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End of year gift for fans of North Carolina history, heritage and culture: NCpedia’s new website goes live today!

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End of year gift for fans of North Carolina history, heritage and culture: NCpedia’s new website goes live today!

Greetings old friends of North Carolina’s online encyclopedia, the NCpedia — and new and future friends too!

The new and improved NCpedia! December 2016.

The new and improved NCpedia! December 2016.

After several months of planning, design, programming and testing, NCpedia now has a brand new and updated user interface as of this morning. Same great content — no change there — but with an entirely new look and feel and user experience.

The site traces its history back before the dawn of the web, to frequently asked questions and then brochures created by librarians at the State Library to answer those questions.

Eventually those questions found their way into HTML pages in the 1990s, and then they coalesced into an encyclopedic collection called the eNCyclopedia.  By 2009, the content had grown to several hundred pages — and the site needed to find a new home in a content management system that allowed for expansion, search and a better user experience. The encyclopedia got a new home in Drupal and a new name — and NCpedia was launched.

NCpedia before the reno!

NCpedia before the reno!

Since that time, the content has expanded by more than 26,000 entries, including more than 6,500 encyclopedia articles and the more than 20,000 record volume of the North Carolina Gazetteer (an annotated index of North Carolina place names).  And more than 7,400 images have been incorporated along with maps and interactive features like timelines.  By 2015, it was time for the home to get a reno!

NCpedia is still in Drupal — but the site has received an entire remodel to improve usability, search and find features, and the overall user experience.  We hope you like it!

And if you would like more information about the history of NCpedia, please visit the “About NCpedia” page on the website: http://www.ncpedia.org/about.  We’ve even included some snapshots of the early days and how far the digital encyclopedia has come.  Today the site includes more than 7,000 articles and more than 7,400 images and receives more than 4 million visits per year.

Check it out!

Kelly Agan, Digital Projects Librarian

December 7, Marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II and a new NCpedia biography: the first service person from Western North Carolina killed

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December 7, Marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II and a new NCpedia biography: the first service person from Western North Carolina killed

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on U.S. military installations at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and the U.S.’s official entry into the war on December 8.

NCpedia recently published a new entry on a young gentleman from Yancey County named Weldon Burlison. At barely age 30, Burlison was the first reported World War II casualty from western North Carolina and one of the first reported service personnel from North Carolina who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 4, 1941.  Burlison began his military service in the Marines in 1934 and served there for four years.  Following an honorable discharge at the end of his tour in 1938, he immediately re-enlisted, this time in the Army Air Corps (today the U.S. Air Force).  At the time of the attack, Burlison was stationed at Hickam Field at Pearl Harbor.

Drawing from Weldon Burlison's August 5, 1941 letter to Elsie Edwards. From the military collection of the State Archives of North Carolina. Used with permission.

Drawing from Weldon Burlison’s August 5, 1941 letter to Elsie Edwards. From the military collection of the State Archives of North Carolina. Used with permission.

Weldon Burlison’s story, although the details we have are relatively few, came to NCpedia through the State Archives of North Carolina.  The Archives’ military archivist, Matthew Peek, received a very small collection of materials about Burlison that included primarily a few newspaper articles and his obituary in the Yancey Record along with a few letters and postcards shared between Burlison and a friend, Elsie Edwards.  One of the letters was written by Elsie Edwards just a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sends her heartbreaking hope that her friend is O.K. Burlison would of course never receive her letter, and it would take several weeks for the envelope and its contents to make it through the military mail, only to be returned to her marked “deceased.”  Here is an excerpt from the NCpedia entry, including her heart-rending words:

On the morning of December 8, 1941, after hearing the news about Pearl Harbor and knowing where Burlison was stationed, Elsie Edward wrote a two-page, heart-breaking letter to him, hoping he is safe and alive. Elsie began her letter by saying “Of course I have a million things on my mind these days. Right now the uppermost thought is ‘I wonder if Snook is safe, if he’s really all right’.” After noting that Americans had abandoned plans for Christmas in order to pray for those military personnel at Pearl Harbor, Edwards wrote, “And let me tell you Weldon, I am one of your many friends who is praying for you!” She would finish writing the letter by 5 focusing on information related to previous correspondence, but finished her letter saying, “I don’t know of very much to say right now. I can’t even be sure you will receive this but I hope you do.”

(more…)

Library closing: The Government and Heritage Library including Genealogical Services will be closed Friday, November 11, 2016 through Saturday, November 12, 2016 for Veterans Day.

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All Veterans Memorial, Asheboro, NC, from Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina.

All Veterans Memorial, Asheboro, NC, from Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina.

Library closing: The Government and Heritage Library, including Genealogical Services, will be closed Friday, November 11, 2016 and Saturday, November 12, 2016 for Veterans Day.

In observance of the Veterans Day state holiday, the Government & Heritage Library will be closed on Friday, November 11, 2016 and Saturday, November 12, 2016.  We will reopen for our normal business hours on Monday, November 14 at 9 a.m.

If you are considering attending a commemorative event, a website called VetFriends has a listing of some events and parades in communities around the state: https://www.vetfriends.com/parades/directory.cfm?state=NC.

And if you would like to learn more about the history of commemorations and memorials in communities around the state, please visit Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina: http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/.  You can also learn more about the state’s military history and its veterans in the NCpedia: http://ncpedia.org/gsearch?query=veterans

Thank you to our veterans near and far for your service and sacrifice and best wishes for this holiday weekend,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories and Spooky Legends Online and In Print

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Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories and Spooky Legends Online and In Print

Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil's Horse's Hoofprints. Image from the 1927 "North Carolina Today." From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.

Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil’s Horse’s Hoofprints. Image from the 1937 “North Carolina Today.” From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.

It’s that time of year again — Halloween.  And North Carolina has more than a few legends to raise your hair and give you a cold chill.  Some of North Carolina’s reportedly haunted places are the subject of legendary sightings of supernatural phenomenon; others are sites where real-life tragedies have occurred and have become woven into the fabric of local legend.

Visit NCpedia to read about a handful of the most well-known of the state’s spooky stories and haunted places. The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge, the Eternal Hoofprints and the Devil’s Tramping Ground, in particular, might give you decent shiver!

The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge — train wreck in 1891 in Statesville, a legendary re-sighting in 1941, with a new event in 2010.

The Maco Light —  from the fatal train wreck in Brunswick County in 1867 and siting of the lights by a U.S. president.

The Devil’s Horse’s Hoof Prints — ghostly holes in the ground near Bath since 1813.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground — in western Chatham County, an eerie circle in the woods where nothing will grow.

The Brown Mountain Lights — mysterious, unexplained light phenomena on the Burke-Caldwell County line.

And if you’d like to dig a bit deeper, here are a few print volumes with tales of haunted North Carolina:

Tanenbaum, Linda Duck, and Barry McGee. 2002. Ghost tales from the North Carolina Piedmont. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.

Williams, Stephanie Burt. 2003. Ghost stories of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: remnants of the past in a new South. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.

Russell, Randy, and Janet Barnett. 1988. Mountain ghost stories and curious tales of western North Carolina. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair.

Morgan, Fred T. 1992. Haunted Uwharries: ghost stories, witch tales and other strange happenings from North America’s oldest mountains. Asheboro, N.C.: Down Home Press.

Starbuck, Richard W., and Lu Newman. 2002. Ghosts of Salem and other tales. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Moravian Archives.  

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

— Kelly Agan, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

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