Viewing entries by Nick Graham

North Carolina HBCU History Available on DigitalNC

Students at Shaw University, 1911.

Students at Shaw University, 1911.

With the recent addition of student yearbooks from Livingstone College, DigitalNC now hosts historic materials from ten different Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina. These materials document more than a century of African American higher education in North Carolina. From our earliest projects in 2010 to the present, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center has worked closely with libraries and archives at historically Black colleges around the state, and we continue to add materials from these collections on a regular basis. Follow the links below to browse yearbooks, newspapers, photos, scrapbooks, and more materials by school.

Bennett College (Greensboro)

Elizabeth City State University

Fayetteville State University

Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte)

Livingstone College (Salisbury)

North Carolina A&T (Greensboro)

North Carolina Central University (Durham)

Saint Augustine’s University (Raleigh)

Shaw University (Raleigh)

Winston-Salem State University

Sophomore class officers at North Carolina Central University, 1963.

Sophomore class officers at North Carolina Central University, 1963.

More Chapel Hill High School Yearbooks Now Available on DigitalNC

Cheerleaders from Chapel Hill High School, 1925.

Cheerleaders from Chapel Hill High School, 1925.

Thanks to recent work by our neighbors at the Chapel Hill Historical Society, we are pleased to announce that an additional eleven early yearbooks from Chapel Hill High School have been digitized and are now available on DigitalNC.

The earliest added was from 1925, labeled “Volume I,” most likely the earliest high school yearbook available for Chapel Hill. It contains a lengthy history of the school. The new additions also include a few volumes from the early 1960s, showing a much different school, recently integrated and on the verge of moving to a larger, modern building away from Franklin Street. There are now 37 issues of “Hillife,” spanning the years 1925-1965, available in the North Carolina High School Yearbooks collection on DigitalNC.

Chapel Hill High School, 1963.

Chapel Hill High School, 1963.


Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Yearbooks Now Available On DigitalNC

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 3.30.58 PMWe’re pleased to welcome a new partner with the addition of 14 student yearbooks from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The school began in 1959 as the Asheville-Buncombe Industrial Education Center. The earliest yearbook we have online is form 1963. The school provided professional education for students in the area. The early yearbooks show students working in classrooms devoted to a variety of jobs, including machine repair, industrial chemistry, automotive maintenance, nursing, welding, and woodworking.

After joining the statewide community college system in 1963, the school changed its name to Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The yearbooks are from the college history collection in the Holly Library at A-B Tech.

From the 1968 edition of The Mountain Tech, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

From the 1968 edition of The Mountain Tech, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Looking for Discrimination in old North Carolina Classified Ads

After reading a recent Washington Post story about the discovery (in digitized newspapers!) of old classified ads with “No Irish Need Apply” statements, and seeing a tweet of a “No Scandinavians Need Apply” ad, I wondered about similar discriminatory statements in old North Carolina newspapers on DigitalNC.

Not surprisingly in a state with such a large population of migrants from Ireland and Scotland, the only mention of “No Irish Need Apply” was either in comic stories reprinted from other papers or news of discrimination in other cities.

It’s difficult to do a keyword search like this without a specific phrase to search for. I tried searching for the phrase “need apply” and got plenty of hits, but nearly all of these were for ads specifying experience or qualities they were looking for in the applicants: “None but experienced men need apply.”

I had a much easier time finding discrimination in ads that said who was eligible to apply. Most ads stated the gender of the applicant they were looking for:

The Pilot (Southern Pines, N.C.), October 27, 1944.

The Pilot (Southern Pines, N.C.), October 27, 1944.

Hickory Democrat, January 13, 1916.

Hickory Democrat, January 16, 1913.

Even more common were ads that specified the race and gender of the applicant. These ads span several decades, demonstrating that in North Carolina there was a clear racial divide in employment throughout much of the twentieth century.

Waynesville Mountaineer, June 4, 1946.

Waynesville Mountaineer, June 4, 1946.

The Enterprise (Williamston, N.C.), October 28, 1904.

The Enterprise (Williamston, N.C.), October 28, 1904.

The News Journal (Raeford, N.C.), April 7, 1955.

The News Journal (Raeford, N.C.), April 7, 1955.

The Duplin Times (Warsaw, N.C.), October 31, 1947.

The Duplin Times (Warsaw, N.C.), October 31, 1947.

The Danbury Reporter, January 28, 1925.

The Danbury Reporter, January 28, 1925.


Dog Days of Summer: DigitalNC Edition

After seeing excellent “Dog Days of Summer” blog posts from our friends at NC State and Duke, we couldn’t resist following up with a few of our favorites from the many dog photos on DigitalNC.

No North Carolina-related dog feature would be complete without a Plott Hound. This photo from the Haywood County Public Library shows not just any Plott Hound, but the original: “Dan” was the first Plott Hound to be registered after the United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1946.


The prize for cutest dog photo on DigitalNC has to go to this one, puppies in a basket, from the William Hoke Sumner collection at UNC-Charlotte.


This young man with a pack of Basset Hounds is heading to a dog show in Pinehurst in 1935. Photo from the Tufts Archives.


No hunting party would be complete without a dog. This photo, from the Davie County Public Library, shows a group at the Coollemee Plantation.


As this 1951 photo from the Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount attests, there is no better reading companion than a dog.



And no dog loved books more than Jim the Library Dog, a fixture on the front seat of the Rockingham County Bookmobile as it traveled around the county in the 1930s. Photo from the Rockingham County Public Library. You can see Jim in action in the silent film showing the bookmobile that we recently shared online.



But our favorites have to be the dogs we spot occasionally in old yearbooks. Apparently UNC-Chapel Hill was a hotbed of canine education in 1977. We found two dogs in the Yackety Yack from that year. The photo at top is identified as Sarah Abercrombie, a senior from Dixmont, Maine, while the bottom photo shows Poco Medford, a graduate student from Carrboro. We trust that both Sarah and Poco put their education to good use and went on to long and distinguished careers.



Planning a Digital Project that Works (Hint: Digitization is the Easy Part)

At the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center we work on digital projects with cultural heritage institutions around the state. We’ve been at it since 2010 and have completed projects with more than 180 different institutions. In most cases, we provide digital library services, but we also serve in an advisory role, sharing our thoughts and experiences with libraries and museums who are interested in developing their own digital projects. In these conversations, a lot of common themes emerge. There are plenty of guides online talking about best practices for digital projects, and we often refer our colleagues to these, but I thought it would be helpful to share a few essential steps in planning a digital project that I hope will help libraries avoid some of the pitfalls that can lead to incomplete or unsustainable projects.

1. Don’t Worry About Equipment or Specifications (Yet). We see this happen over and over again: a library wants to get started on a digital project and all of the questions we get are related to digitization: What scanner should we buy? What DPI should we scan at? These are important questions that need to be answered, but not at first. There’s no point talking about how materials will be digitized until you know what you’re going to do with the digital files.

2. Before You Do Anything, Figure Out How You’re Going to Get Your Content Online. If digitization is the easy part, this is the hard part. This is what prevents many libraries with limited resources from successfully completing digital projects on their own. Unless you’re scanning materials only for patrons to use in the building, you’re going to need to figure out how to share the digital images and metadata online. This requires access to a content management system (like CONTENTdm or Islandora), a catalog that enables the addition of images or other digitized content (like SirsiDynix Portfolio),  a partnership with non-profit hosting service (like the Internet Archive), or a willingness to share library materials on commercial sites (like Facebook or Flickr). Until you know how you’re going to do this, there’s no point in talking about scanning.

3. Before You Do Anything Else, Figure Out How You’re Going to Keep Your Content Online. You put a lot of work into finishing a digital project and getting everything successfully shared online. Naturally, you’re going to want to make sure that it stays online. It is important for librarians — and especially library administrators — to understand that digital projects require a regular ongoing commitment of resources and staff time. Like purchasing a house or a car, the biggest investment might come at the beginning, but there are going to be maintenance costs over time. This is why grant funding cannot be the only answer for funding digital projects. Grants will provide resources for a year or two, but your library has to be willing to assume ongoing costs for keeping the digital project updated and accessible.

4. If You Don’t Have Dedicated IT Support, Use Somebody Else’s. Small libraries and museums are often in a tough position with IT support. Either they have limited support or they have to rely on support from a larger agency (like county government) with many competing demands. Hosting your own digital project is going to require significant IT support. How much? It depends on how large and how complex your project is going to be, but as a rule of thumb I’d say that if you don’t have at least two full-time IT staff members who have experience with digital library projects and who have the time available to support your project, then you’ll need to look outside your institution for help.

5. There’s Nothing Wrong With Letting Somebody Else Host Your Collection. Without substantial IT support, digital projects used to be out of reach for smaller institutions. Not anymore! Many vendors now offer digital collection hosting services: OCLC hosts CONTENTdm collections for many libraries, Lyrasis hosts Islandora collections and facilitates projects with the Internet Archive, and there are a variety of companies that offer Omeka hosting. This is a great option for smaller institutions, enabling them to get a digital project online quickly without having to invest in servers or staff time. Of course, you’ll have to pay for these services, and they get more expensive the more content you post online, but it’s still likely to be much cheaper than trying to do everything yourself. Keep in mind that this is not just a problem that small libraries are grappling with. With the increasing availability of cloud-based servers, lots of companies are deciding to outsource hosting. Even Netflix does it.

6. Get Help. There’s a lot of help out there: use it. In North Carolina, we have a statewide digital library program and lots of outstanding digital library programs at universities and state agencies. There’s no reason for a smaller institution to go it alone. Established programs can provide lots of guidance and advice, and they may also be able to help with digitization, hosting, and funding.

7. Be Wary of Vendors Who Make it Sound Easy (Especially if They Haven’t Worked With Libraries Before). This is important to understand: digital library projects are complicated, but to somebody who hasn’t worked on one before, they can look pretty easy from the outside. “All you want to do is put some scans online?” says a local vendor eager to get your business. “No problem. We can do it way cheaper than that big company you got a quote from.” This almost never ends well. Vendors who haven’t worked with libraries rarely understand our concerns about metadata, the need to effectively search digitized content, and preservation. If it sounds too good (and too cheap) to be true, it usually is.

8. Metadata is More than Keywords. Although many digital collections include fantastic images, people will still find these by typing words into a search box. Good metadata will make it easier for patrons to discover, understand, and use the materials you put online. For some collections (like a box of unidentified photos), metadata can be a lot of work. For others (like a collection of postcards), it can be pretty straightforward. Before you start scanning anything, make sure you have a plan (and staff available) for describing the materials you’re planning to put online.

9. Plan to Share. Once you get your collection online, don’t keep it to yourself. More people will find and use your materials if you share your metadata. The Digital Public Library of America harvests and hosts metadata from libraries around the country (including North Carolina) and presents it in a simple, easy-to-use interface. This doesn’t replace your digital collection — links from the DPLA will lead users back to your website. Many libraries share digital collections information in their local catalogs, or with national resources like WorldCat. Figuring out how you’ll share your metadata beyond what you present online on your site should be a part of your planning process.

Now, once all those questions are answered and you have an achievable and sustainable plan in place (and know how you’re going to pay for it), it’s time to get down to the details and finally answer those questions about equipment and scanning. Good luck!




Livingstone College Yearbooks Now Available Online

Livingstone College yearbook, 1974

We are pleased to announce that student yearbooks from Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., are now available on DigitalNC.

There are 46 volumes online, ranging in date from 1928 to 2014. The yearbooks document the students and faculty at Livingstone, including the Hood Theological Seminary. The original volumes are held in Archives & Special Collections at the Livingstone College Carnegie Library.

Rockingham County Bookmobile Film Now Available Online


We are very excited to share a new addition to the DigitalNC collections: video! Over the winter we began work on a new effort to digitize a selection of audiovisual materials from around the state. We gathered a wide variety of films, videotapes, and audio cassettes from some of our partner libraries and worked with a vendor to have everything digitized. The results are starting to come in, and they’re a lot of fun.

In honor of National Library Week, and in special recognition of National Bookmobile Day, we are sharing our first film: a terrific recording of the Rockingham County bookmobile visiting a local school in 1939. The film enables us to take a glimpse into the past as we watch a pretty fancy looking bookmobile pull up to the school, some earnest and well-dressed librarians getting ready for the kids, and then we can see the excitement of the children as they browse and pick out books from the mobile shelves. And of course, there’s Jim the library dog, who liked to ride on the front seat and was a fixture at every bookmobile visit.

The film is from the Rockingham County Public Library, which has also contributed a great selection of photographs of the bookmobile in action. Digitization was made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation through the Digital Public Library of America. Look for more moving images and audio recordings coming to DigitalNC very soon.

Digital Charlotte Event March 30 Celebrates Local Digital Libraries



If you’re in the Charlotte area and interested in local history and digital libraries, please mark March 30 on your calendars: we will be holding an event to celebrate and explore digital library efforts in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Here are the details:

Event: Digital Charlotte: Celebrating and Exploring Local Digital Library Projects
Date: March 30, 2015
Time: Talk at 6:30, followed by a reception
Location: UNC Charlotte Center City Campus, 320 E. 9th St.
Parking information:
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Questions?: Write or call 919-962-4836

“Digital Charlotte” will feature a talk by Julie Davis, Project Director, Digital Loray, and Public Historian in Residence at the Loray Mill, who will speak about the role of public history in the redevelopment of the Loray Mill in Gastonia. The talk will be followed by a reception during which guests can see demonstrations of digital projects from local libraries including UNC-Charlotte, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Johnson C. Smith University, and Davidson College. This will be a terrific opportunity for local genealogists and history buffs to learn more about the rapidly-growing number of online resources devoted to local history. We are also encouraging Charlotte-area librarians, archivists, and students to attend and participate.

This event is being held as part of our work on a recent grant from the Digital Public Library of America. The grant funding has enabled us to expand our services for libraries, archives, and museums around the state. The DPLA is the primary sponsor of the Digital Charlotte event. Additional support is being provided by the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.

Please contact us if you have any questions. We hope to see many of you in Charlotte!

Looking Back at in 2014

Title page from the 1956 Buccaneer, from East Carolina College, the most popular item on in 2014.

Title page from the 1956 Buccaneer, from East Carolina College, the most popular item on in 2014.

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center had a great year in 2014. We continued to work with partners around the state on digitization projects and added a wide variety of material to, making it easier than ever for users to discover and access rare and unique materials from communities all over North Carolina.

As we look back on our work over the past year, I wanted to share some of what we’ve learned by looking at our website usage statistics. Like many libraries, the Digital Heritage Center uses Google Analytics to capture information about what’s being used on our website, who’s using it, and how they got there. While there are still lots of questions remaining about usage of DigitalNC, these stats do give us a lot of valuable information.

In 2014, more than 250,000 users visited, resulting in more than 1.8 million pageviews. While people visited our website from computers located all over the world, the greatest number by far came from North Carolina. That’s what we expected and hoped to see. More than 200,000 sessions originated in North Carolina, with the users coming from 388 different locations, ranging from over 18,000 sessions in Raleigh and Charlotte to a single visit from the town of Bolivia in Brunswick County (user location is determined by the location of their internet service provider, so this may not tell us exactly where our users are located, but it’s going to be close in most cases).

What did people use on DigitalNC? We were not surprised to find that the most popular collection remains our still-growing library of yearbooks. The North Carolina Yearbooks collection received more than 125,000 pageviews alone, followed by newspapers (44,000) and city directories (11,000). And we were pleased to learn that at least somebody is reading this blog, which received nearly 2,500 pageviews last year. The most popular blog post was our announcement about the digitization of a large collection of Wake County high school yearbooks.

We were also curious to see what single items were the most popular over the past year. The winner, with 438 pageviews, was the 1956 yearbook from East Carolina University. The second most popular was also from East Carolina, the 1930 Tecoan, followed by the 1961 yearbook from the Palmer Memorial Institute and the 1922 yearbook from Appalachian State University.

Lake Hideaway, ca. 1950s, the most popular photo on in 2014.

Lake Hideaway, ca. 1950s, the most popular photo on in 2014.

The most popular image on our site was from the Davie County Public Library:  a black-and-white photo from the 1950s showing swimmers at Lake Hideaway in Mocksville. Other popular photos included a postcard showing the American Tobacco Company plant in Reidsville, N.C., a group of Stanly County students from 1912, and a portrait of Charles McCartney, the infamous “Goat Man” from the 1950s.

The variety of subjects, locations, and time periods in these photos is representative of the wide-ranging content available in North Carolina’s cultural heritage institutions and on We are honored and excited to have a role in making this content accessible to everyone and look forward to sharing even more of North Carolina’s history and culture online in 2015.

DigitalNC Blog Header Image


This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features the latest news and highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from organizations across North Carolina.

Social Media Policy

Search the Blog



Email subscribers can choose to receive a daily, weekly, or monthly email digest of news and features from the blog.

Newsletter Frequency
RSS Feed