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 "local histories"


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.


Hmong Keeb Kwm: Hmong Heritage Project Materials Now Online at DigitalNC

Ten individuals in uniform standing in a group facing forward

A photo of Hmong soldiers graduating from pilot training in November 1973

two individuals in military uniform looking at the camera

Nao Chao Lo and Nhia Thong Yang in their military uniforms, circa 2018

Over a hundred photographs, documents, artifacts, oral histories, and other materials from Hmong Keeb Kwm: The Hmong Heritage Project are now online, courtesy of the Catawba County Library. This new batch represents the first materials on DigitalNC to come from the Catawba County Library. This collection also has the honor of being the first to represent the Hmong people of North Carolina on our website.

There is a huge amount of variety in the materials in this batch. It contains dozens of photographs of physical objects to DigitalNC, including colorful embroidered material, Laotian and Thai currency, bracelets and jewelry, and more. Text materials, like personal records, newspaper clippings, and program certificates are also included. A number of photographs of Hmong individuals, their family members, and their personal lives are also found in this collection. Finally, several oral histories are also included in this collection, allowing people to tell about their experience of coming to the United States. These oral histories are both available as audio files and as written transcripts.

Having these materials on DigitalNC represents an important addition to our understanding of Catawba County, and allows us to continue in our mission to digitize materials from all communities throughout the state. To see other materials from the Catawba County Library, visit their partner page or check out their website.


Newly Digitized Materials from Winston Salem’s African-American Community Now Online

 

Vacation Bible School Group Photo

A group photograph taken at Shiloh Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School. June 1958.

We have added materials that capture some of Winston Salem’s rich African-American history from 1930 to 1990, courtesy of the Winston Salem African American Archive.

Included in this batch are several editions of The Columbian, the student newspaper for Columbian Heights High School, and articles from other local papers highlighting notable community members and events.

One such community member, Joseph Bradshaw was a veteran, social worker, educator and local historian, committed to preserving Black history in the city and beyond. Other articles detail firsts in Winston Salem’s African-American community: William Samel Scales opened the first black-owned bonding agency and later served as the president of Forsyth Savings and Trust. Naomi McLean opened the first black business and stenographer school in Winston Salem. Carl Matthews began the Winston-Salem sit-in on February 8, 1960. Other articles detail the 1947 Local 22 Tobacco Workers strike at the R.J. Reynolds Factory.

Color portraits of Mary Hairston and Dr. Rufus Hairston

Color portraits of Mrs. Mary Hairston and Dr. Rufus S. Hairston. Dr. Hairston was Winston Salem’s first African-American pharmacist.

Also included in these materials are color portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Rufus S. Hairston and a scrapbook of materials collected by Mrs. Hairston. The Hairstons were both alumni of Slater Industrial Academy, now known as Winston Salem State University, and active members of their community. Dr. Hairston was Winston Salem’s first African-American pharmacist, an alumnus of Shaw University, president of the National Pharmaceutical Association, and was appointed WSSU’s first alumni board of trustee member. Mrs. Hairston served as one of the first presidents of the Winston Salem Chapter of Moles, a national professional organization of women of color, and was a founding member of the Winston Salem Chapter of The Links, Inc. She was also involved in the development of Winston Salem’s first library for African-Americans and later worked in the WSSU library.

To learn more about the Winston Salem African American Archive, visit their website or partner page.


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.


Durham Urban Renewal Records Have Been Renewed

In the early days of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, we digitized thousands of records created during the Durham Urban Renewal Project. Recently, we revisited these records with the intention of making them more accessible and useful to our partners and the public.

The Durham Redevelopment Commission was established in 1958 with the intention eliminating “urban blight” and improving the city’s infrastructure as more and more personal vehicles filled the city’s streets. Durham Urban Renewal targeted seven areas — one in Durham’s downtown district and six in historically black neighborhoods including Hayti and Cleveland-Holloway. The projects in these six neighborhoods impacted approximately 9,100, or  11.7%, of Durham citizens at the beginning of the project in 1961. Although the initial timetable for the project was ten years, the project efforts went on for nearly 15 years and was ultimately never completed. By the end of the urban renewal efforts, more than 4,000 households and 500 businesses were razed and a new highway — NC 147 —  stretched through the heart of Durham.

A public library building, two stories tall with ornate columns.

Some structures included in the collection, such as the second home for the main branch of the Durham Public Library, outlived the urban renewal project and still stand today. This building is located at 311 East Main Street.

The Durham Urban Renewal Collection contains studies, reports, appraisals, property records, photographs, brochures, and clippings that span the nearly 20 years of urban renewal projects. These materials are artifacts of Durham before, during, and after urban renewal dramatically altered the city.

In an effort to make these materials as accessible and accurate as possible, we recently completed a major cleanup of the collection. Properties are now listed by complete street address. Many of the residential properties — and some commercial properties — were appraised more than once during the urban renewal process. We have consolidated all appraisals, photographs, and other records for individual properties into single listings, and text in these records are full-text searchable. We also used historical maps of the city from the years of urban renewal to provide additional information for unaddressed or mislabeled appraisals and records. In addition to the changes made to improve accessibility by address, we made efforts to ensure that the names of property owners are complete, accurate, and consistent across the collection, so that records may be located more easily in searching by the owners’ names.

The materials in the Durham Urban Renewal Collection came from Durham County Library’s North Carolina Collection and are only a portion of the materials contributed by the library to date. To learn more about the Durham County Library, visit their website or partner page.


A New Partner Means New Materials from Robersonville and Martin County

We are excited to welcome new partner Robersonville Public Library to DigitalNC.  With this addition, we are adding Robersonville and Martin County generally to our coverage map.  Our first batch from Robersonville includes several yearbooks from Robersonville High School, as well as Abstracts of Deed Books, Robersonville Cemetery Records, and books on the history of Martin County. 

Robersonville High School with students out front

Robersonville High School from the 1957 yearbook

The high school yearbooks cover 1954 through 1967 for Robersonville High School and give a great glimpse into what life was like for students in Martin County at the time.  Alumni who have moved out of the area will be particularly interested in these materials.  

The two books on the history of Martin County compiled by Martin County residents Francis M. Manning and W. H. Booker based on historical documents and oral histories. Martin County History Volume I chronicles more than two centuries of the county’s past, beginning with the arrival of colonists in the area that was previously only inhabited by native peoples. Martin County History Volume I explores notable events, individuals, and even inventions through 1976.

Martin County History Vol I page 252

Some of the inventions discussed in Martin County History Volume I include octagon soap, and a filleting machine.

Religion and Education in Martin County 1774-1974, also authored by these two local historians, includes information about Martin County churches, their congregants, their leadership, and even details regarding a nineteenth-century missionary movement within the county. Part two of the book details the development of the county’s school system, including photographs and details of public and private schools alike.

Williamston Academy Building 1914

Students stretch outside of the Willamston Academy in Martin County in an image from Religion and Education in Martin County 1774-1974.

Martin County genealogists may be especially interested in these new materials. Included in this collection are Abstracts of Deeds from 1774 to 1801, Will Books from 1774-1868, and two collections of cemetery records for Robersonville area cemeteries. These cemetery records including the new and old cemetery sections for the Robersonville Cemetery, the Grimes Cemetery, the First Christian Church Cemetery, and the Roberson Cemetery. These binders provide grave locations for many deceased residents as well as veterans status, dates of birth and death, and the names of plot purchasers for all included cemeteries.

Robersonville Public Library is part of BHM Regional Library, serving Beaufort, Hyde, and Martin Counties. To see more from the Robersonville Public Library, visit their partner page here on DigitalNC or check out their website.