitized course catalog that they needed to prove their credit. I’ve never questioned digitizing the seemingly boring items again!

If you were asked to “describe what makes NCDHC great” in a few words, what would they be?
NCDHC is great because of their full circle service to the state of North Carolina. They preserve the smallest of stories from all communities and they train practitioners who will do the same.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


A Look Back at The Charlotte Post Collection

Just under 50 issues of The Charlotte Post have recently been added to the DigitalNC newspaper collection, rounding out the rest of  2006 and ending on October 11, 2007. If you have been following us closely, you may have noticed that over the past two years we have routinely been scanning and uploading issues of The Charlotte Post. In fact, we now have a grand total of 1,041 issues available to view online! We think this is a cause to celebrate. In this blog, we’ll go through a brief look back at our entire Post collection. Many thanks go out to our long time partners at Johnson C. Smith University for supplying all the issues in this collection.

While a majority of our Post issues are from the mid 1970s to the mid 2000s, the earliest issues come from the 1930s. Since its debut in 1878, the Post has provided an African American perspective on news local to Charlotte, North Carolina and beyond. While we only have three issues from the 30s, they contribute Black voices to our primary source material of that period.

Weekly issues from the 70s through 90s continue to highlight the African American community in and around Charlotte. While the tagline for the Post in the 30s was “The Paper with a Heart and Soul”, in the early 70s it changed to “Charlotte’s Fastest Growing Community Weekly” and then finally landed on “The Voice of the Black Community”. Weekly features become frequent in this era of the Post, such as “Beauty of the Week” and The B.E.E. (Black Entertainment Events) Line.

Once we arrive in the new millennium, issues become longer and have strict sections. These sections cover a wide range of topics typical of modern newspapers: editorials, weather, life, religion, sports, real estate, business, A&E (arts and entertainment), and classifieds. Special editions were also intermittently added to issues, such as the CIAA Basketball Tournament edition and Top Seniors.

The Post continues to be printed to this day and we hope to add many more issues of it for future digital viewing. To start your own Post collection exploration, click here to browse by year. If you would like to look at all African American newspapers on DigitalNC, click here. And to learn more about JCSU, click here.