Digital Services Section New Staff Introduction Series

Since the start of 2017, several new staff members have joined the Digital Services Section. All of us will be making regular blog posts on History For All the People, so we thought it would be nice for each of us to introduce ourselves, describe our roles in DSS, and preview the projects we’re working on.

Introducing Sara Pezzoni: Metadata and Digitization Assistant in the Digital Services Section

My first few weeks here have been a whirlwind of excitement, and I’m so happy to be here! I am a homegrown Tar Heel, grew up in Raleigh, and completed my BA in Communication Studies with a minor in English from UNCW. I also received my MLIS from Florida State University, which I completed through online courses. I look forward to working in Digital Services and undertaking associated challenges brought about by issues surrounding information lifecycle management, long-term retrievability, and access.

Before coming to the State Archives, I would say I’ve kept fairly busy in searching for my “place.” Like most in this field, I feel as though I have had many different past lives before focusing on archival work—I guess that’s what happens when you have a wide variety of interests pulling you in several different directions. I first fell in love with photography as a teenager, and decided I would give news photography a try at my college newspaper, which later led me into a photographer position post-college at a newspaper in Kinston, NC. I fell in love with telling stories through the art of photography, but never truly felt like it was the career path for me. Straight out of college, I side-tracked into a part-time position at a small publishing company due to my minor in English and interests in editing/writing—also not quite the desired career path for me. I then interned for a few months at NCMA in the Education Department to see if working with art as opposed to creating art was a better option for me. This experience led me to explore other opportunities in the world of art and photography, and I began two simultaneous internships at the National Archives II in College Park, MD and Magnum Photos in NYC—all while working on my MLIS. I might not have had much time to sleep, but that didn’t seem to matter at the time.

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Grand Opening: State Archives of North Carolina Store

[This blog post was written by Vann Evans, Correspondence Archivist in the Collection Services Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [N_53_15_6340]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [Call number: N_53_15_6340] From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.

To further its mission of providing access to North Carolina’s public records, the State Archives offers researchers the ability to request records and pay for reproductions from the comfort of their home. In 2012, the State Archives first began accepting electronic payments. Since that time, over seven thousand researchers stretching from Murphy to Manteo, across all fifty states, and from many foreign countries have utilized this service. On April 29, the State Archives of North Carolina opened its new online store.

Some highlights of the new store include images of record types and descriptions of records advertised, links to helpful collection guides, box lists, and digital collections. Other changes include enhanced security protections for credit card data and the addition of new record categories, like Coroners’ Inquests, Bastardy Bonds, Guardian Records, and Revolutionary War era materials.

North Carolina residents never incur fees when requesting records. If a record is found, an invoice will be generated in response to your inquiry. The invoice includes a citation for the material requested and a quote for copying costs. If no record is found the invoice will state that instead.

Since 1978, out-of-state residents have been required to submit a search and handling fee (presently $20), which offsets the cost to North Carolina taxpayers for this service.

Lunch and Learn: Finding Your Ancestors

Lunch and Learn flyerOn May 10-13, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) will hold its annual conference in Raleigh. To help participating genealogists prepare for their visit, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will host two Facebook Live sessions on its Facebook page. The “Lunch and Learn: Finding Your Ancestors” series will take place over two days:

  • Wednesday, May 3 at 12 noon – Tune in to hear about genealogical research at the Government and Heritage Library, part of the State Library of North Carolina.
  • Thursday, May 4 at 12 noon – Learn about resources available both in the Search Room and online from the State Archives of North Carolina.

The State Archives has also updated the information under the genealogical research tab on this blog in preparation for NGS 2017. If you have any additional questions about your upcoming visit to the State Archives, please contact us.

Jack Benny USO Show Photographs, August 1945

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Snapshot of comedian Jack Benny, wearing a leather trench coat, pictured standing in front of the steps of Schloss Wilhelmshöhe

Snapshot of comedian Jack Benny, wearing a leather trench coat, pictured standing in front of the steps of Schloss Wilhelmshöhe—the U.S. Military Government district headquarters—in Kassel, Germany, around August 1945. Benny was on a six-week USO show tour of U.S. military posts in Europe with Ingrid Bergman and Larry Adler. [WWII 73.B5.F5.3], Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina would like to share an interesting find discovered while processing a new collection. Robert J. Pleasants of Wake County, North Carolina, served in the U.S. Navy from 1932 to 1934; in World War II with the U.S. Army with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) from 1944 to 1946 in Europe; and is believed to be the longest-serving Wake County sheriff (1946-1978).

From May 1945 to March 1946, Pleasants was stationed in the Kassel District of Germany, under the U.S. Office of Military Government during the occupation of Germany. He was in the Food and Agriculture Section, responsible for managing and developing food and agriculture supplies, assisting with the growth and planting of crops, and dispersing food to the peoples of Germany in the midst of a massive food shortage at the end of World War II.

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (middle, sitting) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left, sitting), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car.

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (middle, sitting) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left, sitting), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car for the Kassel district in Germany around August 1945. The car is parked next to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, the U.S. Military Government district headquarters. Bergman and Adler were on a six-week Jack Benny USO show tour of U.S. military posts. [WWII 73.B5.F5.4], Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

I am in the midst of processing, organizing, describing, and preserving Robert Pleasants’ papers. During the processing of a collection, you never know for sure what you are going to find, whether it be a rare document, a personal letter, or a just lot of collectible postcards from another country. You never really know the historical significance of the materials until you go through them systematically, in order that researchers end up with a collection that is arranged to allow easy access and described well enough for people to find all sorts of things they may be looking for.

While working on Pleasants’ papers, I came across several photographs that I had to do some research. Pleasants himself typed descriptions on the back of the images after the war, but you still have to check. Turns out they are three photographs of Jack Benny, movie star Ingrid Bergman, and Larry Adler (one of the world’s best harmonica players). The three performers were in Kassel, Germany, in August 1945 as part of the Jack Benny USO Show, which was conducted over six weeks throughout the summer of 1945 as a morale boost to the wearied U.S. troops in Germany.

Robert Pleasants, as an officer in the U.S. Military Government’s offices in Kassel, helped tour Benny, Bergman, and Adler around in military vehicles while they were performing for the troops there. These three photographs show the three individuals in candid moments around the time of their performances, and offer us a look at a remarkable period in the history of WWII.

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (right) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car

Snapshot of movie actress Ingrid Bergman (right) and world-famous harmonica player Larry Adler (left), sitting in a U.S. Military Government car for the Kassel district in Germany around August 1945, shown while they were signing autographs. The car is parked next to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, the U.S. Military Government district headquarters. Bergman and Adler were on a six-week Jack Benny USO show tour of U.S. military posts. [WWII 73.B5.F5.5], Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

Join Us for World War I Social Media Day on April 11

Seven smiling French and American soldiers

Seven smiling French and American soldiers. From the George W. McIver Papers, World War I Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina. Available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Smithsonian is coordinating a World War I social media day on April 11, 2017. On that day, they plan to host Q&As, pop quizzes, and other online events while joining with institutions like the Presidential Libraries and the National Park Service to post content related to World War I. A schedule of events is available through the National Museum of American History’s website.

The Smithsonian has also invited other libraries, archives, and museums from around the world to join the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms using the hashtag #WorldWar1. The State Archives of North Carolina (@NCArchives) and the State Library of North Carolina (@ncpedia) plan to take part, as do several of our sister institutions from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including the NC Digital Heritage Center (@ncdhc), Wilson Library (@WilsonLibUNC), and the North Carolina Collection (@NCCollection).  Other Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (@ncculture) institutions will likely participate as well, which means there should be quite a bit of North Carolina content available on that day.

So please join us on Wednesday, April 11 to learn more about World War I!

Women’s History Month: Ella Currie McKay

[This blog post was written by Stephen C. Edgerton, who donated the collection to Private Collections, Special Collections Section, and is volunteering under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist.]

In Recognition of Women’s History Month (March 2017): Focus on Researching Women in History, from the McKay, McPherson, and McNeill Private Papers (PC.2144)

Farmer’s Daughter

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917. From PC.2144, State Archives of North Carolina

Ella Currie McKay was born in 1888, the daughter of a progressive, North Carolina farmer with 75 acres of sandy, arable land in Robeson County. A highly resourceful man, her father managed to send four of his nine children—two girls and two boys—to college. Three of them became medical professionals—two doctors and one registered nurse. Ella was that nurse.

At age twenty-four in 1911, Ella graduated from Philadelphus High School. At Red Springs, a mile away, she attended and graduated from Flora MacDonald College for women, and in time, Whitehead-Stokes Sanatorium Nursing School in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her professional nursing career began in May of 1917 at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Raleigh. Her many letters to her family at this time reveal thoughts about her two brothers, doctors serving in the war, and about whether she should join in the fight.

“Oh, this is hell here now”

Just prior to the end of World War I, in September of 1918, Ella joined the U.S. Army as a Red Cross nurse. Her first posting was at the military hospital at Camp Meade, Maryland, nursing the wounded and afflicted soldiers. Within ten days she contracted Spanish Influenza. Too ill to work, she was kept isolated from her patients and others for weeks. Her eyes remained “glued shut,” she said, and her back ached as if it would break. But her symptoms were more merciful than those suffered by the soldiers she encountered once she again took up their care. She surely was now squarely on the front lines of the flu epidemic of 1918, estimated today to have killed more people worldwide in the short time it raged than all those who died in the four years of the First World War.

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Women’s History Month: Carolista Baum

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photo of Carolista Baum from the files of the News & Observer, Raleigh, NC

Call number: NO_4710_CarolistaBaum_Fr11. From the N&O negative collection, State Archives of North Carolina; Raleigh, NC. Photo copyrighted by the Raleigh News and Observer. Illegal to use without express permission from the N&O.

Meet Carolista Baum, the woman credited with saving Jockey’s Ridge—the largest natural sand dune on the east coast. Carolista Baum was moved to activism when her children alerted her of construction equipment taking sand from the dune.  She simply walked out and sat down in front of the bulldozer, refusing to move. Baum then started a local campaign that included protests and fundraising that aimed to preserve the natural landmark for generations to come. Her efforts, bolstered by community support, were eventually successful in 1973 when the Division of Parks and Recreation decided to preserve the area as a state park which opened in 1975.

A film documenting her campaign and the community effort to save Jockeys’ Ridge was made in 1976 by then UNC-CH film student Ron Hagell – Jockey’s Ridge for All the People, 1976 [MPF.116]

Thank you, Carolista Baum!