Viewing entries posted in February 2024

Final issues of The Carolina Times now available!

We are excited to announce that the final issues of The Carolina Times are now available on the DigitalNC website! Our site now hosts 3,811 total issues of the Durham-based African-American newspaper spanning from 1937 to 2020. With the publication of its final issue in 2020, The Carolina Times cemented its long legacy of promoting the interests of the Black community in Durham and across the nation. Thanks to funding from UNC Libraries’ IDEA grants over the past 3 years, we have been able to complete this work and expand access to this important piece of North Carolina history.

The paper shuttered after the death of its longtime publisher Kenneth Edmonds at the age of 66. Edmonds was the grandson of founder Louis Austin. Described as “the most important voice for freedom in Durham and in North Carolina” from the 1920s through the 1970s, Austin was a staunch advocate for Durham’s Black community and a powerful force behind local voter registration and school integration efforts. His descendants continued his work, as Edmonds and his mother Vivian “didn’t miss an edition” in the 1970s, even after a fire believed to be a result of arson destroyed the Carolina Times‘s building. Read more about Louis Austin, Kenneth Edmonds, and the family’s powerful legacy here.

In its final years, The Carolina Times continued to be a voice for social justice, especially through the fraught presidency of Donald Trump and the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is one example of the Carolina Times’s reporting that focuses in on the experience of the Black Americans.

One exciting find in these final issues is a shoutout to none other than DigitalNC! As the below article suggests in what can only be described as a full circle moment, these uploads of The Carolina Times are invaluable to researchers, genealogists, and anyone interested in exploring local issues in Durham’s Black community.

While the closure of The Carolina Times is a loss for North Carolina and the larger Black press landscape, we are honored to make these issues available digitally and contribute to the paper’s preservation. To explore all available issues of The Carolina Times on our website, click here. For a look at other local North Carolina newspapers, click here.

Over 10 Years of Perquimans Weekly Issues Added to DigitalNC!

Newspaper title header that reads: The Perquimans Weekly.

Thanks to our partners, Perquimans County Library and Pettigrew Regional Library, as well as funding from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), a massive batch of The Perquimans Weekly adds 10+ years worth of issues to DigitalNC! This batch expands our current holdings to include the years: 1989 to 1992 and 2010 to 2020.

Individual wearing a wicker hat, white outfit with a red rose on their left shoulder, and American flag on the right side of their chest, and red gloves, riding a horse.

Below the photo the caption reads: Linda McRae of Elizabeth City rides in style.
Linda McRae of Elizabeth City rides in style [The Perquimans Weekly, March 23, 2011]

Commemorating the migration of Quakers from Perquimans County to the Northwest Territories during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, individuals donned their best Quaker costumes and hopped on their horses or into their horse-drawn buggies and wagons to participate in the Friends to Freedom Wagon Train that traveled through Perquimans County from March 17th to 20th in 2011.

The first two days of the event were set aside for riding the planned 25 mile trail. They started their journey at the Newbold-White House campsite, making stops in Beech Springs, Belvidere, Bagley Swamp, and Winfall. In Belvidere, around 400 people came out to celebrate the train with vendors, live entertainment, wagon rides, food, and promotion of the area’s historical homes and buildings.

On the last leg of the journey, the Train took the Causeway and historic S bridge to parade through Hertford before finally coming back to the Newbold-White House. The final day of the event ended with breakfast, a church service, and a driving course competition at the Newbold-White House site.

Photograph of individuals in a parade formation. At the very front of the parade is an individual riding a motorized scooter in a Quaker outfit. Behind that person some people are in buggies and wagons being pulled by horses and others riding on horses. Some people are waiving American flags. People are on the sidewalks taking pictures with their phones or waving to the people in the parade.

Below the photograph the caption reads: The Friends to Freedom Wagon Train rolls into historic downtown Hertford Saturday, greeted by a large, appreciative crowd.
The Friends to Freedom Wagon Train rolls into Historic downtown Hertford […] [The Perquimans Weekly, March 23, 2011]

To view more issues of The Perquimans Weekly, please click here.

To learn more about the Perquimans Public Library, visit their website here.

To view more newspapers from across North Carolina, please click here.

The State’s Voice, Harnett County Newspaper with A Strong Editorial Voice, Added to DigitalNC

Black and white masthead of the February 15, 1933 issue of The State's Voice

Issues of The State’s Voice, published in Dunn, NC from 1933-1935, have been added to DigitalNC. Published by O. J. (Oscar J.) Peterson, this paper is much more of an editorial vehicle than many other papers at the time. The entire front page is devoted to his thoughts on one or more news items or topics of the day. His other interest was in writing informational essays about various parts of the state, like the one in this issue about Orange County and Hillsboro(ugh).

Over the years, Peterson managed a number of newspapers besides The State’s Voice including the Chatham Record, the Sampson Democrat, and the Lumberton Argus. Aligning with the Democratic platform of the time, Peterson expresses strong opinions in his paper about prohibition, public education, and economics. His editorials are so pointed that they are alternatively lauded or criticized in other papers.

In the final issue of the paper, Peterson says: “The publication of the State’s Voice has been an interesting experience, or experiment, in several respects.” The paper was intended to be read statewide, and was launched upon a “highly intellectual basis with a confessed non-public appeal.” He seems to attribute the demise of the paper in part to a lack of intellectuality amongst his subscribers, despite many of them being prominent in the state.

This paper was added on behalf of the Harnett County Public Library. You can view all of the materials contributed to DigitalNC from Harnett County Public Library on their contributor page.

Explore Johnston County with new issues of the Smithfield Herald

DigitalNC is excited to announce that four more years of The Smithfield Herald are now available online, thanks to our partner, the Johnston County Heritage Center.

The Smithfield Herald, established in 1882, was the oldest newspaper in Johnston County, offering an important insight into the county’s history. These semiweekly issues from January 1926 to April 1930 highlight local interests. Popular topics include weddings, deaths, church news, and local politics.

Local politics headline: "Elect Committees For 17 Townships"
Headline: "Women's Realm: weddings, parties, club meetings, social functions, personals, local happenings"

Also available to explore: creative writing! The Smithfield Herald published serialized fiction, poems, and short stories. Below is one example:

Poem titled "The Man Your Mother Thinks You Are"

Learn more about the Johnston County Heritage Center and browse their extensive collections here. To look through all 3,096 issues of The Smithfield Herald available on DigitalNC, click here. And to search through other North Carolina newspapers, click here.

Issues of The Central Express and The Sanford Express Now Available on DigitalNC!

Newspaper title: Central Express. Between the words Central and Express is an image of a train going along the tracks with a building in the back right.

Over 1,700 issues of The Central Express and The Sanford Express are now available to view thanks to our partner Lee County Libraries and funding from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). According to the Library of Congress, the paper was published under name The Central Express from ~1886 until 1891 when it was changed to The Sanford Express. This batch adds issues from a period of urbanization as well as agricultural and industrial expansion in Lee County from the late 19th to the early-to-mid 20th century.

From 1880 to 1919, Sanford saw agricultural and industrial expansion and community growth as a result of improved transportation. During this period, a large Black community began to take shape in Sanford with the establishment of business and residential district centered on Pearl Street. Individuals who did not work in the Pearl Street businesses in Sanford farmed; worked in the county’s brownstone quarries, sawmills, turpentine distilleries; or in building trades.

John and David Womack are specifically mentioned in the National Register of Historic Places application submitted in 1993 for the “Historic and Architectural Resources of Lee County, North Carolina, ca. 1800-1942,” as Black business operators. According to the application, the two were operators of a brickyard located near Sanford in the 1890s. Interestingly, John Womack is mentioned in the September 29, 1889 issue of The Central Express as being “a respectable colored man of this place,” that went to Charlotte to “become chief cook at the Buford House.” There appears to be no follow-up in The Sanford Express for John Womack’s return to Sanford in the 1890s to operate the brickyard.

Information about Sanford was taken from the NPS National Register of Historic Places application, seen here.

To view more issues of The Central Express and The Sanford Express, view the newspaper’s landing page here.

To browse more newspapers from across North Carolina, view our newspaper collection page here.

To learn more about Lee County Libraries, visit their website here.

1904-1909 Issues of Asheville Gazette-News Now on DigitalNC!

1,691 issues of The Asheville-Gazette News are now available on the site, thanks to our partners at Buncombe County Public Libraries. This paper was published daily and is an incredibly rich resource for information on life in early 1900s Asheville. 1904-1909 were years of rapid growth, as Asheville grew from a small mountain town to a major hub for the region. The arrival of railroads in the 1880s transformed Asheville into a popular resort town for travelers seeking the healthful mountain air and beautiful landscapes. Just a few years before these issues were published, George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate was completed as the largest private residence in the United States, cementing the city as both a tourist destination and a desirable place to live. While trains and electric cars still reigned as the main method of transportation, these newspapers show the advent of the automobile and its early adoption by some residents.

Making the case.
One of many railway company advertisements.

The city was growing in population, commerce, and technological advancement. Asheville in the early 1900s was maturing into a real urban center, with 14,000 permanent residents in 1901. As such, the issues in these newspapers are concerned with matters ranging from hyper-local to international. Readers could see which of their neighbors was traveling and to where, and on the next page get the latest updates on the 1905 Russian Revolution. Elections, both regional and national, were covered in The Asheville-Gazette News. Advertisements reveal the many businesses operating in town and speak to the needs and interests of residents, including many promoting various elixirs and compounds for healing illness. The content in these newspapers is wide-ranging and reveals a great deal about the history of Western North Carolina and its place in the world.

Local issues of the day.
An early incidence of coal mining and labor conflict.

Researchers can view all of The Asheville-Gazette News issues on DigitalNC here. See all of the materials contributed by Buncombe County Public Libraries here, and visit the digital collections on their site here. Lastly, visitors to our site can see all of our digitized newspapers on the North Carolina Newspapers page.

New Issues of The Front Page Now Available!

The front page of the April 26, 2006 issue of The Front Page.

Another decade of issues from The Front Page are now hosted online. This new batch covers from 1997 to 2006, and contains over two hundred new issues! The pages will join a collection that already contains over 300 issues from 1976 to 1996. The addition of this collection stretches The Front Page’s digital coverage well into the twenty first century, up until its final issue.

An illustrated title to an article titled "Gay/Lesbian consumer online census"

The Front Page was a Raleigh based newspaper that centered LGBTQ+ experiences, articles, and stories. Its pages contained advertisements for LGBTQ-friendly businesses. Its’ Opinion section collected quotes from interviews with gay and lesbian celebrities. Its Calendar section detailed gathering times for groups, drag shows, and lectures. Often included are cartoons from artists such as Alison Bechdel and Eric Orner. These issues cover a period of increasing recognition for the LGBTQ+ community, but also increasing challenges. They are an essential insight into an often underrepresented history of North Carolina.

Thank you to our partners at Duke University and UNC Charlotte for nominating and working with us for these issues to be digitized. You can read previous blog posts about the history of The Front Page and its’ sister paper, QNotes here.

To view more newspapers from across North Carolina, visit our North Carolina newspaper portal.

Explore 1990s Hairstyles in Latest Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Materials!

Thanks to our partner, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, a batch of audiovisual materials are now available on DigitalNC! The materials primarily highlight the accomplishments of and programs at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. This includes one video that features the Live Model Competition and Fall 1999 RCCC Cosmetology Long Hair Mannequin Competition. In these competitions, cosmetology students at RCCC create day and/or evening looks which are then judged and ranked. The images below show some of the amazing talent and creativity of the RCCC cosmetology students!

To learn more about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit their website here.

To view more materials from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please click here.

To browse more audiovisual materials from across North Carolina, view our Sights and Sounds Collection.

Wilkes County’s Past Speaks In New Collection

In collaboration with our partners at Wilkes Community College, 50 new recordings, which make up hours of audio history, are now available online! These records, previously carefully maintained on reel-to-reel tape, can now be listened to anywhere, anytime. The recordings, which include several fascinating oral histories, stretch as far back as 1953 and extend to 1980.

Open box holding a reel to reel tape

Many of these recordings are oral histories, where a longtime local of Wilkes County recounts their lived experience in relation to the area. Interviewers, often in collaboration with Wilkes Community College, would visit the homes of longtime locals and candidly record their stories. Because of this candid nature, some recordings include the natural ambience of birdsong, rustling leaves, or chairs moving — all of which make the listener feel closer and more present to the speaker. These speakers (born as early as 1861!) speak on a variety of subjects relating to life in Wilkes County: topics include Camp Jo Harris, the life of an optometrist, and books read (and enjoyed) by former North Carolina Poet Laureate James Larkin Pearson. Many reflect on the lumber and furniture industry which rose to prominence in the area during the early twentieth century. The opinions and subjects are as varied as the memories and lives of the speakers, which paint a colorful picture of Wilkes County’s past.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the history of the area, you’re in luck! Included in this collection are a series of forums held during the 1970s, which focus on Wilkes County’s previous centuries of histories. Though you may not find much contemporary history in these recordings, its fascinating (and perhaps recursive) to hear historical discussions of history. Several of these forums were held at local high schools, and include discussions between local historians and high school students. The candid recordings often pick up teachers hushing side conversations between students; a nice reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Besides oral histories, some recordings contain previous radio broadcasts from local stations. These broadcasts often contain advertisements for local businesses, and are about news relevant to the Wilkes County area. A particular standout is a program broadcast by the Lincoln Heights choir, where schoolchildren urge voters to support a bond that would finance underrepresented schools. The program is scored by classical piano music and includes a concert by the school choir, and is just an overall beautiful listen.

You can listen to that broadcast here, or find more of Wilkes County’s history on NC Digital here. Find out more about our partners at Wilkes Community College at their website here.

Nell Cropsey Case Discussed in Latest Museum of the Albemarle Materials!

Thanks to our partner, the Museum of the Albemarle, several batches of materials are now available on DigitalNC! The first batch adds several new titles and issues of older Elizabeth City, N.C. newspapers spanning from the 1800s to 1900s.

The second batch of materials contains two magazines and several newspaper clippings highlighting notable Elizabeth City news. Two of the newspaper clippings present in this batch, one from 1902 and the other 1941, directly deal with the infamous Ella Maude “Nell” Cropsey murder in Elizabeth City. The details of the case are provided below using newspaper articles from this batch along with others in our newspaper collection.

According to Ollie Cropsey, her sister Nell Cropsey and James “Jim” Wilcox met in June 1898, just two months after the family moved to Elizabeth City. In the early days, James would come over to see Nell every Sunday and eventually started to come over almost every afternoon. During their time together the two would go on walks, rides, sail, and see shows. However, in the fall of 1901 the two started getting into arguments and spats. After a period of silence and the arrival of Ollie and Nell’s cousin Carrie, the two began speaking again. The night Nell went missing from her family’s waterfront home in Elizabeth City, she was socializing with her visiting cousin Carrie, sister Ollie, LeRoy Crawford, and James Wilcox.

That evening, on November 20, 1901, around 11:10PM, Nell escorted Wilcox presumptively out of the house. About 15 minutes later, Crawford left as well. After the departure of Crawford, Ollie closed the door and windows and went to the bedroom she shared with her sister. She was surprised to find that her sister was not yet in their room, but figured she was either still talking with Wilcox outside or in the dining room and either went to sleep or stayed awake until 12:30AM depending on which newspaper issue you read. Whether she went to sleep or stayed awake, a commotion on the property had Mr. Cropsey getting his gun to defend his pigs. At that point, Ollie told her father to not shoot as James and Nell were potentially in the yard. Not finding Nell in the near vicinity, they began to search for her. Still unable to find her, the family enlisted the help of the community the following day. The search came to an end on December 27th when her body was found close to her home on the surface of the Pasquotank River. Wilcox was found guilty of second degree murder in 1902 and sentenced to 30 years.

According to the newspaper clipping from the March 13, 1941 issue of The Daily Advance, Wilcox’s father—former sheriff of Pasquotank County, Thomas Wilcox—tried several times to have him pardoned on petitions. The pardons were denied by governors two separate times supposedly as a result of Wilcox’s attitude during the search for Nell and towards the Cropsey family during the trial. In 1918, however, Wilcox was pardoned by Governor Thomas Bickett after writing the governor a “humble letter […] declaring innocence.”

To learn more about the Nell Cropsey case as it was happening, read the March 21, 1902 issue of the Tar Heel (Elizabeth City, N.C.) that provides details of the trial or by searching our newspaper collection here. For a present day look into the case, view The Daily Advance‘s article from October 9, 2021, “Author: Wilcox wrongly convicted of Cropsey murder,” covering author William Dunstan’s talk on the Cropsey case.

To view more materials from the Museum of the Albemarle, visit their contributor page here.

To browse more newspapers from across the state, visit our North Carolina Newspaper Collection linked here.

To learn more about the Museum of the Albemarle, visit their website here.

DigitalNC Blog Header Image


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.

Social Media Policy

Search the Blog



Email subscribers can choose to receive a daily, weekly, or monthly email digest of news and features from the blog.

Newsletter Frequency
RSS Feed