For nearly a century, librarians from the State Library of North Carolina, East Carolina University, and elsewhere in North Carolina reviewed the Raleigh News and Observer (N&O) newspaper and recorded the names and events of statewide importance on index cards, and later on early PCs. Now, nearly 100 years later, the N&O Index,1926-1992 is available online for the public to search and browse.
The N&O Index is an alphabetical list of names and subjects, with references to the newspaper articles in which they occur. It is not a database of articles; rather, it is a guide to help find articles with more information about a particular topic.
For example, a search on the word “Transylvania” returns several records, including one that points to an article entitled, “County of Transylvania shows way toward nine months term.” (N&O Oct.31, 1926. p.9.). Users can take this article information to a library with access to the N&O newspaper archive to read the article in full. If a local library does not have old issues of the N&O, the local library can borrow it on microfilm from the Government & Heritage Library at the State Library of North Carolina.
Users may need to try out-of-date search terms in the N&O Index because the vocabulary in the index has not been updated. Instead, whatever words used by the indexers when the articles were indexed is what is found online. Sometimes the terms are archaic or even what today might be considered offensive.
To assist in locating records about African Americans, the term “African Americans” has been added to any record referring to “Negroes” or “Blacks.”
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software was used to mechanically transcribe the original index cards. Because the typed text can be hard to read, the software sometimes “guessed” wrong. An example is the mis-transcribed “p,” which often appears as an “n” or even a slash and an “o,” as in “/o.”
Staff at the State Library generally cleaned the card topics to make them searchable. To make the N&O Index available sooner, it’s been released with typos. This is why users will see the link, “See a typo in our data? Let us know and we’ll fix it,” which takes them to a form where they can help clean up the text.
Are there more indexes?
Yes! Indexes that date from 1978-1981 were published in book form and electronically. Over the next year, we hope to include those entries in the N&O Index, 1926-1992, as well.
Search the N&O Index yourself at http://statelibrarync.org/noi/.
This project was made possible by the Carolina Digital Library and Archives, which scanned and mechanically transcribed over 150,000 index cards, and the State Library of North Carolina, which prepared the data and created the database.