North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project

The North Carolina State Archives is very proud to announce a new online collection, the North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project, and the North Carolina State Archives Digital Collections website, which will combine all of our digital collections housed in CONTENTdm. Begun in 2007, the purpose of the newspaper project was to digitize newspapers from our collections that were, up until that time, only available on microfilm. These materials are now available online and include papers dating from 1752-1890s from cities like Edenton (1787-1801), Fayetteville (1798-1795), Hillsboro (1786), New Bern (1751-1804), Salisbury (1799-1898), and Wilmington (1765-1816) – a total of 23,483 digital images that are keyword searchable. The project was made possible by a LSTA grant provided by the State Library of North Carolina.

A Window Into History

Newspapers are fundamental tools for all researchers, from elementary school students and casual readers to university faculty and professional genealogists. No other published source covers such a wide range of material and reaches so deeply into the communities in our state. They provide a wealth of data about the civic, political, cultural, and social events of the periods they document. Historic newspapers offer an intimate close-up view of the American past that few other sources can provide.

Newspaper publishing in North Carolina began on August 9, 1751, with the publication in New Bern by James Davis of the North Carolina Gazette. The first known surviving issue of the Gazette is the oldest of the papers represented in the series of eighteenth century newspapers microfilmed by Archives and History beginning in 1959. Represented in the series are papers from six towns—Edenton, Fayetteville, Hillsborough, Halifax, and Salisbury, in addition to New Bern.

Given that the eighteenth century papers are predominantly eastern, staff working on the newspaper project gave prime consideration to papers originating west of Raleigh during the early nineteenth century. The Western Carolinian (Salisbury) (1820-1844) was the first successful newspaper west of Milton, N. C. The weekly, four-page paper was a vigorous champion for the interests of western North Carolina, an opponent to the political dominance of the East, and an advocate for better roads, education, and internal improvements. Based on an analysis of death and marriage notices in The Western Carolinian, the paper covered Burke, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Stokes, Surry, and Wilkes counties as well as Rowan County where it was located.

In addition to the newspaper project, other projects currently available through the North Carolina State Archives Digital Collections website are the Black Mountain College Publications and North Carolina Family Records Online.