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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.

  • 10 Oct 2022 09:00 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    This year's theme for Archives Month is "The Lighter Side of Tarheelia: Fun, Frolic, and Festivals in the Old North State." Today's post is contributed by Kathelene McCarty Smith from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

    Plays and productions were an important part of early campus life at the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). They were not only a creative outlet for the students but also an ideal way for classmates from across the state to get to know each other better. In addition to obvious social benefits, the earliest campus productions drew attention to the new school during a time when the North Carolina Legislature was making important appropriation decisions for the state’s colleges. Charles Duncan McIver, the founder and first president of the small state women’s college, was constantly defending his school and advocating for recognition and financial and political benefits.

    "The Bevy of Sailor Girls," New Hanover County, 1894

    In this vein, during visits of the Legislature’s Education Committee in 1894 to assess State Normal’s buildings, grounds, and administrative management, McIver planned a State County Fair, intending to show off his new school and student body from across the state. He appointed four students to plan the auspicious event, during which the Committee, local businessmen, and the general public were entertained with a competition to present the most creative skit featuring significant local products and notable historic figures from the students’ home counties. The Fair took place in the auditorium, or “chapel,” of the Main Building (now the Foust Building), and included elaborate costumes and props as well as cleverly titled banners. The skits varied greatly in size, depending on how many students were from a certain county. A particularly large group from Yadkin County incorporated corn shucks and a large bottle with a banner reading, “Yadkin furnishes corn in all its forms.” Particularly singled out were the “bevy of sailor girls” from New Hanover County who sang a rollicking version of “A Sailor’s Wife a Sailor’s Star Should Be.” Only one “plucky” girl represented Greene County, but she did so with great flair, wearing a garland of corn and holding a squealing piglet on her back. It’s hard to believe that the piglet, as well as her banner reading “hog and hominy,” did not push her into the winner’s circle. Yet the victorious county was Rockingham, represented by a cradle holding a sugar-cured ham and students dressed as nurses carrying shields representing four governors from that area of the state. Their banner declared, “Nursery of Our Governors.” For winning the day, the Rockingham girls were awarded the Grand Prize of a framed picture of Pilot Mountain. The event was a notable success and hailed as “one of the most unique entertainments ever given in the state.” Afterwards, the students were feted with oysters and hot chocolate.

    “Nursery of the Governors,” Rockingham County, 1894

    The County Fair program was replicated during the next Legislative Committee visit in 1897. McIver welcomed the committee at a dinner at the Benbow House Hotel in downtown Greensboro, then accompanied them back to the State Normal to see the elaborate presentation prepared for them.  It began with a costumed student chorus representing the three departments of the school - Business, Domestic Science, and Pedagogy. Subsequently, there was a presentation, which featured students parading across the auditorium stage with musical accompaniment representing home counties. The audience was ecstatic at the portrayals, which sometimes incited humor, patriotism, and pathos. The Mecklenburg County offering, with students dressed as hornets, was very well received, as was the Lenoir County skit which featured students as “Cotton,” with wreathes atop their heads. As many of the students were from Guilford County, the stage was filled with girls dressed as Revolutionary soldiers sporting tricornered hats, who were soon joined by peers in dresses of white and gold, the school colors. The entire group then sang “America” with patriotic fervor. But the high point of the pageant was a mock legislative session presented by thirty-five State Normal students dressed as senators and legislators, during which the College’s appropriation budget was increased by $100,000. The moving finale included a tableau vivant which featured students from their eighty-seven home counties gathered around the Great Seal of North Carolina singing “The Old North State.”

    "Cotton," Lenoir County, 1897

    Yet it was not only the students who held the stage. During the 1897 Legislative visit, one member of the committee announced to the students that he believed in women’s rights and that women should have the same educational advantages as men – this was met with enthusiastic applause. He went on to praise the school by saying, “I wish to say that I believe that with everyone on the committee, that after our investigation of this institution, that not before in history has there been an institution started with such a faculty, with such buildings, with such a student body, with so little money.” McIver’s plan to win over the committee had been successful. The visitors had found the Fair entertaining, original, and instructive, and they returned to Raleigh pledging to support appropriations for the school.

    As usually happens with large events, the 1897 State County Fair did not go without a hitch. It also stands out for being the year that students from Durham allegedly sewed cigarettes into their costumes, which they promptly smoked after the event and consequently were severely reprimanded by the faculty. Whether this is a true story or only a rumor, it remains part of the unofficial college lore.

    Mecklenburg Hornets, 1897

    By the time the Committee visited again in February 1899, the student productions had taken on a more political theme, most likely due to the Spanish-American War. The tableaux vivants included representations of “E Pluribus Unum – American Types,” “Way Down Yonder in Dixie,” and “Justice.” Also featured was a scene symbolizing the “School of Education,” in which Uncle Sam played by E. J. Forney, the College’s treasurer and professor of business, gave the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba instruction in self-government. This was a common theme after the conclusion of the Spanish-American War and reflected political cartoons of the day, which showed Uncle Sam attempting to teach a new class of unruly American territories. The production was met with “deafening applause” and considered a rousing success. The presentation ended once again with a tableau vivant of the Great Seal of North Carolina surrounded by representatives of all of the counties singing “The Old North State.” Although these early State County Fairs were obvious attempts by President McIver to sway the State Legislature, the tradition of the County Fair Day holiday on campus, which included exhibits and rides, would continue until 1920 when it was finally abolished.

  • 3 Oct 2022 09:00 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    This year's theme for Archives Month is “The Lighter Side of Tarheelia: Fun, Frolic, and Festivals in the Old North State.” Today's post is contributed by Jennifer Daugherty at East Carolina University.

    The first Pitt County American Legion Agricultural Fair opened to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 1920, at what is now Guy Smith Stadium on Memorial Drive in Greenville, North Carolina. For the first decade or so of the fair, it was a tradition to have an hour-long parade along Dickinson Avenue leading to the fairgrounds at the fair’s opening.

    In 1984, Louis May compiled a history of the fair, and in 2020, fair photographer and historian Beverly Allamon added additional research in celebration of the fair’s 100th anniversary.

    Above is an image from the official 1958 Pitt County Fair program along with this vintage photo from the Daily Reflector Negative Collection. You can see more images from the Pitt County Fair in East Carolina University’s Digital Collections.

  • 1 Sep 2022 13:44 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    Contributed by Sarah Downing

    The SNCA Archives Month Committee is excited to announce “The Lighter Side of Tarheelia: Fun, Frolic, and Festivals in the Old North State” as the theme for Archives Month 2022. Kickback and relax as we highlight pleasant pastimes—family reunions, county fairs, beach trips, church picnics and assorted shindigs. North Carolina hosts a myriad of festivals to celebrate everything from azaleas to mullet to bluegrass to white squirrels.   What does your institution hold that documents merriment and festivity?  Let’s come together and share the diversity of what and how we celebrate in the Tar Heel State.

    Use this form to submit Events and Exhibits on our Archives Month Calendar:

    Event/Exhibit/Activity Calendar

    And this form to submit photographs for Archives Month Posters and Bookmarks:

    Photo submissions

  • 22 Aug 2022 13:26 | E-Resources Chair (Administrator)

    East Carolina University is pleased to announce the completion of a year-long project to set up a born-digital archiving workflow.

    First, we’ve got an in-house app to register and track accessions through bagging, processing, and access.

    Second, we set up bagger to bag the accessions.

    Third, we have a virtual machine to run ClamAV and Autopsy for minimally processing files.

    Fourth, we set up access through our existing Digital Collections platform. For example, see Born-digital files are also linked from the finding aid.

    Finally, we created a user flow diagram for in-house reference as well as for sharing with those who want to geek out with us!

    For more information on this project please email Kelly Spring at

  • 14 Aug 2022 20:56 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    Contributed by Alston Cobourn

    In 2021, East Carolina University received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) EZ grant to digitize theses and dissertations and provide access to them through The ScholarShip institutional repository. Through this one-year grant, 1,327 works were digitized, and so far approximately 450 have been added to the repository. The works will be freely available online to all or to those with a campus login depending on copyright limitations. This grant also provided the opportunity to engage alumni by inviting them to participate in the project and to share information about library programming and services.

  • 2 Aug 2022 19:31 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)
    The Western Regional Archives (WRA) in Asheville is celebrating its 10th anniversary this August. As a branch of the State Archives of North Carolina, the WRA collects, preserves, manages, and provides access to historical documents, photographs, architectural plans, audio recordings, maps, and ephemera that document the history and culture of western North Carolina.

    WRA has assisted thousands of researchers from over 35 states and 25 countries in person, by telephone, and via email. Very popular with students and scholars are the WRA’s collections involving Black Mountain College, an experimental liberal arts school that operated near the town of Black Mountain from 1933-1956.

    WRA archivists

    Sarah Downing, Archivist (left) and Heather South, Lead Archivist (right) are the cheerful staff at the Western Regional Archives.

    Since its inception, over 100 private, organizational, and audio-visual collections have made their way into the WRA’s holdings.  Volunteers and interns have contributed thousands of hours to help process them.

    Western Regional Archives is located on the third floor of the Western Office of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources at 176 Riceville Road.  The Search Room is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

  • 7 Mar 2022 21:53 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    The Education Committee is pleased to announce Madison Evans, Shima Hosseininasab, Ariel Matthews, and Lovenia Morrill as recipients of the 2022 C. David Jackson Memorial SNCA Meeting Student Scholarship. The award provides professional development support and includes SNCA membership for a year.

    Madison Evans holds a BA in Pan Africana Studies from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first degree-granting historically Black college/university (HBCU) in the United States. Currently, she is pursuing an MS in Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works as a graduate assistant in Research and Instruction Services at Wilson Library. Madison is passionate about building and preserving Africana collections and increasing pathways for Black genealogical research.

    Shima Hosseininasab is pursuing a doctoral degree in Public History at North Carolina State University. Currently, she works as a graduate assistant at Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries. Her interest resides in documenting, preserving, and facilitating access to architectural records of communities of color. She is particularly passionate about using digital archives and tools to increase the discoverability and accessibility of archival collections.

    Ariel Matthews is currently in her penultimate semester of an MS in Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works at Given Memorial Library & Tufts Archive, the heart of the community in Pinehurst, NC. Her passions lie in making the history of this community available for generations to come as well as fostering a love of reading in those generations. She is also a devoted mother and military wife. 

    Lovenia Morrill is a second-semester MLIS student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is passionate about information literacy and closing the digital divide. She has previously worked as a Digital Navigator for the Homework Gap project at the State Library of North Carolina and will soon begin a temporary position as a technical library assistant for the Mountain Area Health Education Center. Her archival career goals include records management and digitization, research support, and public outreach.

  • 11 Feb 2022 09:00 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    UNC Greensboro’s Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Speaker Series will host Beth Ann Koelsch, curator of the Women Veterans Historical Project, on February 22, 2022, from 12 noon - 12:45 p.m. for a virtual event. In celebration of Black History Month, Koelsch will discuss the history of African-American women in the United States military and the American Red Cross. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held virtually through Zoom. Access the event by visiting

  • 14 Jan 2022 09:58 | E-Resources Chair (Administrator)

    The Education Committee is now accepting applications for the C. David Jackson Memorial Student Scholarship for the annual SNCA conference, which will be held virtually on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18, 2022.

    This year, SNCA will offer up to four scholarships of $250 each. A one-year SNCA membership is also included. Since the conference will be virtual, recipients are encouraged to use scholarship funds that would typically go toward travel and lodging for additional professional development opportunities.

    Scholarship funds will be disbursed to recipients prior to the conference as a one-time payment. Applicants must be students enrolled in an archival studies, public history, or library science program in North Carolina.

    Applications must be received by Monday, February 14, 2022. We will notify applicants of the committee’s decisions in late February. You can find the application form and additional details here.

  • 17 Dec 2021 11:38 | Courtney Bailey (Administrator)

    What jobs have you had in the archival realm?

    I started out as an intern and assistant at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute's library when I was in graduate school. Since then, I have worked at a few academic institutions in roles that were at least in part processing archivist positions. I have been the Collections Archivist at Wake Forest University since 2015, where I work with materials at nearly every point in their lifecycles.

    What is your educational background?

    I have a bachelor's degree in English with minors in International Studies and Politics - I thought I might go into the foreign service. oops. And I received my master's in library and information science with an archives management specialization from Simmons College SLIS, in Boston.

    What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?

    I like writing descriptions, finding aids, metadata, blog posts - all of it. Right out of undergrad, I was a research analyst and got used to writing long reports. I still enjoy sitting down to write, long or short. I also happen to think description is some of the most important work I do, to make things accessible to researchers. I always work with users in mind!

    Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.

    I have been in my current position for seven years and am thrilled to see, every time I walk through our stacks or look at our website, how much we've accomplished. More finding aids available online, many more materials in our digital collections, more materials properly housed, more students taught about primary sources. Seeing the progress that my team has accomplished is wonderful.

    What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?

    I always recommend getting a job (or volunteer gig if you want to keep your current job) in or adjacent to libraries, to see what libraries and archives, and library and archives workers, are like before committing to the profession. Also look at job ads, especially in areas you would like to live, as you are thinking about getting a degree: what work sounds interesting and fits with your skill sets? Lastly, I highly recommend making friends in the field as you begin working or school - peer mentors have been as valuable as more traditional mentors in my professional (and personal!) life. 

    Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?

    Colleagues, at every one of my jobs - service jobs, part-time work, internships, all my archives gigs - have helped me grow in a variety of ways. Between customer service handling, writing conventions, and my management style, I can thank my former coworkers for helping me build useful and important skills. I also have been affected by the pandemic, certainly; my priorities have shifted in these months of upheaval and change across the world and has helped temper aspects of my work life.

    What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?

    I aim to support NC archives workers and bring us together in meaningful ways. So much is in transition right now, and what I can do is support our visibility and education in a time of evolution. Thanks to SNCA's volunteer committees and members for your contributions to this community -- the executive board wouldn't be here without you!

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