New ECU exhibit

Contributed by Marlena Barber

Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University recently installed an exhibit:  “The Spanish Influenza is Here”:  Memories of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Eastern North Carolina.

maskThe new display explores the lethal influenza virus strain and its rampage through the eastern counties of North Carolina in the fall of 1918. Newspaper articles, personal correspondence, heath department postings, and artifacts from The Country Doctor Museum bring to light the fear North Carolina citizens felt during this dark period in history. The exhibit also examines the health care crisis during the epidemic and the steps taken to improve public health in North Carolina in the years that followed.

The exhibit is on display at Laupus Health Sciences Library in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery, 4th Floor through December 16, 2018. For more information, contact the History Collections of Laupus Library at HSLHISTMED@ECU.EDU.

Influenza Flyer


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Archives Month: Mooresville Public Library

Contributed by Andy Poore

The Mooresville Public Library has scheduled a month-long program series entitled "Behind the Curtain: Secrets of the Archives" exploring ways to conduct genealogical research through online resources, government departments, and other resources.  The programs will be held on Mondays from 6:30-8:30pm in the Selma Burke Room.

  • October 1: Join Special Collections staff as they share some of their holdings and give a guided tour.
  • October 8: Join Special Collections staff as they look at resources for researching African American ancestry both online and within the Collections.
  • October 15: Join staff of the Iredell County Register of Deeds as they demonstrate what is new in their office and how to research vital records.
  • October 22: Join staff of the Davidson College Library for a look at Chalmers Davidson's work The Plantation World Around Davidson and explore southern Iredell and northern Mecklenburg counties before the Civil War.
  • October 29: Join Special Collections staff as they demonstrate online resources for researching military records.

For more information, contact Andy Poore at (704) 664-4315.

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Arrr-chivesSpace Migration

This marks the beginning of a recurring series that we'll be hosting here on the SNCA blog. Kelly Smith, the Access Archivist at ECU, is the Project Manager of the ArchivesSpace Migration at East Carolina University.  She has graciously agreed to share her insights with our community.

Contributed by Kelly Spring

ArchivesSpace Migration bannerAbout the series:

The East Carolina University Pirates are engaged in a large-scale migration project to evaluate, prep, and load data from several dispersed databases into ArchivesSpace. Over the next two years, ECU will share the journey from careening data to weighing anchor to sailing into production. By regularly posting progress ECU aims to empower you to know that you can do it, too!


Everyone loves a migration narrative, but not everyone has the time to share. In poking around the internet, I found about 12 stories. Either I overlooked some secret lagoons or there just aren’t that many out there. Well, we’d like to add our adventure to the list.

In late July ECU kicked-off a two-year project to migrate our finding aids from a mix of Archivists’ Toolkit records, Excel spreadsheet container lists, a name and subject authorities database, and a digital object repository into ArchivesSpace. We have finding aids that I think are very user-friendly, but the code running behind them is highly interdependent and if it breaks we’re walking the plank!

For the next few weeks, our working group is focused on planning. We’re finalizing our scope, developing technical scenarios, and establishing the best method for the curators, archivists, catalogers, and digital team to continue their work during this transition. Check back here where we’ll be docked with our chartplotter. Ahoy Mateys!

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Meet your Education Committee Chair: Stephanie Bennett

Wake Forest Z. Smith Reynolds Library staff portraits, Wednesday, June 17, 2015.  Stephanie Bennett.What jobs have you had in the archival realm?
Several! Before taking my current (permanent) position as Collections Archivist at Wake Forest University, I had two project jobs: one on a one-year project at Boston College processing collections from the backlog related to Boston area history, and the second a two-year project position to process backlog collections and staff the department during a time of flux. They've all taught me a lot and, while it was difficult to find more permanent work, I am glad my short-term positions gave me the opportunity to learn a lot on the job.

What is your educational background?
I have a BA in English (with minors in Politics and International Studies) from Wake Forest University. After a few years as a consultant (and a year on a cross-county road trip), I got my MSLIS specializing in Archives Management from Simmons College in Boston.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
The most important part of my job is describing as many collections as my team and I can. It's so important to let folks know what your institution has available, and providing even limited description can make a big difference.

I do like that work - writing beautiful metadata is such a joy - but my favorite part of the job is working with my colleagues and students to facilitate access. We all learn from each other, whether I'm learning about web archiving intricacies from our Web Services Librarian or I'm teaching students about the hierarchy of collections (it's cooler than it sounds?!) or talking about what they've learned while processing a person's materials.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I'm proud of the collaboration that my colleagues and I do, whether it's within the library, within the University, or out in the community or North Carolina at large. My coworker Rebecca (past President of SNCA) created a Winston-Salem branch of Hop into History that has been a fun collaboration with area repositories at a local bar. And I've been working within the library to teach folks about University records and create more ethical descriptions. All that work will continue and change over time but our efforts are paying off now, too!

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
If possible, get an archives job before or at least during graduate school. Try as many tasks as possible, because what you like can be a surprise. Before I went to Simmons, I thought I might want to be a children's librarian! Collections archivist isn't so much like that, but I found it quite rewarding as I waded into all the tasks I encountered during graduate school. Relatedly, take some career assessments (whether free online or through another institution) and pay attention to all the work that you do (even positions outside of libraries) to get a sense of what your skills are and the tasks that you find rewarding. Knowing what brings you fulfillment will be useful no matter where you go!

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
Every boss I've ever had has taught me important aspects to being a professional archivist. So much of what we do benefits from hands-on experience and practice. Reading, talking with mentors, and attending classes has encouraged me to improve my supervisory skills; I feel like a baby giraffe learning how to walk but one day it will be more natural, I feel certain! As for the literature, I'm grateful for recent work by Eira Tansey, Ben Goldman, (their project funded in part by SAA), and others who are examining how archival work intersects with environmental concerns and climate change's effects. I previously overlooked how our institutional and professional choices affect climate issues, but no more.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
As Education Committee chair, I'm very focused on providing opportunities for NC's archivists to learn more about their work. I'd like to provide some distance options for archivists without a great deal of institutional support or who may not have a deep background in managing historical materials. And NC is full of archives-adjacent graduate students - I'd love for our committee to connect a few more of them to SNCA and our resources.

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Meet your 2nd Member At Large: Erin Gallagher

Erin Gallagher What jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I have recently graduated from the Information Science Program at UNC Chapel Hill, so my job experiences have been internships. In my first position, as a Research Assistant at UNC Chapel Hill, I promoted to the scientific departments on campus the open online course, Research Data Management and Sharing. This course addresses the issues of data preservation and sharing, now required by many grant organizations. During the summer of 2017, I worked as an Atkins Fellow with the University Archives at UNC Charlotte. In this position, I worked with the University Archivist, Katie Howell, to interview departments around campus on their digital record keeping practices. Additionally, I helped to lay the groundwork on how to move forward transferring digital records into their newly built digital repository. In Fall of 2017, I began working at NC State as a Born-Digital Preservation Assistant within the Special Collections department. In this position I primarily processed born-digital materials containing photos, documents and videos pertaining to the history of the university. Currently, I am working as a Records and Information Management Intern at the American Board of Pediatrics, performing quality control on records in their databases, and digitizing their Human Resources records.

What is your educational background?
Prior to pursuing my Master’s degree, I earned my undergraduate degree in Psychology, from Appalachian State University. I was quite interested in abnormal psychology, forensic psychology, and the intersection of psychology and sociology. After graduating, I spent several years working in office jobs before beginning my MSIS at UNC Chapel Hill, concentrating in Archives and Records Management.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
In my current position as Records Management Intern at the American Board of Pediatrics, my favorite part of my job is applying the retention policy and getting to dispose of records, whether that means throwing them away or putting them away for long-term storage. I would also argue that the application of the retention policy is one of the most important parts of the job. By marking records for long-term storage or shredding them to protect personally identifiable information, our department not only clears up space for other uses but also provides a way for others to evaluate their own recordkeeping and usage. This is a very active records department, dealing with records from thousands of members, therefore they require an efficient records department and retention policy.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
At my current position, I am particularly proud that I am contributing to an organization whose purpose is to evaluate and certify pediatricians. Getting to work with their history and see how the organization and its members have changed through the years is incredibly interesting. Additionally, given their purpose to help protect the health of children, I am especially proud to work with them.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
I would suggest that someone interested in pursuing this or a similar career is to get as much varied experience as you can. Not only is it a great way to get to know professionals within the field, it allows you to get to know on which area of the field you’d like to focus. You also gain an insight into the field through that hands on experience, which can be harder to grasp in a classroom setting.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
There have been so many people who have helped shape my professional interests and my overall career path. Dr. Helen Tibbo, is particularly responsible for suggesting that I follow an Information Science path, and encouraging my interests in digital preservation. Additionally, Katie Howell and Brian Dietz, both former supervisors, have been influential in my professional career. They have both acted as great mentors allowing for professional exploration, providing space for me to ask questions and learn about the field in different ways.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
This position has recently been redefined to act as a liaison between the North Carolina library schools and the SNCA organization. During my time in this position, I hope to promote interconnectivity between the archival students across the state. Meeting other students pursuing archival careers is a valuable resource, as these students will soon be future colleagues. Additionally, I want to help provide students with events and sessions that answer their professional questions as well as introduce them to professionals. I hope that through these efforts, students can gain an insight into their future careers.

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Oteen Diaries shed light on a Patient’s Stay

Contributed by Sarah Downing

A new acquisition at the Western Regional Archives (WRA) provides poignant insight into the life of a young patient at the Oteen Veteran’s Hospital near Asheville during the 1920s. The William Conway Morris Oteen Diaries were recently donated by a relative of the Virginia student and soldier. Morris contracted tuberculosis after enlisting in the U.S. Army at the start of World War I. He returned to college at Hampden Sydney in Virginia but soon took up residence at Catawba Sanitarium near Salem, Virginia. In late 1925, he arrived at the Oteen Hospital where he began his diary.

picture of Conway MorrisIn his daily accounts, Morris records visitors, goings on in the hospital, and often mentions his disposition, especially recurring bouts of loneliness. Bedridden for a number of years, Morris attempts to maintain hope for recovery. He is especially motivated by visits from a petite young woman named Ursula, who visits him frequently.

In addition to regular entries, also included are lists of nurses (Morris had a penchant for the ladies and was always glad when a new gal came on staff) and fellow patients on his ward.

Bob Kaplan, a volunteer at the WRA, has been creating a transcription of Morris’s handwritten accounts. “It’s fascinating,” he said. “Transcribing his diary is like gaining a personal peek into history. I am reading a person’s thoughts from 90 years ago.”

The diaries are also colorful with Morris’s use of slang popular during the 1920s. For example, he calls a visitor a “good skate.” Another visitor is described as a “sheik,” a term made popular by the 1921 silent movie The Sheik, starring Rudy Valentino.

After two years at Oteen with no improvement to his condition, William Conway Morris returned to his home in Darlington Heights, Prince Edward County, Virginia, where he died in May of 1928.

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Archival voids: Early attendees of NC A&T State

James Stewart, the Archives and Special Collections Librarian at North Carolina A&T State University, has provided a great suggestion for a recurring series on our blog.  As you'll read below, his institution has been seeking out information about some of its earliest attendees -- please respond to the email address listed in the article if you can provide any information or other leads.  And I wonder how many more of us have voids in our collections and would love to gather information from any and all other relevant parties.  Please send your requests to me for future inclusion on the blog.

Contributed by James Stewart

1899 classIn 1899, W. T. C. Cheek, I. S. Cunningham, A. W. Curtis, E. L. Falkener, J. M. Joyner, P. E. Robinson and A. Watson were the very first graduating class of the Agricultural & Mechanical College for the Colored Race, now North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. They were a part of the Agricultural and Mechanical era that coined the phrase “No Steps Backwards” that can be found on a majority of the university’s earliest publications and bulletins. Next year will be the 120th anniversary of this class, and very little was known in our university's history about them.

Austin Wingate Curtis Sr., of West Raleigh, NC (1872 – 1950) is the most famous member of the class. He became the agricultural director at West Virginia State College and was an active alumnus for 50 years. The Curtis Hall dormitory on the campus was named in his honor. His son A. W. Curtis Jr., (1911 – 2003) became George W. Carver's laboratory assistant and a successful Detroit businessman.

The other six men required extra investigative work to figure out their full names and more details about their lives.

William Thomas Cain Cheek of Warrenton, N.C. (c. 1875 - ????) was an instructor in the early 1910s at what is now Winston-Salem State University. He also taught carpentry and physics at vocational schools and colleges in West Virginia. In the 1920s and 1930s, he worked as an architect and builder in Washington D.C. He is known to have lived in the D.C. area in the late 1940s.

Dr. Isaac Sommerville Cunningham of Hillsboro, N.C. (1877 – 1932) earned a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1908. He practiced medicine in Owensboro, Kentucky, before relocating to Winston-Salem, N.C., around 1920. He worked as a physician and pharmacist in the Camel City until his death in 1932, at the age of 55. Descendants of Dr. Cunningham may still be living in the Winston-Salem area.

Dr. Peter Edward Robinson of Raleigh, N.C., was an assistant professor of agriculture and chemistry at A&T beginning in 1902. He attended the Northwestern University Dental School of Chicago, graduating with the highest honors in 1911. He had a dental practice in Durham, NC, for a brief time before he died in 1912.

Adam Watson of Warren County, N.C. was noted at the 1899 commencement for being an exceptional mechanic. He became the Head of the Mechanics Department and Professor of Mechanics and Agriculture at A&T. He is listed as deceased in the college bulletin as early as 1909.

Very little is known about E. L. Falkener, who was a school principal in Warrenton, N.C., and J. M. Joyner, a native of Tarboro, N.C., who became a postal worker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The F. D. Bluford Library Archives hopes to offer complete biographies of each member of this class along with the first three female graduates (classes of 1901, 1902) by May 2019. Please contact the F. D. Bluford Library Archives at if you have any information, or if you would like to know more about other topics in N.C. A&T history.


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Meet your Archives Month Chair: Colin Reeve

Today I begin a new series of posts that will allow us to get to know our Executive Board leadership.  I've asked each Board member to answer a few questions and provide a photo.  Our first contestant is Colin Reeve, the current Archives Month Chair.

What job have you had in the archival realm?
The job I have now, which is in Special Collections / University Archives at UNC Asheville, but it has morphed over time, as most jobs do. I had almost completed my MLIS at UNC Greensboro, when I started to volunteer in Special Collections, doing basic manuscript processing and creating finding aids, which at the time were created in Microsoft Front Page! The volunteer role became a part-time role, and at the end of 2013, I was lucky enough to land a full-time job. Since Gene Hyde and I are the only employees in Special Collections, although we do have a steady supply of great interns and student workers, we essentially do anything and everything: accessioning and processing collections, digitizing materials, providing reference services to students and other researchers, and teaching classes covering use of our collections and primary sources in general. I also have responsibility for the university archives and spent many months going through literally every document to assemble the archives into a logical order and produce finding aids.

What is your educational background?
I got my MLIS from UNC Greensboro. My undergraduate degree is in Quantity Surveying, a quaintly British and Commonwealth job that, in simple terms, covers the management of construction material quantities and costs. I spent many years doing that, which interestingly, did give me my first experience of working with a records retention and disposition schedule, years before I worked in an archive.

What’s your favorite part of your job, and what do you consider to be the most important?
The favorite part is “finding stuff out.” By that I mean learning things myself through helping others find what they are looking for. Most of what I know about Asheville and Western North Carolina was learned through questions asked by other people. The most important part is the other side of that equation: connecting people to the information they’re looking for.

Tell us something you’re particularly proud of from your job or institution.
It’s probably making the university archives accessible. They are a rich resource, not just of the school’s history but also Asheville’s history, that historically (pun intended) were not used because they were essentially hidden. The increased accessibility also coincided with the university’s 90th anniversary, so we were able to use the archives not only for blogs and exhibits that we did but also to support the entire campus in the anniversary celebrations.

What advice would you give to someone pursing a similar career?
Be prepared to go where the work is. I may get criticized for saying this, but library schools are creating more graduates than there are libraries and archives jobs, so there’s too many people chasing too few jobs. Also, many of the archives in NC are operated by a small number of people on tight budgets, so vacancies come about through people leaving rather than new positions being created. At least, that’s my take on things.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
Firstly, there’s my colleague Gene Hyde, but, and this is really left field, also a playwright called Stephen Poliakoff. He wrote a drama called Shooting the Past for the BBC that was set in a photo library and covers such things as the need to preserve the past, the importance of understanding your collections, and how collections can tell seemingly ordinary, but at the same time, important stories. Plus, there’s an evil American, who is ‘reformed’ by the Brits!

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
Not to leave things in a worse state than they were before I got involved! There’s been some great work done by previous Archives Month chairs, and there is a fear of tarnishing their legacy, so my first hope is have a successful Archives Month. This year's theme is “water,” so I’m hoping that archivists across the state will participate and encourage people to discover what exciting materials there are to be found in our archives. Then SNCA needs to be told all about it so we can publicize the archives, the collections used, and make more people aware of the important stories.

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Tileston School in Wilmington

Contributed by Travis Souther

The North Carolina Room at the New Hanover County Public Library has some important items in its collection that document the history of education in Wilmington.  Education was always an important aspect in the life of Amy Morris Bradley.  Born on 12 September 1823, Bradley had become a teacher in the country schools of Maine by the time she was 17.  Four years later, she was a principal of a grammar school in Maine.  After several more years in education, she was forced to give up her educational duties a following a bout of pneumonia.  She spent the winter of 1850-1851 in Charleston, South Carolina, at the home of a brother but was unable to find much relief from her ailments.  For two years after returning to Maine she was virtually an invalid.

A physician advised her that she should seek a climate that was free of frost to improve her health.  Taking the doctor’s advice, she moved to Costa Rica where she established the first English school in Central America.  Quickly mastering the Spanish language, she began to teach her students English.  A master teacher, Bradley’s pupils were rapid learners.  Bradley returned to the United States only upon the death of her father in 1858.

During the American Civil War, Bradley offered her services as a nurse initially with the Third Maine Infantry, then the Fifth Maine, and was eventually placed in charge of the Seventeenth Brigade Hospital.  Heeding a call from the United States Sanitary Commission, she volunteered along with Dorothea Dix at Fort Monroe in Virginia.  After laboring through the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, she was assigned to Alexandria, Virginia, and remained there throughout the rest of the war.

After the Civil War, she traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina, under the direction of the American Unitarian Association as educator for poor white children.  Being an outsider, and a Northerner to boot, Bradley was initially met with much skepticism.  However, the number of students enrolled in her school began to rapidly increase, prompting her to open not just one school but three.  In October 1872, the Tileston Normal School opened under Bradley’s administration.  Wealthy New York philanthropist Mary Porter Tileston Hemenway, who had been interested in Bradley’s educational work from the start, made an annual contribution of $5,000 (the equivalent of over $100,000 in 2018) to aid in the management of the school, until Bradley’s resignation due to failing health in 1891.  Bradley died in 1904 but left a legacy of over 30 years of service to improving education in Wilmington and the surrounding countryside.  To this day, the Amy Bradley Award is given to the high school graduate from New Hanover County with the highest academic grade point average.

Tileston School

Courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room

The stereoscopic image of the Tileston School circa 1885 shows many of the children who attended the school.  Further additions were made to the complex in 1910, 1919, and 1937.  The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  The nearby St. Mary Parish acquired the property from the City of Wilmington in 1989 for use as a social, cultural, and educational center.  Though alterations to the property have been made over the years, the original 1872 school building still stands, a testament and memorial to Bradley’s enduring vision.

Tileston School diploma

Courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room

Also in the collection in the North Carolina Room is a Tileston Normal School Diploma for Ms. Alice J. Yarborough, one of the first students to enter Tileston in October 1872.  Bradley’s signature can be seen on the lower right hand side.

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Upcoming Exhibit at ECU’s Joyner Library

Leading the Way exhibitContributed by Sarah McLusky

Female Abolitionists: Leading the Way is an exhibit of abolitionist pamphlets, novels, and slave narratives. It was curated by Ralph Scott, Curator of Rare Books and Maps, and will be on view from July 9 through October 1, 2018, on the first floor of East Carolina University’s Joyner Library.

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