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 "behind the scenes"


Maps, Sketches, and Blueprints on DigitalNC from our new partner Wrightsville Beach Museum of History

A blueprint of the North Shore of Wrightsville Beach, with buildings, pipes, and pump stations marked in red.

Over four dozen historical maps, blueprints, and more have been digitized and added to DigitalNC, courtesy of our new partner, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. These maps, some dating back to as early as 1923, cover many different parts of the Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach areas and really illustrate to us how wide and varied the geography of New Hanover County really is.

Many of the blueprints detail buildings around Wrightsville Beach, while others show plots of land and city streets. Several of the maps are designed to show specific buildings and building sites, such as the former Babies Hospital at Mott’s Creek in Wilmington. Others are geological cross sections, showing tide lines, jetty locations, and inlets along the coast. These are invaluable blueprints for tracking the coastline, as well as illustrating how the beaches and the towns around them have changed over time.

A photo taken during the mid-scanning process of one of the larger, composited maps of Wrightsville Beach

Many of these maps are massive, with some stretching to nearly 6 feet in length. A few of the aerial shots of Wrightsville Beach were even longer, requiring a small team to handle the map just to make sure it could be documented. As a result, it was a slow process for us to roll out these maps and blueprints, scan them using our overhead camera, composite them into complete shots, and prepare them for production. We have posted an instructional video on our Flickr page to show and explain how we scanned them. Many of them, including the aerial view of Wrightsville Beach, took 3 and sometimes 4 individual shots to stitch together, resulting in images that were sometimes over 8000 pixels high and over 10000 pixels wide.

A portion of a 1956 map from the A.S.C.S. showing Moore Inlet and Mason Inlet.

These maps were in excellent condition, and we are honored in being able to digitize them and host them for everyone to see. To learn more about the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, please visit their contributor page or their website.


Maps, Sketches, and Blueprints from Chapel Hill Historical Society Now Online at DigitalNC

A portion of one map of Carrboro and Chapel Hill – showing Franklin St, Main St, and Greensboro St.

Nearly three dozen maps and blueprints have been digitized and added to DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, the Chapel Hill Historical Society. Dating from 1929 to 1963, these maps really illustrate how much the city of Chapel Hill has changed in the last century.

Blueprint of the west side of Dr. J.B. Bullitt’s house in Chapel Hill.

This new batch contains many different types of maps and blueprints, including cross sections of the Chapel Hill Municipal Building, a survey of East Rosemary Street, cross sections of local doctor J.B. Bullitt’s home, and Planning Board maps of the Chapel Hill and Carrboro region. Also included are maps for proposed developments of segregated cemeteries, which would have been established next to NC state highway 54. These maps are fascinating to see and compare to what we know of the area today, and to see how much has changed since these maps were created.

These maps are very large, with some stretching out to be over 6 feet in length! While most could be scanned with our overhead PhaseOne camera (our process is documented on video here), several were so large that they had to be framed in a vacuum-sealed rotating container so that they can be preserved in the highest quality. Some of these largest ones took two different shots to compose together, resulting in images that were 7000 pixels tall by 11000 pixels wide. That’s far larger than anything even the most high-tech cell phone cameras can shoot.

One of the maps being scanned inside a vacuum-sealed container for maximum quality

Having these maps and blueprints in our collection is very important, as it helps us understand the changes to the city which DigitalNC calls home. To see more from the Chapel Hill Historical Society, visit their partner page, or take a look at their website.


Pamphlets, Booklets, Reports, and More from Gaston County Public Library Now Online

 

Photo from the advertising pamphlet “Gastonia, Your Convention City”

Back in February, some of the NCDHC staff travelled down to our partner Gaston County Public Library and set up to do two days of on site scanning.  The materials we scanned during that visit, as well as materials we brought back with us to scan in Chapel Hill, are now online.  

While on site, we scanned a chattel mortgage book from 1915, documents relating to a distillery in the area in the 1890s, and several local history books put together by students in the local schools in the 1950s and 1960s.  

Dozens of new reports, documents, and programs from Gaston County are also now available after we scanned those back in Chapel Hill.  Over 50 items in total, these documents, pamphlets, and booklets paint a greater picture of what it meant to live in Gaston County in the beginning and middle of the 20th century.

The 1976-1977 annual report from the Gastonia Housing Authority. The report includes stats on the types of houses and apartments under their management.

Many of these items are informational booklets, some published by the Gastonia Chamber of Commerce, telling readers about the population, GDP, schools, and industries throughout Gastonia. Others are specific booklets or programs from certain events. One program is from the 1974 dedication and recognition of Zoe Kincaid Brockman, a former editor of the Gastonia Gazette. There are other programs, including church programs from First Baptist and First Presbyterian in Gastonia. A few of the other booklets included in this collection also detail the towns outside Gastonia, like Mount Holly, Cherryville, Ranlo, and Lowell. These collections can be viewed here, and here.

Also included in this collection is a dozen booklets about the Gastonia Debutante Club, from 1976 to 1987. These booklets celebrate the Debutante Club and honor the individuals who helped put it on. Certain editions also include a list of members, the by-laws of the Debutante Club, a list of past Presidents, the history of the organization, and the debutantes of various years.

To see more materials and learn more about the Gaston County Public Library, you can visit their partner page or take a look at their website.


A Visit from Wayne County Public Library

A few weeks ago, our partner Wayne County Public Library brought three over-sized materials for us to scan here at the NCDHC while they waited.  The items were a beautiful map of Goldsboro from 1881, and two posters related the building campaign for a memorial building in honor of those from Wayne County who died in World War I.  

1881 map of Goldsboro, NC

While we scanned these items, folks from UNC Communications stopped by to see us in action.  You can see the footage they shot of our scanning processes here.

Learn more about our partner Wayne County Public Library on their partner page, or on the Wayne County Public Library website.


DigitalNC Hits the Road With an On-Site Scanning Project at Johnston County Heritage Center

Abhego Atkinson Family Reunion, Beulah Township, 1912

Spicy Elizabeth Hayes Barefoot (1862-1931)

This December the Digital Heritage Center team took a field trip to Johnston County Heritage Center in Smithfield, North Carolina to do a session of on-location scanning. The Heritage Center is the former home office of First Citizens Bank in downtown Smithfield and includes exhibit space as well as storage for historic artifacts and records pertaining to Johnston County history. Armed with two flatbed scanners, laptops, external hard drives, and an armful of cords and cables, team members set to work scanning and filling out metadata for over 200 photographs that are now available on DigitalNC.

These photographs are part of Johnston county’s portrait collection depicting individuals from Johnston County and beyond. Many of the portraits from the session included labels detailing names, dates, and locations describing the photo. This information was recorded on-site during the scanning process, and makes for a useful set of images for those interested in genealogy or more broadly in Johnston County history. The number of well-labeled group family portraits in this collection make it great for tracing family history, and the Digital Heritage team enjoyed tracking individuals across different times and settings as we scanned.

Reverend Jesse and Susanna Watkins Wheeler

To learn more about on-location scanning, take a look at our previous blogpost detailing the initiative. To learn more about our partner Johnston County Heritage Center, and to see more of their materials, take a look at their DigitalNC partner page or check out their website.

 


2017’s Most Popular Items on DigitalNC.org

We’ve taken a look back at this year’s top 5 most viewed items on DigitalNC, and they may not be what you expect! Here they are in order of popularity.

#1 Madison Beach

Contributing Institution: Rockingham Community College

The most viewed single item on DigitalNC was this photo:

View through trees of swimmers 

Want to know more about Madison Beach? We did, and found this page in a Rockingham County Public Library volume by local author John T. Dallas to help us out.

Clippings about Madison Beach from the Madison Messenger newspaper

 

#2 Newspaper Clippings about the Hibriten Company

Contributing Institution: Hickory Public Library

Hickory Public Library has shared a variety of files related to local businesses, and this one on Hibriten Furniture was the second most popular item.

Hibriten Furniture newspaper clipping

#3 Jim Thornton Band

Contributing Institution: Harnett County Public Library

This picture of Jim Thornton and his band includes Congressman Harold D. Cooley and singer Mozelle Phillips. The band played at dances and events, as well as on the radio and a live country music television show out of Raleigh entitled “Saturday Night Country Style.”

Five band members holding instruments stranding with man in a suit

#4 Wiggins Mill Bridge Postcard

Contributing Institution: Wilson County Public Library

From the 1880s, this postcard shows the bridge spanning Contentnea Creek in Wilson County, with “Wiggin’s Mill” and the reservoir waterfall in the background. Wiggin’s Mill was a sawmill, and can be found in newspapers of that era as a local landmark both on land and on the creek. The Wilson Advance describes the Wiggin’s Mill bridge floating away in a “freshet” in June 1891.

Colored postcard with bridge over river

#5 1976 Yackety Yack Yearbook

Contributing Institution: UNC-Chapel Hill

Taken together, yearbooks are the most popular items available on our site. It’s not surprising that one made the top 5 list. This 1976 Yackety Yack has spectacular photographs with 1970s style.

Title page of the 1976 Yack, with Chapel Hill metal plate

For the curious, here are some overall numbers for DigitalNC for 2017. Here’s looking forward as we work with partners to share even more of North Carolina’s cultural heritage in 2018!

Pageviews 3,510,047
Users 390,667
Scans Added 567,315

Loray Digital Archive expanded to include 1980s union efforts at Firestone Mill

We were excited this past semester to partner with the AMST 475H, Documenting Communities class here at UNC to show them how a digitization project works from star to finish.  This is a guest post from the class.

Written by: Dani Callahan and Lucas Kelley

New material that documents the unionization of the Gastonia’s Firestone Mill have been added to DigitalNC’s existing collection on the mill: the Loray Digital Archive. The Gaston County Museum of Art and History provided the materials for digitization, and UNC-Chapel Hill students in Professor Robert Allen’s Documenting Communities course scanned the material, researched the unionization movement, and added metadata to the documents.

The unionization of the Firestone Mill occurred in the late 1980s and was particularly contentious both within the mill community and throughout the region. The violent unionization efforts of the 1920s, exemplified in the Loray strike of 1929, had left deep wounds within Gastonia, and area residents and workers had traditionally distrusted subsequent unionization attempts. The widespread economic downturn in the textile industry in the 1980s, however, meant harsher conditions and less pay for the workers at Firestone, and some workers hoped the United Rubber Workers Union could provide protection from the difficult economic climate.

 Pro-union pamphlet distributed to employees at Firestone Mill in the late 1980s. It was produced by the AFL-CIO.

The materials added to the Loray Digital Archive document the pro-union and anti-union campaigns. Each side sought to attract workers to their cause with flyers, posters, stickers, buttons, and pamphlets. Initially, the anti-union forces held off the unionization attempt in 1987. Widespread media coverage turned the referendum into a political circus and leaders of the pro-union movement could not overcome area residents’ distrust. Yet a year later, Firestone workers voted to join the union in a campaign that was much more subdued. The success of pro-union forces was due in large part to the diligence of the union’s committee members working inside the mill. While the 1987 vote had turned into a regional and even national media circus, the 1988 vote remained an internal debate housed within Firestone itself. When the workers at the Firestone Mill voted on April 14th, 1988 to join the United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers by a narrow margin, it was a victory nearly sixty years in the making.  Click the link view all the materials from the 1980s union effort.


Students help bring new light to the Wilmington riots of 1898

In July, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center was pleased to welcome a group of middle school students from Williston Middle School and Friends School Of Wilmington. With them were writers Joel Finsel and John Jeremiah Sullivan and staff from the Cape Fear Museum, all of whom worked with the students over the past semester.  This visit was the culmination of a project for the students who had studied the Wilmington riots of 1898 and worked specifically with original copies of the Daily Record, held by the Cape Fear Museum. 

Original issues of the Record, which was the black-owned newspaper in Wilmington in the late 1890s, are incredibly hard to find: their offices were destroyed during the riots.  (Learn more about the riots on NCpedia.)  The museum staff brought along their copies of the paper, as well as original copies of the reaction to the riots as found in both black-owned and white-owned papers across the country.  We scanned all of the materials on site with help from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries’ Digital Production Center staff. Students watched and got to learn more about our work.  Now all of those materials are online not only for future students to work with, but for anyone from the general public to access.  

To learn more about the students’ work, read this great article from the Wilmington Star News . As the article states: “The project is still looking for any more copies of the Record that might turn up… Anyone who finds one is urged to email dailyrecordproject@gmail.com.”

And to view more newspapers on our site, visit our newspaper site here


200 Partner Institutions – A Digital Heritage Center Milestone

 

Celebrating 200 Partners

When people ask me to sum up the Digital Heritage Center, I usually tell them what we do. We provide digitization and digital publishing services to cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. And DigitalNC.org has some pretty healthy stats to back it up.

2.7 million scans online

87,590 total objects, including…

Over 57,000 newspaper issues

More than 6,100 college and high school yearbooks

16,000+ photographs

505 scrapbooks

Beyond this, the site receives about 280,000 pageviews per month, 58% of which come from users in North Carolina. That’s a lot of our state’s history being shared online, 24/7.

But really, the heart of the Digital Heritage Center is people. It’s the hard work and expertise of our staff making North Carolina’s history available online. It’s the guidance and support we get from the staff at the State Library of North Carolina, which provides most of our funding, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library, which hosts the Center and its technology. Above all of this, it’s the partnerships we have with cultural heritage professionals from Bryson City to Ocracoke. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that this month, we add the following number:

200 partner institutions

in 119 communities,

in 73 counties

Since opening its doors in 2009, the Digital Heritage Center is showing the nation that North Carolina has a strong and collaborative cultural heritage community. This state has so many deep, rich, compelling — and quirky collections. They are stewarded by staff who have a passion for preservation, and a genuine love of providing access to users near and far. We are proud to be a part of that community, offering many institutions the opportunity to bring their collections to a broader audience for the first time.

We hope you will take the chance to explore the map above, and DigitalNC.org. And we hope that you’ll find a contributing institution in your area and stop in. Thanks for reading, and for your support. And here’s to 200 more.

Cheerleaders, From Western Carolina University's 1940 edition of the Catamount yearbook.

Cheerleaders, From Western Carolina University’s 1940 edition of the Catamount yearbook.

 


Have Scans, Will Travel? Hosting Your Scans at DigitalNC

Moving Truck Transferring Family Possessions, from the Gaston County Museum of Art & History

Moving Truck Transferring Family Possessions, from the Gaston County Museum of Art & History

The Digital Heritage Center does a lot of scanning on some really versatile machines. It’s one of the practical sides to our mission, and we take pride in being able to provide that service.

What is perhaps less well known is that we also help cultural heritage institutions publish items they’ve scanned themselves. Many cultural heritage institutions have flatbed or book scanners as well as willing staff and volunteers, but lack the technical infrastructure to host those scans for the public.

We’ve helped institutions …

  • who needed to migrate from ailing databases or systems they can no longer support,
  • who wanted to be able to full-text search their materials, a function they couldn’t fulfill through their current website,
  • who offered their digital files to on-site users, but who were seeking a broader audience.

When we start this conversation, here are some of the questions we ask:

  • Tell us about the original physical objects* – does your institution still have them? are there any rights or privacy concerns to sharing these online? what kind of subject matter is represented?
  • Tell us about the digital files – who originally created them? how many are there? where do they live? what file types? how are they organized? is this an ongoing project? do you have any metadata already?

If the files are a good fit for DigitalNC, they get transferred to hard drives, metadata is created or amended, and items appear on the site alongside the scans we create here at the Center. If you work at a cultural heritage institution eligible to work with the Center, have or are currently creating scans, and are interested in adding these to DigitalNC, contact us. We may be able to give them a home.

* If there were any. We can help with born-digital items as well.