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 "genealogy"


Vance County Students’ Yearly Record Envelopes Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Henderson Institute Historical Museum, yearly record envelopes for African American students who attended Vance County schools with last names A through Z are now available on our website

These envelopes, filled with a multitude of information, are a great resource for researchers and individuals looking to learn more about Vance County residents, students, and schools. The front of the envelopes include a students’ name, address, date of birth, years they attended school, which Vance County school they went to, how many days they attended, if they were promoted, and noted if they moved out of the county.

Due to the inclusion of medical records and other sensitive personal information, the content within the envelopes were not digitized. If you are interested in learning more about the documents inside of the envelopes, please reach out to the Henderson Institute Historical Museum for more information.

To learn more about the Henderson Institute Historical Museum, please visit their website.

To view more materials from North Carolina’s African American high schools, please view our North Carolina African American High Schools Collection.


Various Alamance County Materials including a Copy of The Credit Guide Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Alamance County Public Libraries, batches containing various materials such as the 1938 Eli Whitney High School yearbook, Walter M. Crabtree daybook, and a 1922-1924 copy of The Credit Guide are now available on our website here and here.

The Credit Guide was originally a resource used by loaners to check if an individual was trustworthy enough to pay them back. Essentially, the guide functioned as a physical credit history checker, but instead of having credit score numbers individuals received labels such as prompt pay, fair pay, slow pay, and considered honest but unfortunate circumstances prevented paying me. Today, the guide is a gold mine for those looking for information on people in cities located in or near Alamance County. The Credit Guide not only includes an indication of how likely someone is to pay back their loan, but also an individual’s name, occupation, and address.

To learn more about Alamance County Public Libraries, please visit their website.

To view more materials from the Alamance County Public Libraries, please click here.


Additional Massey Family Materials Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner Matthews Heritage Museum and funding from a North Carolina State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) grant, additional Massey family letters, papers, and photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s are now available on our website.

The photographs in this batch are of several Massey family members at different ages including Daisy Massey, Edgar Herbert Massey, Mary E. Renfrow Massey, and Dr. Henry V. Massey. One interesting photograph shows what is believed to be Edgar Herbert Massey and Mary Renfrow Massey in a horse drawn carriage.

Two individuals sitting in a horse drawn cart.

The letters, spanning from 1863 to 1904, are mainly addressed to Daisy and Mary Massey from other family members and friends. One letter in this batch stood out as particularly interesting (pages two and three of the letter are below).

On December 18, 1902, an individual named Jeb wrote a letter to Daisy Massey. From the letter, it appears that the two were courting or in a relationship. In the letter, Jeb begs Daisy to consider moving to Washington and becoming mistress of his house. He writes, “[…] I believe I could persuade you to come over here and be mistress of my house. Really I do believe I could keep you from getting home sick and fancy you would like Washington far better than the Sunny South. Will you please do give this subject your honest and careful thought and prayer. I can make no big promises for I have nor riches to boast of, but can promise you the very best and true happiness and peace. On my part for you should never hear a cross or unkind word from my lips.” In the final section of the letter, Jeb points out that they are approaching a crossroads where Daisy will have to decide whether they get married or end the relationship. Daisy Massey’s response to the letter is unknown.

To read the letter in its entirety, please click here.

To learn more about the Matthews Heritage Museum, please visit their website.

To view more materials from the Matthews Heritage Museum, please click here.


Contributions of Vance County People of Color now available on DigitalNC

The book Contributions of Vance County People of Color by Ruth Anita Hawkins Hughes is now available on DigitalNC.  Thanks to a request from a community member, the folks at Granville County Public Library, and UNC Libraries, we were able to digitize this book.  

Four black and white photographs, top left is a woman in a large white dress who is sitting posed, top right is a child in a white dress standing posed, bottom left is a woman on the phone and the bottom right is a woman in a white nursing outfit holding a dog

Photographs of people discussed in the book are included

Written in 1988, the book contains vignettes about many Black residents of Vance County during the 20th century.  The book is broken up into chapters about farm families, and town families, and then by different occupations in the county.  An amazing resource particularly for genealogists, Contributions… is full text searchable, making it easy to search names quickly!  

To view more materials about the Black community in North Carolina, visit our African American newspapers collection and our general collection here.


Bertie County materials now on DigitalNC, including W.S. Etheridge HS yearbook and Hope Plantation materials

black and white brochure with a drawing of a plantation style home on it

Our second partner in Bertie County is Historic Hope Plantation, which is a foundation that runs the Hope Plantation historic site in Windsor, NC.  The Foundation was established in 1965 by Bertie County citizens concerned about the fate of the decaying Hope Mansion. According to their website, the site’s “mission is to provide educational, cultural and recreational benefits for the public by the preservation, maintenance and the administration of Historic Hope Plantation as an element of the heritage of the Roanoke-Chowan Region and as an illustration and interpretation of agrarian life in Eastern North Carolina from 1760 to 1840.”Brochure with a color picture of a table with 4 chairs around it

The majority of materials in our first batch from Historic Hope are materials relating to the running of the site, including a very large collection of brochures and programs detailing fundraisers for the museum, as well as visitor pamphlets.  The brochures tell a story themselves, showing how historic house museum interpretation has evolved over time, since the earliest one in 1956 to present day 21st century interpretation that is less decorative arts focused and more focused on telling the story of all those who lived and worked at the plantation, particularly enslaved people.  Some of the staff’s research is also included in the batch, including the court documents of those newly freed men and women who attested their cohabitation before the Civil War ended in order to gain recognition of marriage from the state, as well as research papers written by those affiliated with the site. 

Other related Bertie County materials are also included, particularly a 1954 yearbook from W.S. Etheridge High School which served the Black community of Bertie County before integration.

To learn more about Historic Hope Plantation, visit their partner page.


Trees of Wilson 1992 to 2017 Newsletters Now Available

Trees of Wilson January 2017 header. Volume 26, Number 1.

Scenes from "A Visit to Hart's Square" Trees of Wilson, November 1999. Above the words is a picture of three adults sitting. One is holding a banjo, a second a guitar. The third has no instrument.

Scenes from A Visit to Hart’s Square, November 1999.

Thanks to our new partner, Wilson County Genealogical Society (WCGS), a batch containing issues from 1992 to 2017 of the WCGS newsletter, Trees of Wilson, is now available on our website.

The primary mission of the WCGS is to preserve the records, heritage, history, and genealogy of the families who settled in Wilson while also promoting genealogy through education and fostering collaboration in research. These newsletters from 1992 to 2017 include information on society officers and events, meetings, member research reports, research tips, and more.

One notable article was published in the March 2016 newsletter titled: “Black Wide-Awake: The Roots of Wilson’s African-American Community.” The article recounts a presentation given by Lisa Y. Henderson—a Wilson County native, WCGS member, researcher, and writer. In her lecture, she talks about the local history and heritage of Wilson County’s early African American community, including information on the earliest recorded account of African Americans in Wilson County. In addition, Henderson discusses the difficulties of researching African American family history, early communities, and provides links to places where she has gathered her information so that others may also use the resources.  Her blog was highlighted here last year as a great example of how DigitalNC is used on the web.  

To learn more about the Wilson County Genealogical Society, please visit their website.

To view more materials from Wilson County, please click here.


Photographs, Ephemera, and Dortch Family Bible From Wayne County Now Online

DigitalNC is happy to announce that a new batch of 100+ photographs and ephemera from Wayne County plus selections of William T. Dortch’s personal bible are all available to view online. We would like to thank our partners at Wayne County Public Library for making this possible.

Two of the digitized photos are large photographs from around the time of World War I, depicting soldiers in Fort Bragg, N.C. and La Bazoge, France. The other photographs and ephemera in the collection speak to everyday life in mid to late 20th century Wayne County. Much of the material comes from Goldsboro High School, such as photos of cheerleaders and a resolution from the City of Goldsboro congratulating the Cougarettes on winning the state 4-A Girls’ Tennis Championship. Other photos include youth sports teams and many school portraits from New Hope School.

The portions of the personal bible of William T. Dortch contain primary information on the Dortch family tree. The fastidious documentation of marriages, births, and deaths stretches from the 18th century all the way to the turn of the 21st century.

To view all digital content from Wayne County Public Library, click here. And to learn more about the Wayne County Public Library, please visit their contributor page or website.


Luther Byrd Genealogical Collections from Surry Community College Now Online at DigitalNC

An excerpt of the John Hunter Family Record, who came to the US from Ireland around 1750.

Over 120 genealogical collections from Surry County have been digitized and added to DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, Surry Community College. Created and assembled by Luther Byrd, former Elon College professor from Westfield, North Carolina, these collections represent a huge variety of information about different families and their descendants living in Surry County. Many of the collections include documents, papers, newspaper clippings, and personal letters to and from Byrd about the family members.

The coat of arms for the Thrower family, included in the Arrington collection.

Also included are various family records and family tree diagrams, complete with indexes to determine where a given family member is located in the tree. One such example is the Hunter Family Record excerpted above. Looking through these collections, it is fascinating to see the staggering amount of documents and material that these families created and saved throughout the years, as well as the amount of work that Byrd put in to ensure that these collections are all relevant and well-maintained.

These collections represent a growing wealth of information about the history of Surry County. To browse through other materials from Surry Community College, visit their partner page or check out their website.


Substantial and Varied Collection from Rockingham County Now Online

The latest materials digitized from Rockingham County Public Library are online now, and oh are they wide-ranging. Included in this batch are church bulletins, postcards, audio recordings, local histories, genealogical records, and even an intricate cross stitch of Rockingham County’s not-quite-neighbor, Person County.

Many of these items recount the history of the towns of Leaksville, Draper, and Spray before the three were consolidated into a single town, Eden N.C., in 1967. One of these is the book Leaksville-Spray, North Carolina: A Sketch of its Interests and Industries, which is one of only two copies known to exist today. It gives extensive details about textile and other manufacturing industries in the area during the early twentieth century.

Morehead Cotton Mills Co.

Leaksville’s Morehead Mills was founded by future governor John Motley Morehead, also known as “the Father of Modern North Carolina.”

Other materials included in this batch were created well after Leaksville, Draper, and Spray were incorporated as Eden. The song “The Ballad of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper,” written by Leaksville native John Marshall Carter, laments the merger of the three cities with its chorus of, “I can’t believe that they’ve done this to me, I can’t conceive that they’ve killed history.” This song along with “Olden Days” were digitized from an original 45 rpm record.

Header for the Farmer's Advocate Newsletter

“Published Sporadically But Enthusiastically” reads the tagline on the first edition of the Farmer’s Advocate Newsletter.

Also digitized were 70 editions of The Farmer’s Advocate Newsletter from the Historic Jamestown Society — a group dedicated to the preservation of the stories and structures of Jamestown N.C. — spanning from 1975 to 2018.

Rockingham-area genealogists may find some gems in the records of family reunions, vital statistics, church publications, or cemetery survey included in this batch.

All of the items from the most recent batch can be accessed here. To learn more about the Rockingham County Public Library, visit their partner page on DigitalNC or their website.


DigitalNC on the Web: Genealogy blogs

Genealogists are probably our biggest users here at DigitalNC. We love the blog we’re highlighting today because it gives us some great insight into some of the finds one particular genealogist is making using DigitalNC.  Taneya Koonce is a fellow information science professional and also an avid genealogist.  On her personal blog, Taneya’s Genealogy Blog, she chronicles her work to trace her family’s history and the resources she uses to do so.  

Clipping from a genealogy blog about the connection of her family to Sylva, NC

A really great example of the way Ms. Koonce has used DigitalNC for her research is her post titled “And Now I Know Why” which shows how she traced why her great grandfather’s brother died in Sylva, NC, a place the family had not had any obvious connections to, which involved looking at yearbooks from Winston-Salem State University and their student newspaper, both of which can by found on Winston-Salem State University’s partner page.  

To see more posts about Ms. Koonce’s use of DigitalNC in her family history research, view all the posts tagged DigitalNC here.

If you have a particular project or know of one that has utilized materials from DigitalNC, we’d love to hear about it!  Contact us via email or in the comments below and we’ll check out.  To read about other places on the web that feature content from DigitalNC, check out past blog posts here.