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"


Photographs from Johnston Community College in the 1990s Now Online

A clipping of a photo of an icey lake in winter at Johnston Community College. The photo features snow, trees, deer, and geese on the lake.

A clipping of a photo of animals and an icy pond at Johnston Community College in 1996.

Approximately 130 photographs from Johnston Community College have been digitized and are now available online, adding to our vast collection of Johnston Community College photos. This batch is from the mid-1990s, highlighting Johnston Community College’s campus, staff, educational programs, and various events.

Annual events, such as Week of the Young Child, were especially prevalent in this upload. Most frequent were the Christmas open houses. While each Christmas open house showcases festivities and decorations, a common thread through the years are the extravagant quilting displays. In several shots, people demonstrate their quilting techniques for onlookers.

This batch also includes photos of retirement parties, the nursing department, and the truck driver training program as they go for test drives around the community. Construction of both the softball field and health building are documented. Additionally, there are photos of the open house for the new Cleveland Campus.

Photo of a bagpipe player with kilt on playing the bagpipe. The musician is walking to the right while three children walk behind the musician, covering their ears.

Bagpipe player Reit McPherson at the Johnston Community College 1996 Christmas Open House.

To see all of the photographs in this batch, click here. To learn more about Johnston Community College, visit their partner page here or their website here.


Grand Lodge Minute Books and Scrapbooks Now Available

Thanks to our partner, The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina, a batch of minute books and scrapbooks are now available on our website. The minute books, spanning from 1870 to 1935, come from various lodges including St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Numa F. Reid Lodge No. 344, Relief Lodge No. 431, and Yadkin Falls Lodge No. 637. They feature records of lodge meetings, finances, and references to life outside the lodge including mention of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre. 

Three men posing for a picture,

Three men from the Numa F. Reid Lodge No. 344 posing for a picture.

To learn more about The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina, please visit their website

To view more Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina materials on our website, please click here


Materials from New Bern’s J.T. Barber Alumni Association are now available on DigitalNC

West Street High School, class of 1954

West Street High School, class of 1954

Thanks to our new partner, the J. T. Barber Alumni Association, DigitalNC is proud to host a variety of materials documenting the history of J. T. Barber High School (formerly West Street High School) and its alumni in New Bern, North Carolina.  The Alumni Association just celebrated the class of 1970’s 50th anniversary this past weekend (via Zoom)!  

The batch includes class portraits, the commencement program from 1954’s graduation ceremony, a photo of the 1954 marching band, and a 1969 student newspaper, all from while the school was still operating. From the alumni association, we have digitized a photo of the class of 1970’s reunion in 2007, several editions of the “Warrior News Bulletin,” the alumni association’s membership roster from 2008, and various annual meeting programs. Additionally, DigitalNC now hosts yearbooks from the school from 1948 to 1971.

J. T. Barber High School, class of 1970

J. T. Barber High School, class of 1970

Click here to see all of our new materials from the J. T. Barber Alumni Association.


Pamlico Community College Documents and Photographs Now Available

Thanks to our partner, Pamlico Community College, documents and photographs chronicling the history of Pamlico Community College are now available on our website.  This batch includes meeting minutes for the first organizational meeting of the Pamlico County Technical Institute Unit, a facility dedication and open house program for the college’s new permanent location, 1973-1975 course catalog, and photos from the college’s early years. 

President of Pamlico Technical Institute, now Pamlico Community College, Paul Johnson wields a shovel at the groundbreaking for the college's permanent location.

President of the college wields a shovel at the groundbreaking for the college’s permanent location.

Students and faculty standing on the lawn at the new Pamlico Technical College building representing various areas of study.

Students and faculty on the lawn of the new building.

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

For more information on other North Carolina community colleges, please visit our community college collections


New Photos Added from Johnson C. Smith University

Five new large format photographs have been added to DigitalNC’s image collection thanks to our partners at Johnson C. Smith University. A historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University has been a fixture in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1867.

As these new photos are all from the early 1900s, you may notice an institution name change between the image titles. First established as Biddle Memorial Institute, Johnson C. Smith University was known as Biddle University between 1876 and 1923 before arriving at its current name.

Several of these images capture traditional university moments, such as graduation, class photos, and reunions.

Of note is a panoramic photo taken during a 1929 rivalry baseball game. This candid shot of the crowd avidly watching an Easter Monday match between Johnson C. Smith University and Livingstone College depicts just how well attended baseball games were at the time.

As would have been well known in the early 1900s, white baseball teams barred black players from joining their leagues, effectively segregating the sport. Black communities thus formed their own professional baseball leagues, culminating in a national organization known as the Negro National League, organized by Andrew (Rube) Foster in 1920. Baseball continued to be a popular and lucrative enterprise for the black community throughout the mid-1900s, splitting into western and eastern circuits. The last of the leagues folded in 1962. While Johnson C. Smith University no longer has a baseball team, spectators can still enjoy following the women’s softball team, the Golden Bulls.

To see the newest photos in their entirety, click here. To view all images from Johnson C. Smith University, click here. And to learn more about Johnson C. Smith University, you can visit their home page here.


Moving Forward With Equitable Metadata: Changing Exclusive Terminology

To continue the steps taken to promote equal representation throughout DigitalNC’s collections, as initially brought up in the recent blog post We Can Do Better: Making Our Metadata More Equitable, the NCDHC staff is becoming more committed to inclusivity through changing exclusive terminology. For this update, we’re specifically looking at the gendered and presumptive terms used in the title and description metadata categories of our visual collections. These changes, while perhaps small in effort, are a big step towards reimaging how we can be better stewards of history, especially to those individuals who are brought into our collections without an identity.

As alluded to, many of the images we digitize and upload to DigitalNC come with little to no background information. This means that we have to decide how to both title and describe the people or events depicted. Unfortunately, inherent bias always presents complications when it comes to description. Language holds enormous power and influences how we perceive an image, whether we realize it or not. While we have to use words to make images searchable, we, in doing so, use our own subjective viewpoint to give that image meaning.

For example, here is an image along with the accompanying title and description on DigitalNC:

Image of a screenshot of a tin type photo in paper a paper frame of an unidentified adult. The description included partially reads "Tin type portrait in paper frame of a man."

Old title and description of what is now “Unidentified Adult”.

As you may have noticed, the title and description state that this individual is a man. If you were writing this description, would you also assume that this person is a man?

Here is another image on DigitalNC:

If you were to add a description of the individuals in this photo to illustrate their age, how would you phrase it? Do you see four children or do you see three children and one adult? Does the title of the image influence your opinion?

Here’s one final image:

Screenshot of a black and white group portrait of a group of adults, mostly in military uniform. The old title that accompanies the image is "Group of Military and Civilian Men Posed with Woman on Steps" and the old description is "Black and white group portrait of a group of men, mostly in military uniform, one woman in front."

Old title and description of what is now “Group of Military Personnel and Civilians Posed on Steps”.

From the caption, it is assumed that the woman is not in military uniform and is separate from the group in some way. Would you agree with this assumption? Do you think she might have a role in this photograph that is misrepresented in this title or description?

As you can tell, describing an image that everyone would agree to is tricky when given little to no context.

On top of that, we also have to make sure that these words are purposeful; purposeful means that, in addition to thinking about how you would search our collections, we have to acknowledge how the individuals or events in an image want to represent themselves. We may never know how these unidentified people would describe themselves or what gender they identify with, but deciding to use inclusive terminology is the most respectful way of making sure we are not misinterpreting, and therefore misaligning, the people or events in our collections.

In an effort to diminish the subjective viewpoint, here are the new changes you will be seeing in the visual collections on DigitalNC:

  • If family relationships are given information about the individuals in the image, gendered terms are used.
  • When there is no information given about the individuals in the image, gender neutral terms are used.
  • We will strive not to make assumptions about the individuals in the photograph when there is no contextual verification.

For example, in this photo of the Westbrook Family, we are aware of the names and relationships of the family members, so we have the description arranged as:

Left to right: Geneva Elenor (Woodall) Westbrook (wife of Eldridge Troy Westbrook); Geneva Louise Westbrook (Cox) (daughter); Mary Elizabeth Westbrook (Flowers) (daughter); Annie Maude Westbrook (daughter); Ivan Earl Westbrook (son).

We can indicate the individuals as mother, daughter, and son because this information was given with the photo.

However, in this photo to the left, no identifying information was given with the photo, therefore the title and description remain gender neutral:

A color photograph of two adults standing side by side, holding beverages, in front of an indoor fireplace.

This photo also provokes the third point- assumptions without context. At first glance, an image like this could bring to mind a couple; that, because they are standing close together and could be presumed a man and woman, they are married. With no way to prove that beyond our own biases, we choose to only note what is actually occurring in this photo.

So, are we losing anything in this process? Hopefully not much, if anything. Images will still be searchable by major subjects- you can browse through all of them here. Plenty of images are also attributed to collections and exhibits, such as the Asheville YWCA Photograph Collection, to make research easier. And, of course, you can always use the advanced search to rifle through all our images.

Subjectivity can’t be ruled out completely and we will still be making choices that will affect the viewing of an image. This update is a work in progress and you will no doubt see some inconsistencies on DigitalNC, but we hope that this explanation gives some insight into our equitable metadata mission. And if you ever see a familiar face or have information on an image, don’t hesitate to comment (there’s a comment box at the bottom of every image on DigitalNC) or reach out!


DigitalNC works from home: expanding photograph descriptions

As work from home continues for all of us at the Digital Heritage Center, we are getting the opportunity to dive into some long shelved cleanup projects from our migration into the TIND content management system.

One that we are excited to work through right now is creating better, individualized, description on sets of photographs that previously were only described in a single record.  In our previous content management system, ContentDM, there was a hierarchy built into the system that supported parent and child records that had different metadata.  So for example, a batch of photographs that one wanted to title at the parent level as “Wilson, NC Businesses” could also have individual child records that had titles such as “Food Lion, 1975.” 

screenshot of a content management system

 The object description (minimized here) is the child level record and applies only to the main image seen above, while the description is the parent level record and applied to every image on the right.

 

 View of a “compound object” photograph set in the new system – the separated out descriptions are mostly lost here.

When we moved into our new content management system, those individual titles were dropped down to a file description that did not go in the main record or was easy to view.  As a result, we made the decision to break up those batches of photographs so that each one shows up individually in a search with its own set of metadata.  That has required pulling down a spreadsheet of the parent level metadata and then converting it to apply individually to each photograph and re-uploading it into TIND.  This has also allowed us to add useful metadata such as geolocation coordinates to images of particular places which could be useful someday if we enable mapping technology in our content management system. While a bit tedious, we believe this is broadening access to some really great photographs from our partners and made them more accessible on our site. 

Search results

Search results view for a group of photos now individually listed – previously were all grouped under one vague title

Screenshot of a metadata record for a tobacco warehouse

This photograph now has more specific metadata describing it, including geo-coordinates, which makes it more useful to users.

Projects like this keep us busy working from home despite being a digitization shop – maintenance is always an important part of this work and this unexpected time away from our scanners is giving us the ability to focus on our existing materials a lot closer. 

Want to see all our image collections in DigitalNC?  Visit Images of North Carolina here.


More Photographs from Johnston Community College Now Online!

Thanks to our partner, Johnston Community College, we have another batch of photographs up on our website. These photos span the years of 1990-1993 and focus on the campus and events at the college.

Christmas tree at the 1991 Christmas Open House

In this batch, there are several groupings of photos of buildings on campus, including the Wilson Building and Tart Auditorium. The photos also highlight the Floraculture Department at the college, as well as the construction of a parking lot in 1991. Several retirement parties are represented, including those for Dr. Phillips, Marie Creech, John Hobart, Ralph Swope, and Bennett Barnes. There are also a number of pictures of campus events, such as the annual Christmas Open House, the Small Business Expo, Miss JCC, and the Health Fair.

Flowers blooming outside of the Wilson Building in 1990

For more information about Johnston Community College, please visit their website.  To view previous posts about the Johnston Community College photograph collection we’ve been working on, go here.


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.