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 2019


New Chatham County Photographs and the Story of Navigation on the Cape Fear and Deep Rivers

Thanks to our partners at the Chatham County Historical Association, DigitalNC now hosts nearly 100 new photos of Chatham County, as well as a profile of the Cape Fear and Deep River Slack Water Navigation from 1851 and the story of the Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company.

The Cape Fear and Deep River profile and its story are DigitalNC’s first additions to provide insight into North Carolina’s inland navigation system, though this information is complemented by several photos of the Cape Fear river on our site. The Deep River, along with the Haw River, is a tributary of the Cape Fear River. The two rivers meet just south of Jordan Lake in Chatham County, near Moncure and Haywood, North Carolina. The Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company was organized in 1849 in Pittsboro, NC, to enable steamboats to traverse the rivers. The company ensured navigation of the rivers by building dams and locks as a slack water system of navigation. To learn more about the company, visit Wade Hadley, Jr.’s history of the organization from 1980.

This batch of materials also includes nearly 100 new photographs of twentieth century Chatham County. Several showcase local high schools, activities at the Gilmore Hunting Lodge, dam construction, the Carolina Power and Light Company, churches in Mount Vernon, and other subjects.

To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association, visit their contributor page here or their website here.


200 More Photos from Central Carolina Community College are Available Now!

Thanks to our partnership with Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), there are 200 new photographs on DigitalNC, making our total number of photographs nearly 4,000! These latest photographs document happenings at the college form the 1960s until 2001, focusing mainly on staff and faculty portraits and activities. CCCC originally opened as Lee County Industrial Education Center in the early 1960s, and later became Central Carolina Technical Institute, then Central Carolina Technical College, and finally Central Carolina Community College.

To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, please visit their partner page or their website. To see more photos like these from CCCC, check out the nearly 4,000 photos in the collection A Pictorial History of Central Carolina Community College.


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 12 – A Big Newspaper Announcement!

Today is the last day in our holiday series: The 12 Days of NCDHC. Each day we’ve posted short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 12: Your Organization Can Fund Additional Microfilmed Newspaper Digitization

Sepia colored newspaper ad with boy holding folded newspaper, caption Big News!Today we are sharing an exciting newspaper announcement! Each year we offer a limited amount of microfilmed newspaper digitization funded by the State Library of North Carolina through IMLS’ LSTA program. In the fall we issue a call for title nominations, and we receive many. Because we serve the entire state, we geographically spread around our efforts. This means that we are rarely able to do an entire run of a community newspaper, which can be frustrating for researchers and our partners. 

Last June our Advisory Board approved a pilot project where NCDHC partner institutions can pay for additional microfilmed newspaper digitization. We’ve done this with two partners successfully so we are opening up this pilot project more broadly. Here are some details:

  • To participate your organization must be eligible to become an NCDHC partner.
  • This project only includes North Carolina newspapers on microfilm. That can either be microfilm your institution is able to lend and/or microfilm available in the collection here at UNC Chapel Hill (you can search the catalog for holdings). If it’s something you’re lending, just know that it may be off site for as much as 6 months.
  • We don’t have a limit on how much we can do and there’s no nomination to submit. If the request is large, we may have to complete it in batches.
  • If we haven’t worked on the newspaper before we’ll have to have permission from the current rights holders or you’ll need to complete a copyright review. We can talk further about this; just contact us.
  • During this pilot we are asking you to pay exactly the same amount the vendor charges us. Your organization would not need to pay for the ongoing hosting on DigitalNC.org or our staff time and effort, all of which is jointly covered by UNC Chapel Hill and the State Library. 
  • The cost is currently $0.25 per page, which covers the necessary images and markup. The only other cost is for shipping the film to and from the vendor. We usually estimate between 800-1200 pages on a microfilm reel, though that can vary widely. 

A note about cost – we know that there are companies or individuals scanning microfilm that charge less. Our cost includes a specific type of markup in order to make the newspapers full-text searchable on our website.  If you do decide to go with a cheaper option elsewhere, still consider giving us a call. We can share some questions to ask the vendor to make sure you get your money’s worth and end up with a usable product.

We’re really happy to help accommodate additional demand. We aren’t discontinuing our other newspaper digitization efforts – we plan to continue issuing the call for nominations each fall, and we will continue to scan print student newspapers and very limited runs of community papers. But if seeing your community’s newspapers online is a priority and you’re interested in pursuing this funded option, get in touch!


11 Days of NCDHC: Day 11 – We’re Consultants

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 11: We’re Consultants

Woman seated before a computer while instructor bends close and points to floppy disk

Secretarial Science student using a computer, contributed by Central Carolina Community College.

When NCDHC first began about 10 years ago, one of the main goals was to serve many institutions from a single location. The benefit of this approach means that resources and expertise can be consolidated. Instead of setting up a local digitization program, an organization can test the digitization waters by working with us before tackling their own projects, or they can choose to accomplish all of their digital collections goals through NCDHC.

We love to see institutions supporting their own digital collections almost as much as we dislike seeing people reinvent the wheel. We are happy to share advice on best practices in digitization, metadata, and hosting digital cultural heritage collections online. We can visit collections to look through materials and to talk about the commitment involved in a digital collection. We can present to stakeholders on the importance of thinking long term when beginning a digital collection.

Because of our statewide reach, we are able to help connect institutions who have similar or complementary goals. We frequently give advice related to applying for grants, particularly the State Library of North Carolina’s LSTA grants. If we don’t know the answer, we probably know someone who will. More than anything, we want to see successful and sustainable digital collections, even if they’re not on DigitalNC. So if you have a question or three, get in touch.

Check back on Monday as we reveal Day 12 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 10 – Community Scanning Days

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 10: Community Scanning Days

color image of three individuals facing camera and smiling, in traditional Hmong dress

Hmong New Year festival in Newton, North Carolina. The photograph was scanned at a community scanning day hosted by Catawba County Library and the Historical Association of Catawba County.

Community scanning days are a popular way for many of our partners to bring historical materials into their collection from their community without needing to take physical possession of the objects.  Instead, the community is invited to come in with their personal collections related to the town, or a particular historic event, or from a particular group, and have it photographed or scanned.  Information about the object, as well as information about the owner, is recorded at the time of scanning as well.  Then, depending on the infrastructure at the institution, the digital files and associated metadata are saved for research in the reading room or somehow made accessible online.  Community scanning days are often a really good way to engage the community with their local history collection while at the same time filling in holes in that collection.  

Where does the NCDHC come in?  Well, we can help with these events in a variety of ways.  One way is to come and offer technical support the day of the event, including bringing our scanners and doing a lot of that work.  We are also happy to consult with partners who are planning such events and pass along metadata templates and scanning specifications we would suggest using.  We can take the images and metadata from the scanning day and host those on DigitalNC.  If you are interested in us hosting the materials, we do ask that you talk to us before your scanning day so we can be sure the image quality and metadata collected fit with our system.  This page on our site is a good run down of what we’ll provide during and after scanning days.  

We have had the pleasure of working with several institutions already with community scanning days, including the Hmong Keen Kwm: Hmong Heritage Project by Catawba County Library and the Massey Hill Heritage Discovery Project by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.  

If your institution is looking to do a similar scanning project, please get in touch!  

Check back on Friday as we reveal Day 11 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 9 – We’ll Host Items You Scan

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 9: We’ll Host Items You Scan

Many of our partners have done scanning on their own.  However, as we like to joke here at the NCDHC, the scanning is the easy part!  It is getting those materials online for the public to view that can be really complicated.  Hosting materials online is a key part of our expertise and we are happy to take any items you’ve scanned yourself and load them into DigitalNC for you.  We have helped partners who have just scanned a yearbook or two, as well as partners who have embarked on large scale community projects such as DigitalKM, or who have had to migrate their digital collection from their own system, as in the case of Harnett County Public Library

Screenshot of a scrapbook in a content management system

One of over 200 scrapbooks Transylvania County Library scanned themselves and sent to us to host on DigitalNC

If you are interested in sending us materials you’ve scanned yourself, we have some guidelines for how we’d like to receive it.  

  • All scanned images must have a minimum image quality of 300 dpi, and preferably come as TIFFs, although we will take JPEGs. There can’t be any watermarks on the images.
  • We’ll need at least minimal metadata with a title and unique filename for each item.  We will be happy to share a template for you to fill out to send along with the objects and can discuss any questions that arise with that template.  This page on metadata requirements is also a handy guide to check.

The scanned items and their corresponding metadata can be sent via FTP, a cloud based storage site such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or you can send us an external hard drive or thumb drive.  Once we receive the items, we add it to our normal queue and get them online.  

Check back on Thursday as we reveal Day 10 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 8 – Audio Digitization

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 8: Audio Digitization

photo of a hand holding a cassette tape

A cassette tape with a recorded oral history with Jackie Evans, dated 5/31/2001.

The NCDHC digitizes most of our partners’ materials here at Wilson Special Collections Library, which is part of UNC Chapel Hill Libraries. There’s a Digital Production Center with a variety of equipment that can handle most any print formats as well as three-dimensional objects. Until quite recently the only types of items we sent out to a vendor for digitization were microfilmed newspapers, moving image formats, and audio formats. Thanks to a partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) in Wilson Library, many audio formats can now be digitized right here on site. 

The staff of the SFC are renowned around the country for their work on audiovisual preservation and digitization. On a daily basis they are transferring at-risk formats from Wilson Library’s collections to digital. Thanks to grants from the Mellon Foundation, this work has gotten an additional boost over the last few years to expand beyond Wilson. NCDHC partners can now have audio formats digitized at any time. The SFC has already worked with partner institutions to digitize audio formats that include oral histories, music performances, and even a tobacco auction. 

If you’re a current or potential partner and would like to talk about audio digitization, just contact us.

Check back on Wednesday as we reveal Day 9 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 7 – Statistics About DigitalNC.org Use and Collections

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Infographic: Over the last year, DigitalNC.org had 4,322,135 pageviews, 344,776 visitors, and 58% of the site's traffic comes from North Carolina.Day 7: Statistics About DigitalNC.org Use and Collections

Did you know that DigitalNC.org contains over 4 million images?? That’s a lot of North Carolina history. Today we’re sharing some of the site’s statistics as well as a nifty tool that helps our partner institutions find out how much their items are being used.

Though we don’t know too much about them, we do know that A LOT of people visit DigitalNC! The graphic at right shows the number of pageviews of and visitors to the site. We’re always proud to see that around 55%-60% of the traffic routinely comes from North Carolina. Right now we’re averaging around 1,782 sessions per day.

If you’re interested in statistics about what’s on DigitalNC, we have a Statistics page that can show you the number of items and files, and some general statistics about our contributors. 

And remember that nifty tool I mentioned? DigitalNC partners can check web views on the items we’ve scanned from their collections using Partner Analytics Reports.  There they’ll find sessions, pageviews, new users, and top items by pageviews. Here’s an example showing a three-month time period from one of our partners.

A graph showing number of sessions and pageviews, along with "top items by pageviews" for a single partner's collection digitalnc.org.

We always encourage partners to report these statistics just like any other use of their collections. Just contact us if you have questions about what you find, or for ideas on how to increase your DigitalNC web analytics.

Check back on Tuesday as we reveal Day 8 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!

*Icons courtesy of Streamline.


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 6 – Collections from North Carolina Religious Institutions

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 6: Collections from North Carolina Religious Institutions

cover of the book "In the Beginning -- Baptists" with a line drawing of the facade of the First Baptist Church of New BernSome of our state’s oldest history is stewarded by religious institutions, and we’ve frequently been asked if we can work with them. Though most are not eligible to become an NCDHC partner because they do not have regularly open and staffed libraries or archives, we worked with our Advisory Board to devise a pilot project where eligible partner institutions can pair with a local religious institution to share their materials on DigitalNC.

Our first effort was with New Bern-Craven County Public Library and the First Baptist Church of New Bern. We received a warm welcome over in New Bern as we learned about the Church’s history. We returned to Chapel Hill and scanned some of their earliest minutes along with a history of the congregation published in 1984 (pictured at right). 

Here are the details if you’re interested in this project.

  • The partnership must be between the religious institution and a current or eligible partner institution.
  • All items we scan or photograph have to be made available through DigitalNC.org. We cannot scan items that can’t be made freely accessible online.
  • This project follows the same guidelines as all of the work we do. You can read more on our “How to Participate” page.
  • Items will have the eligible partner institution listed as the contact, and the religious institution as the home for the archive. We’ll make an “exhibit page” for the religious institution so they can easily search and browse their materials.

This is a great opportunity for local libraries or museums to build or enhance relationships with local synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples.

Check back on Monday as we reveal Day 7 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 5 – The 50-Year High School Yearbook Embargo

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 5: The 50-Year High School Yearbook Embargo

Yearbooks are a major part of the work we do here at DigitalNC.  For many partners, it is the first format that they bring us for scanning and for many of our users, it is what brings them to our site.  So one might think we would take any and all yearbooks.  However, for high school yearbooks, we have a 50-year embargo, which means right now in December of 2019, we are only scanning high school yearbooks from 1969 and before. 

Why?  Well for a couple of reasons.  The first is privacy.  We do not have a similar restriction on college yearbooks because 99% of those featured in a college yearbooks are 18 and older when the yearbook was printed and had a reasonable level of consent to be included.  High school yearbooks feature minors and so we have the 50-year restriction for privacy reasons.  The other is simply a method to stem the tide of yearbooks that would otherwise come through our door!  As North Carolina’s population grew and yearbooks became increasingly a normal part of the high school experience, there are literally thousands for the 1970s through 2000s out there.  This embargo allows us to control that flow somewhat, as we only have a limited capacity for yearbook digitization each year.

Page from a yearbook that says "our generation is the spirit of '69, activities, personalities, crowds

Front page of the 1969 Independence Senior High School yearbook

That said, on January 1, 2020, we’ll be happy to scan any 1970 yearbooks you may have in your collection.  Some of our partners already send us a whole new round every spring and we invite any of our partners with yearbooks to send us a new batch as we enter a new decade of digitization. (And what a decade it should be! We are excited about the fashion and hairstyles we will be seeing very soon!)

Check back on Friday as we reveal Day 6 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!