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 by Lisa Gregory


Six Steps To Consider Before Scanning Vertical Files

Long, open filing cabinet drawer filled with red and manilla filesVertical files are groups of subject-based materials often compiled over time to help an organization’s staff with frequent reference questions or research.  Like the example above at Shepard-Pruden Library in Edenton, NC, they’re typically housed in filing cabinets. They are a good place to store items that wouldn’t necessarily be cataloged or accessioned (individually and formally documented by the institution) but are valuable for research. Inside you might find photographs, clippings, family trees, pamphlets, handwritten notes – but because the contents accumulate over time you can find any number of surprises inside.

Vertical files are also the worst – for digitization that is. The same thing that makes them valuable for research – their convenience, their long term growth, and the variety of contents – makes them incredibly challenging to scan. If you’re interested in digitizing vertical files, we have suggestions! These have been compiled from our own experience at NCDHC along with the experiences of a number of our partners who kindly responded to a recent email asking for advice.

When facing full filing cabinets you may be tempted to dive in right at the beginning and get going, but we always suggest starting with a pilot project using a subset of materials. We can’t emphasize this enough! It’ll give you a sense of workflow, help you establish how you’re going to name and organize the scanned files, and uncover obstacles you didn’t anticipate. If it goes poorly, you can back out without losing a large investment. The suggestions below can be used for a pilot and for a full-fledged project.

Suggestion 1: Prep First, Thank Yourself Later

photocopies and papers from a manila folder spread on a wooden table

Here’s an example of a vertical file with newspaper clippings, letters, and publications about World War II. From the collection at Shepard-Pruden Library in Edenton.

Scan it all or be selective? Decide if you want to go from beginning to end or to be selective about what you’ll scan. There’s no right answer but each way has ups and downs. This decision will be subject to your users’ needs and your local resources.

Scan it all? Is there enough high value and unique content in your vertical files to warrant scanning everything? For example, some newspaper titles have been digitized in their entirety and are full text searchable (like those available at DigitalNC or Chronicling America) so you might decide that scanning clippings from those same papers is superfluous. As another example, many books published before 1924 in the United States are available online at the Internet Archive or through a simple search in your internet browser. If your files have a lot of book excerpts you may want to skip those.

Be selective? Being selective can be more time consuming and you may unintentionally miss items that would be of use, but it can be appropriate if you’re trying to simply scan items related to one or two topics or for a particular event. It is also a great option if you don’t have a lot of time or resources but want to help give access to high demand files.

First pass for organization. Go through the files in a first pass, during which you’ll assess the files’ contents, sort them in a way that will make scanning easier, and prepare the different formats for scanning. Here are some tasks to complete as you make a first pass:

  • Pull out items to be cataloged separately. As your organization’s collection strategies have changed over time you may find materials within the files that should be pulled out and cataloged or accessioned independently. For example, perhaps you are a library where pamphlets were previously stuck in vertical files but are now cataloged and put on the shelf. These can be pulled out and dealt with separately.
  • Weed. Take this opportunity to weed out duplicates and look for misfiled items.
  • Group items with copyright or privacy concerns. I talk about this in more detail below, but if you plan to put these files online, you may want to skip scanning items that would be too risky or unethical to share online. You could put them towards the back of each file with a divider that indicates they should be either reviewed in more detail or skipped while scanning.
  • fingers holding microspatula and prying up staple legs

    Ashlie, an NCDHC staff member, uses a microspatula to pry up staple legs. License: CC0

    Remove staples and fasteners. The caveat here is that you should only do this with materials you’re sure you’re ready to scan. One partner mentioned that staff had removed staples and paperclips from a large quantity of files, but then the project got stalled. Because the vertical files were still in use, this led to papers being misfiled, shuffled out of order, and lost.

  • Organize by type then by date. Within each file, organize individual items first by format of item, then by date. Group all of the photographs. Put like sized publications together. Group all of the single page items, all of the clippings. Putting like sized types together will speed up the workflow, saving time when scanning by streamlining your efforts at cropping. Once you’ve grouped things by type, within each group put things in date order (if dates are available). This will help you when you make the scans available.

Suggestion 2: Prepare for the Digital Files

Unless you don’t have that many vertical files (or you have a LOT of time and help) think of each vertical file as a single unit. Here’s what I mean by this. If you have a vertical file about a popular local landmark called the “Turtle Log,” and it includes a few photos, some clippings, and a handwritten narrative, all of those scans would be kept together in a virtual group, folder, or album just as they are in real life. When you describe that group/folder/album either in an internal or online database, you’d describe the unit as a whole, rather than describing each individual photo, clipping, or narrative. This will save a ton of time.

yellow square with file folder and file names starting worldwarii01With this in mind, you’ll want to think of a file naming scheme that will keep all of these digital groups organized. Thankfully, file systems mimic files in real life, with the use of folders. Make sure you have a consistent naming convention for files and folders that ensures everything sorts appropriately. On the right is a quick example of how you might decide to name your files. This example is very basic – you could choose to give more detail, include known dates. But note the numbers (01, 02, etc.) included that will make the files sort in order.

Suggestion 3: Determine How You’ll Work with Additions

If you intend to keep these vertical files active after scanning, you’ll need to figure out how to denote what’s been scanned and what you’ll do with new additions to the files. A light pencil mark or some other non-permanent note on the back of all scanned items can signal what’s been scanned. Decide if you have the time and staff to scan new additions before filing new donations or if you plan to do that wholesale at a later date. It might also be helpful to have a marker of some sort that you can insert into the file cabinets that lets researchers and staff know about files that have been removed for scanning and whether or not they can still request them.

Suggestion 4: You Should Scan these In House. Or You Shouldn’t.

I wish I could give a single way forward here, but like so many things the answer to whether or not to outsource scanning depends on your situation. Here are a few considerations for the two routes.

Scanning in house. This gives you a lot of flexibility. You can work on the project over time. For active files, they’ll be close at hand if needed. Your staff will gain experience scanning, if they don’t already have it.

Unless you can afford an overhead scanner or camera mount setup, scanning vertical files on a flatbed or other multifunction machine will make a very long process a lot longer. Sheetfed scanners can speed things up a little but only for extremely uniform, non-unique materials that are in good shape. Because the project is large, if you don’t have dedicated scanning staff (or even if you do) be prepared for the contents of multiple file cabinets to take years to scan. You may also need to hire new staff or reskill current staff to do this work, trading this for other duties they currently complete.

Outsourcing scanning. Outsourcing can mean a quicker outcome because the organization doing the scanning will have dedicated workflows and equipment for high volume output. If you don’t have digitization expertise on staff, their expertise can be helpful for avoiding pitfalls.

Unless you are working with an organization that typically scans special collections, the variety of formats can be a challenge and frequently increase the cost. Companies that specialize in corporate files will claim attractively inexpensive prices for scanning but they are frequently used to working with homogenous typing or copy paper. Be sure to interrogate them regarding their expertise, showing them examples and even asking for a quote after they scan a subset. Make sure they offer digital files of a quality and in file formats that you can use into the future.

Suggestion 5: Decide About Your Access Priorities and the Rest will Follow

As we’re fond of saying, digitization is the easy part. Even in a project of this size and complexity, the scanning and preparation of the digital files is more straightforward then what comes next. Here are confounding factors to take into account when you consider how you’ll provide access to the digital vertical files.

image of a page from a furniture guide with the term LaBarge highlightedFull Text Search

Full text search greatly increases the usefulness of digital vertical files. It’s one of the most cited reasons for scanning them in the first place. To be able to search full text within a scanned document, you’ll need to run that digital file through software that recognizes the text and then either embeds it within the file or stores it separately. (Note that this will only happen with typewritten text – accurate automated recognition of handwriting isn’t widely available at this point.) Here are two different options:

  • Some institutions choose the PDF format for their vertical files. Software like Adobe Acrobat (not to be confused with the freely available Adobe Reader) will recognize text within a PDF. However PDFs are made for easy transmission and sharing, not for longevity and quality. We recommend that you scan initially to a higher quality or lossless format, and then, if it fits your goals and resources, create derivatives like PDFs. The upside of PDFs is that many desktop and laptop computers can natively search across PDFs. This means you could have them searchable locally, say on a reading room computer, and not necessarily have to provide internet access.
  • Alternatively, you can use a system that can store both the text recognized in an image and the image itself and then link them together. Some library or museum catalogs will do this, or you’ll need a content management system. This means additional ongoing costs and the need for technological infrastructure and expertise. But with these types of systems you can provide full text search of your files on the internet.

Copyright and Privacy

Copyright is one of the biggest confounding factors related to making vertical files accessible. Depending on how old your files are, it’s likely that there are materials in there that will be in copyright. If you want to post copyrighted materials on the internet, your organization will need to assess the amount of risk you’re willing to accept. Some items are riskier than others. Regardless, whoever is working on your vertical files will need training and the authority to determine what can and should go online and what should not. Here are a few resources to help get you started:

In addition to copyright, you should always consider privacy concerns. For some of the non-published items in your vertical files, the donations or additions were made with the expectation of local use by a single person or small group. Family history documents that discuss recent events are an example of the type of item you may judge to be too personal for broad consumption without the permission of the creator. There may be documents that share information about communities that would prefer they not be shared broadly. These are all good things to assess as you do your first pass.

Suggestion 6: Find Examples and Friends

Here are some examples of digitized vertical file collections online. These are large projects with a goodly number of staff and funding involved, so take that into account as you look. Note that the files are put online whole rather than breaking out individual items.

This first example comes from the Digital Collections of the University Libraries at UNC-Greensboro and showcases their “class folders.” UNC-G has done quite a bit with vertical files of various types, but this is a great example of folders that have a variety of items grouped by subject. These items are in a system called CONTENTdm, which is specifically designed to host special collections.

manilla bifold invitation to the 1898 commencement at the State Normal and Industrial College of NC

This invitation is one of a number of items in the vertical file entitled “Class of 1898.” You can see the item title at the top and a list of the different items inside on the right.

We’ve also done some vertical files at NCDHC, and you can take a look at an example here. This is from a large collection of vertical files shared by the Kinston Lenoir-County Public Library. Our system is called TIND.

screenshot in TIND of a newspaper clipping and a manuscript page, with thumbnails of other items on the left

This screenshot shows a large view of a newspaper clipping alongside a typewritten manuscript from the Sybil Hyatt Papers. To the left are thumbnails showing other items in this particular file.

Keep in mind that both of these systems are made for hosting large numbers of special collections items and, like a library or museum catalog, cost money and staff to maintain. While it’s outside of the scope of this article, you can take a look at another post we did regarding how to share your digital files.

For any digitization project, we heartily recommend trying to find friends and peers at area or regional organizations. Ask if they have vertical files or digitization projects (or both?!). A quick phone call or email can help you avoid duplication of effort, at the least, and may gain you advice or a collaboration. You can even choose to share staff or other resources, or collaboratively apply for funding. We also like to be friends! If you’ve made it this far and still want to digitize, but you have questions or would like additional advice, feel free to get in touch.


Call for Nominations – Newspaper Digitization 2020-2021

Front page of The Carolinian newspaper from November 06, 1948, declaring Truman Wins.

An issue of The Carolinian (Raleigh) newspaper from November 6, 1948.

It’s time for our annual round of microfilmed newspaper digitization! As in previous years, we’re asking cultural heritage institutions in North Carolina to nominate papers from their communities to be digitized. We’re especially interested in:

  • newspapers covering underrepresented regions or communities, and
  • newspapers that are not currently available in digital form elsewhere online.

If you’re interested in nominating a paper and you work at a cultural heritage institution that qualifies as a partner, here’s what to do:

  • Check out our criteria for selecting newspapers, listed below.
  • Verify that the newspaper you’d like to see digitized exists on microfilm*. Email us (digitalnc@unc.edu) if you’re not sure.
  • Be prepared to talk with the rights holder(s) to gain written permission to digitize the paper and share it online. We can give you advice on this part, if needed.
  • Review the Criteria for Selecting Newspapers to Digitize from Microfilm listed below.
  • Fill out the nomination form

Nominations will be taken on an ongoing basis, however don’t wait! We typically get many more requests than we can accommodate. Please contact us at digitalnc@unc.edu with questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Criteria for Selecting Newspapers to Digitize from Microfilm

Titles to be digitized will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Does the newspaper document traditionally underrepresented regions or communities?
  • Does the newspaper include significant coverage of the local community or largely syndicated content?
  • Does the newspaper come from an area of the state that has little representation on DigitalNC? (Titles that have not previously been digitized will be given priority. Here’s a title list and a map showing coverage.)
  • Are the images on microfilm legible, or is it difficult to read the text?
  • Is the institution willing to obtain permission from the current publisher or rights holder(s) to digitize issues and make them freely available online?

* What about print newspapers? These are much more costly to scan – we only work with a very limited number. Please get in touch (digitalnc@unc.edu) if you’d like to talk through options for digitizing print newspapers.


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Vicki Coleman

Head and shoulders view of smiling woman indoors wearing black blazer

Vicki Coleman, Dean of Library Services at the F. D. Bluford Library, at North Carolina A&T State University

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 post is from Vicki Coleman, Dean of Library Services at the F. D. Bluford Library, at North Carolina A&T State University. We’ve partnered with NC A&T (Library home page | NCDHC contributor page) to digitize yearbooks, catalogs, and student newspapers. The Library also has their own extensive digital collections online, where you can find faculty research, agricultural history, and history about NC A&T. Read below for more about our partnership with NC A&T.

___

Happy 10th anniversary to the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center!

Over the past decade, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (NCDHC) has played a vital role in helping the F.D. Bluford Library at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) ensure the success of its digital conversion projects. More specifically, the NCDHC’s digitization services have aided Bluford Library by providing the infrastructure to create thousands of preservation-quality digital images and other historical materials that are now accessible by students, faculty and researchers world-wide.

Working collaboratively with the NCDHC has opened opportunities for Bluford Library to give visibility to the wealth of history stored in its archive and to the many resources accessible from the DigitalNC website. Listed below are examples of how some digitized collections are used:

  • The university’s digitized yearbooks (1939-2013), catalogs and bulletins (1895-2013) and student newspaper (1915-2010) serve as indexes, directing researchers to names, places, photos and historical events that helped shape the university, the surrounding Greensboro community, and the history of African-Americans with regards to higher education and the civil rights movement.
  • In 2015, I oversaw the publication of NC A&T’s pictorial history book commemorating the university’s 125th anniversary. When it came to the digitization of some of our most brittle materials for inclusion in the book (e.g., minutes from an 1891 Board of Trustees meeting) it was the NCDHC that got it done.
  • Over the past three years, James Stewart, the Archives and Special Collections librarian at Bluford Library, has taught more than 300 students how to access community histories about NC A&T and African-American history via the DigitalNC website.
  • This past summer, Mr. Stewart and I conducted research pertaining to the naming of all the buildings and streets on the NC A&T campus. We were able to locate much of the historical information in the A&T Register, the NCA&T student newspaper that was digitized by the NCDHC and by searching the Newspapers collection on the DigitalNC website.

The NCDHC has advanced Bluford Library’s efforts to make historical materials accessible online by providing visionary guidance, high-level expertise and access to state of the art scanning equipment. I appreciate the great skills of the many individuals that make up the NCDHC and look forward to continuing a productive partnership with them. Congratulations to the NCDHC on its tenth anniversary and I await with pleasure another 10 years of remarkable achievements in increasing open access to the state’s cultural heritage.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – David Wright

Smiling adult with grey beard wearing blue collared shirt standing under trees on a sunny day

David Wright, Associate Dean, Learning Resources, Surry Community College

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 David Wright, Associate Dean for Learning Resources at Surry Community College. We’ve partnered with Surry CC (Library home page | NCDHC contributor page) to digitize yearbooks, newspapers, and genealogical collections. Surry CC Library has been active in digitizing a lot of Surry County history, making connections with area groups and institutions to share their history online at Surry County Digital Heritage. Read below for more about our partnership with Surry Community College.

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

NCDHC has been an advocate, a source of information about the process of digitization, and has provided our rural community with the tools to bring a digital history project to fruition. Surry Community College has benefited from the expertise of the NCDHC as well as a partner in digitizing yearbooks from the county. At the beginning of our digital history project, I felt like I had a sounding board (& expertise) in Lisa Gregory and the staff at NCDHC. A project of the size and scope of the Surry County Digital Heritage had not been attempted anywhere in our area. We needed good advice and found it at NCDHC.

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

The “yearbook project” that NCDHC has helped us bring together is an amazing resource. It has been a lot of footwork and many deliveries and pickups in Chapel Hill, but the libraries in Surry County can refer patrons who inquire about yearbooks to DigitalNC, where all the yearbooks are gathered in one place and are easy to browse and use and not scattered in locations throughout the county. As in many counties, before school consolidation, there were lots of community schools, many that were K-12. This is a valuable resource for genealogists, other family history researchers, and just fun browsing for people who remember the community schools.

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

A dedicated and helpful staff who want to preserve the historical records of communities.

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background


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


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


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


10 for 10: Celebrating NCDHC’s Birthday with Stakeholder Stories – Erin Allsop

Headshot of smiling archivist with long straight hair and bright green clothing

Erin Allsop, Archivist, Central Piedmont Community College

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 Erin Allsop, Archivist at Central Piedmont Community College. Since 2014, we’ve partnered with CPCC’s Library (Library home page | NCDHC contributor page) digitizing yearbooks, catalogs, scrapbooks and photographs. Erin has also been involved with the North Carolina Community College Archives Association since its beginning in 2018. Read below for more about our partnership with CPCC

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

I am the archivist for Central Piedmont Community College, and cofounder of the NC Community College Archives Association. Community College history, and their archival collections, are often over-looked or discarded. Thanks to the NCDHC and their assistance, most of the Community College materials are being made accessible for future generations over time.

Central Piedmont Archives collections could not be made publicly available without the support of the Digital Heritage Center and their staff. While they provide a literal platform (database) to share our institutional heritage materials with the world, they also provide a figurative platform to advocate for greater support of community college history, and efforts of community college archivists, throughout North Carolina. NCDHC has provided a wealth of knowledge and support for these initiatives, without judgement. This means more to me than I can describe.

What item or group of items on DigitalNC.org do you think everyone should know about?

The Central Piedmont History Scrapbooks and Dental Hygiene yearbooks!!

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

The NCDHC is tantamount to the success of most (if not all) smaller institutional archives throughout our state. While their resources are a wonderful tool for us to use, contribute to, and share with a wider audience, the kindness and consideration of the staff I have interacted with makes working with NCDHC even more enjoyable. They are a team of dedicated information professionals, who genuinely want to make a difference in the world by providing the platform to those without a voice. Thank you, a million times over. I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years has in store!

Celebrating 10 years NC Digital Heritage Center, with confetti background