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December 12th, 2013:

Free online resources for researchers, students, and educators

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by T. Mike Childs

The N.C. Government & Heritage Library, in addition to other areas of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, has been involved in the creation of a plethora of free digital resources for the citizens of North Carolina and the world. We offer massive search capabilities, thousands of historic documents, and valuable tools for librarians, researchers, and the general public. Below is just a sampling of some of the resources available for researchers, students, and educators.

NCpedia is an online encyclopedia of all things North Carolina, providing trustworthy information about North Carolina topics.  A partnership with the UNC Press has allowed us to add some of their works online. Some 2,000 entries from their Encyclopedia of North Carolina have been added, and we are working on adding all six volumes of the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography:  3, 640 biographies of prominent North Carolinians (2,041 DNCB articles have been published as of December 1, 2013). The expansion of NCpedia to include this additional content has been funded through a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Educational Resources Database                              

This relatively new project pulls together all the lesson plans, study guides, classroom activities, articles, multimedia, etc., produced by all the different parts of the N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources, and puts it in one central searchable place for educators.  This includes the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the N.C. Symphony, North Carolina Historic Sites, the Office of Archaeology, the State Library, the Highway Historical Marker Program and more. The database has lots of search options.

NC ECHO                                                                             

The original NC ECHO project ran from 1999 to 2012, visiting, documenting, and cataloging N.C.’s cultural heritage institutions.  In 2013, the project and name were repurposed into a search engine for digital cultural heritage materials. It now searches across the online digital collections of many different N.C. institutions, including a number of major state universities and the N.C. Digital Collections (NCDC), a project of the N.C. Government & Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina. The current NC ECHO project was developed by the State Library of North Carolina, NC LIVE, and the NC Digital Heritage Center.

North Carolina Digital Collections                            

Speaking of which, the North Carolina Digital Collections (NCDC) is a trove of over 90,000 digitized documents, photos, publications, and manuscripts from the GHL and the State Archives. All text searchable, it includes:

  • N.C. Government Publications                        
    N.C. state government agency publications: reports, newsletters, historical surveys, etc. Includes the latest “born digital releases as well as digitized older, historic documents.
  • N.C. Family Records Online                         
    A boon for genealogists: Bible records, marriage and death notices from N.C. newspapers, and digitized and transcribed vertical files.

N.C. Newspaper Locator                                

This site lets you track down N.C. newspapers by city, county, date, and title. It’s not a list of every N.C. newspaper, only what’s available at the Government & Heritage Library. It does not take you to digitized versions of the newspapers.

Raleigh News &Observer Index 1926-1992      

SLNC librarians created a card file of articles on important topics and names from the Raleigh News &Observer starting way back in 1926. This digitized version is impressively assembled from that card file, as well as printed indexes and outdated computer databases. This is just an index, and does not have the actual articles listed. It’s also not an index of every article in every edition of the N&O,  just what those librarians thought was important. Some terms used are now considered archaic, an important consideration when searching.

Civil War Roster index                                          

A complement to the 18 volume print series North Carolina Troops: A Roster 1861-1865 from the Historical Publications Section of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, this database lets you search by name for N.C. Civil War soldiers, and gives the volume and page number they appear on, so you still have to consult the print volumes.

N.C. State Government Web Site Archives  

Websites change all the time, and state agency websites contain valuable information. N.C. Government & Heritage Library and State Archives of North Carolina capture copies of state agency websites over time and make them available through the N.C. State Government Web Site Archives. Here, you may search old versions of N.C. state agency websites back to 1996 as well as archived social media, like Facebook & Twitter, for agencies.

This blog is a service of the State Library of North Carolina, part of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Blog comments and posts may be subject to Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.