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Digital Collections

ProQuest Newsstand

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bundle of newspapers

Newspapers are an important tool for genealogical and historical research. Over the past few months I’ve mentioned some excellent historical newspaper sources online. Today I want to highlight one with much more recent newspapers – ProQuest Newsstand.


Digital Collections: World War II Posters

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Image of a Nurse during World War II

“Nurses are needed now!” – image courtesy of the North Carolina State Archives

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed, which prompted the U.S. to enter World War II. Today, 74 years later, I want to take a moment and highlight one of the library’s databases: World War II Maps and Posters. Over 370,000 men and women from North Carolina served in various aspects of the war. North Carolina citizens aided the war effort from home by buying war bonds. These various activities led to the creation of numerous posters that were used for different purposes.


For an adventurous Thanksgiving: Historic cooking techniques and recipes from North Carolina

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Dessert recipes from Mary K. William's "Polk Cookbook", 1858, NC Digital Collections.

Dessert recipes from Mary K. William’s “Polk Cookbook”, 1858, NC Digital Collections.

Recently the New York Times published a piece on the “Cook’s Oracle”, an historical cooking database that has been a five decade long work of scholarship (and labor of love) of Barbara Ketcham Wheaton.  Wheaton is a food historian and worked for 25 years as a curator of the culinary collection at the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.  In the Cook’s Oracle, she has gone back centuries to patiently and persistently cataloge recipes, ingredients and food techniques with the goal of doing so for all of the cookbooks printed in North America and Europe.  To date she has logged the contents of more than 3,400 cookbooks with more than 130,000 records.  The possibilities for research are intriguing, particularly with the recent growth of historical work being done by ethnographers and food historians.

Wheaton’s work inspired me to visit the oldest cookbooks we have at the GHL and in the NC Digital Collections.  Looking at some of the earliest from the 19th century gave me a taste of the magnitude of her project.  For example, these cookbooks — frequently handwritten — are notable for the absence of the precision of modern recipes with their measurements, tools, process, temperatures, and timing.  The Polk Cookbook , dated 1858 and from the collection of the State Archives, is a perfect example.  Handwritten by Mary Williams, mother of President James K. Polk’s sister-in-law Lucy, the book includes culinary recipes as well as cleaning and medicinal concoctions.  Some that might today even come under the heading “don’t try this at home.”  If you’re up for experimenting with these artifacts with holiday desserts in mind, try Transparent Pudding” or “Bread Pudding”.  (On the same page of the volume, Williams also includes a recipe for traditional mince pies, made with beef.) (See the image at top right for recipes and link to the cookbook.)

Pumpkin Pudding, from Mary Mason's The Young Housewife's Counsellor and Friend, published 1871.

Pumpkin Pudding, from Mary Mason’s The Young Housewife’s Counsellor and Friend, published 1871.


Newspaper Archive

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bundle of newspapers

The Government & Heritage Library provides access to many databases. I will regularly post information about different databases. Today, I want to talk about the database the Newspaper Archive. Our library has a subscription to this database and our visitors can use it, also NC state employees may access the database with their library card. Other libraries may provide access as well.

newspaper archiveHere are some facts about this database: Newspapers in the database go back as far as 1607. North Carolina newspapers span from 1799-2014. 14 towns from NC are in the database and a total of 39 newspapers from NC are in the database.The towns in the database are:

  • Aberdeen (Moore County)
  • Burlington (Alamance County)
  • Concord (county seat of Cabarrus County)
  • Gastonia (county seat of Gaston County)
  • High Point (Guilford County)
  • Jacksonville (county seat of Onslow County)
  • Kannapolis (partially in both Rowan and Cabarrus Counties)
  • Kinston (county seat of Lenoir County)
  • Lexinton (county seat of Davidson County)
  • Lumberton (county seat of Robeson County)
  • New Bern (county seat of Craven County)
  • Raleigh (state capitol and county seat of Wake County)
  • Rocky Mount (partially in both Nash and Edgecombe Counties)
  • Shelby (county seat of Cleveland County)
  • Statesville (county seat of Iredell County)
  • Tarboro (count seat of Edgecombe County)
  • Trenton (county seat of Jones County)
  • Winston-Salem (county seat of Forsyth County)

The database is searchable by name, date, location, and with a specific newspaper. You can also browse by location and by date. If you browse by state, you will need to click on the map of the US for which state you want to search. The next page is a search page where you can narrow down name and keyword. You also have a choice to narrow down by the town and then search by name and keyword.

Newspapers can be important to genealogy. Even advertisements, which can help you learn what your ancestor did. For example, I found through newspaper ads that an ancestor worked in the accounting office of his brother-in-law when his name was mentioned as an employee. The census just said he was a laborer, but the advertisement showed where he worked. I’ve been supplementing my genealogy research with newspapers for nearly 20 years now. This database has been a good one since it covers many states with 190 newspapers.

Come and check out this database at GHL!

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.