Viewing entries posted in May 2023

Latest Lexington Barbecue Festival Poster Now Available on DigitalNC!

Thanks to our partner, Lexington Public Library (which is part of the Davidson County Public Library System), we have added a 24th Lexington Barbecue Festival poster to our collection! This poster is for the 38th annual Barbecue Festival held on October 22, 2022.

The festival was created out of a conversation in 1983 where Joe Sink, Jr., publisher of The Dispatch, discussed his love of festivals with BB&T officials. Together, Sink and BB&T hired Kay Saintsing, a local organization developer and manager, that completed a study of the feasibility of a new community event. After completing her research, Saintsing provided Sink and BB&T with recommendations that led to the creation of a new city festival.

Held in Lexington, North Carolina on October 27, 1984, Saintsing and her Saintsing Management Services staff (now Preferred Events) produced the city’s first Barbecue Festival. Its first year, the festival had approximately 30,000 people in attendance and 3,000 pounds of barbecue cooked. Ten years later, in 1994, the crowd was over three times as large with over 100,000 attendees and 11,000 pounds of barbecue cooked. In 2022, the festival had a record-breaking attendance of over 200,000 people. The festival continues to be produced by Saingsting’s company, which is now run by her daughter Stephanie, and held annually in Uptown Lexington on one of the last two Saturdays in October.

Information on the history of the festival was found on the Festival’s website here at this link.

To view more Lexington Barbecue Festival posters on DigitalNC, please click the link here.

To learn more about the Lexington Library and Davidson County Public Library System, please visit their website here.

To browse more North Carolina memorabilia, please visit the collection on our website here.

Folk Singers & Murder Ballads With The Watauga Democrat

Watauga County, much like the rest of Appalachian American, has a rich history of old-time music and two of the most prominent musicians from the area were Doc Watson and Frank Proffitt. In these 1964 and 1965 issues of Boone’s Watauga Democrat, we have many articles celebrating their lives and achievements.

Photo of Doc Watson sitting down and playing guitar while his son stands behind him.
Doc Watson and Son, Merle
October 15, 1964

Arthel “Doc” Watson (March 3, 1923-May 19, 2012) hails from the small community of Deep Gap, which is about 10 miles east of Boone, and was one of nine children. Despite being blind since infancy, Watson learned to play a variety of instruments at a young age including guitar, banjo, harmonica, and fiddle. By the time of his death Doc had won an astounding seven Grammys but he didn’t release his first solo recording until 1964, at the age of 41. His eponymous debut includes a version of the song Frank Proffitt made famous, Tom Dooley (or Dula), and the two were both featured on the bill for the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.

Frank Proffitt was born June 1, 1913 and would pass away a year after his Newport encounter with Watson on November 24, 1965. Proffitt resided in the north-west portion of Watauga County in Reese, North Carolina and crafted his own instruments in addition to mastering them. In 1937, folklorists Anne and Frank Warner travelled to Western North Carolina, recorded Proffitt’s version of the murder ballad Tom Dula (story told in detail here by our own Sophie Hollis) and passed it on to Alan Lomax. This version would make it into Lomax’s book Folk Song U.S.A. and became a hit in 1958 when the Kingston Trio released a cover titled Tom Dooley. This would greatly increase Proffitt’s popularity as an American folk singer and he would even go on to represent North Carolina at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Photo of Frank Proffitt wearing a white collared shirt, playing banjo, and singing.
Frank Proffitt
September 24, 1964
Newspaper clipping detailing the Newport Folk Festival lineup which includes Frank Proffitt, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Doc Watson.
September 24, 1964
Newspaper clipping announcing the death of Frank Proffitt and describing his legacy as a folk singer, primarily his telling of the "Tom Dula" ballad.
December 2, 1965

These issues of the Watauga Democrat were brought to us by the Watauga County Public Library. You can visit their site and learn about their many events here.

Play the Game of Student Life with 80 Yearbooks From Randolph County

A high school student in a suit and bow tie standing behind another student seated in a chair. The seated student is wearing a strapless dress with a full skirt.
Miss Oak Leaf (Pat Reynolds) and Mr. Acorn (D.J. Cagle) in the 1955 edition of “Oak Leaves” (Star High School).

Eighty high school yearbooks from Randolph County have been added to our site thanks to our partner, the Randolph County Public Library. This batch includes yearbooks from 15 schools: Trinity High School, Randleman High School, Star High School, Asheboro High School, Gray’s Chapel High School, Eastern Randolph Senior High School, Franklinville School, Coleridge High School, Biscoe High School, Farmer High School, Seagrove High School, Ramseur High School, Staley High School, Bennett High School, and Troy High School.

These yearbooks also span several decades of the county’s history, starting in 1944 with The Ash-Hi-Life and running through 1973, with four yearbook editions from Trinity, Randleman, Asheboro High, and Eastern Randolph.

Some of the special features in these yearbooks include a homecoming court straight out of a Ralph Lauren ad, the requisite reference to The Byrds, and pages of heartfelt notes from classmates. But one yearbook staff got especially creative, designing a board game that students can play with just their yearbooks and a coin to toss.

A spread of two blue yearbook pages with a winding yellow path called "The Game of Student Life." Each space on the path describes an event in the life of a high schooler and directs the player to make their next move.
The Game of Student Life from the 1972 “Links” (Eastern Randolph Senior High School).

The game, presumably modeled after the game Life, describes events that still sound familiar to contemporary high school students. One square reads, “Back to school. Laugh at sophomores — get lecture on maturity. Lose 1 turn.” Others are less relatable: “Term papers: your typist charges you $1.50 a page and you run out of money on page 2 — Lose turn.” While the board does seem to be weighted toward academic and social pitfalls, at least all players start with a credit (since “Everybody passes biology first time around!”).

You can see all 80 yearbooks (so many!) here. You can also explore all of our digitized high school yearbooks by school name, location, and year in our North Carolina Yearbooks collection. To see more from Randolph County Public Library, visit their partner page and their website.

Additional Firefighter Materials Reveal History of Women Firefighters in the City of Greensboro

Thanks to our partner, Greensboro Firefighters History Book Committee, a batch of over 100 records documenting the history of firefighters in Greensboro are now available on our website. The materials in this batch include photographs, scrapbooks, issues of the City of Greensboro’s City Beat, and much more. Utilizing the various materials in this batch specifically, one is able to uncover the history of firewomen in the Greensboro Fire Department.

Prior to 1884, fire protection in the City of Greensboro was dismal. Although a fire protection became law in the city in 1833, there was no guaranteed protection from fire. Improvements in fire protection only came after devastating fires such as one in 1849 that nearly ended the business community and in 1872 that destroyed a large portion of the city. After the 1872 fire, a second volunteer fire company was created and equipped with a chemical engine. While they had a chemical engine, the company had not been equipped with horses. This meant that the firemen had to pull the engine to fires by hand on the City’s unpaved streets.

The Greensboro Fire Department began as a volunteer organization in 1884 after Harper J. Elam, future founder of the Greensboro Record, noticed the city’s lack of fire protection relative to his former home city, Charlotte. In an effort to upgrade the firefighting capabilities of the city, Elam put out a call of duty for firefighters. A group composed of around 100 white business and younger men answered the call, forming Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 which was located at what was formerly known as 108 West Gaston Street.

Circa 1889, a Black volunteer fire company known as Excelsior Hose Company No. 2 was formed. Located at the City Market, the company was “well equipped with jumper, uniforms and other equipments” and always gave “good and satisfactory service in conjunction with the other companies for the city’s protection.” While segregated companies may have fought fires alongside each other at times, it was not until 1961 that the city’s fire department was integrated.

The earliest mention of “firewomen” in this batch comes from 1974. In August 1974, Fire Chief G. C. “Buck” Wuchae responds to an article for the paper stating he is not opposed to women joining the fire department nor should they fear being discriminated against by his office. The article’s writer seems to feel differently, asking the chief “But what if a woman meeting the requirements was hired and successfully completed the training—what would the fire department do with her?” Wuchae simple responds, “We would have to make some arrangements.” However, it is not until four years later, in 1978, under Greensboro Fire Chief R. L. Powell that the department actively began to recruit firewomen.

On October 2, 1978, after 129 years, Dee Ann Clapp, Melanie Trado, and Sandra K. Pearman became the Greensboro Fire Department’s first firewomen after completing a 13-week training class with other trainees. Fire Chief Powell states his satisfaction with the success of their training stating, “I have no doubt at all that they (the women) are now ready to operate out of our fire stations and do the job well” and that one of the women was one of the top in the class. Clapp, Trado and Pearman were assigned to separate platoons at Station 8. In 1984, six years after joining the Greensboro Fire Department, Dee Ann Clapp makes history again as the first woman to receive the State of North Carolina’s “Outstanding Young Firefighter” award.

Information about the early history of the Greensboro Fire Department was compiled from the May 3, 1899 issue of The Greensboro Patriot, The History of the Greensboro Fire Department page, and newspaper clippings from this batch.

To view more materials from the Greensboro Firefighters History Book Committee, please visit their contributor page linked here.

To learn more about the Greensboro Firefighters History Book Committee, please visit their website linked here.

To view more newspapers from across North Carolina, please view our North Carolina Newspapers collection linked here.

Chatham County Scrapbooks Document Cultural Moments of the 1950s

Newspaper clippings describing a "weird incident" of "mental telepathy" during the Civil War. The article was published in the Sanford Herald in 1952.
Newspaper clippings from Chatham County Scrapbook [Book 1]. The article was published in the Sanford Herald on July 14, 1952.

Two more scrapbooks on the history of Chatham County are now available on our site thanks to the Chatham County Historical Association. These scrapbooks primarily include newspaper clippings from The Sanford Herald and The Chatham Record, many of which are authored by Esther Womble Adickes. These articles recount local events and histories, several of which are retrospective.

One of the striking things about this collection of articles is how often they reflect on the Civil War in a romanticized way. Adickes sometimes refers to it as the “war between the states” and reminisces about some of the institutions of Chatham county before the war, including the Taylor Plantation. These kinds of articles are significant because they are from the 1950s—almost 100 years after the Civil War ended—documenting a resurgence of racism during the Jim Crow era.

This kind of rose-tinted retrospection has been in the news recently in relation to Confederate statues and monuments, many of which were erected during the early 20th Century. These newspaper clippings give some context to the historical moment in which many of these monuments were constructed.

You can see both scrapbooks in this batch here. To see more from the Chatham County Historical Association, you can visit their partner page and their website.

Happy 14th Birthday, NCDHC!

To celebrate 14 years of NCDHC (on May 12, 2009 our first blog post went live with our first scanned collection), the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center have all picked a favorite item from the collection to share. Check them out below – and then we invite you to visit and find some favorite NC items yourself!

Lisa Gregory, Program Coordinator for the NCDHC

When pressed to pick one item (!) I have to go with the September 26, 1874 issue of the Fayetteville Educator. The Educator ran for a single year and was published by W. C. Smith who went on to publish a later title, the Charlotte Messenger.  A few years ago while researching Black newspapers in North Carolina, I happened to run across a reference to the Educator as the earliest known Black newspaper in the state. Other sources generally cite the Star of Zion, which began a short time later and is still published today. With the help of some of our partners we were able to locate and add the Fayetteville Educator to DigitalNC. I picked this item because many 19th and 20th century newspapers written by and documenting the Black community are no longer extant or are extremely rare. For me, the fact that we can now share this online on behalf of our partners really encapsulates why we do what we do at NCDHC.

Front page of the newspaper "The Educator"
The educator (Fayetteville, N.C.) 1874-1875, September 26, 1874, Image 1, presented by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center in partnership with The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. 

Stephanie Williams, NCDHC Programmer

Child on a tricycle riding towards the camera on a downtown sidewalk
Still from Wadesboro, 1938 film by H. Lee Waters

Movies of Local People (H. Lee Waters): Wadesboro, 1938

H. Lee Waters traveled around the state in the 1930s and 1940s setting up a camera on streetcorners and filming townspeople. There are a handful of these films available on DigitalNC, and one of my favorites is from Wadesboro in 1938. Waters captured people just going about their daily business, which is fun for so many reasons–but my favorite part is seeing peoples’ personalities, and realizing that the way we react when we realize we’re on camera hasn’t changed in 85 years.

Kristen Merryman, Digital Projects Librarian

“Adult feeding bear by Fontana Lake”

Adult feeding a bear
Adult feeding bear by Fontana Lake

This is a photograph in our collection I always come back to because it really pulls together many things I love – bears, the gorgeous lakes of the NC mountains, and a good cookout in a park. This obviously portrays something many a park ranger would shun but I love the NC Variety Vacationland vibes it gives off! We digitized this photograph as part of a larger batch from the Graham County Public Library in Robbinsville, NC when we were there for an onsite scanning visit in 2018 and ourselves got to enjoy many lovely views of Fontana Lake and the surrounding mountains.

Sophie Hollis, Education & Outreach Assistant

Wake Forest University Student Handbook [1987-1988]

A black-and-white photo of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University. It is flanked to the right by a row of tall trees and other brick campus buildings.

One of the things I love about our site is how many yearbooks, student handbooks, and students newspapers we have—I love seeing family and friends’ photos from when they were in school. These materials are where I see my own life reflected the most because they capture so many familiar places and people. It’s interesting to see how our schools have changed over the last century but also how so many things are apparently inherent to being a teenager. While I think all of our student publications are fantastic, this handbook is special to me for a few reasons. Not only is it a glimpse at my alma mater (go Deacs!), but it also features an excellent photo of one of my favorite professors in his early years of teaching.

Geoff Schilling, Newspaper Technician

Facade of a green painted brick building with "Cats Cradle" sign on it

Cat’s Cradle
The DigitalNC item I chose is of a Chapel Hill location that means a great deal to me. The first four photos in this set are of the Cat’s Cradle’s early to late ‘80s location at 320 W. Franklin St. (now The Crunkleton), but the last three images are the reason I’m sharing it. Down this alley is their previous location at 405 1/2 W. Rosemary St., which they started occupying around 1971. In 1983, after the Cradle moved out, it became a venue called Rhythm Alley and they stuck around until 1987. At the end of that year the Skylight Exchange took over the space and in 2003 the one-and-only Nightlight came into existence.
The Nightlight is an experimental music oasis where you can see everything from outsider folk legend Michael Hurley to Detroit techno heavyweight DJ Psycho. In addition to being my favorite venue in the world, it’s also the preferred stop of touring musicians from all over the country. The landscape of this “Rhythm Alley” has barely changed over the last half-century (save for a healthy amount of graffiti), but its legacy has grown with each new chapter.

The photographs were courtesy of our partner Chapel Hill Historical Society.

Ashlie Brewer, Digitization Technician

“Trip to Quebec, August 1973”

Younger individual with long brown hair sitting down and holding a cup.

Last year I had the opportunity to digitize some amazing slide images that were taken during several Chapel Hill Boy Scout Troop 835 and Girl Scout Troop 59 trips over the years courtesy of our partner Chapel Hill Historical Society. Many of the slides from these trips feature beautiful scenery and fun, but this particular photograph from the August 1973 Quebec trip is one of my favorite items on our site. In addition to being a great candid, I think it’s the individual’s sense of jollity and peacefulness portrayed in this moment of the trip that really makes it a top-pick of mine.

Hendersonville HS Yearbooks Show Longstanding Community Ties

A young teacher sitting at a desk with a stack of papers in his hand. He is wearing a tie and suit jacket, and he seems to be laughing.
Tom Orr in 1972

More Henderson county high school yearbooks are now available on our site thanks to one of our newest partners, the Hendersonville High School Alumni Association. Included in this batch are 12 yearbooks from the Bearcats spanning from 1954-1972.

One of the main characters of this stretch of yearbooks is longtime teacher and alumnus Tom Orr, who graduated in 1957 and came back to teach at his alma mater after attending UNC Chapel Hill and Western Carolina. The HHSAA recently posted a scholarship announcement honoring his contributions to the school as well.

A black-and-white yearbook portrait of Tom Orr, a young, white man with dark hair. He is wearing a white shirt.
Tom Orr in 1955

Since these yearbooks span a few decades, you can see Mr. Orr back when he was still a student in 1955. Back then, he was on the business staff of The Red and White as one of the ad men. Perhaps this is what later inspired him to pursue teaching English as a career.

His obituary notes that he taught at the school for 32 years, and in that time, he received several teaching awards, both for English and Drama.

You can see the full batch of yearbooks here. You can also browse all of our digital yearbooks by location, school, and date in our North Carolina Yearbooks collection. To learn more about the Hendersonville High School Alumni Association, you can visit their partner page and their website.

Nearly 6 Decades of Southwestern CC Catalogs Available on Our Site

A banner of covers from Southwestern Community college. The first two have circles in the middle with scenes of mountains inside them. The middle one has a photo of a student studying. The second from right is an abstract blue and purple cover. The one on the right has a photo of a student in a dark blue graduation cap and gown.

Course Catalogs from Southwestern Community College are now available on our site thanks to our recent partnership with the school. The catalogs range from 1965 (the school’s first full year open) to 2022.

As their website notes, the impact of Southwestern CC is widespread in the southwestern mountain communities of North Carolina. Based in Sylva, the college has a wide alumni base, especially in Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. It is the second-most western community college in North Carolina (after Tri-County Community College in Murphy), and it is the only community college with a scientific partnership with NASA.

Along with these catalogs, which were digitized by our partners at Southwestern, we have also recently added a batch of other items from the school, including photographs, scrapbooks from campus organizations, blueprints for some of the school’s buildings, yearbooks, and issues of the student literary magazine.

You can explore all of Southwestern’s digitized materials on their partner page and in our North Carolina Community College Collections digital exhibit. To learn more about Southwestern CC, you can also visit their website.

Look Forward to Summer Travel with Chapel Hill Girl & Boy Scouts

Six teenagers laying in a line on a sandy beach. They are all wearing bikinis, and several have on sunglasses and hats.
Girl Scouts at Sunset Beach, 1978.

More materials from Boy Scout Troop 835 and Girl Scout Troop 59 from Chapel Hill, N.C., are now available on our site thanks to the Chapel Hill Historical Society. This batch primarily includes photographs of the two troops’ trips during the 1970s.

Over the decade, the two groups did quite a bit of globetrotting, including visits to Newfoundland, Williamsburg, Sunset Beach, Philmont Scout Ranch, Camp Graham, Savannah, the New River, Fort Bragg, the Appalachian Trail, Glacier National Park, and Pisgah Forest, among others. Looking through these albums might make you want to set out on a summer adventure yourself.

A photo of the side of a low mountain covered in dirt and shrubs. At the base is a row of white tents. A lone scout in a red plaid shirt is walking in the foreground.
A scout at Philmont, July 1976.

One of the most iconic destinations is, of course, Philmont, which many former scouts would probably recognize. Located in New Mexico, the ranch has long been a testing ground for wilderness survival skills and troop bonding. Based on the camp’s photo archive, it doesn’t look like a whole lot has changed since these troops visited.

You can see the full batch of materials here, including photographs, certificates, a pennant flag, a scrapbook, and some artwork. You can also see previous batches of materials from Troop 835 and Troop 59 on the partner page of the Chapel Hill Historical Society. To learn more about CHHS and their materials, you can also visit their website.

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