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Digital Collections

NCpedia and the GHL: Keeping Cultural Connections Alive

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by Kelly Agan, NCpedia Digital Media Librarian

A recent viewer post and question on NCpedia and the coincidental passing of Pete Seeger reminded me of how cultural artifacts are shared and passed down across generations and how they can be picked up, borrowed, and transformed. They also reminded me of how libraries and institutions of memory (including libraries, museums and websites like NCpedia) share in this process of keeping the connections alive through collecting, preserving, and publishing.

Photo of Ella May Wiggins from the Gaston Gazette.

Photo of Ella May Wiggins from the Gaston Gazette.

The NCpedia viewer wrote in to ask a question about Ella May Wiggins — had any of her work been published. Finding an answer took me on a brief but meaningful journey from NCpedia, to the Library of Congress, to the New York Times, to the Smithsonian.

Wiggins was born near Bryson City in North Carolina in 1900. A single mother of seven and a mill worker in Bessemer City, she became vocal in standing up for and uniting mill workers in Gaston County during the years from 1927-29. She used singing to lead striking workers, writing a number of ballads of which her autobiographical “The Mill Mother’s Lament” became well known and was picked up in the 1930s and again in the 1960s by another generation of activists. Sadly, Ella May Wiggins was shot and killed while on her way to a meeting with other workers in 1929.

Her songs continued to be used in the labor movements of the 1930s and were then picked up by the grassroots movements of the 1960s with the concurrent tides of the civil rights movement and folk musical revival. Pete Seeger used her song in the 1960s and re-recorded it in 1992 in his album, Pete Seeger: American Industrial Ballads, produced by the Smithsonian’s Folkways Recordings label. (more…)

Weather forecast for NC for February 1914

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In looking at a digitized version of the Turner-Enniss North Carolina Almanac for 1914, I could not help but remark at how similar the weather forecast was for North Carolina in 1914 to what we have had here in Raleigh, NC in 2014 for the first five days of the month, anyway.

Page in the 1914 Turner-Enniss Almanac with the weather forecast for February 1914.

Weather forecast for February:
1st to 2d, pleasant,
3d to 6th, damp, showery;

We will have to see if the rest of the forecast for February, 1914, mirrors what we are seeing here in Raleigh in 2014. If so, on the 28th, bring those snow sleds back out of the closet!

7th to 11th, unsettled,
12th to 16th, rain,
17th to 21st, windy, cold;
22d to 25th, changeable;
26th to 28th, rain, sleet and snow.

The volume also has farming tips for every month, as well as instructions for curing pork and keeping lard. Ground cayenne pepper is apparently a great deterrent for bugs when put on cabbage.

The book has information about state government at the time, including the names of officers and directors and their salaries. Faculty at colleges and universities  are also listed. It’s an interesting glimpse of life in North Carolina 100 years ago.

Turner-Enniss Almanac, 1914:
NC Digital Collections:
Internet Archive:

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.

Digital Insider Fall 2013

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Digital Insider Fall 2013

Digital Insider Fall 2013

The Fall 2013 edition of the Digital Insider is now available on the State Library web site.

Take a look to find out what’s new with NCPedia, the digital collections, and the digital world at large!

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