Viewing entries posted in 2014

Polk County News Now Available Online and Digital Heritage Center Welcomes Partner Number 170


We are very pleased to welcome our 170th contributing institution, the Polk County Public Library. The library, located in Columbus, N.C., recently nominated early 20th-century issues of the Polk County News and Tryon Bee for digitization. We’ve completed the work and there are now over 800 issues of the paper available online in the North Carolina Newspapers digital collection.

The Polk County News is available for the years 1902 to 1922, covering a period of rapid change in rural North Carolina. Typical of other small-town papers of that era, the News was more than just a source of local events and ads. Earlier issues carried national and international stories, serialized novels, and columns specifically for children and women. Later issues focused more on items of interest to local farmers, including regular columns on agriculture and household items. All of the papers include the social columns and local tidbits that cover the minute comings-and-goings of residents, making these old papers incredibly rich resources for anyone studying community and family history.

Randolph Community College Scrapbooks, Campus Publications, Now Online

Randolph Community College Ad with Richard Petty, 1986

Randolph Community College Ad with Richard Petty, 1986

Nine scrapbooks documenting the history of Randolph Community College, as well as campus publications and reports, have been added to DigitalNC.

The latest addition of five scrapbooks (1977-1987) join four earlier volumes to further describe the College’s history through newspaper clippings and ephemera that talk about the College’s funding, events, curriculum changes, and student accomplishments.

A campus fine arts magazine, Uwharrie Dreams has also been added, along with recent school catalogs and reports.

You can view all of Randolph Community College’s items on DigitalNC (including yearbooks) here.

The Echo, Newspaper of Ecusta Mill, Now Online

Echo MastheadIn the 1930s, watching Europe slide gradually toward war, Harry Straus foresaw trouble relying on France as the chief supplier of cigarette papers to the United States. He began researching and developing paper manufacturing techniques using flax, garnering support from cigarette manufacturers for a company to be located in North Carolina. In 1939, his Ecusta Paper Corporation began making cigarette papers in Pisgah Forest, NC. (See “Brief History of Ecusta Is Given” September 1, 1946.)

The Echo, July 1, 1949, Page 5

This image from the July 1949 issue shows a company picnic. There were separate bingo tables for white and Black employees.

The mill flourished during World War II and beyond, quickly diversifying beyond cigarette papers to writing paper and other flax-based products, eventually moving on to plastics and cellophane. It operated as a mill, under various owners, until it closed 2002.

The Echo was a monthly newspaper produced by the mill from 1940-1954. Like other mill papers from small towns (like the Badin Bulletin and the Chatham Blanketeer) The Echo not only describes events at the company but also documents the lives of its employees and the surrounding towns. Each mill department gets its own column, in which employees’ vacations, illnesses, social exploits, and private jokes are described in great detail. A typical paper from the 1940s shows photos of the many recreational activities provided at Ecusta (square dancing, baseball, and dramatic clubs) right after the “Safety Page,” which educates employees on mill safety procedures as well as accident statistics.

The paper changed physical format a bit in its later years, and included a lot more photos. However the details of employees’ family lives remains central. The final issue states that the company paper changed to the Olin Mathieson News in 1955, after the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation, the current company owner.

The Echo is available online in partnership with the Transylvania County Library.

The Tribunal Aid Newspaper, New Addition to DigitalNC

The Tribunal Aid, July 16, 1975

The Tribunal Aid, July 16, 1975

  1. Simply be a newspaper: report, inform, and editorialize
  2. Serve all people
  3. Remain neutral

These are the goals and aspirations of The Tribunal Aid, stated above the masthead in its very first issue. In partnership with the High Point Museum and the paper’s publisher, the entire run of this newspaper, which documented the African American community from 1973-1976, is now available on DigitalNC.

The Tribunal Aid really ranges from the very local to the broad in scope. The paper solicited submissions from High Point and surrounding areas, and is a rich source of local information about events as well as personal milestones (marriages and births, for example). There’s quite a bit of information from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Livingstone, North Carolina A&T University, and Winston-Salem State University). On a national and state level you’ll find coverage of well-known news items of the 1970s, like the Nixon impeachment, America’s Bicentennial, and North Carolina’s Eugenics Commission.

One of the hallmarks of this paper is its ongoing and rigorous efforts at getting its readership engaged. There are a number of recurring editorials like “The Point Is…” and “To Be Equal,” which argue for free expression as well as active participation in political and community affairs; editorials are shared under the tagline “You’re a part of the solution, or you’re a part of the problem.”  Another regular feature throughout 1975-1976 is “The Better We Know Us…” biographies of local African Americans that appear above the masthead and which helped describe African American citizens having an impact on local life. Some issues of the paper have Pro / Con polls, asking readers to weigh in on topics that are still weighty today, like legalization of marijuana (see right) and capital punishment.

This paper joins a growing collection of items related to the history of High Point, shared by the High Point Museum as well as other institutions in that city. You can view them all here.

Majorettes, the Community Pool, and More Photos from M. S. Brown Online

Five members of the Tarboro High School Band

Members of the Tarboro High School Band

Over 160 additional photos from Edgecombe County Memorial Library’s M. S. Brown Collection have just been added. This batch features many photos of the Tarboro High School band and majorettes, along with photos of local social functions, Tarboro homes and businesses, and, of course, the community pool.

M. S. Brown owned a Coca-Cola bottling plant and was an avid photographer of Tarboro and the surrounding areas. This latest group of photos joins several hundred already on our site. You can learn more about M. S. Brown in a previous blog post. Yearbooks and other Edgecombe County Memorial Library items on DigitalNC can be seen via their contributors page.

New Materials Added to Rockingham County Legacy Project

Rockingham County Drop in Library Scrapbook photo, 1977-1978We’ve just added scrapbooks, a town ledger, and several additional yearbooks from Rockingham County Public Library, part of the collaborative Rockingham County Legacy project.

Two Rockingham County Library programs from the 1970s are documented in these digitized scrapbooks. The Drop-in-Library (DIL) was a grant-funded initiative to bring resources, especially audio-visual ones, to children who couldn’t get to a physical library branch. The DIL van “dropped in” to residential areas, head start programs, day cares, schools, and other parts of the community, where staff would present filmstrips, read books, and provide the children with a variety of activities. The scrapbooks include newspaper articles, promotional materials, and documentation about the program, as well as photographs showing children taking advantage of the DILmobile’s resources. The Special Outreach Services (SOS) program similarly offered services to those who had trouble getting to a branch. This service delivered large print books and other materials via station wagon to the homebound.

This most recent batch also includes a Property Tax Register from the town of Madison, as well as more yearbooks for Booker T. Washington High School, John Motley Morehead High School, and Stoneville High School. There are now over 120 yearbooks from Rockingham County institutions available on DigitalNC.

Large Collection of Harnett County Public Library Photos now on DigitalNC

Johnson's Good Food

Johnson’s Good Food

Peggy Altman and Judy Elliott taking out a barn of tobacco

Peggy Altman and Judy Elliott taking out a barn of tobacco

Working closely with staff at Harnett County Public Library, we’re pleased to announce migration of over 1100 images from their Digital Database to DigitalNC.

This collection shows a wealth of activities, events, people, and places in Harnett County.  North Carolinians of note can be found in this collection–Governors Kerr Scott and Luther Hodges, Paul Green, Susie Sharp–however more striking are the number of identified general citizens of Harnett County. Portraits are an overwhelming part of this collection, with photos of school sports groups, community groups, individuals, wedding portraits, and groups of folks posing at all manner of local events.

Many of these photos were taken by Talbott McNeill Stewart. The Harnett County Public Library obtained around 800 Stewart photographs in a 1978 donation from the Town of Lillington. The Library has preserved these photographs and, more recently, scanned, cataloged, and given broader access to them through their website. Stewart was Harnett County’s first full-time press photographer, working for the Harnett County Daily Record from the paper’s establishment in 1950 until his retirement. He documented weddings, sports teams, and more through his work.*

Womanless Wedding

Womanless Wedding

This was the first migration of this type for us, and we were glad to work with our partners to move their content to a new home. We’re also pleased that this well-documented collection of Harnett County’s history can now be searched alongside the thousands of other images available through the Images of North Carolina collection on DigitalNC.

*Information provided by Harnett County Public Library.

Macinda Anne Byrd and Serafine

Macinda Anne Byrd and Serafine


Photographs, Scrapbook, and Rotary Club Records from Troy and Biscoe, now on DigitalNC

We’ve recently completed a number of items from Montgomery County Public Library that document the communities of Biscoe and Troy, NC.

Helen Poole's Class Activities, Troy Elementary School (1950s)In an earlier post, we wrote about Helen Poole’s elementary school class and the marionettes she used as a teaching tool over the course of three decades. In addition to the items mentioned in that earlier post, we now have more photographs showing the different types of dramatic productions Poole’s classes created. We have almost no information on the children in these photographs; if you or someone you know went to Troy Elementary in the 1950s-1970s and could supply more information, we’d love to have it.

We have also added photographs of World War II veterans, and a scrapbook documenting the Biscoe community from 1952-1954. The scrapbook includes newspaper clippings showing Biscoe’s growth and social life during that time.

Finally, we’re pleased to help the Library share a considerable number of records of the Troy Rotary Club, from the 1930s to the 1980s. This collection includes attendance records, minutes, rosters, ephemera, and hundres of issues of the club bulletin (“The Wheel Horse”).

“The Wheel Horse” is replete with personal news of the club’s members: birthdays, marriages, births, jobs taken, travel, illnesses, events, and hyperlocal goings-on (one issue discussed someone moving to a new office, and admiration of a particular Christmas tree). We were entertained by the fact that these news tidbits are freely interspersed with factoids, poems, pithy jokes, and groan-worthy puns, many of which showcase a fair bit of 1950s-1970s sexism.

The salesman sat down in the motel restaurant and told the waitress: “Gimme a charred egg burnt toast, a cuppa coffee and then sit down and nag me, I’m homesick.” [April 1968]

mcpl_bulletins_1968_001Some of these just left us scratching our heads:

At the end of the year an abnormal eel that could swim well, run, climb, and fly a little was made valedictorian. [February 1968]

With all of its names and personal events, this collection could be helpful as well as interesting to a genealogist or local history researcher with an interest in Troy.

You can view all of Montgomery County Public Library’s items on DigitalNC.

Changes are Underway on the DigitalNC Newspaper Collection

As we reported in the spring, we have been working on a major change to the software that is behind the North Carolina Newspapers digital collection. We are migrating all of the community newspapers that we have digitized to the Library of Congress Newspaper Viewer (those of you who are regular users of their excellent Chronicling America site will already be familiar with the viewer). Those changes are currently underway right now.

While the transition is underway, users may run into occasional error messages or downtime for the collection, but we are working hard to make sure that there are as few interruptions as possible. Please let us know if you experience extended difficulties with the site.

We are hoping to have the migration complete by later this fall. When we’ve got everything moved over we’ll post an announcement here, which will include more information about the tools and features available in the new newspaper viewer.

Additional Items from Granville County Public Library now Online

Yearbook photo 1956 Pep PacGranville County Public Library has contributed yearbooks and some manuscript volumes to DigitalNC, including the first yearbook on the site from Warren county.


  • The Warrentonian [1949] John Graham High School, Warrenton, N.C.
  • Pep-Pac [1948] [1956] Henderson High School, Henderson, N.C.
  • Nahiscoan [1954] Nashville High School, Nashville, N.C.

Other Items

You can view all of Granville County Public Library’s content on DigitalNC.

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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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