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 Sarah Bost


Photographs from Historic Boone now available on DigitalNC

Boone, 1903-1904

Boone, 1903-1904

Watauga County Centennial: Daniel Boone

Watauga County Centennial: Daniel Boone

Photographs collected by Historic Boone and housed at Watauga County Public Library are now available online through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.  Historic Boone, formed in 1994, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of materials related to the history of Boone, North Carolina.  The photographs depict life in and around Boone from the 1880s through the 1990s.

The collection covers a wide variety of subjects.  In addition to portraits of long-time residents, there are aerial and landscape photographs of the town. Group portraits of students and civic groups are plentiful as are photos of historic buildings, some of which are no longer standing.  Streetscapes are also well represented while a number of photographs document the 1949 Watauga County Centennial Celebration. Anyone with an interest in the history of Boone or Watauga County should find this collection helpful.

More information about Historic Boone is available here.

Grandfather Mountain Operation

Grandfather Mountain Operation


North Carolina Newspapers Report on the Start of World War I

Notice of Archduke's Assassination from Alamance

The Alamance Gleaner’s News Snapshots of the Week for July 9, 1914 included details of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife.

The notice of the Archduke's assassination published by The Enterprise, The Hickory Democrat, and The Roanoke Beacon.

The notice of the Archduke’s assassination published by The Enterprise, The Hickory Democrat, and The Roanoke Beacon.

One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1914, the Archduke of Austria and his wife were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the nationalist group Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia). Many historians cite this incident as one of the first of several events which led to World War I. In commemoration of the war’s centennial, the staff at the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center will post occasional blog entries which examine the way in which the conflict was covered by newspapers across the state. Blog posts will focus in particular on how the war affected communities in North Carolina. Of the newspapers made available online by Digital NC, ten were in print during the war, each published once per week:

July 2 notice of the Archduke's assassination from The Courier.

July 2 notice of the Archduke’s assassination from The Courier (Asheboro).

The Archduke’s assassination received mention in several of these papers.  The Enterprise, The Hickory Democrat, and The Roanoke Beacon all printed the same column, shown above.  Since the assassination occurred on a Sunday, the news had time to cross the ocean and reach editors before the weekly editions were published on Thursday and Friday.  However, The Alamance Gleaner did not alert their readers to the event until the following week when it was included in the syndicated News Snapshots of the week (see top of post).

Throughout July, tensions in Europe continued to escalate.  By the end of the month, Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia and in early August, Germany declared war on Russia, France, and Belgium.  This led to Britain’s August 4 declaration of war against Germany.

Headline from the July 31 edition of The Carolina Home and Farm and the Eastern Reflector

Headline from the July 31 edition of The Carolina Home and Farm and the Eastern Reflector.

With the beginning of open hostilities, the conflict began to receive more attention in North Carolina newspapers.  In the edition of July 30, The Alamance Gleaner ran a short column headlined “The War Dogs Aloose in Europe,” asserting, “It is now imminent that all Europe will be involved in a bloody conflict.”  On the same day, The Mebane Leader published a column originally printed in The Charlotte Observer in which Serbia is compared to a copperhead snake.  The average American may have been unaware of Europe’s rising tensions only a month ago.  By the first week of August 1914, the tensions had boiled over into full-blown war, making the situation newsworthy to the citizens of North Carolina.


Lawndale Historical Society Materials Now Online

Hoover RailDigitalNC is pleased to announce that materials belonging to the Lawndale Historical Society are now available online.  Included is the complete run of Hot Off the Hoover Rail and a publication titled Sketches of Piedmont High School.

Hot Off the Hoover Rail was a monthly news bulletin published by Cleveland Mill and Power Company “for our boys in the service” during World War II.  Each issue included a “salute of the month,” a letter from a mother and father of the month, church news, columns called “Old Maids Row” and “Lawndale Party Line,” letters from soldiers and a list of soldiers who had been promoted or were home on furlough.  This publication gives much information about individual citizens of Lawndale and the goings-on at the time.

Piedmont High School

Sketches of Piedmont High School describes the origin, development, and progress of Piedmont High School in Lawndale in a series of articles written by former students and friends of the school.


Western Democrat, Charlotte Newspaper, Now Available on DigitalNC

From the Western Democrat, 1854.

From the Western Democrat, 1854.

The Western Democrat, a Charlotte newspaper, is now online with issues dating from 1853 through 1868.  A weekly paper, it is interesting in that it does not contain much local news or even information which would be recognized as news by modern readers.  The front page includes such stories as “A Clever Anecdote–The Emperor and His Daughter” which is indeed a story as well as reprints from other newspapers.  Generally four pages in length, the last two contain the most local content which is in the form of advertisements.  Ads for “negroes wanted,” “negroes to hire,” and “negroes for sale” are common, such as in the the December 6, 1859 issue. Also frequent are advertisements offering rewards for runaway slaves.  On the same page of the March 31, 1854 issue, a $50 reward is offered for the apprehension of a 26-year-old man while a separate ad offers the same amount for the apprehension of a thief who stole fifteen turkeys.

With the start of the Civil War in 1861, the newspaper shifts focus and prints stories almost exclusively related to the war effort.  Lists of North Carolina killed and wounded are included as are descriptions of battles, discussions of the state’s defenses, and reprints of speeches and general orders.

Though lacking in local content, the Western Democrat provides insight into the important news during the 1850s and 1860s and gives the perspective of a Southern town on the Civil War.


Firestone News Digitized and Online

Firestone News Firestone News, a company newspaper produced by Firestone Textiles, formerly a division of Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, has been digitized and is now available on DigitalNC.

The publication, which runs from 1952 through 1971 and was bimonthly and later monthly, is specifically for the Gastonia plant. While stories about the company are included, the majority of the content is related to events and employees in Gastonia. Each issues contains a “News in Brief” section divided by plant departments such as carding, spooling, and winding, which reports news on members of those departments. Typical announcements include births, deaths, illnesses, vacations, sons home on military leave, and visiting guests.

The paper also reports on company sports leagues, including bowling, baseball, and the fishing club. In later issues, service anniversaries were published, along with photos of those employees with twenty-five years or more at the plant.

The Firestone News should be of particular interest to genealogists researching former employees of the plant as well as those who would like to know more about the culture of a North Carolina textile mill in the second half of the twentieth century.

The Firestone News has been published online in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina Collection and UNC’s Digital Innovation Lab.


Clinton W. Toms Scrapbook Now Available Online

Durham County Scrapbook - Clinton Toms Clinton W. Toms (1868-1936) graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the age of 21 and was a school principal prior to holding the position of superintendent for Durham schools from 1894 to 1897.  Known as a progressive educator and philanthropist, he revamped the administration and arrangement of the graded school and helped to found the Durham Public Library in 1896.  He introduced a compulsory manual training course to the curriculum and also reorganized the high school curriculum into subject departments.  His efforts to secure funds to provide classroom materials brought him in contact with the Duke family.  In 1897, he left the field of education to join the American Tobacco Company.  This scrapbook documents Durham’s education system during Toms’ service as superintendent, primarily through newspaper clippings.  Also included are school exercises, correspondence, and printed material.

The Toms Scrapbook is shared online by the Durham County Library.