Happy 14th Birthday, NCDHC!

To celebrate 14 years of NCDHC (on May 12, 2009 our first blog post went live with our first scanned collection), the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center have all picked a favorite item from the collection to share. Check them out below – and then we invite you to visit digitalnc.org and find some favorite NC items yourself!

Lisa Gregory, Program Coordinator for the NCDHC

When pressed to pick one item (!) I have to go with the September 26, 1874 issue of the Fayetteville Educator. The Educator ran for a single year and was published by W. C. Smith who went on to publish a later title, the Charlotte Messenger.  A few years ago while researching Black newspapers in North Carolina, I happened to run across a reference to the Educator as the earliest known Black newspaper in the state. Other sources generally cite the Star of Zion, which began a short time later and is still published today. With the help of some of our partners we were able to locate and add the Fayetteville Educator to DigitalNC. I picked this item because many 19th and 20th century newspapers written by and documenting the Black community are no longer extant or are extremely rare. For me, the fact that we can now share this online on behalf of our partners really encapsulates why we do what we do at NCDHC.

Front page of the newspaper "The Educator"
The educator (Fayetteville, N.C.) 1874-1875, September 26, 1874, Image 1, presented by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center in partnership with The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. 

Stephanie Williams, NCDHC Programmer

Child on a tricycle riding towards the camera on a downtown sidewalk
Still from Wadesboro, 1938 film by H. Lee Waters

Movies of Local People (H. Lee Waters): Wadesboro, 1938

H. Lee Waters traveled around the state in the 1930s and 1940s setting up a camera on streetcorners and filming townspeople. There are a handful of these films available on DigitalNC, and one of my favorites is from Wadesboro in 1938. Waters captured people just going about their daily business, which is fun for so many reasons–but my favorite part is seeing peoples’ personalities, and realizing that the way we react when we realize we’re on camera hasn’t changed in 85 years.

Kristen Merryman, Digital Projects Librarian

“Adult feeding bear by Fontana Lake”

Adult feeding a bear
Adult feeding bear by Fontana Lake

This is a photograph in our collection I always come back to because it really pulls together many things I love – bears, the gorgeous lakes of the NC mountains, and a good cookout in a park. This obviously portrays something many a park ranger would shun but I love the NC Variety Vacationland vibes it gives off! We digitized this photograph as part of a larger batch from the Graham County Public Library in Robbinsville, NC when we were there for an onsite scanning visit in 2018 and ourselves got to enjoy many lovely views of Fontana Lake and the surrounding mountains.

Sophie Hollis, Education & Outreach Assistant

Wake Forest University Student Handbook [1987-1988]

A black-and-white photo of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University. It is flanked to the right by a row of tall trees and other brick campus buildings.

One of the things I love about our site is how many yearbooks, student handbooks, and students newspapers we have—I love seeing family and friends’ photos from when they were in school. These materials are where I see my own life reflected the most because they capture so many familiar places and people. It’s interesting to see how our schools have changed over the last century but also how so many things are apparently inherent to being a teenager. While I think all of our student publications are fantastic, this handbook is special to me for a few reasons. Not only is it a glimpse at my alma mater (go Deacs!), but it also features an excellent photo of one of my favorite professors in his early years of teaching.

Geoff Schilling, Newspaper Technician

Facade of a green painted brick building with "Cats Cradle" sign on it

Cat’s Cradle
The DigitalNC item I chose is of a Chapel Hill location that means a great deal to me. The first four photos in this set are of the Cat’s Cradle’s early to late ‘80s location at 320 W. Franklin St. (now The Crunkleton), but the last three images are the reason I’m sharing it. Down this alley is their previous location at 405 1/2 W. Rosemary St., which they started occupying around 1971. In 1983, after the Cradle moved out, it became a venue called Rhythm Alley and they stuck around until 1987. At the end of that year the Skylight Exchange took over the space and in 2003 the one-and-only Nightlight came into existence.
The Nightlight is an experimental music oasis where you can see everything from outsider folk legend Michael Hurley to Detroit techno heavyweight DJ Psycho. In addition to being my favorite venue in the world, it’s also the preferred stop of touring musicians from all over the country. The landscape of this “Rhythm Alley” has barely changed over the last half-century (save for a healthy amount of graffiti), but its legacy has grown with each new chapter.

The photographs were courtesy of our partner Chapel Hill Historical Society.

Ashlie Brewer, Digitization Technician

“Trip to Quebec, August 1973”

Younger individual with long brown hair sitting down and holding a cup.

Last year I had the opportunity to digitize some amazing slide images that were taken during several Chapel Hill Boy Scout Troop 835 and Girl Scout Troop 59 trips over the years courtesy of our partner Chapel Hill Historical Society. Many of the slides from these trips feature beautiful scenery and fun, but this particular photograph from the August 1973 Quebec trip is one of my favorite items on our site. In addition to being a great candid, I think it’s the individual’s sense of jollity and peacefulness portrayed in this moment of the trip that really makes it a top-pick of mine.

Discuss this Post

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