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


11 Days of NCDHC: Day 11 – We’re Consultants

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 11: We’re Consultants

Woman seated before a computer while instructor bends close and points to floppy disk

Secretarial Science student using a computer, contributed by Central Carolina Community College.

When NCDHC first began about 10 years ago, one of the main goals was to serve many institutions from a single location. The benefit of this approach means that resources and expertise can be consolidated. Instead of setting up a local digitization program, an organization can test the digitization waters by working with us before tackling their own projects, or they can choose to accomplish all of their digital collections goals through NCDHC.

We love to see institutions supporting their own digital collections almost as much as we dislike seeing people reinvent the wheel. We are happy to share advice on best practices in digitization, metadata, and hosting digital cultural heritage collections online. We can visit collections to look through materials and to talk about the commitment involved in a digital collection. We can present to stakeholders on the importance of thinking long term when beginning a digital collection.

Because of our statewide reach, we are able to help connect institutions who have similar or complementary goals. We frequently give advice related to applying for grants, particularly the State Library of North Carolina’s LSTA grants. If we don’t know the answer, we probably know someone who will. More than anything, we want to see successful and sustainable digital collections, even if they’re not on DigitalNC. So if you have a question or three, get in touch.

Check back on Monday as we reveal Day 12 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 10 – Community Scanning Days

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 10: Community Scanning Days

color image of three individuals facing camera and smiling, in traditional Hmong dress

Hmong New Year festival in Newton, North Carolina. The photograph was scanned at a community scanning day hosted by Catawba County Library and the Historical Association of Catawba County.

Community scanning days are a popular way for many of our partners to bring historical materials into their collection from their community without needing to take physical possession of the objects.  Instead, the community is invited to come in with their personal collections related to the town, or a particular historic event, or from a particular group, and have it photographed or scanned.  Information about the object, as well as information about the owner, is recorded at the time of scanning as well.  Then, depending on the infrastructure at the institution, the digital files and associated metadata are saved for research in the reading room or somehow made accessible online.  Community scanning days are often a really good way to engage the community with their local history collection while at the same time filling in holes in that collection.  

Where does the NCDHC come in?  Well, we can help with these events in a variety of ways.  One way is to come and offer technical support the day of the event, including bringing our scanners and doing a lot of that work.  We are also happy to consult with partners who are planning such events and pass along metadata templates and scanning specifications we would suggest using.  We can take the images and metadata from the scanning day and host those on DigitalNC.  If you are interested in us hosting the materials, we do ask that you talk to us before your scanning day so we can be sure the image quality and metadata collected fit with our system.  This page on our site is a good run down of what we’ll provide during and after scanning days.  

We have had the pleasure of working with several institutions already with community scanning days, including the Hmong Keen Kwm: Hmong Heritage Project by Catawba County Library and the Massey Hill Heritage Discovery Project by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.  

If your institution is looking to do a similar scanning project, please get in touch!  

Check back on Friday as we reveal Day 11 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 8 – Audio Digitization

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 8: Audio Digitization

photo of a hand holding a cassette tape

A cassette tape with a recorded oral history with Jackie Evans, dated 5/31/2001.

The NCDHC digitizes most of our partners’ materials here at Wilson Special Collections Library, which is part of UNC Chapel Hill Libraries. There’s a Digital Production Center with a variety of equipment that can handle most any print formats as well as three-dimensional objects. Until quite recently the only types of items we sent out to a vendor for digitization were microfilmed newspapers, moving image formats, and audio formats. Thanks to a partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) in Wilson Library, many audio formats can now be digitized right here on site. 

The staff of the SFC are renowned around the country for their work on audiovisual preservation and digitization. On a daily basis they are transferring at-risk formats from Wilson Library’s collections to digital. Thanks to grants from the Mellon Foundation, this work has gotten an additional boost over the last few years to expand beyond Wilson. NCDHC partners can now have audio formats digitized at any time. The SFC has already worked with partner institutions to digitize audio formats that include oral histories, music performances, and even a tobacco auction. 

If you’re a current or potential partner and would like to talk about audio digitization, just contact us.

Check back on Wednesday as we reveal Day 9 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 7 – Statistics About DigitalNC.org Use and Collections

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Infographic: Over the last year, DigitalNC.org had 4,322,135 pageviews, 344,776 visitors, and 58% of the site's traffic comes from North Carolina.Day 7: Statistics About DigitalNC.org Use and Collections

Did you know that DigitalNC.org contains over 4 million images?? That’s a lot of North Carolina history. Today we’re sharing some of the site’s statistics as well as a nifty tool that helps our partner institutions find out how much their items are being used.

Though we don’t know too much about them, we do know that A LOT of people visit DigitalNC! The graphic at right shows the number of pageviews of and visitors to the site. We’re always proud to see that around 55%-60% of the traffic routinely comes from North Carolina. Right now we’re averaging around 1,782 sessions per day.

If you’re interested in statistics about what’s on DigitalNC, we have a Statistics page that can show you the number of items and files, and some general statistics about our contributors. 

And remember that nifty tool I mentioned? DigitalNC partners can check web views on the items we’ve scanned from their collections using Partner Analytics Reports.  There they’ll find sessions, pageviews, new users, and top items by pageviews. Here’s an example showing a three-month time period from one of our partners.

A graph showing number of sessions and pageviews, along with "top items by pageviews" for a single partner's collection digitalnc.org.

We always encourage partners to report these statistics just like any other use of their collections. Just contact us if you have questions about what you find, or for ideas on how to increase your DigitalNC web analytics.

Check back on Tuesday as we reveal Day 8 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!

*Icons courtesy of Streamline.


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 6 – Collections from North Carolina Religious Institutions

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 6: Collections from North Carolina Religious Institutions

cover of the book "In the Beginning -- Baptists" with a line drawing of the facade of the First Baptist Church of New BernSome of our state’s oldest history is stewarded by religious institutions, and we’ve frequently been asked if we can work with them. Though most are not eligible to become an NCDHC partner because they do not have regularly open and staffed libraries or archives, we worked with our Advisory Board to devise a pilot project where eligible partner institutions can pair with a local religious institution to share their materials on DigitalNC.

Our first effort was with New Bern-Craven County Public Library and the First Baptist Church of New Bern. We received a warm welcome over in New Bern as we learned about the Church’s history. We returned to Chapel Hill and scanned some of their earliest minutes along with a history of the congregation published in 1984 (pictured at right). 

Here are the details if you’re interested in this project.

  • The partnership must be between the religious institution and a current or eligible partner institution.
  • All items we scan or photograph have to be made available through DigitalNC.org. We cannot scan items that can’t be made freely accessible online.
  • This project follows the same guidelines as all of the work we do. You can read more on our “How to Participate” page.
  • Items will have the eligible partner institution listed as the contact, and the religious institution as the home for the archive. We’ll make an “exhibit page” for the religious institution so they can easily search and browse their materials.

This is a great opportunity for local libraries or museums to build or enhance relationships with local synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples.

Check back on Monday as we reveal Day 7 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 4 – Ways to Promote Your DigitalNC.org Collections

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 4: Ways to Promote Your DigitalNC.org Collections

While Google is great, intentionally promoting your digital collections to your on-site or website visitors can make sure they’re not missing resources they need. It signals your organization’s commitment to openly sharing your collections, and can lead to some meaningful user engagement. Many of our partners put links to DigitalNC.org on their websites, in visitor or patron guides, or within their catalogs or artifact databases. Here are a few other suggestions you may not know about: 

Embed a search widget

We’ve created an embeddable search widget that gives users a quick way to do a keyword search across all of the content on DigitalNC.org. The code provided can be added anywhere that allows an iframe. 

Screenshot of a handout announcing 206 materials and 2 newspaper titles on DigitalNC from Louisburg CollegeQuickly create a flyer to hand out or post

Here’s a quick way to create a flyer that includes what we’ve scanned or photographed for your organization. There’s a screenshot of an example at right. In addition to types of items it includes the URL to your landing page and your logo. 

Ask us for some brochures

We have a bunch of them! Just contact us and we can mail you some.

Check back on Thursday as we reveal Day 5 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 2 – Newspapers Advanced Search

This holiday season join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 2: Newspapers Advanced Search 

A screenshot showing the text input boxes and different filter options on the newspapers advanced searchWe’re adding more newspapers on an almost weekly basis, and the collection currently holds over 1.2 million pages. With so much text, searches can be a lot more successful if you use the Newspapers Advanced Search where you can do multiple kinds of searches:

  • Any of the words – example: the words Barry OR Allen somewhere on the page
  • All of the words – example: the words Barry AND Allen somewhere on the page
  • Phrase search – example: Barry Allen right next to each other
  • Proximity search – example: the words Barry and Allen when they are within 5 (or 10, or 50, or 100) words of each other

In addition to these choices for what you’re searching on, you can narrow down your search in the following ways:

  • by year
  • by type (our newspaper titles are currently categorized as community papers, student papers, and African-American papers)
  • by county
  • by title(s)

There are a couple of ways to get to the Newspapers Advanced Search but the fastest is to either bookmark the link or to go to the Newspapers landing page and click the link in the upper right.

Screenshot of the newspapers landing page with a red arrow pointing to a link that says "Advanced Search"

The Advanced Search is a great way to find someone by name, or to search through all of the newspapers we have on DigitalNC from a particular county. We recommend it all the time when a regular keyword search isn’t doing the trick.

Check back on Tuesday as we reveal Day 3 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


12 Days of NCDHC: Day 1 – Partner Landing Pages

This holiday season our staff brainstormed about things we feel many of our current or potential partners may not know about us! We don’t mean that we love YoPo and baby yoda (though we do). We mean services we provide, or projects we’ll take on, or tools our partners can use to get the best out of their DigitalNC collections. So for the next two weeks join us here on the blog for the 12 Days of NCDHC. We’ll be posting short entries that reveal something you may not know about us. You can view all of the posts together by clicking on the 12daysofncdhc tag. And, as always, chat with us if you have questions or want to work with us on something new. Happy Holidays!

Day 1: Each of our Partner Institutions Has Its Own Landing Page

When we partner with a cultural heritage organization to scan items from their collections, the images and information all go into DigitalNC.org where everything can be searched together. BUT, there’s also a quick and easy way to find just what we’ve scanned from any particular institution – their landing page. If you click on any of the contributor names on this page you’ll get to their landing page, which will look something like this:

Screenshot of Edgecombe County Memorial Library's landing page, with links to parts of their collection and a map showing their location

From the landing page you can search or browse just that organization’s scanned collections. It’s a great way to narrow down your search. There are also links to blog posts related to that organization and links back to their own web presence. If you’re a current partner, we hope you’ll link to your landing page on your own website.

Check back on Monday as we reveal Day 2 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!


Microfilmed Newspaper Nominations Selected for Digitization, 2019-2020

Back in August, we announced our annual call for microfilmed newspaper digitization. We asked institutions throughout North Carolina to nominate papers they’d like to see added to DigitalNC. As it is every year, it was an incredibly tough choice – we are typically able to choose between 40-60 reels out of over a thousand nominated. This year we’ve chosen the following titles and years.

Title Years Nominating Institution
Black Mountain News 1945-1948 Swannanoa Valley Museum
Carolinian (Raleigh) 1959-1972 Olivia Raney Local History Library
Dunn Daily Record 1950-1962 Dunn History Musem
Eastern Carolina News 1898 Trenton Public Library / Neuse Regional Library
Goldsboro News 1923-1927 Wayne County Public Library
Tryon Daily Bulletin 1928-1942 Polk County Public Libraries
Tyrrell County Herald/Progress/Times 1928; 1944-1945 Tyrrell County Library
Tyrrell Tribune 1939-1941 Tyrrell County Library
Zebulon Record 1925-1956 Little River Historical Society

For our selection criteria, we prioritize newspapers that document underrepresented communities, new titles, papers that come from a county that currently has little representation on DigitalNC, and papers nominated by new partners. After selection, we ask the partners to secure permission for digitization and, if that’s successful, they make it into the final list above.

We hope to have these titles coming online in the first half of 2020. If your title didn’t make it this year don’t despair! We welcome repeat submissions, and plan on sending out another call in Fall 2020. 


Yearbooks, Early Journals, and More Student Newspapers from Greensboro High School / Grimsley High Now Online

Group of high school students named Senior Superlatives standing outside facing the cameraWe’ve worked with the Greensboro History Museum to add more publications from Greensboro High School (now Grimsley High School) to DigitalNC. Included in this most recent batch are more of the school’s student newspaper, the High Life, from the 1920s-1960s. You’ll also find The Sage, one of the school’s literary publications, with issues from 1910-1918. Finally, there are three additional yearbooks – 1930, 1968, and 1969. Our partner provided this succinct history of the school’s yearbook and other publications:

Greensboro High School’s first annual was published in 1909 and named The Reflector in 1910. To help with the war effort during World War I, the school chose not to publish the yearbook in 1918, saving funds by using the May 1918 edition of its magazine, The Sage, as a smaller, abbreviated version. This continued even after the war, in 1919 and 1920, before publication of The Reflector resumed in 1921. In 1926, 1928, and 1929, there were both January and June editions, a result of adding mid-term graduating classes starting in 1926. By the mid-1920s, because of growing difficulties funding the yearbook, The Reflector‘s content was significantly reduced, and it went from hardcover to paperback in 1926 before publication ceased after 1930.

While the Depression did not fully impact Greensboro Senior High and its other programs until 1933, when a local bond-supplement failed to pass, the already financially strapped yearbook was affected and publication stopped. Despite interest in restarting an annual soon after financial stability for the Greensboro schools was restored in 1936 (via a successful bond vote), Principal A.P. Routh insisted that the yearbook have full and strong financial stability before being resumed, hence it did not occur then. The effort was further delayed a few years later by the significant impact of World War II on school life.

After the war, interest in publishing a yearbook continued to grow. The financial situation was finally stabilized, and the first edition of the newly named Whirligig was published in 1950 (after almost occurring in 1949), ), the yearbook that is still issued each year at Grimsley today. During the 19 years of no annuals (1931-1949), photos of seniors were published on souvenir photo sheets or in the year’s final issue of the school newspaper, High Life.

Click through to view all of the Greensboro / Grimsley High School publications available on DigitalNC.