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

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

Oral histories and other audio-visual materials now online from Methodist University

42 audio recordings, including 35 oral histories, and 1 silent video showing Methodist University (then College) in the late 1970s or early 1980s are now online.  Thanks to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

three adults sitting at a table

Video still from a silent video taken on Methodist University’s campus in the late 1970s or early 1980s

The oral histories including the batch are with various faculty and other staff who worked in the early days of Methodist University’s history.  There are also 9 other audio recordings that include building dedications as well as fun items such as promotions that ran on the radio for theater productions at the school and a feature called Methodist College Report.  

To learn more about our partner Methodist University, visit their site here.  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.

Oral histories from Mount Airy and Surry County now online

21 new oral histories detailing the lives of those who lived in Mount Airy and Surry County are now online thanks to our partners Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and Surry Community College.  The digitization of the oral histories from Mount Airy Museum was done by our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection and the work was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  

screenshot of a piece of yellow paper with the interview transcript

First page of the transcript from the Margaret Leonard, Evelyn Coalson, and Esther Dawson interview. The women are sisters and were interviewed in 1997.

The participants were primarily interviewed in the 1990s about their lives in the Mount Airy and Surry County region dating from around 1910 until 1970s.  The Spanish Flu pandemic, World War I, World War II, race relations, the Civil Rights movement, and the Great Depression are all topics covered in these oral histories, which feature men and women and Black and white people.  

While these oral histories were digitized last fall and winter, with the COVID-19 situation this spring, they provided a very useful option for enhancement while our staff worked from home.  We have been able to add transcripts for each of the oral histories that didn’t have them, as well as enhanced metadata, making them even more accessible than before for our users.

To learn more about our partners on this, visit their websites at Surry Community College and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.  To learn more about our partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, visit our post here.  And to view and listen to more oral histories on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Oral Histories exhibit.  

DigitalNC on the web: Black Wide-Awake

We love being sent or just stumbling upon, projects on the web that utilize materials digitized through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.  We thought since they have done such a great job highlighting us, it’d only be fair to turn around and highlight a few we’ve found recently.

Today’s featured website is “Black Wide-Awake” which highlights “documents of historical and genealogical interest to researchers of Wilson County, North Carolina’s African American past.”

The site, written by Lisa Henderson and with posts dating back to 2015, utilizes a wide variety of digitized historical resources to document everything from African-American schools in the Wilson area, wills, correspondence, and newspaper articles related to the enslaved people in Wilson County, to official records including marriage, birth, and death records from the black community.

Some of the DigitalNC resources that are featured on Black Wide-Awake include many of the photographs and other materials from the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum’s collection.

Shoe shine kit

Shoe shine kit from the Oliver Nestus Freeman collection, featured in this post on Black Wide Awake.

Wilson City Directories

black and white photograph of two adults picking cotton in a field

Photograph from the 1947-1948 Wilson City Directory, featured in this post on Black Wide Awake.

Yearbooks from Darden High School, made possible by our partner Wilson County Public Library

senior page from a yearbook

Senior page from the 1948 Charles H. Darden High School yearbook, the first yearbook from the school, featured in this post on the website.

Many newspaper article clippings from DigitalNC are also included.  A post discussing the white supremacist views held and pushed by editor of the Wilson Advance, Josephus Daniels, is a recent post that connects directly to the current commentary going on regarding Black Lives Matter and reassessing how we look at our history. 

blog text and newspaper clipping

Post on Black Wide Awake pointing out the racist statements the editor and publisher of the Wilson Advance, Josephus Daniels, made regularly in a call to take down any statue or other dedication marker to him in North Carolina.

The work done on this website is a fascinating look into how resources on DigitalNC can really help illuminate a North Carolina community’s past.  Thanks for using us Ms. Henderson!  We encourage anyone with an interest in genealogy and local history, particularly for the black community in North Carolina, to visit the site.  

If you have a particular project or know of one that has utilized materials from DigitalNC, we’d love to hear about it!  Contact us via email or in the comments below and we’ll check out.  To see past highlighted projects, visit past posts here

Over 200 films from Appalachian State University now on DigitalNC

Three adults playing instruments on a stage

Appalachian Mountain Girls and the Kruger Brothers at Mountain Music Jamboree

Thanks to our partner Appalachian State University and our friends at the Southern Folklife Collection, 243 films documenting music and religious traditions in the Appalachian mountains and surrounding region are now on DigitalNC.  The digitization of the materials for preservation and online access was funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The films come from two collections at Appalachian: William R. and John W. Turner Concert and Dance Videos and the C. Howard Dorgan Papers.  The Turner collection consists of films and audio recordings taken at bluegrass and old time music festivals, fish park gigs, and concerts in primarily the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia mountains.  The Dorgan collection contains films and audio taken at churches, mostly of Baptist affiliation, in Appalachia.  Sermons, singing, and revivals are all documented in the films.  

Thanks to the hard work of the staff of the Southern Folklife Collection these films are now much more accessible for both our partner’s use and a wider internet audience.  

To learn more about our partner Appalachian State University, visit their Special Collections’ page here

DigitalNC works from home: expanding photograph descriptions

As work from home continues for all of us at the Digital Heritage Center, we are getting the opportunity to dive into some long shelved cleanup projects from our migration into the TIND content management system.

One that we are excited to work through right now is creating better, individualized, description on sets of photographs that previously were only described in a single record.  In our previous content management system, ContentDM, there was a hierarchy built into the system that supported parent and child records that had different metadata.  So for example, a batch of photographs that one wanted to title at the parent level as “Wilson, NC Businesses” could also have individual child records that had titles such as “Food Lion, 1975.” 

screenshot of a content management system

 The object description (minimized here) is the child level record and applies only to the main image seen above, while the description is the parent level record and applied to every image on the right.


 View of a “compound object” photograph set in the new system – the separated out descriptions are mostly lost here.

When we moved into our new content management system, those individual titles were dropped down to a file description that did not go in the main record or was easy to view.  As a result, we made the decision to break up those batches of photographs so that each one shows up individually in a search with its own set of metadata.  That has required pulling down a spreadsheet of the parent level metadata and then converting it to apply individually to each photograph and re-uploading it into TIND.  This has also allowed us to add useful metadata such as geolocation coordinates to images of particular places which could be useful someday if we enable mapping technology in our content management system. While a bit tedious, we believe this is broadening access to some really great photographs from our partners and made them more accessible on our site. 

Search results

Search results view for a group of photos now individually listed – previously were all grouped under one vague title

Screenshot of a metadata record for a tobacco warehouse

This photograph now has more specific metadata describing it, including geo-coordinates, which makes it more useful to users.

Projects like this keep us busy working from home despite being a digitization shop – maintenance is always an important part of this work and this unexpected time away from our scanners is giving us the ability to focus on our existing materials a lot closer. 

Want to see all our image collections in DigitalNC?  Visit Images of North Carolina here.

Air-O-Mech issues now on DigitalNC

News header for the Air O Mech newspaper

The Air-O-Mech is a newspaper published at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (known at the time as Seymour Johnson Field) during World War II. It is now on DigitalNC thanks to our partner Wayne County Public Library. The paper’s first issue was published on January 8, 1943 and asked readers to submit a name for the paper and have a chance to win $5 if their name was selected. The initial paper also quotes Brigadier General Walter J. Reed’s support of the paper, with him stating “This field newspaper widens the scope of our news service. It will let you know about changes in Army regulations which concern you. It will describe the services available to you and your dependents through the Red Cross, the Army Emergency Relief and other agencies. It will tell you about your fellow soldiers, and pass on to you information on what is happening on the field.”

The headlines in the paper display both the humor of those stationed at Seymour Johnson as well as the seriousness of serving during the war, alternating between things such as “Hold Your Hats, Gang, All-Girl Revue is Here!” and “GI Wash Day Blues to End” (on a story about a new laundry facility opening) to “In our time of trial give us strength.” On the whole though, the paper definitely leans towards a light-hearted take on life on the base, and even includes in one issue a handy guide on how to get married in Wayne County where the base is located and the excitement over a new soda fountain being installed in the service cafeteria

The issues now on DigitalNC cover January 1943 to January 1944 and joins a number of other military newspapers on our site.

To learn more about our partner Wayne County Public Library, visit their partner page here and their website here.

12 Days of NCDHC: Day 9 – We’ll Host Items You Scan

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 9: We’ll Host Items You Scan

Many of our partners have done scanning on their own.  However, as we like to joke here at the NCDHC, the scanning is the easy part!  It is getting those materials online for the public to view that can be really complicated.  Hosting materials online is a key part of our expertise and we are happy to take any items you’ve scanned yourself and load them into DigitalNC for you.  We have helped partners who have just scanned a yearbook or two, as well as partners who have embarked on large scale community projects such as DigitalKM, or who have had to migrate their digital collection from their own system, as in the case of Harnett County Public Library

Screenshot of a scrapbook in a content management system

One of over 200 scrapbooks Transylvania County Library scanned themselves and sent to us to host on DigitalNC

If you are interested in sending us materials you’ve scanned yourself, we have some guidelines for how we’d like to receive it.  

  • All scanned images must have a minimum image quality of 300 dpi, and preferably come as TIFFs, although we will take JPEGs. There can’t be any watermarks on the images.
  • We’ll need at least minimal metadata with a title and unique filename for each item.  We will be happy to share a template for you to fill out to send along with the objects and can discuss any questions that arise with that template.  This page on metadata requirements is also a handy guide to check.

The scanned items and their corresponding metadata can be sent via FTP, a cloud based storage site such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or you can send us an external hard drive or thumb drive.  Once we receive the items, we add it to our normal queue and get them online.  

Check back on Thursday as we reveal Day 10 of the 12 Days of NCDHC!