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SNCA Blog  

The North Carolina Archivist (SNCA Newsletter)

Prior to 2011, the Society's newsletter was distributed to members twice a year. It contained articles on subjects of archival concern, announcements of archival events and meetings in the state and region, news from members and member institutions, and notices of professional opportunities and internships.

The newsletter is now delivered in blog format.

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  • 14 Feb 2024 11:49 | E-Resources Chair (Administrator)

    SNCA’s Education Committee is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s student awards.

    Griffin Anderson, a student enrolled in East Carolina University’s Master of Library Science program, is one of two recipients of this year’s C. David Jackson Memorial Student Scholarship.

    Anderson works as branch manager at Moss Memorial Library where he has been building an archives of local and regional history, the Mary Fonda Heritage Center.

    Kensington Laube, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, is also a recipient of this year’s C. David Jackson Memorial Student Scholarship

    Laube currently works as a graduate assistant for the Southern Folklife Collection at the Wilson Library and has previously served as a library and archives intern for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and as a special collections student employee at the Randall Library.

    The C. David Jackson Memorial Student Scholarship awards $500 to support attendance at SNCA’s upcoming annual conference and can be used for pre-conference workshops and other professional development opportunities. This award also provides a one year membership in SNCA.

    Emma Dingle, a student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s School of Information and Library Science, is the recipient of the Gene J. Williams Student Paper Award. Dingle’s paper, “A Snapshot of Literary Manuscript Collecting in the United States and Britain,” which was written as coursework for the Rare Books and Manuscripts course, will be published in the next issue of Journal of the Society of North Carolina Archivists.

    Dingle’s paper describes the acquisition of British and Irish manuscripts from the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century through two case studies of the special collections libraries of Marquette University and Emory University.

    The Gene J. Williams Award also provides $250, free attendance to this year’s SNCA conference, and a one-year membership to SNCA.

    Congratulations to all three students!

    Applications for next year’s awards will be accepted next winter. Please watch the SNCA blog and listserv for announcements.

  • 15 Dec 2023 10:37 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    Contributed by Andy Poore, Mooresville Public Library

    Early this fall Mooresville Public Library’s Local History & Archives (LHA) received a donation that is representative of the LHA’s collection goals and priorities in the documentation of notable citizens of Mooresville. The collection, comprised of photographs and documents, was given in memory of Dorothy Brown, who was known throughout her life as “Long Sam” and had attained fame for her likeness to the cartoon character of the same name.  Through collections such as this, the archives endeavors to develop an intellectual and comprehensive understanding of the lives of citizens from Mooresville who achieved fame both within the town and the beyond the community.

    Dorothy Mae Brown was born in 1940, one of ten children, to a rural family in Wilkes County.  At the age of three her family moved to Iredell County and the Mooresville community.  Raised in a small house along the banks of the Catawba River, Dorothy dropped out of school in the 7th grade to help her mother with her younger siblings and to help provide for the family by babysitting for others. 


    In 1954 Al Capp and Bob Lubbers, best known for their creation of “Li’l Abner” launched their newest comic strip “Long Sam” about a young woman who lived in a small mountain community. The strip dealt with her growing up and venturing into the “outside” world from her mountain community. The strip was a hit and was quickly syndicated in all major newspapers in the U.S.  In 1956 Tom McKnight, owner and publisher of the Mooresville Tribune, and photographer Fletcher Davis were out along the Catawba River working on a story about a local moonshine operation when Dorothy Brown stepped from the woods and “Long Sam” became one of Mooresville’s famous citizens.

     

    Amazed at how much she looked like the cartoon figure, Mr. McKnight wrote a story titled The Girl in Black which caught the attention of Kays Gary, a columnist for The Charlotte Observer.  The story was soon picked up and quickly appeared in all the papers, which caught the attention of Life magazine, who sent someone to photograph Ms. Brown. The story and the photographs caught the attention of one of the members of the Ed Sullivan Show, and soon an invitation was sent to her to appear on the show. This young woman from a small town in North Carolina was soon standing on the stage of one of the nation’s most famous television shows, and that story was picked up by Newsweek magazine. She was then asked to appear on the Steve Allen Show and to appear on Broadway in a live version of L’il Abner.  She turned them down.  

     

    After her trip and brief stay in New York, she returned home where friends of Mr. McKnight, Ross and Virigina Puette, paid for Dorothy to finish her high school degree at Wingate Junior College.  After Wingate, she attended The Women’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC-Greensboro) where she graduated with her B.A. and teaching certification. She returned to Mooresville and eventually moved to Charlotte where she taught at Idlewild Elementary until she retired.  She passed away March 5, 2023.


    For Dorothy, never having traveled much outside of Iredell County, the experience of becoming a celebrity was a whirlwind introduction to the world outside her community. She was exposed to life outside a small Southern town and was presented with opportunities that, under normal circumstances, would not have been available to her. Although she chose not to remain in the limelight, she was able to realize her dream of becoming a teacher and helping others through education. 
  • 7 Dec 2023 13:35 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    The Forsyth County Public Library’s North Carolina Collection welcomed a new staff member in October. Cade Carlson is the new photograph collection librarian in charge of caring for the library’s extensive photograph collections and responding to Digital Forsyth requests. Cade graduated from the UNC School of Information and Library Science where his focus was on archives and records management. He brings a range of experience with him to his new library role, having worked as a retail manager, bookstore staff, and a library clerk. He is also a self-trained collage and spray paint artist. We are happy to welcome him to the team!

    Q & A with Cade

    1. What made you want to work with library special collections?

    A couple of factors drove my interest in working with such a collection: previous professional experience working with implementing physical organization systems (creating and implementing a book and media department for the creative reuse thrift store, the Scrap Exchange), having my passion for archives awakened early in my time as a graduate student at UNC’s SILS, and my time as a field experience volunteer at the North Carolina Collection at Durham’s Central Library. Each of these contributed to my intent to be able to work with elevating such collections and providing avenues for accessing them.

    2. What types of Images does the Forsyth County Public Library ("the Library") photograph collection contain?

    The Library’s photograph collection contains a vast cornucopia of historic and contemporary images that together produce a highly contextual gestalt of the history of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. A large bulk of the collection are images that were captured by former photographers for the Winston Salem Journal and Twin City Sentinel as well as a large swath of portrait studio images depicting residents of Winston-Salem (and that’s only scratching the surface of what is on hand!). The collection is always growing through donations, where it continues to evolve and paint an even more vivid picture of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

    3. How can customers access the photograph collection?

    Much of the collection is available for public viewing via the Digital Forsyth website. The website enables patrons to search for images through keyword/subject searching. Relevant images can be viewed with extensive descriptive information (metadata) being present for further contextual elucidation on the nature of the images. Patrons can request high resolution digital prints for a fee via this website as well (look for the “Want a print of this photograph?” link on a respective image’s page). The watermarked images on Digital Forsyth are free to use as well, so long as they are remarked as “Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library.” For special requests regarding viewing images in person, or for patrons seeking images that may not be present on the Digital Forsyth website, we welcome you to contact us to arrange for such a session.

    4. How did you become an artist?

    I attended Durham School of the Arts for high school, where I was able to take classes related to classical guitar, piano, and photography. Once I started attending college, I made a series of creative pivots and experienced numerous “happy accidents” that reallocated my artistic pursuits towards working with collage and spray paint as my primary mediums. After graduating from undergrad, I co-founded the Durty Durham Artist Cooperative with many DSA alumni, where we aimed to create opportunities/spaces for young artists to be able to show/perform their artistic endeavors. Being a part of this collective further entrenched my pursuit of personal artistic growth to the point where it’s hard to imagine not continuing to create and evolve through my artistic output.

    5. How does a collage and spray paint artist make art?

    My workflows involve creating narratives through the selection/arrangement of the volumes of carefully cut-out images from any analog/physical source of interest that I can get my hands on. The spray paint aspect serves as the backdrop to these narratives, where the use of color and constant experimentation (the gross majority of my spray paint work involves how it interacts with the direct introduction of water to the panel/board) aims to be in service of the narratives, with the hope of being able to marry the two mediums through the use of dream logic, magical realism, and colors selection. My work can be viewed on my portfolio website, Spraygaze; you can also follow me on my Instagram account.

  • 15 Nov 2023 10:50 | Stephanie Bennett (Administrator)

    We can't wait to welcome everyone to our first in-person meeting since 2019
    as we celebrate SNCA's 40th Anniversary at the State Archives Building in
    Downtown Raleigh on April 18-19, 2024. The official theme, calls for
    proposals, and registration information are coming soon. If you have any
    questions in the meantime, please let me know. We'll see you in Raleigh
    next spring!

  • 2 Nov 2023 10:34 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    Submitted by Kathelene McCarty Smith, Department Head, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    A letter found in the papers of Dr. Charles Duncan McIver, the founder and first president of the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), noted that he had always wanted to see a “first class [train] wreck.” He got his wish on the night of August 25, 1902, when Southern Railway’s Fast Mail Train No. 35 ran off the rails near Harkins, South Carolina. Fast Mail express trains had been operated by Southern Railway since the late 19th century and were particularly perilous because of their speed. But they were attractive to some passengers, such as Dr. McIver, as they often journeyed at night and were faster than the alternative methods of travel. He booked a seat on the No. 35 train in hopes of a quick trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to speak at the Teachers’ Institute.

    Wreck of Southern Railway's No. 35 Mail Train

    The train, which carried the mail from New York to Atlanta, was running at the rapid speed of sixty miles per hour when it encountered a sabotaged section of the track. The conductor, Henry Busha, who was injured in the wreck, blamed the incident on “miscreants” whose mischief caused the train to hit the open switch and careen off the tracks, leaving the engine, mail car, baggage car, and coaches stranded on their sides. Busha made it a point to tell reporters that he had not jumped out of the engine but crawled to safety; thus, keeping his pride intact and ensuring that he was not to blame. News accounts considered it “nothing short of a miracle” that no one was killed, although several people were seriously injured. Many witnesses who were at the scene saw nothing wrong with the switch and believed that there was no evidence of foul play, but railroad authorities believed that there was proof of premeditative tampering, as a crowbar was found, and spikes were pried out of a side track. Believing that the saboteurs might still be nearby, bloodhounds were employed in efforts to hunt them down, but to no avail.

    Debris from the wreck

    Train wrecks were not uncommon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some included Fast Mail trains like the one Dr. McIver rode. One of the most famous occurred almost a year after McIver’s experience. On September 27, 1903, another Southern Railway Fast Mail train jumped the track near Danville, Virginia. Like the event that took place the year before, this crash was partially caused by the accelerated speed of train in the attempt to make up for lost time. The momentum resulted in a plunge of forty-five feet off the Stillhouse Branch trestle. The wreck soon became a public spectacle, and many people came to view the horrible scene. Eleven members of the crew perished, and almost everyone on the train was injured, becoming the worst train wreck in the history of the state of Virginia. Soon lore began to supersede facts, and ghostly figures and train whistles began to be witnessed. The incident even inspired the 1924 hit country song “The Wreck on the Southern Old 97,” which sold six million records, and since has been recorded by many country artists.

    The Wreck of the Southern Old 97

    Dr. McIver knew that his wife, Lula, had been worried about his propensity for riding on night trains. In fact, she wrote her husband a letter only a few weeks before the wreck expressing her concerns. She cited a recent train wreck that occurred at night, and she expressed a strong preference for him to travel by day – even if it delayed his homecoming several hours. He noted her apprehension but countered with this comment made by Mark Twain: An insurance man tried to sell Twain a policy as he was boarding a train. Twain told him, “No, I don’t want it. More people die in beds than on trains.”

    Reassuring telegram after a "fearful wreck"

    Mrs. McIver’s fears were realized when her husband’s train went off the rails in the early hours of August 25. She did not accompany her husband to Atlanta but remained at home on the college campus with their small family. As soon as he was able, he sent her a Western Union telegram reading, “In fearful wreck this evening but not injured at all.” After Dr. McIver was settled in his “delightful room on the fifth floor” of his Atlanta hotel, he wrote to Lula again, regaling her of his adventure. He described the general pandemonium after the wreck, especially the cries of “murder” from an older passenger. He wrote that the engine that “lay flat on the side and whistled mournfully for 20 minutes” and the wood which was strewn everywhere and eventually used for a bonfire. He even enclosed a piece of the wood in his letter as a “souvenir of the wreck.” His general tone was surprisingly cheerful, no doubt to soothe his wife’s panic, and he closed with “No news – Love to you all!

    Charles and Lula McIver and their children

    Ironically, Mark Twain’s story would not hold true for Dr. McIver. On September 17, 1906, he caught the early morning train to Raleigh, North Carolina, to meet a group who was traveling with politician William Jennings Bryan back to Greensboro. The train stopped in Durham for Bryan to make a campaign speech and for the party to have lunch. After lunch, McIver complained of indigestion and acute chest pains, and decided to return to the club car to rest. He died shortly afterwards, suffering a stroke while returning from Raleigh – on a train.


    Sources:

    • President Charles Duncan McIver Records, Correspondence of Dr. and Mrs. McIver, 1892-1902; Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    • “Bad Wreck Due to Miscreants,” The Atlanta Constitution 26 Aug 1902, p 7.
    • “Wreck of the Old 97,” Encyclopedia Virginia, https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/wreck-of-the-old-97/

  • 3 Oct 2023 13:05 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    The Society of North Carolina Archivists Archives Month Committee invites you to a series of Lunch and Learns.  An impressive array of presenters is ready to explore this year’s theme:

    Scandal,

    Nuisance,

    Calamity, &

    Anguish in the Archives

     Murder victim, Dawson Street, Raleigh, April 1959.  NO_4-3-1959_pilkingtonmurder From the N&O negative collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. Photo copyrighted by the News and Observer. Illegal to use without express permission from the N&O.

    Thursday, Oct. 5 at 12:00 p.m. 

    "It Was a Train Wreck: Calamitous and Scandalous Tales from the UNCG Archives," join panelists Patrick Dollar, Suzanne Helms, Stacey Krim, Erin Lawrimore, and Kathelene McCarty Smith as they share information about different incidents/people from their collections. 

     

    Thursday, Oct. 12 at 12:00 p.m. 

    "Forevermore I’ll Sing”: Traditional Ballads from Sodom Laurel with Donna Ray Norton an eighth-generation descendant of the original settlers of Madison County, and of its music tradition. The ballads that Donna Ray sings are widely known as murder ballads, but her family calls them love songs. You’re sure to hear something about unrequited love, someone’s father killing her lover, maybe even someone’s head getting cut off. 

     

    Thursday, Oct. 26 at 12:00 p.m. 

    “Misdeeds and Depravity in the A/V Collection,”with Ian Dunn, Processing Archivist in the Audiovisual Materials Unit of the Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina. 

     

    To register, visit the SNCA website https://www.ncarchivists.org/ and look for Upcoming Events.

    Visit the SNCA Facebook page for additional tales of Scandal, Nuisance, Calamity, and Anguish in the Archives! 


  • 2 Oct 2023 12:27 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    W.C. Reese sent out a message at 4:55 p.m. July 7, 1959.  As Chief Dispatcher for the Clinchfield Railroad Company, it was his job to get news to the company’s directors in a timely fashion. Less than an hour earlier near Marion, North Carolina, Train No. 97 suffered a derailment.  Twenty-six cars, many of which were carrying alcohol, left the tracks and a fire was “fiercely burning.” It was the first communication about the calamity sent from his office in Erwin, Tennessee.

    According to the official Accident Report, the cause of the crash was attributed to a “wrung journal” (a.k.a. an axel malfunction) on Seaboard Atlantic Lines car no. 8785 loaded with phosphate. A journal box held a car’s axels and helped to distribute the weight of the railcar and to keep the axels lubricated.  If the boxes were not properly maintained, they could overheat and catch fire.  

    The train was travelling 40 miles an hour on its usual run from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Elkhorn, Kentucky, that hot and clear day. There were 43 loaded cars and 41 empties. Firefighters from Old Fort, Nebo, and Marion responded to the scene.  No injuries were reported.

    In the end, when all the bills were tallied, the derailment of No. 97 cost $232,070.37, chiefly made up of repairs to damage to tracks, equipment, and signals. Today, that would translate to roughly $2.5 million.

    Bob Ruiz travelled from his home in Swannanoa, N.C., to photograph the derailment.  His color slides are part of the Ruiz and Brown Families Papers housed at Western Regional Archive in Asheville. The Clinchfield Railroad Company Records are housed at the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. 


  • 2 Aug 2023 21:21 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    Contributed by Jonathan Dembo

    The Manuscripts & Digital Curation Department of J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC announces that the papers of former ECU faculty member and U. S. Senator John P. East (R-NC) are now available for research. 

    Researchers may access the finding aid online at: https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0513?q=east

    Researchers may select items of research interest to access through the online finding aid and may make appointments to visit the repository or obtain copies of documents in the collection through the Special Collections Division’s website at:  https://library.ecu.edu/specialcollections/

    Senator East’s election marked a significant change in North Carolina politics and reflected changes in most of the rest of the Southeastern states.  Before he was elected to the Senate in 1980, the Democrats had held the seat since Andrew Jackson won the presidency in 1828, with only two, one-term, interruptions, in the 1840s and the 1890s.  After East won election in 1980, no Democrat has won reelection to the seat. 

    The John P. East Papers (1908 – 1986, undated [bulk: 1964 – 1986]) consist of 607 archival containers and 7 oversized folders and contain over 258 cubic feet of manuscript materials.  The papers include biographical, genealogical, and historical materials relating to his life (5 May 1931 – 29 June 1986); his marriage to Priscilla Sherk East and their children; his service as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps; his battle against poliomyelitis and the paralysis it caused; his graduate studies in political science and as a professor of Political Science at East Carolina University (1964 – 1980), including his teaching files for each of his classes, his academic and professional publications, speeches, and interviews; and also his conservative Republican political beliefs and affiliations and political career, including his several unsuccessful attempts to win political office in North Carolina (1966 – 1976), culminating in his successful campaign for and election to the United States Senate in 1980; but the bulk of the collection focuses on his service in the Senate, where he was aligned with Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and a member of Helms' political organization, the Congressional Club; including his mailing lists, correspondence and constituent cases and projects files; his office and staff files, including files of this administrative assistants, press secretaries and legislative assistants; his political patronage and nomination files, committee and legislative activities; his voting records, newsletters, voluminous clipping files, press and public relations files, including publications, audio and video of interviews, speeches, and political events; his frequent bouts of ill health due to poliomyelitis, hyperthyroidism, urinary tract blockages, and depression, and their side effects which may have contributed to his decision not to run for reelection and his death by suicide in 1986; also including photographic prints and negatives, microfilm of committee records, correspondence, case and general files, voter registration files; and also oversized materials (1981 – 1986, undated).

    For more information, please feel free to contact Prof. Jonathan Dembo, who processed and cataloged the collection.  You may reach him by email or at the address below.

    Jonathan Dembo

    Professor Academic Library Services

    Manuscripts & Digital Curation Department

    J. Y. Joyner Library, Room #4014

    East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC 27858-4353

    Phone: (252) 328-2661

    Email:  demboj@ecu.edu


  • 14 Jul 2023 12:56 | Stephanie Bennett (Administrator)

    In April 2023, a couple of archives repositories across the state opened their doors to host SNCA members and give folks an opportunity to attend an in-person event together. Thanks to Stephanie Bennett at Wake Forest University, Adreonna Bennett at UNC Charlotte, and Joshua Hager at N.C. State Archives for arranging tours. And of course thank you to the archives folks who came out - it was nice to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones.

    Here is Instruction Archivist Randi Beem doing some show and tell at UNC Charlotte's Atkins Library.

    Randi Beem shows an object to a group of folks facing her in the UNCC reading room

    Randi Beem shows an object to a group of folks facing her in the UNCC reading room


    And State Archivist Sarah Koonts and Records Description Unit Supervisor  Josh Hager touring folks around the State Archives.


    Here's to many more tours in the future!

  • 10 Jul 2023 08:00 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    Contributed by Alston Cobourn

    In January 2023 East Carolina University’s Records Management merged with University Archives to take better advantage of synergies between the two areas, resulting in a new department located in the Special Collections division - University History and Records.  Records Manager Amy Bright moved to the division at that time, and just recently Zach Dale assumed the new position of Records and Archives Assistant.  The department is now fully staffed with four FTE.

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