Before you start paging through this paper, it’s important to know that the Jeffersonian is most likely named in honor of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America—and the reasoning will be obvious once you see any one of these issues. The editors of this paper are extremely sympathetic toward the Ku Klux Klan, frequently covering news (and sometimes just praise) of the hate group.
We are very excited to announce that our site has expanded to include four new sets of primary source teaching resources available for any teachers, researchers, or curious explorers to use. Each of these sets focuses on a particular topic in North Carolina history and includes a curated selection of 15-20 primary sources from our 300+ partners around the state. Within each set is a blend of visual materials (photographs, videos), written materials (newspaper articles, speeches, letters), and audio materials (interviews, oral histories) from the DigitalNC collections.
Each set also comes with short context blurbs for each item, as well as general background information, a timeline, a set of discussion questions, and links to genre-specific worksheets (ex. How to Analyze a Newspaper Clipping). While some of these topics are more concentrated in particular regions, our goal is to connect these broad themes in history to local examples that students can recognize. Here’s a look at the four initial primary source sets:
While you may be familiar with some of the national stories around school integration after Brown v. Board of Education, this teaching set samples North Carolina yearbooks, photographs, newspapers, and oral histories to ground this topic in familiar places. It draws primarily on our collections from historically Black high schools, many of which were closed during this period (though their alumni associations remain strong!). This collection also implements local materials from the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Supreme Court case over busing.
This set was inspired by the popular NCPedia page, “Analyzing Political Cartoons,” which explains some of the strategies for understanding cartoons in their historical context. Here, we’ve selected examples from over a century of newspapers that include topics such as the 1898 Wilmington Coup, women’s suffrage, economics, and a few contemporary political issues. Each example comes with a bit of historical context and some background on the newspaper itself.
North Carolina’s history of labor is inextricably tied to the legacy of the textile industry. This set uses photographs, memorabilia, speeches, and newspaper clippings of two famous examples—the Loray Mill strike of 1929 and the activism of Crystal Lee Sutton—to weave together an understanding of North Carolina’s economy and culture through one of its major industries of the 20th century.
It would be impossible to fully understand the history of North Carolina in the 20th century without talking about the tobacco industry. This set uses photographs, newspapers, videos, and oral histories to explore the lives of tobacco farmers and factory workers as well as the major families who controlled the vast tobacco wealth. Additionally, it includes examples of how the industry affected culture, including a new generation of advertising that attempted to combat public health concerns.
As divisive as our current political landscape looks, the presidential election of 1912 might give it a run for its money. The seated president, William Howard Taft, was a Republican that succeeded the popular Theodore Roosevelt (with Roosevelt’s blessing). However, Taft was apparently too conservative of a president for Roosevelt’s taste, so Roosevelt decided to challenge him in the Republican primary—with no success.
The Enterprise article begins, “The Republican National Convention at Chicago Saturday night at 9:10 nominated President Taft as the candidate for president on the first ballot, the Roosevelt forces having declined to vote in the convention. The scenes depicted in the telegraph dispatches indicate that the Taft forces had everything their way from the beginning.”
So, instead of running as a Republican, Roosevelt split off and ran as the candidate for his new party, the Progressive party. The Progressives later became known as the Bull-Moose party, perhaps in relation to Roosevelt’s attempted assassination, after which he spoke for 90 minutes with a bullet in his chest and declared, “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
On the other side, Democrats nominated New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was able to unseat Taft and win the presidency in a landslide with 435 electoral votes (Roosevelt bested Taft 88-8). And, in the background of the race—with no electoral votes—was Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs. Debs continued to rally against Wilson after his defeat, especially once Wilson brought the U.S. into the First World War. As a pacifist, Debs was put in prison under the federal Espionage Act for “anti-war” speeches, and he campaigned for president again from his cell in 1920.
While this election was clearly full of drama, contemporary voters might laugh at some of the top national issues at stake in 1912. Some of the listed tenets of the Republican platform included “Favors limiting hours of labor of women and children and protection of wage earners in dangerous occupations,” “Favors parcel post,” “Believes that federal government should assume part control of Mississippi river and help prevent flood disasters,” and “Favors ample equipment of life saving on ships.” Both the Democrats and Republicans seemed to be on the same page about trust-busting and monopolies, one of the biggest issues of the early 20th century (though Democrats criticized Republican’s anti-trust record). And the Progressive/Bull Moose party seemed to be based on whatever Theodore Roosevelt wanted—including women’s suffrage, which he may have understood as his path to a third term.
Thanks to a thoughtful community member, we’ve recently digitized our first yearbook from the small Catholic school St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines, once located in Asheville, N.C. This yearbook, which was recovered from an estate, shows the close-knit students at the all-women’s school in 1942.
According to Carolina Day School’s history page (which apparently absorbed the school in the 1980s), St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines was originally formed by French nuns in 1908 (Genevieve is the patroness saint of Paris in the Catholic tradition). It morphed over the next few decades into a women’s junior college, then two separate schools for boys and girls (St. Genevieve’s Prep and Gibbons Hall), then again into the combined St. Genevieve-Gibbons Hall School. This yearbook is from the Junior College of St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines. Today, one of the few remaining landmarks of St. Genevieve’s is the grotto, which was transferred to Carolina Day School’s campus in 2008.
One of the frequent front-page features of The Arrow are announcements of new machines that made work in the mills a little more efficient. These stories are usually celebrations of regular employees who invented a helpful change. For example, this feature on John W. Price explains how he designed a mechanism that helped keep the warp from tangling during the dying process (warp yarns are the base threads into which the weft is woven to make fabric). The subheading of this article says, “Means great saving,” which seems to apply specifically to the time it will save other mill workers in their parts of the assembly line.
Another tech feature that makes its way onto The Arrow‘s front page is M. W. Hayden’s invention, which the paper calls “a labor saver and a time saver.” This machine rolled and cut blankets (a process that mill workers were previously doing by hand), creating “increased accuracy in the splitting process” and automatically rolling them onto brass bars. The article claims that the machine “turns out forty yards of cloth per minute” and that the splitting knife rotates 800 times in that same span. Hayden was also apparently the inventor of a similar paper rolling machine.
This year, the arrival of summer has brought another batch of The Perquimans Weekly newspaper from Hertford, N.C. These papers are available thanks to our partner, the Perquimans County Library, and thanks to our staff at our Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) location, who digitized them. This batch expands the digital availability of The Perquimans Weekly into the 21st century with issues from 1994-2003.
Since there are so many yearbooks in this batch, there is a wide assortment of creative yearbook titles—some of which are stronger than others. As an alumna of R.J. Reynolds High School, I’ll admit that I have some bias toward the Black and Gold, but even I have to acknowledge that it’s a pretty generic name (in this batch alone, we’ve also got The Maroon and Gold from Atkins, the Blue and White from Old Town High School, and the Blue and Gold from Griffith High School).
Rather than opt for the usual school colors-based title, here are the top five yearbooks that aimed for something a little different.
I like that this team of young yearbook editors took a philosophical approach to their title. Like looking through a keyhole, a yearbook can only give a limited picture of what the culture and experience of Rural Hall High School was like. They continue this slice-of-life theme on the inside of the yearbook as well with this comical drawing featuring some of their classmates.
There’s something so quintessentially high school about being assigned The Iliad, possibly reading it, and then using it as a metaphor for the obstacles you face (a move perhaps only topped by a comparison of your personal journey to The Odyssey). This literary homage is made even better by the fact that the mascot for Southwest was the Trojan, meaning that this yearbook likely describes the siege and fall of the school by means of wooden horse.
Third place on this not-at-all subjective list was initially selected because of its overlap with the editorial column of James Mackintosh Qwilleran, a fictional detective and journalist who writes “The Qwill Pen” in the mystery series The Cat Who… by Lilian Jackson Braun. However, based on the uniforms required for yearbook photos, it does also seem possible that the students of Salem Academy really were writing with quills.
As someone with no military experience, when I initially picked this title, I had a different mental image of what the “dress parade” might include. However, given the fact that students at Oak Ridge did have to wear their uniforms on display for the yearbook, it still seems like a really fitting title. Plus, this edition has some cool woodblock prints and this one inexplicably tiny photo of a gazebo.
I don’t even know where to begin with this absolute chef’s kiss of a yearbook title. I love the old-timey spelling. I love the idea that a yearbook is the modern equivalent of a person who yells out the town news. I love the font choice and the inclusion of “Ye.”
Old Town High School experimented with a couple of names before this (see Blue and White and The Log), suggesting that it might take a few tries before you can land on the perfect name. The icing on the cake is that every time I read it, I can hear the opening notes of Lil Nas X’s 2019 hit “Old Town Road” in my mind. (Sadly, Old Town High School was not located on Old Town Road, though such a road does exist in Winston-Salem).
Though this batch of yearbooks covers so many different eras of high school throughout the 20th century, one consistent element among several editions is a focus on uniforms. The 1970 edition of The Falcon, for example, shows a representative from the school’s various teams showing off their athletic uniforms. This 1970 cheerleading uniform is a bit of a departure from the cheerleading uniforms of the 1950s, as evidenced by this squad from Mills River High (though the dance teams’ preference for shiny uniforms seems to be evergreen).
One thing that many of the Burke county yearbooks have in common is a shared admiration for animal mascots. In addition to the adorable tiger seen on the 1956 edition of the Impersonator from Valdese High School, you can’t overlook the endearing little guy on the front of the 1965 Calvacade from Drexel High School. (Though you may think he is a funny bear or perhaps a fox, further investigation reveals he is, in fact, a wolverine.) This set also includes a fighting eagle, a turkey, wildcats, bulldogs, and one fancy horse giving a knight a lift.
Fritz was “the famous Nobby Shoppe cat,” “well known among the business houses of Brevard” and “petted by everyone.” He was, according to his obituary, “the object of much admiration on account of his enormous size and his beauty.” Sadly, Fritz succumbed to illness, but his obituary shares front page real estate of The Transylvania Times with a feature on the Lindbergh baby and updates on the county tax penalty—in other words, he was a big deal. (Then again, this front page also features a story about Ralph Woodfin, a farmer who found two “freak eggs,” or an egg within an egg—known today to happen because of a counter-peristalsis contraction).
You can read more about the noteworthy community members of Transylvania County in the three newspapers just added to our site: The Transylvania Times(issues from 1887, 1932, 1953, and 1967), the French Broad Hustler (issues from 1893, 1894, and 1896), and the Brevard News (issues from 1905 and 1923).
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.