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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Viewing entries posted in March 2012

Drivers Licenses Defeated in 1931 North Carolina

Today’s headline from the @ncnewspapers Twitter feed reads “House Kill Bill For Licensing Of Auto Operation.” I suppose I’d always taken it for granted that a license from the state was necessary for driving a car; certainly I would have thought that they would be in place by the 1930s.

The bill, according to the article in the March 27, 1931 Pilot would “require operators of motor vehicles to be licensed by the state. . . The bill was sponsored by the Carolina Motor Club and had the support of most of the state press, aroused by the growing automobile death rate in the state.”
So what could be the objection?  In language reminiscent of many of today’s political arguments, the bill was opposed by representatives who saw licensing drivers as a ploy by the state to increase taxes and add more officers to the government payroll.  Apparently a representative Allen of Granville was one of the leaders in defeating the bill.  The article in the Pilot closes with a great quote: “The 10 commandments would have a hard time passing Mr. Allen if there was a new executive officer required in their administration.  He would move to table them if they were not introduced with ample safeguards against extra expense.”

Methodist University Yearbooks Now Available

Image of students climbing out of and sitting on top of a car

Forty-seven yearbooks from Methodist University are now available online at The yearbooks span from 1964, four years after the institution was formed, to 2010. Methodist University also contributed three yearbooks from the now-defunct Carolina College, which was located in Maxton, N.C. Interestingly, the North Carolina College and University Yearbooks digital collection also contains fifty-four yearbooks and course catalogs from another defunct school that was once located in Maxton, Presbyterian Junior College

Brevard College Student Newspapers Now Available on DigitalNC

The small town of Brevard has lately received a lot of attention here at the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Following last week’s announcement about the digitization of early issues of the Sylvan Valley News, I’m pleased to announce that a long run of historic student newspapers from Brevard College is now available online.

Over 700 issues of student-produced papers from Brevard College as well as predecessor schools Weaver College and Rutherford College can now be searched and browsed online. The papers range in date from to 1924 to 2006, and are a fantastic resource for studying student life in a small mountain college throughout the 20th century.

These digital versions were created from original newspapers held in the Brevard College Archives, located in the James A. Jones Library.

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


18th Century Examination Books from Old Salem

Ten early student exercise books from the collections at the Old Salem Museums & Gardens are now available online at DigitalNC.  These fascinating volumes, primarily from the late 18th and early 19th-centuries, are the work of students from the Moravian community in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  We will be digitizing more volumes from this collection later this spring.

Page from Old Salem exercise book, 1791

Mariner's Compass from 1792 Old Salem exercise book


Illustration of a sailor smoking a pipe


Illustrations of a squirrel, birds, and a cat from 1790

Early 20th-Century Brevard Newspaper Online

The Sylvan Valley News from 1900-1911 is now available online through the North Carolina Newspapers project. The paper was published in Brevard and contains news from all over Transylvania County as well as updates from the “mountain metropolis” of Asheville.

Looking through the paper one gets a first-hand glimpse into the struggles and excitement of a small town emerging into the twentieth century.  Issues of civic improvement are often at the forefront as the citizens of Brevard make the case for pressing issues such as the addition of sidewalks and electric lights to their town.
The Sylvan Valley News was nominated for digitization by the Transylvania County Library.  More issues of this paper, including its successor, the Brevard News, will be published online this winter.

Rescuing Artifacts from the Modern Greece

After reading about the exciting work taking place this week on the coast as archaeologists and volunteers uncover artifacts from a sunken Civil War ship, I went looking through the North Carolina Newspapers collection for a mention of the wreck.

I found this piece, in the Fayetteville Observer from June 30, 1862, describing the wreck of the Modern Greece:

The last lines are especially notable: “It is believed that a portion of the cargo can be saved.  All will be saved if possible.”  Portions of the cargo are indeed being saved.  It has only taken 150 years.

“Buy Local” Movement in 1907

The more we read old newspapers, the more we find what we assumed to be modern trends showing up long ago. The Sylvan Valley News, published in Brevard in the early 20th century, was a strong advocate for the “Buy Local” movement. In those days, local businesses weren’t threatened by large discount chain stores or online retailers but by another recently-developed and extremely popular shopping alternative: the mail order catalog.

This front-page ad from February 22, 1907, puts it in very clear terms:
“In the long run more of your money will come back to you if you spend it at home than if you send it to Chicago or some other large city.  You spend a dollar with Smith, up the street.  Smith spends it with Brown, around the corner.  Brown is just as likely to spend it with you as with anybody else.  Did you ever think of that?”
Chicago, of course, was the home of Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Real Photo Postcards Advertised in 1906

We found this ad in an issue of the Sylvan Valley News, published in Brevard on August 10, 1906.  The “novelty” of creating custom postcards was a widespread phenomenon, resulting the creation of many thousands of rare and often unique images that seem especially striking when we come across them today.  Photographic or “real photo” postcards are actual photographic prints produced on postcard backs, enabling the users to mail them as they would a normal postcard.  While the act of simply mailing a snapshot doesn’t seem like a big deal today, it was in the early twentieth-century, as people around the country shared scenic and personal photos with ease.

There are several real photo postcards in the Images of North Carolina collection on DigitalNC, and even more in the North Carolina Postcards collection published by the North Carolina Collection.  Here are a few of my favorites:
Dora Mayberry, from the Davie County Public Library.
Dora Mayberry, Cooleemee (Davie County Public Library).

John T. Etheridge of Rocky Mount (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).  Note the raccoon skin on the wall behind him.

Fisherman repairing a net in Morehead City (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

Susie Sharp family photo, Reidsville (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).