About the News & Observer Index

This is an alphabetical list of names and subjects, with references to the Raleigh News & Observer articles in which they occur. This is not a database of articles; rather, it is an index guiding you to articles with more information about your research topic.

Librarians from the State Library of North Carolina indexed topics and personal names from articles and selected obituaries that appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer from 1926 to 1992 (some years are currently missing from the index, namely 1978-1981). The index, until 1977, was typed onto catalog cards. The cards are now scanned and mechanically transcribed. The records created after 1977 were typed directly into a database, so no actual catalog cards were created.

How the cards were created

The articles indexed in this collection appeared in the daily News & Observer between 1926 and 1992, although the indexing work was often performed much later than the publication date. A reference to this can be found on pages 17 and 18 of the 1956-1958 Biennial report of the state librarian, in which is written,

"The indexing of the News and Observer … has not been kept up to date … while personnel has been stretched to the limit trying to fill the pressing requests and needs of the moment."

The indexing work continued through the 1990s, first in book form and then typed directly into early databases.

Why the cards use out-of-date vocabulary

When searching the index, be aware that you may need to try out-of-use terms to find articles about a topic you are researching.

How we describe people, places, and things change as our culture changes, so the words used to describe things from the 1920s to 1990s may be very different from the words we use today. The index cards were created at a different time and therefore use different terminology, sometimes archaic and sometimes what today might even be considered offensive.

We have added the term "African Americans" to any record referring to "Negroes" or "Blacks" to make searching on this topic easier.

Why the text is messy and hard to read

The original index was typed on catalog cards, just like those you would have used to look up a book 20 or more years ago. All 150,000 cards were scanned at the Carolina Digital Library and Archives. Then, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software was used to mechanically transcribe the cards. Because the typed text can be blurred, messy, or otherwise hard to read, the software sometimes "guessed" wrong. An example is the mis-transcribed "p," which often appears as an "n" or even a slash and an "o," as in "/o."

If we had tried to fix every one of the cards, this index may have never seen the light of day. Instead, we decided to make the index available in its current form ("dirty" OCR and all). This is why you will see the link, "See a typo in our data? Let us know and we'll fix it," which takes you to a form where you can help us clean up the text.

Are there more indexes?

Yes! Indexes that date from 1978-1981 were published in book form and electronically. Over the next year, we hope to include those entries in this database as well.

News and Observer linotype room

N_53_16_3492 News & Observer Linotype Room 1938, State Archives of North Carolina

card catalog

Photo by Eric Spiegel http://www.flickr.com/photos/fallenposters/