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 tagged "architectural drawings"


Mapping Durham’s History

A new set of maps, posters, and architectural plans from our partner, the Durham County Library, has been added to our site. They range in time from the late 1880s to the present, and many provide local insight to the culture of Durham.

Map of Durham, N.C. from 1966

Map of Durham, N.C., c. 1957

One of the most exciting maps that we’ve added is this mid-century Western States Publishing Co. Mapperhaps one of the last versions that documents Durham before I-85 (1958) and N.C. 147 highway were built (1967-1970). Comparing it to the city today, you can tell what was disrupted during construction.

Detail from a 1920 map of Durham

Detail from the 1920 map of Durham County

Similarly, this map of Durham from 1920 notes the schools in the area and whether they served Black or White students. According to this map, many of the schools closest to the city center only served White students, while many of the Black schools are further out in the county.

Part of an illustrated map of Durham with drawings of buildings

Another neat item in this batch is this Historic Durham County Poster created by John B. Tomlinson. Around the drawn map of Durham County are illustrations of some of Durham’s famous and historic landmarks, including Duke University’s West Campus, NC Central University, and the County Courthouse. These and other annotations help identify some of the big moments in Durham’s history, such as the surrender of J.E. Johnston at Bennett Place.

An architectural drawing of a house

House for Mrs. L.L. Morehead (c. 1900)

Another item that illuminates a part of Durham’s history is this set of architectural plans for the house of Mrs. L.L. Morehead. The house was built for Eugene Morehead, son of former North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead, and Eugene’s wife, Lucy Lathrop Morehead. The house was torn down in 1961, but photos and illustrations of the final product are still around. Other building plans for the house, including some of the interior, were also uploaded in this batch. 

A map with graphics about bike safety

1991 Bike Map

Map of downtown Durham with attractions listed and bike safety information

2010 Bike Map

In terms of more modern materials, take a look at these two bike maps: one from 1991, and one from 2010. The entire back side of the 1991 version is covered in safety information, like how to wear a helmet and 10 tips for “frustrating” a bike thief (No.8 is to “Engrave your social security number on expensive parts,” which doesn’t seem like common advice today.). Meanwhile, the back of the 2010 map is more like a typical city map, with directories of things in downtown Durham. 

One bonus of these maps is that they are catalogued and finable through the Durham Public Library’s website. You can see all the maps we digitized in this batch here, and you can see all materials from Durham County Library here. For more information about the library and their holdings, visit their website.


New Batch of CHHS Materials Spans Many Areas of Chapel Hill & Carrboro History

Our latest batch of materials from the Chapel Hill Historical Society has a little something for everyone! Whether you’re interested in the histories of local churches, municipal records, or Carrboro’s Centennial (in 2011), we’ve got materials for you to see.

A typed piece of paper unfolded over two pages of a composition notebook

A typed note inviting community members to visit the Carrboro Library

One exciting piece of local history appears in the scrapbook from the Carrboro Civic Club, which formed a committee to build a public library in Carrboro. The scrapbook contains notes from committee members about the financial aspects and personnel of the project, as well as an early draft of library rules. “Practice good citizenship regarding books,” it warns.

An architectural drawing of Carrboro Elementary School

Carrboro Elementary School as imagined by Croft and Hammond in 1957

Another cool addition is this book of architectural drawings and specifications for the Carrboro Elementary School. The plans were made in a partnership between the Board of Education; Dr. W. E. Rosenstengel, a professor of education at UNC Chapel Hill; and Croft & Hammond Architects from Asheboro, N.C. The introduction indicates that they planned to enroll 480 students and eventually grow to 720 (with 30 students per classroom). For comparison, Carrboro Elementary has 540 enrolled students for the 2021-22 school year.

Part of a typed letter and a few cartoons depicting ways that litter is spread in a community

Some of the ways that litter is spread, according to the National Council of State Gardening Clubs

Finally, if you’re interested in how anti-littering campaigns were waged in the 1970s, there’s this letter from the National Council of State Gardening Clubs, Inc. As part of the “Keep America Beautiful” project, the Council’s leaders identified the seven main ways that litter appears in communities and illustrated some changes that needed to happen to reduce them. 

“There is every likelihood that this marriage of behavioral science and techniques will produce offspring reaching into all facets of community life and improving the whole climate in which human beings live as neighbors,” editor Christopher C. Gilson writes.

These three items barely encompass the variety of materials that’s been added, so you can do even more exploring yourself by looking through the whole batch. To see more materials from the Chapel Hill Historical society, you can visit their partner page or their website. The run of Chapel Hill News Leader newspaper issues from 1958-59 that was uploaded with this batch is also available.


Oral histories from the Mount Airy Black community now online from Mount Airy Museum of Regional History

Screenshot of an adult using a spoon with a pot on a stove

Screenshot from the video “Preparing Foods that were Eaten by our Ancestors” which included women discussing their cooking.

29 oral histories collected in the early 2000s by the African American Historical and Genealogical Association of Surry County are now online thanks to our partner the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Thanks also to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The interviews are mostly on video and discuss many topics about being Black and growing up in Mount Airy and Surry County area during the first half of the 20th century.  

Blue print showing the façade of a two story office building

We also scanned many maps and architectural drawings for the museum in this batch and those are available here.  The drawings include a lot of buildings around Mount Airy.  

To learn more about our partner Mount Airy Museum of Regional History visit their partner page here.

To hear more oral histories on DigitalNC, go here.