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 October 2020


“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.


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Sylvia Stanback

Smiling adult head and shoulders view, wearing glasses and red and black clothing

Sylvia Stanback, Dudley High School Alumna

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 Sylvia Stanback, our contact at the Dudley High School Alumni Association. In 2019 we welcomed the Dudley Alumni Association as our 250th partner, as we worked with Sylvia to digitize yearbooks, photographs, and other school memorabilia. (Alumni Association’s home page | NCDHC contributor page) digitizing yearbooks and catalogs, maps, photographs, and newspapers. Dudley High School, located in Greensboro, was the first Black high school in Guilford County during segregation. Founded in 1929, the school was segregated until 1971. Unlike many Black high schools in the state, Dudley still operates. Sylvia and members of the Alumni Association are active in preserving Dudley’s history during segregation. Read below for more about our partnership with the Dudley Alumni Association.

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

Thanks to NC Digital Heritage Center – DigitalNC, I was able to put some of my old James B. Dudley High School yearbooks online for all former alumni, students, family and friends to view. Some of our DHS alumni did not have copies of their yearbooks from the 1950’s to view. Now, thanks to DigitalNC they can see and share these great documents anytime they want online.

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

As a result of my meeting your awesome staff, I am now part of a community driven project sponsored by the UNC Libraries, Community Driven Archives Mellon Grant team. This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about community archives. Thanks to my contact with DigitalNC, I can continue helping to preserve more of the history of the African American community in Greensboro, NC.

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

“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but, more importantly, what they must be.” In my opinion, what makes NCDHC great is that the fact that it is an outlet to fulfill this great quote by the famous historian and lecturer, Dr. John Henrik Clarke.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


New Materials from the Lawndale Historical Society Document Early 20th Century Cleveland County

Beginning of list of ordinance for the city of Lawndale from 1907

A partial view of a list of ordinances for the city of Lawndale, NC, enacted in 1907.

Today we’re pleased to share a new batch of materials from the Lawndale Historical Society, located in Cleveland County North Carolina. Included are a variety of business records and ephemera related to the Cleveland Mill and Power Company, a hotel register, some town government records, and early twentieth century yearbooks/catalogs from Piedmont High School.

The Cleveland Mill and Power Company was founded around 1873 in Lawndale. The records in this most recent batch include the following:

Black and white head shot of John F. Schenck Sr. and article title and header

Clipping from an article written by John F. Schenck entitled “The Menace of Washington to American Industry,” published in a 1936 issue of Carolina Magazine.

John F. Schenck Sr. ran the Cleveland Mill and Power Company, was Mayor of Lawndale, and an all around influential white figure in the community. Textiles were in his blood, so to speak. His great-grandfather and grandfather both founded cotton mills. The scrapbook in this most recent batch is part diary and part manifesto – it contains many typewritten pages of his personal views on the current state of the textile industry, particularly in relation to what he saw as overreaching government regulations from the time period before, during, and after the U. S. Great Depression. There are also clippings and other ephemera.

There are a few other volumes related to town history from the same time period. The Lawndale Hotel Register has signatures dated from 1901-1910. The hotel guest’s place of origin is also included. The Town of Lawndale Minutes and Records from 1903-1925 includes town council minutes, election results, and copies of ordinances like the one at right.

There are also early volumes from Piedmont High School, dating 1905-1926. They’re a bit of a hybrid between catalogs and yearbooks, like many schools published in that time period, and they show both information about the classes offered and the students who attended. 

Black and white group portrait of high school students holding a pennant that reads Emersonian

The Piedmont High School Emersonian Literary Society, pictured in the 1925-1926 catalog.

You can view other items related to Lawndale and the Cleveland Mill on the Lawndale Historical Society’s contributor page. These materials have been shared in part thanks to a partnership with the State Archives of North Carolina sponsored by the State Historical Records Advisory Board. 


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Dawn Schmitz

Head and shoulders view of smiling archivist with collared shirt and business jacket

Dawn Schmitz, Associate Dean for Special Collections & University Archives at Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte

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 Dawn Schmitz, Associate Dean for Special Collections & University Archives at Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte. Since 2010, we’ve partnered with UNC-Charlotte’s Atkins Library (Library home page | NCDHC contributor page) digitizing yearbooks and catalogs, maps, photographs, and newspapers. You should also head over to Goldmine, their digital collections website, where you’ll find oral histories, maps, photographs, and other items documenting the history of the Charlotte area and UNC-Charlotte.  Read below for more about our partnership with UNC-C.

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

In 2017, you put out a call for nominations for digitization projects that would help document the history of underrepresented groups in our state. You immediately responded to my nomination of QNotes, a Charlotte LGBTQ newspaper that has been published since the 1980s.  As a result, this publication is now online, freely available to the community (rather than behind a paywall), and used regularly by QNotes staff, queer studies scholars and students, and the general public. To top it all off, your bloggers did an incredible job of promoting the resource, highlighting its significance for LGBTQ history. Jim Yarbrough, publisher of QNotes, wrote in the newspaper, “To see our staff’s work made available to a larger audience and future generations — it’s indescribable.”

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

There are so many examples of reference questions we have answered with a link to DigitalNC. One question I received from our University Communications office was particularly fun and satisfying to answer: When was our sports team first referred to as the forty-niners? Our Athletics department believed it was 1963. But using DigitalNC, I found a mention in the student newspaper two years earlier. (Charlotte collegian., November 01, 1961, page 4 )

What item or group of items on DigitalNC.org do you think everyone should know about?
It’s so hard to choose! For our alumni and the entire NinerNation, the student newspapers, yearbooks, and course catalogs are so important. I personally love the city directories for the wealth of information they contain about Charlotte in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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

NCDHC a first-rate operation: responsive, professional, innovative, inclusive, community-engaged, and indispensable!

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


“Ode to the Infimary” a look at the 1941 Flu Epidemic in NC

A couple of weeks ago UNC’s university archivist tweeted about finding articles in the Daily Tar Heel about a flu epidemic on UNC’s campus in early 1941. Intrigued – and figuring it was in no way contained to UNC’s campus – we did some digging in other newspapers on our site to find other stories about the epidemic’s impact on other campuses in NC at the time. A topic that is feeling quite relevant now, we found mentions scattered throughout the papers in January and February 1941 (for context – what would have been a year that started with an epidemic for these students and ended with the country involved in a World War) about how students were reacting to this sudden uptick in the flu.

Several campuses seemed to have a newfound appreciation for the infirmary, with an “Ode the Infirmary” published in Mars Hill College’s student newspaper.

Text of a newspaper

From the Montreat College paper, a look “Through the Infirmary Door”Screenshot of a page of a newspaper with headline "Through the Infirmary Door"

The social lives of the Belles of Saint Mary’s were put on hold for the flu that struck campus in mid January.  Their society pages in their student newspaper detail such and the following flurry of activity as they were able to come out of quarantine.

At the high school level, reports of basketball games and academic competitions were cancelled or put on hold as school was cancelled for several days to prevent the spread of the flu virus.  Both the students at Greensboro High School and High Point School reported such.

Other social and academic events were also cancelled – all citing the epidemic as the cause.

Other college campuses did not seem to have large effects from the flu but did report on students who were travelling from other areas of the state who then had to quarantine upon arrival on campus.  For example, in an article in Montreat College’s student paper, they reported on students who had to quarantine upon arriving back to campus.

All in all, nothing quite as dramatic as what appears to have happened at UNC was going on at other North Carolina schools, perhaps another echo of what has happened in 2020.  A brief perusal of the community papers from the time show that the flu epidemic was something affecting the whole state for sure, with mentions of it in papers from as far east as Beaufort, NC and as far west as Franklin, NC in Macon County.  

clipping from newspaper

Clipping from The Beaufort News , January 16, 1941

Clipping from newspaper

Clipping from The Franklin press and the Highlands Maconian, January 23, 1941

Several articles note that this particular epidemic was moving from the western part of the state to the eastern part of the state, which was apparently unusual, and overall cases had been fairly mild (which likely explains in part why it rarely pops up as an event in history).  

January 22, 1941 issue of the State Port Pilot discussing the effects of the flu across the state.

To explore our over 1 million pages of digitized newspapers yourself, visit our North Carolina Newspapers page and read here about how colleges in NC responded to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic