Viewing entries tagged "moving images"

Mitchell CC Video Tackles the Mystery of Marshal Ney

A black-and-white image of a French military officer looking toward his right shoulder. He has a long face and is posed with one hand on his hip.
Marshal Michel Ney

The myth of Marshal Michele Ney, Napoleon’s trusted lieutenant, has long fascinated North Carolina storytellers. Thanks to our partner, Mitchell Community College, we now have a video version of the story, told by Bill Moose, a Mitchell CC alumnus and former instructor.

The romantic myth, first told by one of Peter Stewart Ney’s former students, says that Michel Ney escaped his own execution and fled to the United States, living out the rest of his days as the school teacher Peter Stewart Ney in North Carolina. The legend pulls in the life of the real Peter Stewart Ney, a teacher who happened to share the Marshal’s last name and who was an immigrant to South Carolina near the time of Michel Ney’s execution (though records suggest he was from Scotland rather than France). Peter Stewart Ney’s grave in Rowan county reads, “a native of France… and soldier of the French Revolution… under… Napoleon Bonaparte,” and his birth year is listed as 1769, the year Michel Ney was born. Though many storytellers have attempted to explain the ways that Michele Ney could have escaped and the similarities between the two men, historians have established that Peter Stewart Ney was not the Marshal.

Moose’s version tells how Michele Ney faked his own execution and was able to escape France by ship. Once in America, Moose theorizes that Ney could have connected with friends in Philadelphia. According to Moose, Michele Ney’s son, Eugène Michel Ney, was trained as a doctor in Philadelphia, and Peter Stewart Ney may have visited him. Moose also focuses on the oft-repeated story that Peter Stewart Ney allegedly attempted suicide when he heard of Napoleon’s death, though the source of that story is unclear.

The Ney myth runs so deeply in NC history that Peter Stewart Ney’s body was exhumed in 1887 and examined for evidence that he was the Marshal. In Moose’s telling, the lack of evidence found on the body (which was mostly decomposed) allowed the myth to continue.

Though he was not Napoleon’s lieutenant, Peter Stewart Ney did receive some acclaim as a teacher and scholar, according to Moose’s version. He developed a shorthand writing style and designed the seal and motto of Davidson College, Alenda Lux Ubi Orta Libertas. Sadly, not much is known about the early life of Peter Stewart Ney.

You can see the full batch of videos from Mitchell Community College, including the Mystery of Marshal Ney, here. You can also browse all videos from Mitchell CC and our other partners in our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection. To see more from Mitchell Community College, you can visit their partner page and their website.


Videos Offer Glimpse of Old Washington, Including Now-Demolished Patrician Inn

A marching band parading down the street in Washington, N.C., with large crowds on either side.A batch of four videos of Washington, N.C. has been added to our collection thanks to our partner, the George H. and Laura E. Brown Library. Two of the videos, which are silent but in color, show footage of Washington from 1939, including notable buildings, Warren airport, boats on the water, and tulips in bloom. They also have footage of the Tulip Festival parade, which features floats, marching bands, and several excellent costumes. Since the annual festival is no longer celebrated, these videos give us an idea of what it looked like in its most popular era.

An old-fashion sign reading "The Patrician Inn"

Speaking of bygone Washington cultural touchstones, the other two videos focus on the Patrician Inn, a popular place to stay founded by the Pickle family. One video offers a tour of the rooms, which feature several antiques and items of unique furniture. The second video provides some context to the inn’s collection in an interview with Mrs. Ellen Vincent Pickles and Emily Pickles Williams. Although the camera operator takes some artistic liberties that we probably wouldn’t see today, we do get even more footage of the treasures in the room as Mrs. Pickles tells some of her stories. 

Since the Patrician Inn has since been converted to a parking lot, we will probably never encounter the subject of one of her most intriguing stories: the ghost(s) that haunted the inn (4:47). Mrs. Pickles tells the story of a couple of guests who claimed to have seen “the most beautiful ghost that [they’d] ever seen in [their] life,” who was apparently wearing a “white wig and a blue satin jacket” and “silver buckles.” This was not the ghost that Mrs. Pickles was familiar with; her usual ghost was named Paul Bregal (spelling unclear), and he liked to snuff out her candles on the end of the mantle. He, apparently, did not wear such finery, and he usually lived in a closet rather than a guest room.

You can watch all of the videos here or explore our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection. To see more from the Brown Library, you can visit their partner page and their website.


The Real-Life “Hamilton” Sequel Set in Nags Head

If you’re a big fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton (based on the life of Alexander Hamilton), you may remember the song that Aaron Burr sings about his daughter, “Dear Theodosia.” But what you may not know is that Theodosia Burr’s story comes to a head (that joke will make sense in a minute) in North Carolina.

An illustration of three horses trotting over sand dunes

Theodosia Burr was primarily raised by her father and received the kind of education that was typically reserved for the men of her time. She had a strong relationship with her father and admired him greatly, according to her letters. Among the country’s early framers, Aaron Burr was one of the few early defenders of women’s rights (7:18) (due partially to the influence of Theodosia Prevost, Theodosia Burr’s mother).

Aaron Burr’s dedication to Theodosia’s education helped her become one of the most distinguished women in early American society—and one of the most sought-after. She was apparently pursued by the artist John Vanderlyn and the writer Washington Irving. Vanderlyn allegedly painted Theodosia’s eye as a “memento of his love” (10:32) and wore it on his lapel. The most appealing suitor, though, was Joseph Alston, who would go on to become governor of South Carolina. They were married in February 1801 in Albany, New York (11:34). In 1802, Theodosia gave birth to a son, Aaron Burr Alston (15:09).

In 1807, Aaron Burr was tried and acquitted of treason, leaving his political reputation in a sorry state. To escape the negative attention, he went into self-imposed exile in England, where he stayed for four years. The separation was apparently hard on Theodosia, who didn’t see her father during that period. Then, in 1812, her son died of malaria at the age of 10 (19:50), leaving her even weaker and and more depressed.

When Aaron Burr finally returned to New York in June of 1812, Theodosia was desperate to reunite. However, her poor health made her family worry about travel on land, and the ongoing war meant that most ships had been seized by the Navy to fight the British (20:14). Finally, in the fall of 1812, Alston secured a small pilot boat, The Patriot, to take Theodosia up the East Coast from Charleston to New York. As Oscar Stradley explains (5:26), the boat was designed to sail close to the shore and arrive in New York in 5 to 6 days. Theodosia and the crew of The Patriot left Charleston on December 30, 1812.

A quick sidebar is necessary here to explain what happened next—and it involves our old friend Hamilton. As many North Carolinians know, the Outer Banks has a long history as a treacherous area for sailors, especially on dark nights, when the coastline is hard to see (not to mention the threat of pirates, which we’ll get to in a minute). Alexander Hamilton, who was personally familiar with the “graveyard of the Atlantic,” used his influence within the Washington and Adams administrations to get funding for lighthouses (1:50). He was successful in securing funding for one famous gal in 1794: Cape Hatteras.

A portion of a map of the Outer BanksAlthough Cape Hatteras provided some light for ships around Hatteras and Ocracoke by the time it was lit in 1803, by 1812, there still wasn’t good lighting around Nags Head, which is to the north (close to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills). This set up the perfect opportunity for land pirates in the area.

On dark nights (which are especially common in the fall and winter in the Outer Banks), pirates would lure ships aground with a sneaky trick: they would tie a lantern to the neck of the ponies commonly found on the islands and lead them up and down the hills (6:48). From the perspective of boats on the water, this looked a lot like the light on another ship bobbing nearby (a “nag” is a name for an old horse). 

Although the details of what happened to Theodosia and the crew of The Patriot are still a bit of a mystery, accounts of pirates that surfaced in the 1830s led people to believe that the boat was taken in by this trick at Nags Head. Stradley notes that the crew may have been trying to determine their location when they accidentally ran ashore and fell victim to pirate murder (8:20).

The reason that we think Theodosia made it to the Outer Banks comes down to one enticingly-vague clue: a portrait that is probably of Theodosia. In Stradley’s telling, Theodosia escaped the initial pirate attack with the portrait of herself, which she intended to give to her father when she arrived in New York. The pirates may have left her on the beach, he posits, because of superstition surrounding people with mental illness, or people “whose minds had been taken by God” (10:59)

The portrait was rediscovered by Dr. William Poole, a physician from Elizabeth City who made a house call to a small fishing cabin on Nags Head in 1869 (12:06). Apparently, the owner of the cabin gave the portrait as payment for medical treatment. The portrait has a strong resemblance to Theodosia’s earlier portraits, and when it was discovered, some of her surviving family members confirmed the likeness (39:10)

Stradley tells this part of the story as if Dr. Poole was called to treat Theodosia herself (who, in 1869, would have been in her late eighties). Before Dr. Poole could take the portrait, however, Theodosia allegedly grabbed it off the wall, ran out of the cabin, and disappeared into the night (she was a sprightly eighty-six) (12:55). The portrait was later found washed up on the beach, and Theodosia was assumed to have drowned. 

Another version, explained by Marjorie Berry, historian for Pasquotank County, says that Dr. Poole was called into the cabin of Mrs. Polly Mann, a fisherman’s widow (27:30). The portrait stood out in the otherwise plain cabin, so Dr. Poole asked where it came from. Mrs. Mann explained that her old beau, Joseph Tillet, had been one of the ship’s wreckers, and that he had gifted her two black dresses and the portrait, which he had taken as his share of the loot. (In this version, the wreckers had found the ship already empty when they arrived.)

In contrast, the report that Aaron Burr received, according to Berry, was that Theodosia was drowned by a storm. Since British ships were waiting off the coast of North Carolina (they were, after all, in a war), one admiral sent Burr a message describing a rough storm that hit the Outer Banks on January 2, 1812—around the time that The Patriot would have been there (29:44). The fact that there was a huge storm in the area is a detail missing from all the pirate confessions that came forward, leaving some doubt as to their veracity.

Horses in a fenced area surrounded by low trees

Horses on Ocracoke Island

Whatever happened to Theodosia Burr, the story of her life and disappearance has been told and retold in Northeastern North Carolina many times; a copy of her portrait is on display in the Our Story Exhibit at the Museum of the Albemarle. You can hear the Oscar Stradley’s full version of the story here (courtesy of Mitchell Community College) and Marjorie Berry’s version in the recording of “History and Highballs: Theodosia Burr” from the North Carolina Museum of History. 


Variety of Person County Materials Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Person County Public Library, a batch of materials including a variety of North Carolina maps, a video of Bill Clinton’s visit to the state in 2008, pamphlets and books about North Carolina history, and more are now available on our website.

An older Black woman sits on the porch of her home.

Morse Gardner

An interesting work from this batch is the book, Let me tell you ’bout … when I was growing up. It contains transcribed interviews with older members of the Person County community which were conducted by elementary school students using tape recorders. The recordings were later transcribed and published into this book. The interviewees in this book were quite a diverse and exciting group. The interview with Morse Gardner (pictured above) being one of the most gripping. In her interview, Morse Gardner goes into great detail about her education and family, old medicinal remedies, her thoughts on segregation, and her community growing up.

To learn more about Person County Public Library, please visit their website.

To listen to oral histories available on our website, please click here.


Videos from Mitchell Community College now on DigitalNC

Over 30 videos from Mitchell Community College are now on DigitalNC.  They include fall convocations, variety shows from the 1990s, and even a set of commercials that promoted Mitchell Community College programs such as computer technology that aired in 1990.  

Two students sit at a table looking at notebooks with bookbags on the table.

Two students in the library in a clip from footage shot around Mitchell Community College’s Statesville campus.

To view more content on DigitalNC from Mitchell Community College, visit their partner page.

To view more community college content from across NC, visit our Community College exhibit here. 


New Partner Martin Community College and History of Martin County

Martin Community College logo

Thanks to our new partner, Martin Community College (MCC), a North Carolina audio series focused on the history of Martin County and videos showcasing Martin Community College are now available on our website.  The recordings detail the history of Martin County beginning all the way from the Upper Paleolithic (~50,000 to 12,000 years ago) to the 1980s. Included in the chronicling of the county’s history is information on early burial practices in northeastern North Carolina (including humans and dogs), hunting practices, Indigenous culture, colonization of the area, agricultural economy of the region, transportation, and much more.

Videos in this batch feature a look at the MCC campus in the 1990s and provide information about the various programs offered by the college at the time. These programs included basic skills, equine management, and medical assisting. The remaining videos highlight the exciting MCC Stampede in the Park rodeo event. This event, which continues to be held annually, raises money for Martin Community College student scholarships. 

Title card for The Stampede in the Park, Rodeo, 1992 video. Two people standing participating in a rodeo standing in front of an advertisement. Over the picture the worlds "The Stampede in the Park, Martin Community College."

Stampede in the Park, Rodeo, 1992

Martin Community College is located in Williamston, North Carolina and was established in 1968 as Martin Technical Institute. On June 26, 1975, the college was granted community college status by North Carolina’s General Assembly. The MCC library serves not only the faculty, staff, and students of the college, but the citizens of Martin, Washington, and Bertie counties. Their local history room features books on the history of Martin as well as other surrounding counties, North Carolina history, narratives and photographs of historic buildings, and the Easter Rogerson Mizell Family Genealogy Collection.

To learn more about Martin Community College, please visit their website.

To listen or view more of North Carolina’s sights and sounds, please click here.


Over 100 videos from UNC-Pembroke now on DigitalNC

Over 100 videos from UNC-Pembroke, transferred primarily from U-Matic and VHS, are now available on DigitalNC. Thanks to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

screenshot from WPSU-TV promo showing a graphic of the main UNCP building

Screenshot from a WPSU-TV promo that aired in 1995

The films cover a range of topics, from promotional films about degree programs at the school, to graduation videos from the 1980s and 1990s.  Some of the films document a trip to Georgia to do a cemetery cleanup at the Croatan Indian Memorial Cemetery.

A substantial portion of the videos are from student produced programming including the Pembroke Forum, and Crosscurrents.

There are also several shows produced by students at Robeson Community College, including RCC Today and Robeson Watch.

To view all materials on DigitalNC from UNC-Pembroke, visit their partner page here.  To view more films and other audio-visual materials from around NC, visit our Sights and Sounds collection.


Films from Forest History Society are now on DigitalNC

Fourteen films about various aspects of the forestry industry and forest conservation are now online from the Forest History Society.  The films date from the 1920s up to one about the Yellowstone National Park fires in 1988. Thanks to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


 

To view more materials from the Forest History Society, visit their partner page.  To learn more about our partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, read this post.  And to view and hear more audiovisual materials on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection.


87 films from Mars Hill University’s collection now on DigitalNC

87 films have been digitized out of Mars Hill University‘s Southern Appalachian Archives and are now widely accessible on DigitalNC.  The films primarily are of the Byard Ray Folk Festival and Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival, which is still held annually today in Mars Hill.  Thanks to our colleagues in the Southern Folklife Collection, these audiovisual materials were digitized utilizing funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To view more materials from the Mars Hill University, visit their partner page.  To learn more about our partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection, read this post.  And to view and hear more audiovisual materials on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection.


DigitalNC Works from Home: Closed Captions

While at home, the NCDHC staff has been working on increasing accessibility to users through the addition of closed captions. Closed captions provide audiences with the text version of what is being spoken as well as relevant sound information–such as music, applause, and laughter–written out and synchronized with the audio of the video. Unlike open captions that are always present on a video, closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer. The use of captions is not limited to those who have difficulty hearing, but encompass a large percent of the population who use them for diverse reasons which include helping people to focus, retain information, being in a sound-sensitive environment (e.g. a library), and more.

Creating captions from scratch for videos, even short ones, can take several hours. In an effort to generate captions for a larger amount of moving images in our collection more quickly we use Happy Scribe, an automatic subtitling tool. These autogenerated subtitles do not include sound description and are never 100% perfect for reasons such as heavy accents, no knowledge of North Carolina history, mumbling, and bad sentence formatting, which requires staff to double check words and spelling, text spacing, punctuation, accurate synchronization between text and audio, to add sound description, and to sometimes engage in research about North Carolina. To remain transparent to our users and those involved in the material, the content of the videos are not censored. We write exactly what we hear in the videos. Captioning is an ongoing process and we are doing our best to make sure that our closed captions are as accurate and easy to read for all viewers as possible.

Screenshot showing the different work areas of Happy Scribe, an automatic subtitling tool.

Different work areas of Happy Scribe

The image above shows what it is like to edit captions using Happy Scribe. The area to the left is used for changing the text and spacing. If we have too many characters per line a box near the timestamps will turn red to alert us that we need to change the spacing or create a new caption that will make it easier for the viewer to read.
 
The area along the bottom of the screen (grey strip with white boxes) is used to synchronize captions with the audio. The sound waves at the very bottom of the screen help us to accurately line up the text to audio. To move an entire box we can click and hold the middle of the white box and drag it where it needs to go. To change the length of time that the captions are on the screen we click on the beginning or end of the boxes to change their length. 

The right side of the screen shows us how the captions appear on the moving images. Below it there are several options to go forward or backwards in the video, edit subtitle limits (e.g. how many characters per line we will allow), and formatting of the captions such as color, size, font, alignment, and more. 

Shows captioning in Happy Scribe, an automatic subtitle tool, at work.

Captioning in action

 

Once the autogenerated subtitles have been fixed and sound description added, the closed captions are uploaded to the video. In addition, a copy of the transcription is uploaded to the video’s record for those who do not wish to watch the whole video or want to quickly search for specific information. 

To turn captions on or off for a video, mouse over the video area and click on the icon box with “CC” (outlined by a yellow box in the picture below). A menu will pop up where you can click on “Captions” (outlined by the blue box) to turn closed captions on.

To view moving images on our website with closed captions, please click here

To view all of the moving images on our website, please click here.


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