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 "photos"


More Johnston Community College Photos Online

Thanks to our partner, Johnston Community College, we now have more photographs on our website. This batch includes pictures from the period of 1992-1994.

Image of a gaggle of geese on the Johnston Community College campus.

The batch includes photographs of the campus throughout the seasons. It also includes photographs from events such as the Chess Tournament and the Christmas Open House, and construction projects such as the clearing of a site for the future health building and the hanging of a chandelier in the lobby of the Tart building. In addition, there are photographs of college employees such as Susan Thompson and Barbara Shaw, an instructor of floral design.

Image of the campus in fall.

For more information about Johnston Community College, visit their website.


Photos from the Clay County Historical and Arts Council Now Online!

Thanks to our new partner, the Clay County Historical and Arts Council, we now have a batch of historic photos from Clay County on our website. These photos were initially put together by the council to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Clay County in 2011.

Cars parked in the Hayesville Town Square circa 1956.

Clay County is situated in the far western part of North Carolina on the border between North Carolina and Georgia. The county seat is Hayesville, NC, a small town that currently has a population of about 400 people, while the county currently has a population of around 11,000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Hayesville was 35 people in 1870 and the population of Clay County was 2,461.

A group of young women in Victorian garb sitting on a float in the Hayesville Centennial Parade.

The photos span the years 1862-1975. A large portion of the images focus on Hayesville, NC, the county seat. The rest of the pictures focus primarily on the surrounding rural area of the county. The subjects of the photos include shop interiors, school groups, the Dam Construction at Lake Chatuge in 1941-1942, historic county documents, the Hayesville town square, the Hayesville Centennial celebration in 1961 and related events, the Tennessee & North Carolina Railroad Depot in Hayesville, and rural life in the county.

Family standing in front of Pearl Scrogg’s residence in 1889.

For more information on the Clay County Historical and Arts Council, please visit their website.


New Photos of Chapel Hill Recently Added to DigitalNC

Thanks to our partners at the Chapel Hill Historical Society and their volunteer Julie Wiker, over 200 new photos were recently added to DigitalNC. Wiker is a student at UNC-CH’s School of Information & Library Science and she generously spent Fall 2019 scanning the photos and preparing their metadata to provide access online.

These photos are mostly of businesses and events in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, especially on or near Franklin Street, but also include some local cemeteries. Chapel Hill businesses include: Sutton’s (pictured above), the Eastgate shopping center, Carolina Coffee Shop, Top of the Hill, Danziger’s, and many more. Events include the bicentennial in 1993, the Fourth of July in 1995, and the opening of I-40 in 1987 (pictured below).

To browse all of these new photos, click here. To learn more about the Chapel Hill Historical Society, visit their contributor page here or their website here.


New Photographs from Johnston Community College are Available Now

Over four hundred photographs from Johnston Community College were recently added to DigitalNC, making our total number from this school nearly 2,000. This latest batch includes several groups of photos documenting the Tart Building’s construction, Cosmetology Department fashion shows, and other college activities.

In particular, the Tart Building photographs show the progression of the building’s construction from 1987 to 1989. Photos from 1987 show land being cleared and prepared, then photos from February and April 1988 show steel framing put in place. Later photos, from November 1988 show the building after drywall and other inside details were installed. Finally, photos from 1989 show the land surrounding the exterior of the Tart Building prior to landscaping and paving. Though construction finished in 1989, but a flood in the library space pushed its opening to 1990. There are photos from the library moving in on our site as well.

To see all of the photographs on DigitalNC from Johnston Community College, click here. DigitalNC also hosts several yearbooks from Johnston Community College from this time period–click here to view them. To learn more about Johnston Community College, visit their partner page here or their website here.


Photographs and Memorabilia from Smithfield High School Alumni Association Just Added to DigitalNC

Colorful football program cover with drawing of running football player

Program from the High School Football State Finals, Appalachian vs. Smithfield, December 1959

The Smithfield High School Alumni Association, a new partner, recently brought over a large collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and school ephemera for digitization here at the Digital Heritage Center. Sports as well as musical and theatrical performances feature prominently in this batch. There are formal portraits alongside candid snapshots taken of students over the years. Much of the content dates from the 1940s – 1960s before the high schools in Johnston County were consolidated and integrated.

Scrapbook page with three black and white photos each containing groups of students posing for the camera

One of the many pages of snapshots of Smithfield High School students.

A history of Smithfield published in 1977 by the Smithfield Herald for the town’s bicentennial was also scanned as part of this batch.  It provides a detailed history of the town, as well as great historic photographs of the town.  

You can view all of the materials we’ve digitized for the Smithfield High School Alumni Association on their contributor page. If you’re an SHS fan or alum, you may also be interested in the SHS yearbooks that the Johnston County Heritage Center has shared through our site.


We Can Do Better: Making Our Metadata More Equitable

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a pilot project that looks at how NCDHC staff have portrayed women through metadata (the information that accompanies the images on DigitalNC) over time. This is a small step towards finding unconscious bias in our work and making our metadata more equitable. I’ve accumulated some interesting examples, and I thought I’d share them here.

Anyone who’s ever tried to trace a matrilineal line knows the frustration of women being referred to only in the context of marriage. This was the convention in historic American culture – you’ll see it in newspapers, books, correspondence – and special collections are no exception. It was pretty easy for me to start looking at bias in our metadata with a simple search on Mrs., which netted me over 2,000 results.

Screenshot of the top 3 search results on DigitalNC.org when searching "Mrs."

If you browse that search yourself, you’ll see how many records don’t include the woman’s first name. The information that’s been written on or passed down with a photograph often inherited that cultural bias towards a woman’s married state. When NCDHC staff set out to describe a photograph, if all we have is “Mrs. Lewis Dellinger” then that’s what gets transferred to our metadata. Even if we had time to do research to try to locate Mrs. Lewis Dellinger’s given name, in most cases we couldn’t be positive it was the correct identification. So there are a lot of records that can’t be improved given the reliable information we have on hand.

Still, after browsing through DigitalNC, I started seeing places where a simple and quick change could make a difference. Here’s one example:

Black and White Image of white woman smiling and facing the camera

A screenshot of how this record looked initially, with the photograph entitled “Governor Scott’s Wife.”

Unlike many individuals in our collection, I knew this woman’s name and identity would be easy to confirm. Jessie Rae Osborne Scott was a graduate of what is now UNC-Greensboro. She taught high school, helped run a farm, raised five children, and was active in a number of charities and social causes. Other verified photographs of her are available online because she also happened to marry a governor. That fact is notable, but I’ve amended the record so that her own name is foremost while retaining the information originally included with the photograph in the description. 

When I first searched our website for the word “wife” I received 221 results; “husband” yielded 54. Because of ingrained bias, even if a woman’s name is available in the metadata her relationship to the man or men in the picture is privileged instead. Conversely, unless the woman was particularly well known or the overt focus of a photograph, husbands aren’t named as such. Here’s an example: 

Black and white family portrait with the man seated and holding a young child, and a woman standing to his left.

This photograph is entitled “Eppie N. Clifton, wife Melissa Honeycutt, and daughter Mettie.”

Note that the man is mentioned first, and the woman and child are described in relation to him. Here’s how I amended the photo’s metadata:

Black and white family portrait with the man seated and holding a young child, and a woman standing to his left.

This photograph is entitled “Mettie, Eppie N. Clifton, and Melissa Honeycutt.” The Description reads “L-R Mettie (daughter), Eppie N. Clifton (husband), and Melissa Honeycutt (wife).”

In the updated version I’m just going left to right and taking each person in turn, communicating what was written on or with the photograph. Their family relationship is still given, so that information isn’t lost, but it’s recorded in a way that’s more equal across the group.

Here’s another example I found interesting:

Black and white photo of five family members standing in front of a house.

This photo is entitled “Eldridge Troy Westbrook family and home, Bentonville Township, N.C.”

Note that the house is named after the male head of household and his name is noted in the title, but he isn’t in the photo. (The original description we were given even mentions that “ETW was living at time of photo; he doesn’t just happen to be in photo.”) I don’t want to remove the entire name of the house – it might have been identified that way among those who lived in the area – but I can easily improve the equity shown to the individuals who are actually shown in the photo without losing any important information. See what you think. All I did was keep the surname, and move the male’s name down to the description. I also put the familial relationships in parentheses instead of having them precede each name. I think this might subtly shift how people see this photograph and those pictured within. To me they seem less like they’re just hanging around waiting for ETW to arrive.

To sum it up, here are the types of changes we will regularly make to help improve the equity of our metadata:

  • We’ll note the full known identity of all of the photograph’s subjects in the title, moving from left to right, as in the example above.
  • When a couple’s only known information is a surname, we’ll record the honorifics for individuals from left to right. (In other words, we won’t default to always placing Mr. first.) Example: Mrs. and Mr. Detweiler
  • If a familial relationship is recorded about those in the photograph, we’ll note that in parentheses within the description. We’ll give equal consideration to noting relationships of all genders. 

Why is this work worth doing? How we name things influences power. It changes who gets noticed in a crowd. It shifts who gets resources when they’re scarce. Every individual has a right to their own identity; we don’t believe that the fact that a woman who lived in a time when she was considered secondary because of her gender should endure the same condition today. Why should we sustain a bias that’s been proven to do harm to society as a whole?

I’m sure I’m not doing a perfect job. I’ll miss my own biases as I make corrections. But with just a few small changes researchers will be able to find people they might not have found in the past. Even more, people viewing these photographs won’t have social conventions keeping them from really seeing all of the individuals in the pictures.


New materials from Rockingham and Stokes Counties are now online!

New materials from the Rockingham County Public Library are now available on DigitalNC. This batch includes photographs, remembrance books, neighborhood histories, newspaper clippings, and a football schedule poster.

Photographs include the one above of Lowes Methodist Church, now Lowes United Methodist, in Reidsville, and one of Charlie Jackson Bennett laying in state in 1953. There are remembrance books for the same Bennett, as well as Carrie Lee H. Bennett and Sylvia Bennett Brown. The funeral home where Sylvia Bennett Brown was laid to rest also created a remembrance plaque, included in this batch of items.

Other items include a variety of materials documenting the history of Mayodan and Stoneville, North Carolina, mostly from the twentieth century. The Carolina Heights neighborhood in Eden, North Carolina, is also represented here by a leaflet sharing its history. Carolina Heights was formerly in Spray, which was consolidated into Eden in 1967. To see all materials on DigitalNC from Spray, click here.

DigitalNC is thankful to our partner, Rockingham County Public Library, for enabling access to these materials online. To learn more about the Rockingham County Public Library, visit their partner page here or their website here. To see all items in this batch, click here, and to see everything contributed by the library, click here.


New Chatham County Photographs and the Story of Navigation on the Cape Fear and Deep Rivers

Thanks to our partners at the Chatham County Historical Association, DigitalNC now hosts nearly 100 new photos of Chatham County, as well as a profile of the Cape Fear and Deep River Slack Water Navigation from 1851 and the story of the Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company.

The Cape Fear and Deep River profile and its story are DigitalNC’s first additions to provide insight into North Carolina’s inland navigation system, though this information is complemented by several photos of the Cape Fear river on our site. The Deep River, along with the Haw River, is a tributary of the Cape Fear River. The two rivers meet just south of Jordan Lake in Chatham County, near Moncure and Haywood, North Carolina. The Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company was organized in 1849 in Pittsboro, NC, to enable steamboats to traverse the rivers. The company ensured navigation of the rivers by building dams and locks as a slack water system of navigation. To learn more about the company, visit Wade Hadley, Jr.’s history of the organization from 1980.

This batch of materials also includes nearly 100 new photographs of twentieth century Chatham County. Several showcase local high schools, activities at the Gilmore Hunting Lodge, dam construction, the Carolina Power and Light Company, churches in Mount Vernon, and other subjects.

To learn more about the Chatham County Historical Association, visit their contributor page here or their website here.


200 More Photos from Central Carolina Community College are Available Now!

Thanks to our partnership with Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), there are 200 new photographs on DigitalNC, making our total number of photographs nearly 4,000! These latest photographs document happenings at the college form the 1960s until 2001, focusing mainly on staff and faculty portraits and activities. CCCC originally opened as Lee County Industrial Education Center in the early 1960s, and later became Central Carolina Technical Institute, then Central Carolina Technical College, and finally Central Carolina Community College.

To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, please visit their partner page or their website. To see more photos like these from CCCC, check out the nearly 4,000 photos in the collection A Pictorial History of Central Carolina Community College.


More Materials from Johnston Community College are now Available

Aerial Photograph, 1983

Aerial Photograph, 1983

Thanks to our partners at Johnston Community College, DigitalNC is proud to make more photographs, a scrapbook and a 1988 class schedule available online. This batch follows a previous set of about 750 photographs from the college, and continues along themes of education, community, and the campuses in Smithfield and Four Oaks.

Some of the most notable photos are of campus personalities, including Dr. A. Curtis Phillips, President Donald Reichard, other faculty and staff, and several that focus on President John Tart as he was about to retire.

John Tart, his wife Marjorie Tart, and their grandchildren at President Tart's retirement party, 1998

John Tart, his wife Marjorie Tart, and their grandchildren pose by a series of cakes meant to look like the Johnston Community College at President Tart’s retirement party, 1998

The batch also includes the first scrapbook of news clippings produced by Johnston Community College. This book, filled with clippings from 1969 to 1972, is the first of many scrapbooks assembled by College faculty and staff. This book documents the origins and early days of the school, which opened as Johnston County Technical Institute in Fall 1969.

First class of curriculum students, September 1971 clipping in the 1969-1972 scrapbook

First class of curriculum students, September 1971 clipping in the 1969-1972 scrapbook

To see all of the photographs on DigitalNC from Johnston Community College, click here. DigitalNC also hosts several yearbooks from Johnston Community College from this time period–click here to view them. To learn more about Johnston Community College, visit their partner page here or their website here.