Viewing entries by Ashlie Brewer

Burwell School Historic Site Materials Now Available on DigitalNC!

Thanks to our newest partner, Burwell School Historic Site / Historic Hillsborough Commission, over 50 new records are now available on our website. These materials focus primarily on Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell; the Burwell family; and The Robert and Margaret Anna Burwell School. These materials, which include diaries and letters, provide a look into 19th century life and education in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Black and white portrait of an older woman with curls. She is looking straight at the camera and is wearing a black top.

Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell

Margaret Anna Robertson Burwell, who went by Anna, is noted as an early pioneer for women’s education in North Carolina. She was born in and raised primarily by her maternal aunt, Susan Catherine Robertson Bott, in Virginia. Leading up to her arrival in the Old North State in the mid-1830s, Anna had received a good education, acquired teaching experience, married Presbyterian minister Robert Armistead Burwell, and had two children (Mary Susan Burwell and John Bott Burwell). While pregnant with their third child in 1835, Anna and her family moved to Hillsborough, North Carolina after her husband was called to be the minister of the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church.

Their first two years in Hillsborough, the Burwell family survived on Robert’s income as a minister. With an additional child and eventually more on the way, however, Anna decided to supplement her husband’s income by teaching after a local doctor asked her to undertake the education of his daughter. You can dig deeper into Anna’s life during this period by reading her digitized diaries on DigitalNC.

The Robert and Margaret Anna Burwell School and Continued Women’s Education

With Anna’s mind set on teaching, the Robert and Margaret Anna Burwell School (also referred to as the Burwell School) was opened in 1837. From its opening to its closure in 1857, Anna taught classes, handled student accounts, managed the school as well as her household. 

During its 20 years of operation over 200 young women from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, New York, and Florida were taught in accordance with the school’s mission to “qualify young ladies for the cheerful discharge of the duties of subsequent life […] [and] to cultivate in every pupil a sense of her responsibility for time and for eternity.” To complete their mission, The Circular [1848-1851] shows that the students took classes such as Lessons on Astronomy, Watts on the Mind, Parsing Blank Verse, Philosophy of Natural History, and Botany. 

Though the Burwell School closed in 1857, the family was not finished contributing to women’s education in North Carolina. In fact the same year the Burwell School closed, the Burwells assumed leadership of the Charlotte Female Seminary (now Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina). Fourteen years after assuming leadership of the Charlotte Female Seminary, Anna passed away at the age of 61. Possibly due to his wife’s death, Robert and their son John left Charlotte, North Carolina and assumed ownership of a different girls’ school named Peace Institute (now William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina). 

Property History After the Burwell Family

Following their departure, the property was rented out by the Burwell family to various individuals until 1862. In November 1862, members of the Collins Family (from Somerset Place near Edenton, North Carolina) bought the property and lived there during the Civil War. Seven years later in 1869, the property was auctioned off as a result of the Collins Family being unable to afford to keep the home. The winning bid was placed by David Parks.

From 1869 to 1895, the home changed hands between the Parks brothers, David and Charles. It is believed that during this 26 year period designer Jules Kerner was hired to raise the first floor ceilings and add the Victorian embellishments found on the interior and exterior of the home.

In 1895, Charles Park sold the property to a local dentist named John Sanford Spurgeon and his wife Carrie Spurgeon. The couple brought in even more exciting updates during their lengthy ownership which included the addition of electricity and plumbing. The home stayed in the Spurgeon family for 70 years until the children of John and Carrie decided to sell it in 1965.

The property was obtained by the Historic Hillsborough Commission, a non-profit organization established by the North Carolina General Assembly, in 1965. After acquiring the site, the Commission began to restore the existing buildings including the Burwell home, brick classroom, and “necessary house.”

Officially opened to the public since 1977, the Burwell School Historic Site continues to follow its mission to “maintain and preserve the Burwell School Historic Site; to interpret the history of 19th century Hillsborough for the enrichment of the public; and to celebrate and promote the culture and heritage of Hillsborough and Orange County.”


To learn more about the Burwell School Historic Site, please visit the Burwell School Historic Site website.

To learn more about Burwell family history, please visit the Burwell School’s Our History page.

To view more materials from Hillsborough, North Carolina, please click here to view NCDHC’s Hillsborough related records.

Information from this post was gathered from the materials uploaded in this batch, the Burwell School Historic Site’s website, previous Burwell School Historic Site site coordinator Carrie Currie, and from Ashlie Brewer’s knowledge from her internship at the site in summer 2022.

Boy and Girl Scouts of America Photographs and Scrapbooks Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Chapel Hill Historical Society, a batch containing three scrapbooks and over 100 slides featuring trips and experiences of Chapel Hill Boy Scout Troop 835 and Girl Scout Troop 59 are now available on our website.

The scrapbook topics include Troop 835 in the news; the life of Scoutmaster, Paul B. Trembley; and Troop 835’s trip to Europe in 1968. Traveling numerous places from North Carolina to Canada, the slides in this batch show stunning and silly images of the troop’s trips and experiences taken from the late 1950s to early 1990s.












To view more materials from the Chapel Hill Historical Society, please visit the DigitalNC Chapel Hill Historical Society material page.

To learn more about the Chapel Hill Historical Society, please visit the Chapel Hill Historical Society website.

To learn more about the history of Troop 835, please visit the Troop 835 website.

Note of Thanks and New Issues of The Norlina Headlight

On this day of thanks, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to our partners and site visitors for another phenomenal year. However you decide to observe the fourth Thursday in November, the NCDHC hopes that your day is filled with great food, remembrance, reflection and community.


Thanks to funding from the State Library of North Carolina’s LSTA Grant and our partner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for additional issues of The Norlina Headlight which are now available to view on our website. This batch, spanning 1925 to 1927, brings DigitalNC’s total number of issues to 401.

If you’re looking for a new recipe to add to your table this week, the November 18, 1927 Thanksgiving issue of The Norlina Headlight has you covered. Fans of pineapple and ham on pizza should try Nellie Maxwell’s baked pineapple and ham recipe. Simply take a slice of baked pineapple and serve it with a helping of baked ham. If you prefer to have a sauce, however, Maxwell suggests mixing pineapple juice, ham liquor, and a bit of flour together to serve with your baked ham.

To learn more about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, please visit their website.

To view all issues of The Norlina Headlight, please click here.

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

Happy Halloween! Over 45 Years of Raeford’s Newspaper “The News-Journal” Now Available on DigitalNC

Header for The News-Journal. Under the paper's title there is a colorful bar with the text: Hoke County's newspaper since 1905.

Thanks to our partner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, over 45 years of The News-Journal (Raeford, N.C.) have been added to our website. This batch fills in previously large gaps between 1957 to 1967 and 1986 to 2021. Still active today, The News-Journal has been publishing articles covering news in North Carolina’s City of Raeford and Hoke County since 1905. Contents of the newspaper focus primarily on the coverage and accounts of notable resident accomplishments, community growth, issues, and local events.

One of the best times to visit Hoke County to experience their fun local events is in the autumn. Every autumn The News-Journal highlights the area’s traditions such as the Turkey Festival, Fall Festival, decorations around town, and the newspaper’s Halloween costume contest. In Hoke County, the Halloween costume contest is particularly popular with submissions totaling over 100 entries each year. Unable to resist the All Hallows’ Eve spirit, the NCDHC would like to share with you some of the cutest, most original, and funniest children’s costumes that have been submitted to the paper over the last 45+ years. Don’t worry about scary clowns, nothing but laughs and cuteness ahead!

Wild Child(ren)!

Dressed as some of the most adorable creatures you can find out in the wild, these three—Kentrell, Casey, and Tasheona—look excited to start trick or treating!

Baby Biker Beshilas

No biker look would be complete without Harley-Davidson apparel and an awesome horseshoe ‘stache.

Beshilas easily takes the award for funniest costume.

Hendrix Household Costume Trifecta

If there was a prize for the greatest number of most original awards given to one family the Hendrix Family would win by a landslide! Each child is dressed up as a familiar household item including a washing machine, bag of groceries, and a basket of laundry. 

















 To view more Hoke County Halloween costume contestants, take a look at our issues of The News-Journal.

To view more newspapers from around North Carolina, please visit our North Carolina Newspapers Collection here.

To learn more about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, please visit their website


Additional University of North Carolina at Pembroke Catalogs Now Available

On the left side of the logo there is a Greek column building with a sun peaking over the top and UNC Pembroke written under it. On the right written out is: changing lives through education.

Thanks to our partner, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, a batch containing four of the university’s catalogs are now available on DigitalNC. This batch adds catalogs from the years 2016 to 2021, expanding our holdings of the University’s catalogs from 1906 to the present day. While the earliest catalog we have available on our site is from 1906, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke has been operating since the late 1880s.

The Croatan Normal School, now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, was established on March 7, 1887 by the General Assembly of North Carolina. The bill that passed that day allowed for the formation of a secondary school that would educate American Indian teachers and appropriated $500 for teacher’s salaries. Though the teacher’s salaries were provided for, the General Assembly neglected to supply land or funds for building the actual school. This left it up to the Croatan, now called the Lumbee, and the community to raise funds and find the land. The Lumbee quickly secured the funds and began building what would be a clapboard, two-story school building. Less than a year after the bill passed, the Croatan Normal School opened its doors. Over the last 135 years the school has gone through numerous name, curriculum, and building changes, however, time has not changed the integral part that the school continues to hold in the Lumbee community.

To learn more about University of North Carolina at Pembroke, please visit their website.

To view more University of North Carolina at Pembroke catalogs on our website, click here.

To learn more about the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, please visit their website.

Information for this blog post was gathered from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina website, University of North Carolina at Pembroke website, and the NC Department Natural and Cultural Resources blog.

Band, Ten Hut! Granville County Store Ledgers and Six New Yearbooks Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Granville County Public Library, we now have ledgers from Granville County’s Woodworth Store and Townesville Store available on our website as well as six new yearbooks added to our North Carolina High School Yearbooks collection! These yearbooks are from Vance County High School (1970 and 1971), Franklinton High School (1971), J.F. Webb High School (1971), and Henderson High School (1964 and 1971). 

With the start of the fall semester and football season here in North Carolina, marching bands are officially back on the field and in the stands supporting their teams and entertaining audiences with favorites such as Fight SongHey Baby, and You Can Call Me Al. While we all appreciate what marching bands adds to these sporting events, no school has shown as much appreciation for their marching band than Henderson High School.

In the school’s 1964 yearbook, an overwhelming amount of page space is given to the school’s band. Some of these photographs show the students rehearsing in the band room with band director W. T. Hearne, but a majority of them show the students in their full marching band and majorette uniforms. The photographs included in this post from the 1964 Pep Pac showcase the amazing size of their band as well as their snazzy uniforms.

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

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



Issues of Northampton County Times-News Cover School Desegregation

Top portion of June 26 1969 issue of the Northampton Times-News showing photo of school construction

Front page of the June 26, 1969 issue of The Northampton Times-News.

Thanks to our partner, Northampton County Museum, issues spanning 1967 to 1969 of The Northampton County Times-News are now available on our website.

Published squarely in the middle of the desegregation of North Carolina schools, these issues detail county officials’ efforts at maintaining segregation through a policy entitled “Freedom of Choice.” Though this push back against desegregation mirrors the history of many other counties in the state, the Times-News has really detailed local reporting on the topic and doesn’t shy away from talking about race-related tensions.

In 1967, the U.S. Attorney General brought a lawsuit against Northampton County schools claiming the county failed to desegregate them as required. The lawsuit cited the continuing separation into all white and all Black schools, the latter of which were inferior in resources and infrastructure.  This front page from August 1, 1968 announces the resulting court order that mandated desegregation. With an enrollment of 74.5% Black and 25.5% white students, Northampton County Schools were required to assign students to schools based on geography. Faculty were also desegregated, and the local Black high school, Willis Hare, was closed. After the partial integration of the high schools, a plan for lower grades followed in June 1969 (above).

To view all issues issues of the Northampton County Times-News available on our website, please click here.

To view more newspapers from around North Carolina, please visit our North Carolina Newspapers Collection here.

To learn more about the Northampton County Museum, please visit their website.

Additional Issues of the Winston-Salem Chronicle, Including Ones that Discuss the Darryl Hunt Case, Now Available on DigitalNC

Winston-Salem Chronicle header. Above the header is bright red text saying Sunday Edition.

Thanks to our partner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a batch of fill-in issues of the Winston-Salem Chronicle spanning from 1975 to 2013 are now available on our website. Included among the issues added were February 7, 1985 and June 27, 1985. These particular issues are notable for their articles written on Darryl Hunt, a Black Winston-Salem man who was falsely convicted of murdering (among other charges) Deborah Sykes in 1985.

The Winston-Salem Chronicle staff was among the many community members that voiced their concerns over the arrest of Darryl Hunt. In the February 7, 1985 issue of the paper, executive editor Allen H. Johnson writes a large, three page article on the case, using every inch of the pages to humanize Hunt and point out the inconsistencies of the case.

In the article, Johnson includes several interviews from community members and organizations such as Alderman Larry Little, Hunt’s uncle William Johnson, and the NAACP. In these interviews, many community members mention their shock and vehement disbelief that Hunt could have committed murder. Even Hunt’s sixth grade teacher was interviewed, saying: “‘I cried like a baby because I knew he wasn’t guilty,’ […] I know that kid and there’s no way …. I’d bet my life on it that he isn’t capable of this horrendous crime.'”

Despite inconsistencies, lack of concrete evidence, and efforts by the community, Hunt was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on June 14, 1985. In 1989 however, the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the previous conviction due to the original prosecutors introducing false statements made by Hunt’s at-the-time girlfriend which she recanted before the initial trial. On appeal, Hunt was released on bond and offered a plea bargain where he would be sentenced to the time he had already served (five years) for a guilty plea. Hunt rejected the bargain and went through a retrial. He was again convicted and sentenced to life in prison. 

After the second conviction, Hunt’s attorneys Mark Rabil and Ben Dowling-Sendor filed for the DNA gathered from the crime scene to be tested. The results came back in October of 1994 and determined that the DNA did not match Hunt’s. Despite the results, requests for an appeal were rejected. The reasoning given for the denied appeal was that new evidence was not absolute proof that Hunt was not involved.

Ten years after learning that the DNA did not belong to Hunt, authorities ran the crime scene DNA through the state’s database. It was discovered that the DNA actually belonged to Willard E. Brown, a man who was already incarcerated for another murder. Finally, after serving 19 years in prison, Darryl Hunt was exonerated on February 6, 2004.

To read more issues of the Winston-Salem Chronicle, please click here.

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

To learn more about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, please visit their website.

Information about the Darryl Hunt case was gathered from Phoebe Zerwick’s Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt, the Innocence Project, and DigitalNC graduate assistant Sophie Hollis.

Additional Chatham County Architectural Photographs and Funeral Programs Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Chatham County Historical Association, over 600 architectural images of Chatham County and 64 funeral programs are now available to view on our website. The architectural images are particularly interesting. They cover a broad variety of building types and ages including houses, businesses, churches, masonic lodges, and schools all the way back to the 16th century. Below is a small sample of the different types of buildings that were photographed in Chatham County.

Built circa 1850, the Haughton-McIver House is a beautiful two-story home. Some of its features include a five-bay facade, six-over-six sash windows, symmetrically molded corner boards, and a central entry composed of paneled double-leaf doors framed by transom and sidelights.

The Chatham County courthouse, built in the 1880s and still standing today, is a two-story rectangular brick structure. The structure’s dominant feature is a classical two-story portico crowned with distinctive three-stage cupola.

The former Hinton-Beckwith School, built around 1930 near Farrington, is an especially important landmark for the area’s Black community. Beginning in the earliest part of the 20th century and continuing for 40 years, the school served as a place where Black individuals in the community would go to learn. The building’s rectangular structure is set off by three recessed double-leaf entrances that are surmounted by transom and framed by rows of tall nine-over-nine sash windows. Other features include a main entrance marked by sidelights and protected by a portico.

To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association, please visit their website.

To view more architecture materials available on DigitalNC, please click here.

To view more funeral programs from the Chatham County Historical Association, please view our Chatham County Funeral Program Exhibit.

New Winston-Salem Chronicle Issues Now Available

Winston Salem Chronicle header. Under the newspaper name it reads: serving the Winston-Salem community since 1974.

Thanks to our partner, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, issues that fill in previous holes in our site’s holding of the Winston-Salem Chronicle from 1975 to 1982 are now available on our website.

Since 1974, the Winston-Salem Chronicle has published weekly issues that focus primarily on news about and events in Winston-Salem’s Black community.

To view all issues issues of the Winston-Salem Chronicle available on our website, please click here.

To view more newspapers from around North Carolina, please visit our North Carolina Newspapers Collection here.

To learn more about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, please visit their website.

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