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 Kristen Merryman

The Commonwealth, a newspaper from Scotland Neck, now on DigitalNC

Over 2000 issues of The Commonwealth, a paper published in Scotland Neck, are now on DigitalNC.  The issues span 40 years, from 1882 to 1922, adding a lot of coverage in our newspaper collection from the coastal region of the state. The very first issue, published August 24, 1882, is included in this batch, stating it was an “uncompromising Democratic journal.” The paper had a definite editorial stance supporting the Democrats both statewide and nationally and attacking the Republican party, which was the party of Black and white in North Carolina, while the Democrats were against any efforts at integration.  This editorial stance continues into the 20th century, with an interesting gap in publication the week of the coup in Wilmington in 1898, but the following week had an editorial in support of the actions taken by the white supremists in the city.  By the 1920s, more of a focus on news and less of an editorial bent seems evident, with their tagline being “All the News in a Nutshell.” Front page of the Commonwealth newspaper

To view more newspapers on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Newspapers collection.  

Digitization of this newspaper is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Freedman High School yearbooks now on DigitalNC

Thanks to our new partner, the Freedman Cultural Center of Caldwell County, 13 yearbooks from Freedman High School are now online. The yearbooks cover 1951-1965.  Freedman High School was located in Lenoir, NC and was an important center of the community. Freedman was a community of African Americans that was started just north of Lenoir in the late 1860s or early 1870s.  The school was started in 1932 and was the first high school for Black children in Caldwell County.  

Picture collage in the shape of 57

Collage from the 1957 yearbook

To learn more about the Freedman Cultural Center of Catawba County, visit their partner page.  To view more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit the North Carolina Yearbooks page.  

1949 Farmville High School yearbook now online

Thanks to our partner East Carolina University, the 1949 Farmville High School yearbook, Archway, has joined volumes covering 1960-1971 on DigitalNC.  To view all the Farmville High School yearbooks, click here and visit North Carolina Yearbooks to view all the yearbooks on our site.

yearbook spread showing two large group portraits

Future Farmers of America and Future Homemakers of America chapters at Farmville High School, 1949

To view other materials from East Carolina University, visit their partner page.  

Glass plate negatives and more now online from Mitchell Community College

Group of students standing in a kitchen classroom space

A new batch of materials from our partner Mitchell Community College is now on DigitalNC.  The most exciting items in the batch were almost 20 glass plate negatives taken in February 1925, likely for that year’s yearbook.  There is no known copy of the yearbook still in existence from that year, so it’s a particularly exciting set.  The photographs feature fabulous 1920s styles on the students of Mitchell College, which was an all women’s school in the 1920s.  Group portraits, classroom photos, and staged production photographs are all included.  Black and white photograph of students outside a building

In addition to the negatives, scrapbooks from Mitchell Community College student government and the Statesville Junior Women’s Club are included, as are some issues of the student newspaper and alumni materials.

Group of students in dresses pointing at two students, one in a suit and one in a maid costume

To view more materials from Mitchell Community College, visit their partner page.  To see more materials from community colleges across North Carolina, visit our North Carolina Community College Collections page. 

Films from Forest History Society are now on DigitalNC

Fourteen films about various aspects of the forestry industry and forest conservation are now online from the Forest History Society.  The films date from the 1920s up to one about the Yellowstone National Park fires in 1988. Thanks to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


To view more materials from the Forest History Society, visit their partner page.  To learn more about our partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, read this post.  And to view and hear more audiovisual materials on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection.

87 films from Mars Hill University’s collection now on DigitalNC

87 films have been digitized out of Mars Hill University‘s Southern Appalachian Archives and are now widely accessible on DigitalNC.  The films primarily are of the Byard Ray Folk Festival and Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival, which is still held annually today in Mars Hill.  Thanks to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To view more materials from the Mars Hill University, visit their partner page.  To learn more about our partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, read this post.  And to view and hear more audiovisual materials on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection.

More architecture research materials from Edgecombe County now on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner Edgecombe County Memorial Library, another batch of architecture research materials for structures in the county are on DigitalNC.  This batch covers 58 buildings in Edgecombe County, including Norfleet Plantation, the supposed oldest house in Tarboro, and the African American Masonic Lodge in Tarboro.  Photographs, research notes, maps, and other materials are included for many of the buildings.  

Two color photographs of the same building, a white clapboard two story structure

Photographs of the African American Masonic Lodge in Tarboro

To view more architecture research from Edgecombe County, view previous posts here.  To view more architecture materials on DigitalNC, go here

Women in Leadership Panel discussion from Mitchell Community College now online

DigitalNC has a hit a new milestone – a virtual panel held during the COVID era is now part of the NCDHC collection, thanks to our partner Mitchell Community College.  

screenshot of a google form

From the Google form used to sign up to attend the virtual panel

Recorded using the software Blackboard Collaborate, the panel hosted by the community college library featured four Iredell County women Dr. Porter Brannon, Dr. Camille Reese, Sara Haire Tice, and Dorothy Woodard, who answered questions about what inspires them, how they overcame obstacles along their career paths, and more.  You can watch the panel yourself here

To view more materials from Mitchell Community College, view their partner page here.  To view more audiovisual materials on DigitalNC, visit our collection North Carolina Sights and Sounds

“Chinese Girl Wants Vote” film now on DigitalNC thanks to Levine Museum of the New South

Black and white photograph of a woman

Still from the film “Chinese Girl Wants Vote”

A film created as part of the exhibit “Counting UP: What’s on Your Ballot” at the Levine Museum of the New South to highlight the importance of voting is now on DigitalNC.  “Chinese Girl Wants Vote” was created by Jinna Kim to tell the story of suffragist Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and touches both on the themes of voter rights and immigrant rights in light of the political environment of 2020 and in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment.  

To view more materials from the Levine Museum of the New South, visit their partner page here and their website here.  To see more audio-visual content on DigitalNC, visit North Carolina Sights and Sounds.  

“Ode to the Infimary” a look at the 1941 Flu Epidemic in NC

A couple of weeks ago UNC’s university archivist tweeted about finding articles in the Daily Tar Heel about a flu epidemic on UNC’s campus in early 1941. Intrigued – and figuring it was in no way contained to UNC’s campus – we did some digging in other newspapers on our site to find other stories about the epidemic’s impact on other campuses in NC at the time. A topic that is feeling quite relevant now, we found mentions scattered throughout the papers in January and February 1941 (for context – what would have been a year that started with an epidemic for these students and ended with the country involved in a World War) about how students were reacting to this sudden uptick in the flu.

Several campuses seemed to have a newfound appreciation for the infirmary, with an “Ode the Infirmary” published in Mars Hill College’s student newspaper.

Text of a newspaper

From the Montreat College paper, a look “Through the Infirmary Door”Screenshot of a page of a newspaper with headline "Through the Infirmary Door"

The social lives of the Belles of Saint Mary’s were put on hold for the flu that struck campus in mid January.  Their society pages in their student newspaper detail such and the following flurry of activity as they were able to come out of quarantine.

At the high school level, reports of basketball games and academic competitions were cancelled or put on hold as school was cancelled for several days to prevent the spread of the flu virus.  Both the students at Greensboro High School and High Point School reported such.

Other social and academic events were also cancelled – all citing the epidemic as the cause.

Other college campuses did not seem to have large effects from the flu but did report on students who were travelling from other areas of the state who then had to quarantine upon arrival on campus.  For example, in an article in Montreat College’s student paper, they reported on students who had to quarantine upon arriving back to campus.

All in all, nothing quite as dramatic as what appears to have happened at UNC was going on at other North Carolina schools, perhaps another echo of what has happened in 2020.  A brief perusal of the community papers from the time show that the flu epidemic was something affecting the whole state for sure, with mentions of it in papers from as far east as Beaufort, NC and as far west as Franklin, NC in Macon County.  

clipping from newspaper

Clipping from The Beaufort News , January 16, 1941

Clipping from newspaper

Clipping from The Franklin press and the Highlands Maconian, January 23, 1941

Several articles note that this particular epidemic was moving from the western part of the state to the eastern part of the state, which was apparently unusual, and overall cases had been fairly mild (which likely explains in part why it rarely pops up as an event in history).  

January 22, 1941 issue of the State Port Pilot discussing the effects of the flu across the state.

To explore our over 1 million pages of digitized newspapers yourself, visit our North Carolina Newspapers page and read here about how colleges in NC responded to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic