Meet your Nominating Chair: Rebecca Petersen May

What jobs have you had in the archival realm?
During my undergraduate work, I had an English professor who required us to use primary sources in Special Collections & Archives. After that semester, I started working in my college archives and loved it. Because of this experience, I was hired at the Library of Congress to work on the LOOK Magazine photo morgue. I continued working in Library of Congress after I graduated and eventually transferred to the American Folklife Center to work on the Veteran's History Project.

I eventually moved to North Carolina to go to graduate school for my MLIS. During library school, I began volunteering at Wake Forest's Special Collections & Archives. I later worked part time and have had a variety of other jobs up to my current role as Public Services Archivist.

What is your educational background?
I did my undergraduate work at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. I got my BA in American Studies with a minor in Art History. I got my MLIS from UNCG.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
I love the outreach work I get to do in my role as Public Services Archivist. We do pop-up exhibits, events and receptions in our Research Room, or even getting into K-12 schools to talk archives. I think the most important part of my job is to assist patrons with using our collections. I work with so many different types of researchers, from undergrads to genealogists. I am an expert on our collections, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge of the collections with interested researchers.

May pictureTell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I have done quite a bit of work with a local 4th grade teacher to expose her students to archives. It is so rewarding to work with young people to show them what types of materials we have, how people might use them, and what an archivist does. I am attaching a picture of me showing the very excited young people a tiny book.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
I really think a lot of the work you have to put into getting a job and being successful is showing up. Be available, be flexible, and be consistent. These qualities are great for getting started in the profession and will definitely pay off if you work in public services because no day is the same.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
I have been fortunate to have great mentors in the profession. Through SAA, I signed up for a mentor and have had the chance to meet with some great leaders. Honestly, my *extensive* time on the SNCA Board has been a great opportunity for me to learn about the profession, network with people, and take on more and more leadership roles.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
I am nearing the end of my time on the SNCA Board, so I will recap my past accomplishments. I am happy with my roles on Archives Month, my work as Vice Chair, and my role as President. I am continuing my role as past-president/chair of nominating committee for the third year since our "past-presidents" keep leaving NC! It has been fun to work with this committee for so many years and really grow the slate of nominees and change the way we handle elections. SNCA now does a secret ballot election via email with a competitive slate of candidates. I am proud of this change and hope it continues in the future.

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Archives Month: Andrews Geyser

Contributed by Sarah Downing

This man-made landmark, found in the McDowell County town of Old Fort, was constructed in 1885 on the site of the Round Knob Lodge, a fashionable hostelry in operation at that time. It served to mark the entrance of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was visible to rail passengers both east- and westbound. The unique feature was created by damming a small stream, which was connected via a pipeline. Because the water source was higher in elevation, gravity created the geyser effect.

Andrews Geyser

Andrews Geyser circa 1940, Blue Ridge Heritage Area Scrapbook, WRA

The geyser was active for a number of years but fell into a state of disrepair after the lodge burned in 1903. Around 1910, while on a railroad trip through the mountains, New Yorker George F. Baker noticed the geyser was no longer in operation. A man of means, Baker petitioned the Southern Railway System and offered to bring the geyser back to working order and to name it Andrews Geyser to recognize his friend Col. Alexander Boyd Andrews of Raleigh, who served as the first vice president of the Southern Railway Company. It turned out that Baker was unable to secure the same easements to procure a water source, so Andrews Geyser was relocated to a spot some 200 feet to the north.

The new and improved geyser became a popular spot for sight-seeing and picnicking. However, it suffered neglect after rail service was discontinued in the area. In the early ‘70s, local residents rallied. A 2-acre parcel that contained the geyser was deeded to the town of Old Fort, and a fund was created for its restoration. On May 6, 1976, the refurbished Andrews Geyser resumed its festive spray. That same year it was recognized by the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker program.

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Crowdsourcing success at ECU

Contributed by Dale Sauter

In its digital collections, ECU includes an early 20th century photograph of an African American Masonic Group.  This picture recently received several comments online that helped to clarify the date and location of the meeting depicted as well as the names of several of the people pictured.  You can see the photograph and other details at  You can also view the finding aid at

Joyner Library Digital Collections was developed in-house using existing staff. Repository data is stored in an SQL database that is used to populate METS records and an Apache Solr index. Each object (text, image, audio, video, or some combination of these) is digitized and described in the METS record to the standards found in ECU's Technical Guidelines. The site framework was developed using the .NET platform.

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Meet your Vice President/Program Chair: Dawne Lucas

Dawne Lucas pictureWhat is your educational background?
I have an MA in Public History from North Carolina State University and an MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to pursuing my graduate degrees, I double majored in History and Media and Journalism from the UNC-Chapel Hill. Before attending graduate school, I worked at a television station in Raleigh and an apartment community in Durham.

What jobs have you had in the archival realm?
As a graduate student, I processed archival collections at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After I graduated, I became the Head of Technical Services for the Duke University Medical Center Archives. In 2013, I became a Special Collections Librarian for the University Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill, specializing in the history of the health sciences.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is consulting with researchers and making them aware of the vast resources available in the history of the health sciences, both at UNC and at other institutions. I also think this is the most important part of my job, since there's no point in collecting and preserving materials if no one is aware of them and no one uses them.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I am proud that my colleagues work together to make sure we are doing the best we can to provide access to our collections, including evaluating and changing established procedures. Our profession is changing, and sometimes decisions that made sense years ago don't make sense today. Change can be hard, but well thought out changes usually pay off in the end.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
My advice is to get involved in professional organizations such as SNCA. It’s a great way to network and build your resume. Don’t be intimidated to join committees or run for positions. Many professional organizations heavily rely on their members to serve on committees to plan events, set policies, etc. – those organizations can’t exist without you! I also encourage new professionals to apply for scholarships, such as SNCA’s C. David Jackson Memorial Scholarship. Organizations want to award this money to make conference attendance and participation easier for its members. The worst thing that can happen to you if you apply is that you don’t win.

I also encourage new professionals to keep an open mind about their careers. Many people have asked me if I have always been interested in the history of the health sciences. The answer is NO! I have now worked in this subject area for almost 12 years, and I am glad that I was willing to venture into a subject area that was unfamiliar to me at the time I applied for my first full-time professional position.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
There are numerous people throughout North Carolina who have shaped my professional outlook. In addition to mentors, professors, and colleagues at NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Duke, I have been influenced by SNCA members throughout the state. Some of these key people no longer live in North Carolina and I rarely see them, but I hold on to the nuggets of wisdom that they passed on to me.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
I have served on various SNCA committees since 2004 and have seen the organization change and grow during that time. I took a break from serving on SNCA committees for several years and missed being involved in the organization. I am now looking forward to planning the 2019 SNCA Annual Meeting in Wilmington and helping to guide SNCA into the next decade.

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Archives Month: Cheoah Dam

The Western Regional Archives (part of the State Archives of North Carolina) is writing a series of blogs relevant to this year's Archives Month theme, Water and History in North Carolina.

Contributed by Sarah Downing

Built across the waters of the Little Tennessee River in Graham and Swain counties between 1916 and 1919, the Cheoah Dam was the first of a series of dams constructed by the Tallahassee Power Company, (TAPOCO). At 225 feet, it had the distinction at the time of completion as being the tallest overflow dam in the world, as well as the most powerful hydroelectric facility on the planet. It served as a model for similar structures. Water flows from the 644-acre Cheoah Reservoir through one of 19 arched gates.

BRNHA 203d018

Cheoah Dam  Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Scrapbook, WRA, circa 1941

The history of the Cheoah Dam, and the others that followed on the Little Tennessee River—Santeetlah, Calderwood, and Chilhowee—can be traced to the increased demand for aluminum at the end of the 19th century. Because much electricity was needed for its production, the Alcoa Company sought inexpensive means to produce the metal, and the Little Tennessee River provided ample sites advantageous for damming in order to produce hydroelectric power. North Maryville, Tennessee was selected for an aluminum production plant in 1913 and was later incorporated as the town of Alcoa. TAPOCO, who built the dams, is administered by a subsidiary of Alcoa.

If the dam looks familiar, you might remember it from a scene in the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, when star Harrison Ford jumped from the top into the swirling river water below.

In 2004, the Cheoah Dam and related structures were placed on the North Carolina Register of Historic Places. Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners purchased the dam in 2012.

Sources: Portrait of the past: Cheoah Dam, once world’s tallest, Rob Neufeld, Citizen-Times March 26, 2015.  National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Cheoah Hydroelectric Development, 2004.
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Meet your Development Chair: Karen Feeney

Karen Feeney pictureWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I have been an archivist at the Forsyth County Public Library, and for the past year I have been supervisor of the North Carolina Collection in the same library. I manage the book collection, archives, and photo collection to some extent. We have a staff archivist and a photograph collection librarian whom I supervise. They are very knowledgeable so we discuss things with each other but they have a lot of responsibility and autonomy within their special collection areas.

What is your educational background?
I have a BA in Anthropology and MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I did have a teaching license for social studies that I earned as an undergraduate but since I am not teaching I have let that expire. I use my teaching education pretty often when I create genealogy programs at the library. I am also a certified archivist.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is that I can work with people. I enjoy meeting new people and learning new things I haven't known before. The majority of our patrons that visit our special collections are local, but we often have visitors from other states and other countries. I am always learning something new about genealogy, local history, and people in general. The most important part of my job is facilitating and providing for the needs of my community. That may be in genealogy instruction, partnering with local organizations for exhibits, collecting materials they request or donate, or making our local history room a hub in the community for people to gather and research their own personal histories and to connect with each other.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
We have space in our new downtown library for community artwork and exhibits. I am really proud that we can partner with individuals and organizations in our community to bring engaging and interesting exhibits to the public. I recently worked with the Children's Home Alumni Association to bring an exhibit on the history of the Children's Home to our Central Library. It is extensive and has been really popular.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
I would suggest that you get involved in the local community. Whether searching for a job in a university, museum, historical society, or public library, knowing the people you will serve is a great advantage. Also, I would suggest learning about the types of collections that you want to work with, either through an educational setting or service learning. Expertise with a particular type of collection, whether textiles, paper, artwork, etc., can be advantageous and help you stand out in job interviews.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
I can't say that I have one person who has shaped my professional outlook. I tend to take from different people bits and pieces of behaviors and knowledge that I find practical. I would say my professional outlook has been shaped by my college professors, my library supervisors, and other professionals I work with on the job and in leadership roles. It has also been shaped in a large part by the piles of archival literature that I studied for archival certification.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
I hope to at least make the Development Committee a self-sustaining arm of the organization. Fundraising is challenging, but I hope to work with the committee to develop some pathways to funding that the next chair and committee members can pick up and run with to keep our organization on solid financial footing.

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Contributed by Kelly Spring (second in the series about ECU's migration to ArchivesSpace)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have turn-by-turn directions to find those vexing errors that you inherently know are in your legacy data? Sometimes charting exactly how to identify messy data can feel like working with an astrolabe to triangulate a position. But, pirate jokes aside, it is possible to define a method to move forward.

map photoAt ECU, our initial approach is to test migrating everything we have in Archivists Toolkit (AT) to ArchivesSpace (AS). Obvious, right? However, since our container lists and authorities live in databases outside of AT, we’ll also run additional tests: One series of tests to push authorities into AT and migrate to AS, and another round of tests to add container lists to AT and migrate to AS.

During test migrations, the programmer will keep a captain’s log of anything that fails, which will provide a list of data that could seriously capsize our ship. The rest of the crew will divide into three subgroups, one for each of our repositories, to pinpoint further errors. Mapping discrepancies will be identified by employing the ol’ view-in-source vs. view-in-target method. Style and content errors will also be recorded by the subgroups, but only after referencing our archival description guidelines and explicitly defining what to look for. Using a handy template provided by the Orbis Cascade Alliance, the subgroups will note elements including the problem, priority, extent, and clean-up strategy.

Sounds like smooth sailing! But, what about shifts in the wind or turbulent seas? In other words, how are we going to catch the data that falls through the cracks? Let’s say our sea-monster of a container list database simply won’t go into AT. In that case, our migration team would test importing EADs extracted from our .NET Web system into AS to find errors and/or would run the Harvard EAD checker and Yale Schematron over our files. What about an authority entanglement? For that we would evaluate by node export from AT and, if necessary, use a tool like OpenRefine to reconcile against LCNAF and LCSH.

Our team has a few more resources to define before we heave down. Soon, though, we’ll lift our eye patches and begin looking for those pesky barnacles that need cleaning.

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Meet your Secretary: Erin Allsop

What jobs have you had in the archival realm?
Processing Archivist, Corporate Archivist, Hotel historian/archivist, exhibition curator, conservation work (minimal), reading room assistant, digitization specialist, archive and records manager, reference and instructional archivistErin Allsop picture

What is your educational background?
Bachelors in History, Masters in Library and Information Science (masters thesis on value of corporate archives)

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite "task" is processing - something very therapeutic about placing items in clean and neat files/boxes! My favorite/most important aspect of archival work is outreach and advocacy. Archives encompass the records of ALL (or at least they should, in my opinion), so working to make sure that these materials are accessible to all who wish to access them is what keeps me going. Also, finding new and unique ways to present historical information to change the minds of ways people think about archives is a great challenge to me!

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
Implemented large-scale digitization project; developed new partnerships with retirees association and NC Community Colleges; adding new collections to our archives so that our collections are more representative of our community.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Be patient. There is no shame in working multiple internships or part-time jobs to get ahead in the field. Most archivists do it, and it makes you a more well-rounded candidate in the eyes of employers.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
My first boss, Marianne LaBatto from Brooklyn College, and Leslie Knope (character from Parks and Rec - A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats). Both have taught me the value of hard work and, most importantly, team work.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
To make students more aware of our organization and become more involved; to create more collaborative events throughout the year with regional areas; and to raise awareness to State Organizations about importance of archives.

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New collections at ECU Manuscripts and Rare Books

Contributed by Dale Sauter

Old Pitt County (N.C.) Hospital Collection #1333

Approximately 114 blueprints, architectural renderings, and site maps (1948-1967) related to the Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville, North Carolina, covering the period of original construction through 1967 additions.

Caroline Brock Sutton Papers #1325
This collection contains Bible Records (from 1891 Bible) for the Daniel S. (born 1817) and Caroline (born 1823) Brock family and for the Caroline Leary Brock (b. 1895, Kinston, N.C.) and Roger Neal Sutton (born 1893, La Grange, N.C.) family. Also included is the 1913 City High School Commencement program, Kinston, N.C.

Jessamine Shumate Collection #1334

Jessamine Shumate (1902-1990), a native of Henry County, Virginia, was an artist, historian, and cartographer.  She died in Greenville, North Carolina, where her daughters were living.  This collection includes works by her including three historical maps of Guilford County, NC, Henry County, VA, and of Virginia; a broadside Chronology of Henry County History and her book My Memoirs.  Also included are two books written by Jessamine Shumate’s nephew Robert Lee Hadden, Ada Jessamine Shumate (1902-1990): Her Life and Art: A Collection of Her Paintings, Prints and Accomplishments (2011) and The Shamrock and the Fleur De Lys: The Family Histories of the William James Hadden Family and the Whitney Shumate Family (1990).

Robert and Sallie Cotten Collection #1335

Photograph of Sallie Southall Cotten and Robert Randolph Cotten taken inside their house at Cottendale Plantation, Pitt County, North Carolina, on March 14, 1928, their 62nd wedding anniversary.

Pitt County and North Carolina Political Ephemera Collection #1336

This collection contains political brochures, posters, and mailings (1990s-2018) related to mainly Greenville, Pitt County, and North Carolina races although some relate to national elections.  The focus is on Democratic Party candidates but also includes some items related to Republican Party rivals.

Lorraine Hale Robinson Papers #1337

Included are an unpublished manuscript by Sir Ivor Noel Hume with corrections by Lorraine Hale Robinson titled FIRST and LOST:  In Search of America’s First English Settlement.  Discussions in 2008 to have the book published through the East Carolina University Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences fell through at some point, and it remains unpublished.

Rich Elkins Papers #1338

Rich Elkins has been active in the LGBT community in Eastern North Carolina for many years and this collection contains materials related to his involvement.  Included are publications such as NC Pride Guides (1994-2002), Down East Pride Festival programs for Greenville (1995-1998), The Front Page newspaper issues (1996-1998) and one issue of Q-Notes newspaper which covers North and South Carolina, The Front Page Directory for 1998 (a Business Directory for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community), newspaper clippings, a poster, and other documents.  Material related to the founding of B-Glad at East Carolina University has been donated to the ECU University Archives.

William Philip Pipkin Collection #929, Addition 2

This addition includes a ledger containing handwritten copies of official military correspondence kept by Colonel Philip Pipkin of the 1st Regiment West Tennessee Militia in 1814 during the War of 1812. During this time the regiment was at camps in Alabama and Mississippi Territory. Some financial accounts for the 1820s are also in the ledger. Other items in this addition are a 1918 Pictorial Supplement Overseas Edition for The Camp Dodger published by the 88th Division of Camp Dodge, Iowa, and color photographs (and negatives) of the ledger and of a man holding a rifle and a cartridge knapsack.

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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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