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 December 2020


“Dear Santa”: A Collection of Newspaper Holiday Wishes

Clipping from a large illustration from The Cherokee Scout. There are three children gathering around an older family member who is about to read "The Night Before X-Mas". Behind them is a scene of Santa in his sled in the sky and stockings by the fireplace.

Full-page illustration in The Cherokee Scout, December 14, 1928.

As 2020 comes to a close (hooray!), all of us are wishing for many things in the coming year, whether it’s as simple as a meal with family or as grand as international travel. In the spirit of intention setting, and for a little escapism, we thought it would be fun to search through the DigitalNC newspaper collection for accounts of wishes from years past. What was found were an abundance “Dear Santa”s, funny and touching wish lists from children (and a few adults) to the man in red, printed in local newspapers in the hopes they would be seen and granted. Some holiday wishes also snuck in, too. So, like a virtual, time-traveling wishing tree, here is a collection of entertaining messages to bring a little cheer.

 

Dear Santa,

I would like to rub Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I have never seen him. I love you and your reindeer. I would like a race car.

Please put it under my Christmas tree. My brother wood like some money left under the tree. Mom wants a ring. Dad wants three wishes.

Kevin Crisco, 1st Grade

 

Dear Santa,

I like you because you have been nice to me for six years. Look good because you may be surprised. This year, I want a typewriter and a new desk.

Love Your Friend,

Natalie (Tyner), 1st Grade

P.S. Thanks for giving toys to me, my friends, and all kids.

 

Dear Santa,

I want a bike for Christmas and a teddy bear and a little cat, too. I like your deer because they are fun to play with.

Karima Freeman, 2nd Grade

 

 

Danbury, N.C.. Dec. 16.

Dear Santa Claus:

I am a small girl, but my wants are many. I would like some flower vases, box of stationary, some candy, oranges, and nuts. Your devoted friend,

Annie Campell.

 

 

Dear Santa,

How are you? Are your reindeer and elves good? My name is Kevin Tsui. I am eight years old and I live with my mom and dad, and brother. The school that I go to is North School. I am a good boy and I am a good student in school. What I want for Christmas is a Sega CD and Mortal Combat II, a Panther hat, a Secret Sender 6000, a Dell computer and a NERF Ballzooka, a model Porche, Sega game gear, a Kasparov MK12 chess computer, and a NERF Arrowstorm.

Love, Kyle Tsui

 

 

Student opinion poll: Bellespeak

What is the ideal Christmas present?

Rose L. Coleman

First-Year

Business

Chicago, Ill.

 

“A car and my tuition paid.”

 

Amanda Henley

Junior

Political Science

Harrisburg, Pa.

 

“My ideal Christmas present would be to have my college debt paid off.”

 

 

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good boy. Please bring me a watch and all the transformers and space things and everything else you can think of.

Drew Howell

 

Dear Santa,

Please bring me five things: Fish Stick, Cabbage Patch Doll, Swing, Bicycle, Paint Brush.

Dennisha Edwards

 

 

Dear Santa Claus,

My age is seven. I weigh 55 pounds. I will leave some food out for you. I am 4 ft. 2 in. tall. My favorite TV program is a Christmas Parade. My favorite food is fruits. I want for Christmas oranges, apples and grapes and five surprises.

I love you,

Kathy Lynn Matthews

Norlina, N.C.

 

 

Dear Santa,

I’m hungry. I’ve tried to be a good girl this year, and I would have too, without this damned roach incident. Claus-man, when I put that bug on Hope’s plate in Lenoir, I though[t] she’d see it before it got to her mouth. Some folks just can’t take a joke. Anyway I haven’t eaten since Sunday, and I was hoping you’d make an early run this year to bring me some food, nothing fancy, some gruel or porridge will suffice. I’ll be waiting at the bus stop on Stadium Drive. (I’ll be the one with ribs poking through her jacket.

See ya soon, (tonight?), Annice

 

Holiday wishes:

I want a half inch of snow on Christmas morning and sunshine in the afternoon.

-Dr. Rebecca Duncan

 

I want a basket full of kittens and unlimited Starbucks coffee.

-Jessica Feltner

 

If you’re interested in looking for some more “Dear Santa”s, try searching “dear santa” or “Christmas wish” in the quick search bar on our newspaper collection page. Try the advanced search if you’re looking for specific years. In addition, The Kings Mountain Herald has a gigantic collection of “Dear Santa” messages. From 1981 onwards, you can find them in the last issue of the year.


Photographs from Johnston Community College in the 1990s Now Online

A clipping of a photo of an icey lake in winter at Johnston Community College. The photo features snow, trees, deer, and geese on the lake.

A clipping of a photo of animals and an icy pond at Johnston Community College in 1996.

Approximately 130 photographs from Johnston Community College have been digitized and are now available online, adding to our vast collection of Johnston Community College photos. This batch is from the mid-1990s, highlighting Johnston Community College’s campus, staff, educational programs, and various events.

Annual events, such as Week of the Young Child, were especially prevalent in this upload. Most frequent were the Christmas open houses. While each Christmas open house showcases festivities and decorations, a common thread through the years are the extravagant quilting displays. In several shots, people demonstrate their quilting techniques for onlookers.

This batch also includes photos of retirement parties, the nursing department, and the truck driver training program as they go for test drives around the community. Construction of both the softball field and health building are documented. Additionally, there are photos of the open house for the new Cleveland Campus.

Photo of a bagpipe player with kilt on playing the bagpipe. The musician is walking to the right while three children walk behind the musician, covering their ears.

Bagpipe player Reit McPherson at the Johnston Community College 1996 Christmas Open House.

To see all of the photographs in this batch, click here. To learn more about Johnston Community College, visit their partner page here or their website here.


New Edneyville High School and Blue Ridge School for Boys Yearbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Henderson County Public Library, new Edneyville High School and Blue Ridge School for Boys yearbooks are now available on our website. The issues added include 1948, 1951-1952, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1965-1969 for Edneyville High School and 1926-1928, 1952-1953, 1964-1968 for the Blue Ridge School for Boys.

Cover of the Blue Ridge School for Boys 1926 yearbook, Gadawhee (Land of the Sky).

 

To learn more about the Henderson County Public Library, please visit their website

For more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit our yearbook collection.


Durham High School Yearbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Durham County Library, the 1966 to 1970 issues of the Durham High School yearbook are now available on our website.  This set of yearbooks spans when Durham High was integrated and offers some hints at how the students viewed the change.  

Cover of the 1970 Durham yearbook. The page is cover is black with "1970 Messenger" in white writing. On the left side of the cover there is a strip of what appears to be an overly saturated black and white photo.
To learn more about the Durham County Library, please visit their website. For more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit our yearbook collection.


New Granville County Yearbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Granville County Public Library, a batch containing yearbooks from Dabney High School, Henderson High School, Franklinton High School, J.F. Webb High School, and Zeb Vance High School ranging from 1938 to 1970 are now available on our website

Person standing in a doorway drinking from a glass Coke bottle with a straw. "Sophomores" is written in the top left.

 

To learn more about the Granville County Public Library, please visit their website

For more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit our yearbook collection.


Grand Lodge Minute Books and Scrapbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina, a batch of minute books and scrapbooks are now available on our website. The minute books, spanning from 1870 to 1935, come from various lodges including St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Numa F. Reid Lodge No. 344, Relief Lodge No. 431, and Yadkin Falls Lodge No. 637. They feature records of lodge meetings, finances, and references to life outside the lodge including mention of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre. 

Three men posing for a picture,

Three men from the Numa F. Reid Lodge No. 344 posing for a picture.

To learn more about The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina, please visit their website

To view more Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina materials on our website, please click here


DigitalNC from Home: Oral History Transcription

As all of us at the Digital Heritage Center carry on our work from home, we are continuing to utilize the time outside of our regular duties to enhance DigitalNC. One such project is adding transcriptions to our collection of North Carolina Oral Histories.

Transcriptions are the written text of audio files, which are, in our case, recordings of oral histories. The oral histories on DigitalNC vary in length, ranging from two minutes, to two hours, and beyond. Typing out transcriptions from scratch takes time- a lot of time. To help us out, we use the transcription software, Sonix. Once an audio file has been uploaded to Sonix, the software “listens” to and creates text of what it heard.

Screenshot of a Sonix transcript without edits. The text reads "(speaker): Okay, actually, I'd rather you sit there cuz that swings squeak squeaks. I want to show you so you got to cut off. No, it's running and we'll look at that when we finished. I will okay. (speaker): Okay, do you cook collard? Yes, I do. I want you to sit there soon. It's Queen this you tell me from start to finish exactly how you cook your collards. Okay. I'll get my put my meat in the pot. Yes, but if I got a smoked meat I put that in there and then I put a little Lord in them. Then I put a little sugar and salt and red pepper."

An example of a Sonix transcript before editing. This transcript came out relatively coherent, but needs speakers and will be assessed for faithful translation. For example, did the narrator say “Lord” or could it be “lard”?

Unfortunately, audio transcription software does not produce a faultless transcript. After Sonix creates the new text, we listen to the original audio and edit the errors. Edits include replacing or removing incorrectly heard words, adding in missed punctuation and paragraph spacing, and attributing the various speakers. We also remove speech fillers (think “um” and “er”) and note when speech is unclear with a bracketed question mark ([?]).

Editing also requires consistency. Here are some of the guidelines we follow to create dependable transcripts:

  • If the speaker does not stick to formal standards of grammar throughout the conversation, we do not correct it, but non-standard contractions are written fully (as in, goin’ becomes going)
  • If one speaker talks over another, we try to put them in order as it makes sense in the conversation
  • If a speaker expresses laughter, we enter that into the text using brackets ([laughs]).

This is where transcription work gets tricky. These guidelines may prompt questions during the editing process such as, How much laughter is enough to allow for [laughs]? or, What if the speaker has a regional accent that represents much of their personality and culture as expressed in the recording and I would like to point to it through non-standard contractions? There are no hard and fast answers to either question. Both rely on what the transcriptionist feels is most appropriate to faithfully represent the narrator’s story. This makes the transcription a participatory product, not just an automatic copy.

Respect for both the narrator’s speech and intent is the primary focus for a transcriptionist. In a perfect world, the interviewer would ask the narrator to look over the final document to approve of the content. However, because the Digital Heritage Center obtains all of our oral histories through our partners, plus the fact they are often recorded over 20 years ago, we are not able to consult either the interviewer or the narrator.

This leaves us to follow best practices, making sure to keep in mind our biases. Respecting the intersectionality of the narrator is an important dimension to this work. Many of the narrators in our Oral History Collection are Black and use African-American Vernacular English. Others speak with strong regional Southern dialects. As we draw up the final transcript, we have to take into consideration our own positionality and watch for editorializing and over-interpreting.

Screenshot of an edited Sonix transcription. The text reads Mary Lewis Deans: Tell me how you heard about it. Kermit Paris: I was working in the bakery in [?]. I don't know, just before Carolina Theater opened up [?], once before I used to live right there. We was on the railroad tracks when I heard it. And, sure enough, I reckon ten or fifteen minutes after then, some artillery had come down the train, I remember that, going north. Artillery and some tanks was going down. They had guards on the flat cars, I'd seen some soldiers on the flat cars at that time. I do remember that.

An example of a Sonix transcript after editing.

Why are we transcribing oral histories? Not only does adding text to the audio make the record accessible, but researchers are now able to scroll through interviews for relevant information without having to listen to the entire recording. The text within the transcripts is fully searchable when doing a full text search on DigitalNC, which makes them appear in many more searches than they would have with just a basic description. That being said, accessibility is a first step and we are looking forward to continually refining our transcripts and supplemental description work with an eye to equitability and transparency.

To take a look at all of the oral histories we have online, click here. And if you’re interested in glancing through the many oral histories with either original or newly made transcripts, click here.


DigitalNC Works from Home: Closed Captions

While at home, the NCDHC staff has been working on increasing accessibility to users through the addition of closed captions. Closed captions provide audiences with the text version of what is being spoken as well as relevant sound information–such as music, applause, and laughter–written out and synchronized with the audio of the video. Unlike open captions that are always present on a video, closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer. The use of captions is not limited to those who have difficulty hearing, but encompass a large percent of the population who use them for diverse reasons which include helping people to focus, retain information, being in a sound-sensitive environment (e.g. a library), and more.

Creating captions from scratch for videos, even short ones, can take several hours. In an effort to generate captions for a larger amount of moving images in our collection more quickly we use Happy Scribe, an automatic subtitling tool. These autogenerated subtitles do not include sound description and are never 100% perfect for reasons such as heavy accents, no knowledge of North Carolina history, mumbling, and bad sentence formatting, which requires staff to double check words and spelling, text spacing, punctuation, accurate synchronization between text and audio, to add sound description, and to sometimes engage in research about North Carolina. To remain transparent to our users and those involved in the material, the content of the videos are not censored. We write exactly what we hear in the videos. Captioning is an ongoing process and we are doing our best to make sure that our closed captions are as accurate and easy to read for all viewers as possible.

Screenshot showing the different work areas of Happy Scribe, an automatic subtitling tool.

Different work areas of Happy Scribe

The image above shows what it is like to edit captions using Happy Scribe. The area to the left is used for changing the text and spacing. If we have too many characters per line a box near the timestamps will turn red to alert us that we need to change the spacing or create a new caption that will make it easier for the viewer to read.
 
The area along the bottom of the screen (grey strip with white boxes) is used to synchronize captions with the audio. The sound waves at the very bottom of the screen help us to accurately line up the text to audio. To move an entire box we can click and hold the middle of the white box and drag it where it needs to go. To change the length of time that the captions are on the screen we click on the beginning or end of the boxes to change their length. 

The right side of the screen shows us how the captions appear on the moving images. Below it there are several options to go forward or backwards in the video, edit subtitle limits (e.g. how many characters per line we will allow), and formatting of the captions such as color, size, font, alignment, and more. 

Shows captioning in Happy Scribe, an automatic subtitle tool, at work.

Captioning in action

 

Once the autogenerated subtitles have been fixed and sound description added, the closed captions are uploaded to the video. In addition, a copy of the transcription is uploaded to the video’s record for those who do not wish to watch the whole video or want to quickly search for specific information. 

To turn captions on or off for a video, mouse over the video area and click on the icon box with “CC” (outlined by a yellow box in the picture below). A menu will pop up where you can click on “Captions” (outlined by the blue box) to turn closed captions on.

To view moving images on our website with closed captions, please click here

To view all of the moving images on our website, please click here.


Recent Issues of Elon University Student Newspapers Now Online

177 new issues between 2012-2018 of Elon University student newspapers The Pendulum and The Edge are now available for online browsing. These new resources are available on DigitalNC thanks our partners at Elon University.

Elon University is a private university located in Elon, Alamance County, North Carolina. Originally founded in 1889 as Elon College, Elon University obtained it’s current name in 2001. Elon University’s first student-run newspaper, Maroon and Gold, began publication in 1919 but was discontinued in 1970. The campus news outlet was eventually reinstated in 1974 as The Pendulum. In addition to the many audio and visual news shows Elon University now provides, The Pendulum continues weekly publications to this day. As it is a student-run newspaper, they follow the academic calendar year, which means issues fall off during the winter, spring, and summer breaks.

Holding multiple awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, The Pendulum informs both the campus and local community of news within and beyond the university. Besides updates on sports and campus initiatives, students actively use this space to voice opinions on topics ranging from politics to religion to activism. These recent uploads cover the before, during, and after effects of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Elon University’s student population, highlighting the many intersections of student experience.

The Edgeformerly known as Elon Edge, is a supplemental magazine affiliated with The PendulumMuch of the content covered in the Edge is focused on entertainment, such as music, fashion, local events, and interest pieces.

To view all issues of The Pendulum, click here. To focus on the issues of The Edge, click here. And to take a look at the entire collection of Elon University student newspapers from years 1910 to 2018 by front page, click here. For more information about Elon University, you can visit their homepage here.