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"

Band, Ten Hut! Granville County Store Ledgers and Six New Yearbooks Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Granville County Public Library, we now have ledgers from Granville County’s Woodworth Store and Townesville Store available on our website as well as six new yearbooks added to our North Carolina High School Yearbooks collection! These yearbooks are from Vance County High School (1970 and 1971), Franklinton High School (1971), J.F. Webb High School (1971), and Henderson High School (1964 and 1971). 

With the start of the fall semester and football season here in North Carolina, marching bands are officially back on the field and in the stands supporting their teams and entertaining audiences with favorites such as Fight SongHey Baby, and You Can Call Me Al. While we all appreciate what marching bands adds to these sporting events, no school has shown as much appreciation for their marching band than Henderson High School.

In the school’s 1964 yearbook, an overwhelming amount of page space is given to the school’s band. Some of these photographs show the students rehearsing in the band room with band director W. T. Hearne, but a majority of them show the students in their full marching band and majorette uniforms. The photographs included in this post from the 1964 Pep Pac showcase the amazing size of their band as well as their snazzy uniforms.

To learn more about the Granville County Public Library, visit their website here.

For more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit our North Carolina Yearbook collection.



Winston-Salem’s African-American Heritage Initiative Materials Now on DigitalNC

Smiling woman sitting in front of a sign that says City of Winston-Salem African-American Heritage Initiative

Screenshot from the Evelyn Abrams Terry Oral History Interview [June 18, 2022]

The City of Winston-Salem has started a project called the Winston-Salem African-American Heritage Initiative to address the shortcomings of how the city has historically acknowledged the role of African-Americans in its’ history.  The goal of the initiative is to build a digital archive of materials that aims to preserve and provide access to the history of Winston-Salem during segregation as well as the efforts of desegregation.  Working in partnership with the city on this, DigitalNC is serving as the digital access portal for the submitted materials.  So far those materials have included oral histories taken at the city’s Juneteenth events with members of the African-American community, as well as old campaign materials, funeral programs and other items documenting Winston-Salem’s African-American community.

Article clipping from a newspaper. Photograph campaign flyer with a man in a bowtie pictured.

William R. Crawford 1964 NC Legislature Campaign Materials.

All of the materials collected so far can be viewed on the Initiative’s DigitalNC page here.  If you are interested in submitting materials to the Initiative, check out the city’s website.  

Scrapbooks, Author Letters Celebrate History of Wayne County Public Library

A postcard with a black-and-white, etched art of the Brooklyn Bridge. Below is the signature of Betty Smith.

From the 1950-1976 scrapbook

The back of the postcard with a message written in blue pen.

The reverse side of the postcard

Our latest batch of materials from the Wayne County Public Library includes some seriously cool scrapbooks that document almost a century of the library’s history. Ranging from 1910 to the 1990s, these seven scrapbooks contain detailed minutes, photographs, newspaper clippings, event paraphernalia and other ephemera. 

One of the most exciting sections is the collection of letters from North Carolina authors—who also happen to be mostly women—in the 1950-1976 scrapbook. Several writers seem to have been invited for readings and events at the library, and they wrote letters back to library staff about their experiences.

A newspaper photo of Betty Smith

From the 1950-1976 scrapbook

One of the most famous writers that visited was Betty Smith, who is probably best known for her novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (there are several materials about her already on DigitalNC, including this video interview). Although she was born in New York, Smith adopted Chapel Hill as her home town later in life and is still buried in the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery. Along with the card that she sent to library staff (pictured above), the scrapbook includes a newspaper clipping with an interview of Smith where she encourages Chapel Hill to resist the push for industry and to preserve its small-town character. 

“I hate to see commercialism,” she said. “They come in and tear up trees that took 200 years to grow, and pile them up and burn them to get rid of them. Then they stick out little trees⁠—with wire holding them up. Why couldn’t we have a shortage of bulldozers!”

A typed letter with the header of the Sanford Daily Herald

The second half of a letter from Doris Betts

Another well-known author included here is Doris Betts, who served as an English and creative writing professor at UNC Chapel Hill. Betts was born in Statesville, attended UNC Greensboro and eventually settled in Pittsboro. In her literary career, she produced six novels, three short story collections, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Sir Walter Raleigh Awards and the N.C. Medal for Literature. Her archive is now part of the UNC Chapel Hill Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library.

Other authors included in the 1950-1976 scrapbook include Inglis Fletcher, Bernice Kelly Harris, Mebane Holoman Burgwyn, Bernadette Hoyle, and Mertie Lee Powers.

You can see the full collection of scrapbooks here. To see more materials from the Wayne County Public Library, you can visit their partner page and their website

More Issues of the “Bertie Ledger-Advance” Document Recent History

A blue box with the Bertie Ledger-Advance masthead

Through our partnership with the Bertie County Public Library and Martin Community College, we now have many more editions of the Bertie Ledger-Advance. This batch of the Windsor, N.C., paper ranges from January 2016 until December 2021, meaning that it covers many of the major news stories still in memory.

Newspaper clipping

March 11, 2020

Perhaps one of the most obvious topics that appears in these issues is the impact of Covid-19 in one of North Carolina’s small towns. The front-page coverage starts where you might expect: March 11, 2020.

Initial articles focus on preparedness; the March 18, 2020 issue announces Governor Roy Cooper’s mandate to close schools for two weeks and end gatherings of more 50 people. That was also the week that Bertie County declared a State of Emergency in order to receive resources for public health measures.

“The fact that we are so rural here in Bertie County gives us an edge. …We are not like Raleigh as it relates to populations,” Bertie County Emergency Services Director Mitch Cooper said.

A photo of several people standing in a parking lot outside a church. Their backs are to the camera, and they are watching another person deliver a service.

Bertie County begins holding church services outdoors (March 25, 2020)

These issues go on to document the progression of the pandemic in a rural area. On March 25, 2020, Bertie County sees its first confirmed case; the state begins “Phase 1” re-opening on May 10, 2020; Bertie and surrounding counties experience spikes in the number of cases, including one from September 10, 2020. At the end of 2020, the paper also published a recap of the year’s major stories, noting that the “Pandemic dominated headlines.”

The coverage continues through 2021, when schools are finally scheduled to reopen for in-person learning in March 2022. Through each of these stories, its clear what a huge impact Covid-19 had on the lives of Bertie County residents⁠—as it did for people across the state, the nation, and the world.

A cartoon of a pizza deliverer carrying a pizza. A sign says, "Keep calm and carry out."

March 25, 2020

To see more news stories from this batch, you can browse by date:

You can also see more issues of the Bertie Ledger-Advance here or browse our entire collection of digitized newspapers in our Newspapers of North Carolina collection. To see more materials from Martin Community College, you can visit their partner page and their website.

Southern Pines’ “The Yankee Settler” from 1898 Now Available

Our partner, the Moore County Library, has recently contributed another newspaper title to Digital NC: The Yankee SettlerThis issue of the Southern Pines paper from March 23, 1898 has several briefs detailing local happenings as well as world news.

A newspaper clipping describing a consumption pamphletOne interesting snippet from the front page is this article advertising a pamphlet on consumption, or as we know it today, tuberculosis (TB). Back in 1898, consumption was one of the leading causes of death, and it had only just been discovered that it was caused by contagious bacteria rather than a genetic predisposition. Still, doctors were mostly at a loss for how to treat the disease; it would be another 30 years before penicillin was discovered and another 15 after that before scientists found an antibiotic that actually killed TB.

A black and white photograph of the bust of a bearded person.

James W. Tufts, 1895

Instead, medical minds and entrepreneurs of the early twentieth century tended to treat sufferers with fresh air. One such man was James Walker Tufts, who founded the nearby resort at Pinehurst. Apparently, Tufts was excited by the environment in the North Carolina sandhills, which were described in 1906:

“It is doubtful there is any place in the United States where persons brain-weary and nerve-worn rally or make as rapid progress toward health and vigor. The weather bureau in Washington has observed much warmer than points north and south in winter probably due to the sandy soil, which retains heat and, being a great absorbent of water, prevents evaporation that would otherwise cool the air.”

The resort at Pinehurst officially opened in 1896, making the area a destination for anyone prescribed restfulness and fresh air. Even without the front page news, there’s no doubt that the disease and its treatments were top of mind for residents of Southern Pines, Pinehurst, and the surrounding area. 

You can see all the materials from the Moore County Library on their partner page and their website. You can also sort through our entire collection of North Carolina Newspapers by type, date, and location.

Additional Chatham County Architectural Photographs and Funeral Programs Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Chatham County Historical Association, over 600 architectural images of Chatham County and 64 funeral programs are now available to view on our website. The architectural images are particularly interesting. They cover a broad variety of building types and ages including houses, businesses, churches, masonic lodges, and schools all the way back to the 16th century. Below is a small sample of the different types of buildings that were photographed in Chatham County.

Built circa 1850, the Haughton-McIver House is a beautiful two-story home. Some of its features include a five-bay facade, six-over-six sash windows, symmetrically molded corner boards, and a central entry composed of paneled double-leaf doors framed by transom and sidelights.

The Chatham County courthouse, built in the 1880s and still standing today, is a two-story rectangular brick structure. The structure’s dominant feature is a classical two-story portico crowned with distinctive three-stage cupola.

The former Hinton-Beckwith School, built around 1930 near Farrington, is an especially important landmark for the area’s Black community. Beginning in the earliest part of the 20th century and continuing for 40 years, the school served as a place where Black individuals in the community would go to learn. The building’s rectangular structure is set off by three recessed double-leaf entrances that are surmounted by transom and framed by rows of tall nine-over-nine sash windows. Other features include a main entrance marked by sidelights and protected by a portico.

To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association, please visit their website.

To view more architecture materials available on DigitalNC, please click here.

To view more funeral programs from the Chatham County Historical Association, please view our Chatham County Funeral Program Exhibit.

Nag’s Head News (From At Least One Side) Now Available

A new title has been added to our Newspapers of North Carolina Collection thanks to the Outer Banks History Center. These issues of The Nags Tale, a cleverly-named paper from Nags Head, N.C., contain coverage from July and August 1938.

On of the first major news stories on the front page of this paper is a review of the local rendition of Paul Green’s The Lost Colony, first performed about a year earlier. The play is based on the true story of the lost colony of Roanoke Island in Dare County, N.C. (neighboring Nags Head).

An illustration of a tall monument standing on a sand dune in front of a cloudy sky.

The Wright Monument, or what the caption writer calls, “the foremost wooing ground in North Carolina.”

The reviewer notes, first and foremost, the incredibly large cast of the production, commenting, “There are 186 people in the company of ‘The Lost Colony,’ and when Sir Walter’s colony passed through an inlet that cut the banks between Nags Head and the Wright Memorial, there were only 108 people in the expedition come to lay the foundation of an empire.”

Despite the unusually large cast (which doesn’t include the crew members, the reviewer points out), the production seemed to be a hit among the residents of the island.

You can see all available issues of The Nags Tale here or browse our Newspapers of North Carolina Collection by location, type, and date. To see more materials from the Outer Banks History Center, you can visit their partner page and their website.

Business and Professional Women’s Club Scrapbooks Hold Evidence of Mid-Century Advocacy

A black-and-white photo of a group of white women standing side by side

From the 1958 Goldsboro Business and Professional Women’s Club Scrapbook

Thanks to our partner, Wayne County Public Library, we’ve got several additional scrapbooks from the Wayne County Business and Professional Women’s Club. The scrapbooks range from 1948 to 1974-75 and document many of the club’s leaders, events, and impacts in the area.

A black-and-white photo of a group of white women in formal wear

From the 1950 Goldsboro Business and Professional Women’s Club Scrapbook

The Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of North Carolina (BPW/NC) began in 1919 with representatives from Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Salisbury, and Winston-Salem. It grew to encompass several more chapters, including one in Goldsboro. The clubs advocated for women’s interests in the state, like money for a women’s dormitory at UNC-CH and the ratification of the 19th Amendment, and they protested against discrimination, such as that against unaccompanied women in hotels. Today, the BPW/NC still works to “promote the general advancement of working women in North Carolina.”

In addition to photographs, the scrapbooks hold a selection of newspaper clippings, financial records, organizational literature, event programs, and ephemera. You can see the full batch of scrapbooks and club minutes here. To see more materials from the Wayne County Public Library, visit their partner page or their website

William Hooper Court Summonses and Additional Chatham County High School Yearbooks Now Available on DigitalNC

Thanks to our partner, Chatham County Historical Association, batches containing three Moncure and Pittsboro High School yearbooks as well as court summonses signed by William Hooper are now available on our website. These court summonses, created three years before the American Revolution began, are some of the oldest primary source documents available on DigitalNC.

During his position as Chatham County’s first Clerk of Court, William Hooper executed a myriad of legal documents. Over the years, three of these legal documents were donated to the Chatham County Historical Association where they were held until 2022. In March 2022, the historical association learned that the Hooper court summonses should have originally been transferred to the State Archives since they are responsible for the preservation of records from all counties, state agencies, and government offices in North Carolina—no matter how old the material. After contacting the State Archives, a representative came to collect the three court summonses from the association. At the State Archives the court summonses are being curated and properly preserved. To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association’s experience with the State Archives, please read the association’s post here

William Hooper was one of North Carolina’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence and the North Carolina representative member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777. After graduating from Harvard College in 1760 at the age of 18, Hooper went on to study law under James Otis. In 1764, he temporarily settled in Wilmington, North Carolina to begin practicing law. Popular with the people of the area, he was elected recorder of the borough two years after his arrival in 1766. From May 1771 to November 1772, Hooper served as Chatham County’s first Clerk of Court despite never living in the county. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, Hooper traveled across North Carolina as a lawyer, was appointed deputy attorney general of the Salisbury District, and officially entered into the political world when he represented the Scots settlement of what is currently named Fayetteville in the Provincial Assembly in 1773. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, Hooper traveled across North Carolina as a lawyer, was appointed deputy attorney general of the Salisbury District, and officially entered into the political world when he represented the Scots settlement of what is currently named Fayetteville in the Provincial Assembly in 1773.

On July 21, 1774, he was elected chairman and presided over the selection of a committee to a call for the First Provincial Congress. When the Congress met, Hooper was chosen as one of three delegates that would represent the state of North Carolina at the First Continental Congress. Over the next two years Hooper served as a delegate for both the Provincial and Continental Congress on various committees including one that was in charge of stating the rights of colonies, one that reported on legal statutes affecting trade and commerce in the colonies, Thomas Jefferson’s committee to compose the Declaration of Independence, a committee for the regulation of the secret correspondence, and many more. Despite Hooper’s triumphs in the political sphere early in the revolution, his return to Wilmington in early 1777 due to contracting yellow fever began a steady decline for his political career and, consequently, his health.

Hooper attended the General Assembly, serving on multiple committees as the member for Wilmington each year from 1777 until the city was taken over by the British in 1781. Considered a fugitive by the British, Hooper hopped to various friends houses in the Windsor-Edenton area while his wife Anne and children fled to Hillsborough. Reunited in 1782 in Hillsborough, the family was permanently removed to the backcountry where they remained out of touch with national and state current events. In that same year, Hooper’s election to General Assembly as member for Wilmington was declared invalid (presumably since he was now in Hillsborough). The following year, he ran for the General Assembly’s Hillsborough seat and lost. In spite of this loss, Hooper ran again in 1784 and was this time elected. He would serve in the General Assembly as a representative for Hillsborough until 1786.

Although he enjoyed some political success since he left Philadelphia in 1777, Hooper was devastated when he was not elected a delegate to the 1788 Constitutional Convention. Certainly adding to his feelings of discontent, the convention met at Hillsborough’s St. Matthew’s Church, which was within sight and sound of Hooper’s house. As a result of what he saw as a failure, Hooper began to drown his feelings of disappointment in rum. At the age of 48, Hooper died the evening before his daughter’s marriage in 1790.


To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association’s experience with the State Archives, please read the association’s post here.

To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association, please visit their website.

For more yearbooks from across North Carolina, visit our yearbook collection.

To learn about William Hooper’s life in more depth, please view NCpedia’s entry on William Hooper.

Information in this blog post was taken from the NCpedia William Hooper entry.

Maysville Photos and Genealogies Document N.C.’s First Female Mayor

A sepia-toned photo of a one-story brick building. A car is parked in front with a person standing nearby.

G.H. Jenkins drug store and Foscue Hardware c. 1940

We’re excited to introduce one of our newest partners, the Maysville Public Library! Maysville is located in Jones County near the Croatan National Forest, and this batch of photos and family genealogies helps give a sense of some of the town’s history. 

One fun fact about Maysville is that it was the first town in North Carolina to elect a woman as mayor. Annie Koonce Jenkins was elected in 1925 and served for six years; her legacy lives on in the large oak trees she planted that still stand today. (Technically, Katherine Mayo Cowan was N.C.’s first female mayor since she finished a term for her husband, who died in office in Wilmington in 1924. Jenkins was the first woman to be elected mayor.)

A grayscale photo of a brick building. A tall tree stands beside it. Children are on the grass in the foreground.

Maysville School c. 1940

Some of Annie Koonce Jenkins’ life is recorded in the Basil Smith Jenkins: Ancestors and Descendants history. She was born November 7, 1880 (making her 45 when she was elected mayor) and married Franklin “Frank” Mattocks Jenkins on December 23, 1902. Franklin was the first son of Basil Smith Jenkins, which probably gave Annie some extra local clout.

Annie was a teacher in Richlands, N.C. when she married Frank and came to Maysville as the head of the Maysville school. She also helped organize the Civic Leagues (now known as Women’s Clubs) of many small Eastern towns, and she served as the president of the Maysville Civic League for 14 years. 

A grayscale photo of a tall church tower.

Maysville Baptist Church c. 1940

Meanwhile, Frank took turns on the Board of Aldermen and Jones County Board of Education as well as serving as postmaster and town marshal. Both Frank and Annie were also active in the Baptist Church, where he served as Superintendent of Sunday School and the Chairman of the Board of Deacons while she taught adult Sunday School classes. 

It’s evident from this batch of materials that the Jenkins family was an important one in Maysville, as several landmarks bear their name. But there are many other families included in these histories and photographs as well. You can explore the full batch of materials here. To learn more about Maysville Public Library, you can visit their partner page or their website