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 Lulu Zilinskas


New Issues of The Chowan Herald Now Online

Just over 130 new issues of The Chowan Herald are online and ready to view. The issues span the early 1980s, from 1981 to mid-1983. These additions to our digital newspaper collection are made available thanks to our partners at Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library.

Serving Chowan County, North Carolina from the city of Edenton, The Chowan Herald focused on local news happenings along their side of the Abermarle Sound. Local politics frequently made front page news, especially during the local elections to county board offices.

At other times, The Chowan Herald focused on their community members, as evidenced by DeMint Frazier Walker’s obituary. A prominent community figure and principal of the eponymous high school for thirty one years, Walker’s accomplishments were detailed in the front page article located to the right.

To view all issues of The Chowan Herald, starting with our earliest issue from 1934, click here. To learn more about Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library, you can visit their homepage here.

 


A Visual Dive Into Yearbooks from the 1960s and 1970s

As we continue working from home at DigitalNC, we’re putting our efforts into areas different than our normal day-to-day. Sometimes, you find yourself sucked into things that would be glossed over if not for this change. I found myself absorbed in yearbooks, specifically from the 1960-70s.

While updating metadata on yearbooks, I began to visually notice differences by the decade. There was an obvious break in the standard presentation starting in the 60s. One of the big differences in the 1960s and 70s yearbooks was that they deviated from the conventional by utilizing monochromatic color and blank space to create areas of interest.

Other eras did not benefit from the same camera technology, but these 60s and 70s students utilized the fast-acting updates to great effect. Candid photographs became popular and were integrated into the aesthetics of yearbooks. Often, the layout created a mood through the arrangement of pictures, explaining the story visually.

 

Unlike their predecessors, 60s and 70s yearbooks used less text to review the academic year and instead opted for explanations via visual Rorschach tests. Attitudes of two-page spreads were up for interpretation from the pairing of photo and text.

But the biggest impression I was left with from looking at these yearbooks was how much creativity was squeezed into every page. Students obviously relished the chance to showcase their own versions of life on the many campuses of North Carolina.

As I keep scrolling through the yearbooks, I’m sure I’ll find more to enjoy. If you would like to start your own treasure hunt, you can click here for all 8,000 (and counting) yearbooks, or, if you enjoyed these decades and want more, click here to start with only the yearbooks from the 1960s and 1970s.


Eastern Carolina News New to DigitaNC

DigitalNC is happy to announce that we are now home to 51 late 19th century issues of Eastern Carolina News. We would like to thank our partners at Trenton Public Library for contributing this new title to our digital newspaper collection.

This weekly newspaper was based out of Trenton, N.C., located on the eastern side of the state in Jones County. The tagline was “A Paper for all Classes of People Who Want the Latest News”. Front pages contained articles on current local and nationwide news, including the news-about-town section “A Week in Trenton”.

Eastern Carolina News also had interest pieces. An example is “Two of the Queerest Craft Ever Constructed,” an article on the Argonaut submarine and, a “craft electricity has made possible,” the roller boat.

Also of note are the reserved spaces for messages from groups supporting the temperance movement, titled either “Temperance Corner” or “Temperance Topics”. Prohibition was ramping up for a nationwide debate in the late 19th century, eventually culminating in the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1918.

For a complete look at the new issues from Eastern Carolina News, you can browse all the front pages by clicking here. And for more information on Trenton Public Library, you can visit their home page here.


New Photos Added from Johnson C. Smith University

Five new large format photographs have been added to DigitalNC’s image collection thanks to our partners at Johnson C. Smith University. A historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University has been a fixture in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1867.

As these new photos are all from the early 1900s, you may notice an institution name change between the image titles. First established as Biddle Memorial Institute, Johnson C. Smith University was known as Biddle University between 1876 and 1923 before arriving at its current name.

Several of these images capture traditional university moments, such as graduation, class photos, and reunions.

Of note is a panoramic photo taken during a 1929 rivalry baseball game. This candid shot of the crowd avidly watching an Easter Monday match between Johnson C. Smith University and Livingstone College depicts just how well attended baseball games were at the time.

As would have been well known in the early 1900s, white baseball teams barred black players from joining their leagues, effectively segregating the sport. Black communities thus formed their own professional baseball leagues, culminating in a national organization known as the Negro National League, organized by Andrew (Rube) Foster in 1920. Baseball continued to be a popular and lucrative enterprise for the black community throughout the mid-1900s, splitting into western and eastern circuits. The last of the leagues folded in 1962. While Johnson C. Smith University no longer has a baseball team, spectators can still enjoy following the women’s softball team, the Golden Bulls.

To see the newest photos in their entirety, click here. To view all images from Johnson C. Smith University, click here. And to learn more about Johnson C. Smith University, you can visit their home page here.


Moving Forward With Equitable Metadata: Changing Exclusive Terminology

To continue the steps taken to promote equal representation throughout DigitalNC’s collections, as initially brought up in the recent blog post We Can Do Better: Making Our Metadata More Equitable, the NCDHC staff is becoming more committed to inclusivity through changing exclusive terminology. For this update, we’re specifically looking at the gendered and presumptive terms used in the title and description metadata categories of our visual collections. These changes, while perhaps small in effort, are a big step towards reimaging how we can be better stewards of history, especially to those individuals who are brought into our collections without an identity.

As alluded to, many of the images we digitize and upload to DigitalNC come with little to no background information. This means that we have to decide how to both title and describe the people or events depicted. Unfortunately, inherent bias always presents complications when it comes to description. Language holds enormous power and influences how we perceive an image, whether we realize it or not. While we have to use words to make images searchable, we, in doing so, use our own subjective viewpoint to give that image meaning.

For example, here is an image along with the accompanying title and description on DigitalNC:

Image of a screenshot of a tin type photo in paper a paper frame of an unidentified adult. The description included partially reads "Tin type portrait in paper frame of a man."

Old title and description of what is now “Unidentified Adult”.

As you may have noticed, the title and description state that this individual is a man. If you were writing this description, would you also assume that this person is a man?

Here is another image on DigitalNC:

If you were to add a description of the individuals in this photo to illustrate their age, how would you phrase it? Do you see four children or do you see three children and one adult? Does the title of the image influence your opinion?

Here’s one final image:

Screenshot of a black and white group portrait of a group of adults, mostly in military uniform. The old title that accompanies the image is "Group of Military and Civilian Men Posed with Woman on Steps" and the old description is "Black and white group portrait of a group of men, mostly in military uniform, one woman in front."

Old title and description of what is now “Group of Military Personnel and Civilians Posed on Steps”.

From the caption, it is assumed that the woman is not in military uniform and is separate from the group in some way. Would you agree with this assumption? Do you think she might have a role in this photograph that is misrepresented in this title or description?

As you can tell, describing an image that everyone would agree to is tricky when given little to no context.

On top of that, we also have to make sure that these words are purposeful; purposeful means that, in addition to thinking about how you would search our collections, we have to acknowledge how the individuals or events in an image want to represent themselves. We may never know how these unidentified people would describe themselves or what gender they identify with, but deciding to use inclusive terminology is the most respectful way of making sure we are not misinterpreting, and therefore misaligning, the people or events in our collections.

In an effort to diminish the subjective viewpoint, here are the new changes you will be seeing in the visual collections on DigitalNC:

  • If family relationships are given information about the individuals in the image, gendered terms are used.
  • When there is no information given about the individuals in the image, gender neutral terms are used.
  • We will strive not to make assumptions about the individuals in the photograph when there is no contextual verification.

For example, in this photo of the Westbrook Family, we are aware of the names and relationships of the family members, so we have the description arranged as:

Left to right: Geneva Elenor (Woodall) Westbrook (wife of Eldridge Troy Westbrook); Geneva Louise Westbrook (Cox) (daughter); Mary Elizabeth Westbrook (Flowers) (daughter); Annie Maude Westbrook (daughter); Ivan Earl Westbrook (son).

We can indicate the individuals as mother, daughter, and son because this information was given with the photo.

However, in this photo to the left, no identifying information was given with the photo, therefore the title and description remain gender neutral:

A color photograph of two adults standing side by side, holding beverages, in front of an indoor fireplace.

This photo also provokes the third point- assumptions without context. At first glance, an image like this could bring to mind a couple; that, because they are standing close together and could be presumed a man and woman, they are married. With no way to prove that beyond our own biases, we choose to only note what is actually occurring in this photo.

So, are we losing anything in this process? Hopefully not much, if anything. Images will still be searchable by major subjects- you can browse through all of them here. Plenty of images are also attributed to collections and exhibits, such as the Asheville YWCA Photograph Collection, to make research easier. And, of course, you can always use the advanced search to rifle through all our images.

Subjectivity can’t be ruled out completely and we will still be making choices that will affect the viewing of an image. This update is a work in progress and you will no doubt see some inconsistencies on DigitalNC, but we hope that this explanation gives some insight into our equitable metadata mission. And if you ever see a familiar face or have information on an image, don’t hesitate to comment (there’s a comment box at the bottom of every image on DigitalNC) or reach out!


2006 Issues of The Charlotte Post Online Now

The Charlotte Post masthead from the week of September 28-October 4, 2006.

The Charlotte Post, September 28, 2006.

A small but meaningful addition of 33 issues of The Charlotte Post have been added to DigitalNC’s online collection, further expanding the digital access of this contemporary (and ongoing) newspaper. All 33 issues are from 2006, ranging from March 16 to November 2. Thanks to our longstanding partners at Johnson C. Smith University for allowing us to share these images.

Article on how Livingstone College senior Goldie Phillips started a cooking business to raise money for graduate school. Photo of Phillips in a chef uniform is also in the article.

Goldie Phillips started her own company, Island Flavors, to raise money for graduate school, April 20, 2006.

Known as “The Voice of the Black Community,” The Charlotte Post not only delivers relevant national and global news, but focuses on black topics in and around the Charlotte, N.C. area. Creating space to vocalize achievements from the community, such as printing an entire supplement showcasing the black high school graduates of Mecklenburg County, as well as navigating issues normally left untold by U.S. news outlets, such as mental illness in the black community and the racial income gap, The Charlotte Post fills in an inequality information gap for all to benefit from.

The 2006 issues of The Charlotte Post sectioned off the newspaper by topic, including Religion, Sports, Arts and Entertainment, Business, Real Estate, and Classifieds. Covering a variety of subjects, The Charlotte Post maintained consistent features in each section, such as “Sounds,” by Winfred Cross. In Arts and Entertainment, Cross reviewed new music releases, like India.Arie’s Testimony, Vol. 1.

For a look at all of the issues DigitalNC has online from The Charlotte Post, click here. To view all materials from Johnson C. Smith University, click here, and to visit their website, click here.

A section of front page articles, including a photo of Stan Law, community vice president at Dowd and Stratford-Richardson YMCAs.

Front page articles, April 20, 2006.


Congressman Tim Valentine Scrapbooks Online Now

Photo of Tim Valentine standing in the middle young farmers in Capitol Hill.

Tim Valentine (third from right) and young farmers, February 9, 1984 to April 6, 1984.

DigitalNC is happy to announce the addition of nine scrapbooks about U.S. Congressman Itimous “Tim” Thaddeus Valentine to our online scrapbook collection. These items were made available to digitize by our partners at Nash Community College and we are grateful to them for their contribution.

Tim Valentine represented the 2nd district of North Carolina, an east central district that formerly included Durham and Raleigh, in the U.S. Senate from 1983-1994. These scrupulously maintained scrapbooks span the first two years of his position, beginning from January 8, 1983 until September 20, 1984. His congressional appointment was marked by a highly publicized electoral race with civil rights activist and attorney Henry McKinley “Mickey” Michaux. Michaux would have become North Carolina’s first black congressman of the twentieth century if Valentine hadn’t narrowly defeated him in a contested runoff, causing much of Valentine’s freshman year to be devoted toward gaining ground with black voters.

Labeled a Democratic conservative during the 80’s, Valentine’s voting favored moderation, as when voting against the nuclear freeze (which he later supported) but voting for a $5 billion jobs package. Most of the images in these nine scrapbooks are newspaper clippings relating to Valentine, his political rivals, or his politics. These scrapbooks also feature ephemera, such as a certificate awarded to Valentine to highlight his support of Adult Continuing Education Week and a holiday card from President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan.

A note to readers: these scrapbooks contain many clippings stacked on top of another- therefore if it looks like there are duplicates of pages, there are! The duplicated pages should have the covered clippings exposed (you may notice a bone folder in some of the images) for full ability to read the contents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a look at all the scrapbooks mentioned, click here. To view all material from Nash Community College, click here. To get more information on Nash Community College, please visit their homepage here.


More Northampton County Newspapers Now Online

Masthead for The Northampton County Times-News.

The Northampton County Times-News, November 17, 1966.

DigitalNC is happy to announce that additional newspapers from Northampton County, N.C. are ready to view online. With the contributions from our partners, Northampton County Museum, we were able to fill gaps and add a new title, The Northampton County Times-News, to our online collection. Specific additions include:

Photo of a powder puff football player in uniform.

Powder puff quarterback, Shamra Daniels, October 14, 1965.

While we shed light onto the The Patron and Gleaner and Roanoke-Chowan Times in a recent blog post, we have yet to expand on one of the succeeding titles, The Northampton County Times-News. 

In circulation from 1960 to 1974, The Northampton County Times-News published from Rich Square and Jackson every Thursday, but served all towns in Northampton County. Highlighting both local and global news, this title served its various communities with periodicals such as the Farm Review & Forecast and consistently updated (not to mention wittily titled) want ads. Football reigned in this area as a popular sport for all ages and genders to participate in and, as such, was frequently reported on.

For a full view of all Northampton County titles mentioned, click here. To view more of The Northampton County Times-News, click here. And if you would like information on the Northampton County Museum, you can visit their homepage here.

Photo of Punt, Pass, Kick (a children's football competition) winners and their trophies.

Punt, Pass, Kick Winners, October 7, 1965.


The Zebulon Record, Now On DigitalNC

Masthead for The Zebulon Record.

The Zebulon Record, June 20, 1941.

DigitalNC is proud to now host The Zebulon Record, the first contribution by our partners at Little River Historical Society. Just over 1,400 issues from this Wake County, N.C. publication are ready to view online, adding to our newspaper coverage of the greater Raleigh area.

Covering the years 1925-1956, The Zebulon Record focused on local agriculture, a main segment of Zebulon’s economy since its foundation in the early 1900’s. Tobacco, the largest local crop, is widely covered. Notices to farmers of agricultural events, such as a Boll Weevil Plague in 1941, were frequently reported. In 1932, Zebulon even held a national campaign known as the Yard and Garden Contest in an attempt to beautify the area as well as garner tourist attraction through the community’s “civic spirit and love of beauty”.

Article in The Zebulon Record titled "Eastern Belt Opens With Much Tobacco In Fields" accompanied by a photo of farmers gathering around tobacco leaves.

Eastern Belt Opens With Much Tobacco In Fields, August 24, 1951.

As cars became the norm around Zebulon in the 1950s, many cartoons promoting driving etiquette graced the cover of The Zebulon Record due to Zebulon’s reputation as a “speeder’s haven”. As a challenge by President Eisenhower to reduce automobile accidents, S-D Day, or Safe Driving Day, was officially observed on December 1st in Zebulon. The winning driver of the day would be awarded an “expert driving” certificate as well as 10 gallons of gas. Perhaps due to unfortunate reasons, the issue following December 1st never announced the S-D Day winner.

Comic on a then made-up telephone advancement that would enable each participant to see each other's faces while talking over the phone.

Face-to-face telephone comic, January 15, 1932.

For a closer look at all The Zebulon Record articles mentioned as well as unmentioned, click here. For more information on the Little River Historical Society, please visit their home page here.


Quarantine Club: A Retrospective of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Through North Carolina Students

A section of Annie Gordon Floyd's scrapbook. She was a student at Elon College during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and created a page in her scrapbook using a clipping from a newspaper describing influenza related deaths of classmates.

Page 31 of Annie Gordon Floyd’s scrapbook, a student at Elon College during the influenza pandemic of 1918. The newspaper clipping is Annie’s obitual; she died of influenza.

Here at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as well as across the globe, graduating students are leaving their school years behind without the normal pomp and circumstance. After years of late-night study sessions and racing to beat the assignment submission clock on Sakai, who would have thought that a pandemic would get between them and their walk across the commencement stage? While achieving a degree is a reason to celebrate regardless of location, perhaps 2020 graduates and all self-isolating students can relate to the experiences of an older group of students- those affected by the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Cutting through the spring of 1918 to 1919, the influenza pandemic was a worldwide health issue not unlike today. In North Carolina, industries were halted and quarantine was enacted (and extended). Universities, too, established their own versions of quarantine. Thanks to the institutions we work with here at DigitalNC, we have digitized yearbooks, scrapbooks, and college publications that offer a glimpse into the thoughts of students during this equally tumultuous time in history.

A page from the 1918 Queens College yearbook showcasing a photo and member list of the "Quarantine Club"

Quarantine Club, The Edelweiss, 1918.

Quarantine was enacted in fits and spurts on campuses across North Carolina between 1918 and 1920. As is evident by yearbook social calendars, measures varied across universities. One campus quarantined through most of November 1918 while others were still starting up quarantine periods in February and March 1920.

Campus clubs have a dedicated slice of yearbook real estate during this time and the influenza directly impacted their activities. As the pandemic coincided with the last days of World War I, Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) were a part of many universities. The S.A.T.C. at Meredith College recounts their quarantine movements that saved faculty and students from “nervous prostration”. UNC’s S.A.T.C. found the flu less inspiring. Other students responded by creating clubs. At Queens College, Quarantine Club, seen left, first began in 1918 with the aim “to extend the quarantine”. Later, in 1920, the club edited their name to simply “Flu” Club, as seen below.

A poem by Bonita Wolff titled, "Quarantined".

“Quarantined” by Bonita Wolff, The Radiant, 1918.

Photo of the "Flu" Club members as well as their names in the 1920 Queens University of Charlotte yearbook "Wise and Otherwise".

“Flu” Club, Wise and Otherwise, 1920.

Portion of the "Meredith News and Distributor" in the Meredith College 1919 Oak Leaves yearbook. The section is titled "flu" and lists influenza related jokes.

“Flu” section of the Meredith News and Distributor by French Haynes, Oak Leaves, 1919.

Students also utilized their yearbooks to creatively vent frustrations. In 1918, Atlantic Christian College students were under quarantine from February 6th to the 27th. Student Bonita Wolff penned several poems for The Radiant, including “Quarantined”, shown above. Another funny quarantine themed poem can be found in the advertisement section of the 1920 edition of St. Mary’s Muse.

Meredith College graduate French Haynes embedded influenza jokes throughout the satirical Meredith News and Distributor, shown to the right. And in 1920, Elizabeth Gaskins spotted a deficiency in her local health care system, due in part to the influenza, and argued for the creation of a local hospital in the Greenville High School yearbook The Tau.

If anything, these yearbooks serve as a reminder that this moment is not permanent. Comparing pandemics may be apples to oranges, especially when one student called quarantine “an awful bore” in a college that was only under quarantine for a month at a time, but Mary Reed Buchanan, member of the 1919 graduating class of the women’s college Peace Institute, offers some perspective in the senior class history:

With the warm spring came the renewal of all our former pleasures. There were parties galore, and girls, will you ever forget those State College receptions? And do you remember those exciting basketball games and the serenades afterwards? The feeling of being well again and out of quarantine brightened every heart and lightened every burden.

Even though we may not be attending basketball games anytime soon, we can look to those who have gone through a pandemic before and know that life, including student life, continues on. And for those who are graduating, Mary Reed Buchanan, noted suffragette, has final words:

Clipping of the 1919 The Lotus yearbook's "Senior Class History" describing the joys of returning to life after quarantine during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

Senior Class History, The Lotus, 1919.

For a look at all of DigitalNCs college and high school yearbooks, click here. Or, to view all memorabilia including scrapbooks, click here.