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State Archives of North Carolina

Getting Ready for Ancestry Day 2015

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Ancestry Day is this week (on November 6th and 7th) and lots of people are coming! I know some will come to the State Archives of North Carolina and the Government & Heritage Library,  (GHL) so here is some information to help you prepare. This post will be a bit long and a mixture of links to past posts and other online sources as well as information.

Let’s start with the difference between the State Archives of North Carolina  and the Government & Heritage Library. In summary, the Archives contains original documents such as deeds, wills, and court records. On the other hand, the GHL has published books, many of which are abstracts, indexes, and transcriptions of the original records located in the Archives. These are especially helpful with court minutes and deed books which have no easy way to go through them other than page by page. Learn more about the difference here.

You also need to know what to bring (or not bring) to the GHL and the Archives when you research. Biggest MUST is photo ID – either your driver’s license or state issued ID. You can’t get in the building without it. Also, if you plan to visit the Archives, you need ID to get in the search room. Learn more here


Social Media for State Government Best Practices Resources

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North Carolina state government agencies have a strong social media and online presence. Social media provides a way to stay in touch and keep communities informed.

The state government of North Carolina strives for transparency and open government . Social media posts created by state government agencies fall under the public records law.  The State Archives of North Carolina has been given  a legislative mandate to preserve state government information in any format  — this includes social media posts — and make it accessible to the citizens of North Carolina.

The State of North Carolina’s Social Media Archive is one of the tools that preserve posts as part of state government’s historical record. This site is maintained by the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina.

This free and open archive provides access to hundreds of thousands of social media records from selected North Carolina state agencies. Social media activity from these agencies is continually being captured and indexed, and additional agencies will be included in the future.  Visit the North Carolina State Government Social Media Archive to learn more.

Resources for Best Practices in State Government Social Media

Many North Carolina state agency social media creators may not be aware of the protocol surrounding social media posts for state government.  The State Library and State Archives provide education and training on this subject such as online tutorials and suggested guidelines.

Social Media Best Practices

These best practice documents provide information about legal and appropriate use of social media by state agencies and local government. Responsibilities of  public information officers are outlined, and a sample Social Media Policy is provided.

Social Media Usage in North Carolina State Government by State Archives of North Carolina --5 part video.

Social Media Usage in North Carolina State Government by State Archives of North Carolina –5 part video.

Video Tutorials

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in North Carolina is a 5 part video series that explains how North Carolina state government agencies can utilize social media sites to reach citizens in new ways; discusses acceptable use of social media and security concerns; and gives an overview of preservation and records retention of social media as public records.

If you need additional help locating resources or information please contact the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library.




Preservation Week Quiz: Thursday’s Question of the Day

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As part of Preservation Week 2015, the State Library’s Government and Heritage Library is partnering with the State Archives on a Preservation Week Question of the Day – a series of questions related to the preservation of materials both physical and electronic. Visit the State Archives’ blog to see their question of the day.

What steps can you take to preserve your digital photographs?

  1. Save the photographs in open, widely available formats like JPEG, TIFF, or PNG.
  2. Back up several copies of your photographs to the cloud and/or media devices (like hard drives).
  3. Create a system for naming your files (or file folders) so that you can easily browse photographs and not lose track of what you have.
  4. Check your files periodically to make sure that you can still access them
  5. All of the above.

Do you know the answer?  Find out below the cut.



Obsolete Media Highlight: U-matic Tapes

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Have you ever had a day at work where the stars align, fortune unexpectedly smiles on you, and something great happens? We had a day like that yesterday . . . almost.

One of the U-matic tapes found at the Library. Although it reads "Impeachment of Andrew Johnson," we suspect it's from the 1970s, not the 1860s.

One of the U-matic tapes found at the Library. Although it reads “Impeachment of Andrew Johnson,” we suspect it’s from the 1970s, not the 1860s.

GHL staff discovered a small stash of old U-matic tapes from the 1970s and 1980s, tapes that we’d weeded from our collection years ago but hadn’t actually gotten rid of. We marveled at the old U-matic tape’s bulky containers and dorky instructions*. Some staff reminisced about using U-matic tapes back in the day, while others were baffled by the aesthetics of this plastic-brick technology. We scratched our heads for a day, trying to figure out what to do with the tapes. The library doesn’t have a U-matic player and we figured the tapes should probably go into to our Obsolete Media Museum as a warning against failing to migrate resources off aging electronic media.

The inside of the U-matic player, with the top cover removed. The tape is inserted from the right, and the tape should be pulled around the central cylinder.

The inside of the Archives’ new U-matic player, with the top cover removed. Tapes are inserted from the right, and the tape should be pulled around the central cylinder.

On a lark, we called down to Matthew Waehner at the State Archives to see if the Archives happened to have a U-matic player. Lo and behold! They did! Not only that, but they’d just–JUST–gotten the player and they were dying to know if it actually worked. The problem was that they didn’t have any U-matic tapes they could test it with. A perfect match!

As you may (or may not) know, U-matic tapes were early video tapes from the 1970s. The U-matic format was the first widely used videotape packaged within a cassette container, replacing the widespread use of reel-to-reel tapes in video production. Today, they are known as physically unable and their playback machines are notoriously finicky. Our hopes were not very high.

In fact, Archives warned me that they were pretty sure the U-matic player wouldn’t work at all. It might even eat our tape up and destroy it. When the Archives team turned the machines on, it made a sad sort of moan with an abrupt end, which wasn’t a good sign.

When Archives turned on the U-matic player, it made a sad sort of moan (rumble?).

Jim Willard (Historic Sites) and Linda Fox (Archives, photo lab technician) gathered around while Matt tried the first tape. To our giddy surprise, the machine actually took the tape and didn’t destroy it! We were very impressed. Only problem, the player wasn’t actually pulling the tape from the cassette, and pressing the play button did nothing (you can hear Jim asking “Did it wrap around the head?”).

“No waaaay! It took it, Jim. . . . Tapes go inside of it.” – Matt

We may be able to fix the machine, or perhaps we’ll have more good luck and a working player will fall in our laps. In any case, we’ll keep you posted!

Matt Waehner and Jim Willard investige the innards of U-matic player, determining why the tape isn't being taken up.

Matt Waehner and Jim Willard investige the innards of U-matic player, determining why the tape isn’t being taken up.


For more resources about obsolete media, check out these posts from our blog archive:

You can also:


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.