Monthly Archives: January 2012

File Naming Tutorials from the State Library

[This blog notice comes from Lisa A. Gregory, Digital Projects Liaison for the Digital Information Management Program, part of the State Library of North Carolina. For more information about the State Library, visit their website or blog.]

The State Library of North Carolina is excited to announce a short, easy-to-understand tutorial on file naming. Designed to help people take small and everyday steps to preserve their files, this four-part tutorial describes why file naming is important, how to change a file name, and the dos and donts of file naming. We’re hoping you can make these videos available to your patrons or anyone else who might be creating digital files.

These videos are part of a new series, Inform U, which will feature tutorials on digital preservation. Digital preservation means taking practical and conscious steps to keep digital files around for future access and use.

View the tutorials and more information about digital preservation at If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at


From Manteo to Murphy….

A colleague mentioned the “My Places” function of Google maps one day at work.  My own travels would not plot well on a map – or it would be an extreme close-up of my hometown and northeastern North Carolina.  The way the My Places feature worked, however, struck a chord with me: why not use this tool to digitally depict the towns in North Carolina where people lived who had contacted correspondence with an inquiry.  For end-of-year reports and other in-house statistical reports I was already tracking the cities and counties of our North Carolina patrons.  In past years I maintained a big map of North Carolina and stuck push pins in that map to show the same information.  Google’s My Places simply allowed me to replace that old pin-hole filled map with a digital version.

In 2011 the North Carolina State Archives received requests from 221 different cities or unincorporated townships representing 87 out of the 100 counties in the state.  People from ten different places in Guilford County sent in requests; folks from Brunswick County sent in requests from seven different locations; there were several counties with contacts from residents in six locations.  The contact cities ranged from Frisco in the east to Franklin in the west and from Sunset Beach in the south to Moyok in the north (which just edged out Lowgap by .0005 degrees to be the northern most contact place).  Write or email the Archives so I can add your location to the 2012 map!

See the 2011 North Carolina correspondence map here:

You can zoom in or out and pan across the state to see where the North Carolina State Archives received requests from your fellow Tar Heels.

NC State Archives Films on NC LIVE

[This blog announcement comes from Kim Cumber, our Non-Textual Materials Archivist.]

NC LIVE is now streaming digital copies some State Archives motion picture film – H. Lee Waters Depression-era film of some North Carolina towns, a film about saving Jockey’s Ridge from development back in the ‘70’s, and some interesting George Stoney films about North Carolina’s natural resources.  To see these films, go to this website – – and click the State Archives logo!  You will get a list of links to the films.  If you are using a personal computer, a screen may appear asking you to select a library and then authenticate to use NC LIVE before you can watch a film.  If you are using a computer in a public or academic library you will not be asked for that intermediary step.

Holiday Reminder, NC Digital Collections, and Civil War Update

I have a few bits of news to pass along today. First, the North Carolina State Archives will be closed Monday, January 16th for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. If you ever want to know which state holidays we’re closed for, you can always consult the Hours page on our website.

Second, December was a very busy month for the Information Management Branch, the unit responsible for scanning, websites, social media and metadata here at the State Archives. On top of the WPA Cemetery Survey Records (which you may have read about earlier this week), we added Christmas cards, photos of Raleigh’s Jolly’s Jewelers, and a new Civil War diary to the North Carolina Digital Collections, our joint project with the State Library of North Carolina. January is turning out to be just as busy; here are some of the NC Digital Collections projects that are underway this month:

    • Letters and other items from the Williams-Womble Papers are the newest addition to our online Civil War materials;
    • I am working on the metadata for a group of United States Army Signal Corps photographs that Tiffanie scanned in late 2011. A few of those items are already available in the World War I Collection; look for all of the photographs to be online probably around March 2012. These materials will be added to a couple of small groups of correspondence that are already available in the World War I Collection, including the letters of James W. Alston, an African-American 1st Lieutenant who served in the 372nd Infantry, and Arthur Bluethenthal, who served in the American Ambulance Field Service.

And finally, it’s been a while since I updated the readers of History For All the People on the First Wednesday series that our Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee has been writing. In fact, the last Civil War Round Up on this blog was in June and since then:

Highway Markers Tell North Carolina’s Civil Rights Story

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

RALEIGH – The Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960s called for an end to discrimination in voting, education, accommodations, housing, and in other areas. In North Carolina and the nation, blacks turned to public persuasion and to civil disobedience to bring change to their lives and to change the world.

North Carolina was a proving ground for the Civil Rights movement and leaders.

In fact, the immortal words of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the ”I Have a Dream” speech are known the world over. However, few people know that he used a phrase about a dream in Rocky Mount in November 1962, long before the August 1963 delivery of the speech in the March on Washington. Near the conclusion of the November 1962 speech in Rocky Mount were the lines:

“I have a dream that one day right here in Rocky Mount, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will meet at the table of brotherhood, knowing that one God brought man to the face of the Earth. I have a dream tonight that one day my little daughter and my two sons will grow up in a world not conscious of the color of their skin, but only conscious of the fact that they are members of the human race. . . .”

A North Carolina Highway Historical Marker dedicated in 2007 in Rocky Mount commemorates the King speech given there.  It is one of nearly 1,600  of the familiar black and silver markers that dot the roadside to recognize people, places and events, in an impressive body of markers statewide that share Tar Heel “history on a stick.”

Other events from North Carolina’s Civil Rights story told in the 106 markers about African American history, include the well known Greensboro sit ins, that came to prominence after four students at the current N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University refused to leave a Woolworth’s lunch counter until being served in 1960. The sit-in movement spread across the South

Soon afterwards the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) (SNCC) was formed at Shaw University on Easter weekend, 1960. About 150 students from 10 states met to plan nonviolent resistance to segregation. The students were the “shock troops” of the movement and were especially active in summer protests in Mississippi. Several national leaders, including John Lewis and Stokeley Carmichael, rose from its ranks.

The “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Ella Baker, organized a meeting that gave birth to SNCC.  A highway marker dedicated to her will be erected this spring.  She got funding for the conference from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which she was a founding member and also an ally of Martin Luther King.

Even before the 1960s, nearly 10,000 workers, mostly African American women, joined a union seeking better working conditions in tobacco warehouses, also known as leaf houses, where cured tobacco was processed for sale to cigarette makers. The 1946 organizing campaign, known as Operation Dixie, eventually included 30 warehouses in North Carolina and Virginia. The first vote was won in Rocky Mount, and 22 of 24 elections in North Carolina were to join the union.

In a 1947 test to the Supreme Court ruling barring racial discrimination in interstate transportation, black and white citizens known as “freedom riders” left Washington, D.C. on buses. Along the way of the Journey of Reconciliation, they were challenged. In Chapel Hill, four of the riders were arrested after meeting with students from area colleges, and incidents continued for weeks.

In June 1957, a sit-in at the segregated Royal Ice Cream parlor in Durham was one of several that preceded the better known1960 Greensboro sit-in. The significant impact of the Durham sit-in was that a court case resulted that tested if segregated facilities were legal. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that segregated facilities were legal.

In 1977, Pauli Murray became the first African American female Episcopal priest in the United States. She had long been an activist for African American and women’s rights. A lawyer, writer, and activist, she also helped to found the National Organization for Women.

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and the N.C. Department of Transportation have joint responsibility for the marker program.  The N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program is one of the oldest such programs in continuous operation in the United States. More information on the application process, and a searchable list by name or category, are available at N.C. Markers.

For additional information call (919) 807-7389.  The Highway Marker Program is within the Office of Archives and History in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

High resolution images are available; please contact Fay Mitchell.

About the N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program

The N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program is one of the oldest such programs in continuous operation in the United States. More information on the application process, and a searchable list by name or category, are available at N.C. Markers. The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and the N.C. Department of Transportation have joint responsibility for the program.

Information is available also at (919) 807-7290.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives.

Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy.

To learn more, visit

WPA Cemetery Survey Records

If you read my December post on the big changes and new projects coming to the State Archives this year, you know that I’ve been working on adding PDFs of the WPA cemetery surveys for North Carolina counties to the NC Digital Collections and the NC Family Records Online project.

I finished adding the last survey yesterday and you can now find all of them here; while not every county has a survey, most of them do. Please be aware that you will find errors in the surveys – it’s likely that no project done on such a large-scale could ever be perfect. But still, the records can be very useful because they list the location and condition of cemeteries, as well as names, birth and death dates, and other information that the project workers could glean from the tombstones themselves.

In getting ready to write this blog post, I looked up the WPA Cemetery Project in our online catalog MARS to see if I could find any background on the history of the project to share with you. What I found was a wonderful description, most likely written by former State Archives employee Mary Hollis Barnes, who sadly died in November of last year. The cemetery records were Mary’s passion for a long time and all of us who knew her deeply regret that she didn’t get to see these materials online. The description is fairly long, about four pages, but it gives an excellent and very detailed overview of how and why these materials were created. Rather than trying to condense it, I’m just going to include it at the end of this blog post. For reference, the materials we’ve put online are referred to as “Cemetery Listings (Typescripts)” in the description of the collection.

Historical Records Survey, Tombstone Transcription Project

Creator: United States. Works Progress Administration

MARS #: 176.1 (Series)

The Works Progress Administration was established by Executive Order No. 7034 on May 6, 1935, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In general, its purpose was to operate useful work projects designed to provide maximum employment in all localities and to coordinate necessary and useful data-compiling and research activities.

One of the major projects in North Carolina was the Historical Records Survey conducted under the direction of the North Carolina Historical Commission. The secretary of the Historical Commission, Dr. Charles Christopher Crittenden, served initially as state director of the survey and most of the details listed below were gleaned from his correspondence file.

Dr. Crittenden proposed two components to the Historical Records Survey; the first was surveying various public records and historically important manuscripts, and the second was surveying and recording tombstone inscriptions. A review of his correspondence does not reveal contemporary evidence of any other state collecting tombstone inscriptions as part of their WPA projects; however, a review of several online catalogs and postings does indicate that at least 17 other states did conduct some sort of tombstone transcription or “graves registration” project. In a 1934 memorandum, a commission staff member stated: the “second section of the survey — a compilation of monument and cemetery inscriptions — would result in a vast collection of data, useful and otherwise, virtually unavailable to biographers, historians and lawyers. The State Board of Health has vital statistics from cities beginning in 1909, and from the entire state beginning in late 1913. The proposed compilation is the most effective method of supplying North Carolina vital statistics prior to the enactment of the first state law on that subject in 1913.” [The staff member was referring to Chapter 109 of the Public Laws of 1913 entitled, “An Act to Provide for the Registration of all Births and Deaths in the State of North Carolina. It was ratified on March 10, 1913, and became effective on July 1, 1913.]

Initially part of the Federal Writers’ Project, the Historical Records Survey and its cemetery survey and transcription project began in 1936 and the first phase of the project was to last four weeks, at 30 hours a week. The total estimated cost of the first phase of cemetery work was $9,269. This overall estimate included $5,232 for paying 109 cemetery survey workers (for four weeks) and $1,962 for paying 218 assistant cemetery survey workers (for one week), $300 for office supplies and equipment to compile the transcriptions from both the archival and cemetery portions of the survey, $480 for paying 10 workers to do the compiling and indexing from both portions of the survey, and $545 to cover the local workers’ travel expenses. The estimated travel cost for 10 regional supervisors (to coordinate both the records inventory and the cemetery inscription) was listed as $750.

The commission quickly realized that having the data from each tombstone transcription listed on an index card would facilitate their alphabetical arrangement in a card catalog. The indexing staff also compiled and prepared summary pages of typescripts on each cemetery. In a report dated December, 1936, Dr. Crittenden stated a “number of workers have been engaged for several months in copying essential data on such inscriptions, and it is hoped that the task can be completed. A card catalogue is to be provided in the offices of the Historical Commission [now the State Archives’ Search Room], and perhaps eventually the lists will be published.” However, the commission chose not to publish the compilations of cemetery information; and focused instead on publishing the data gathered by the records survey portion of the project. The work in several districts continued into the next fiscal year, and a breakdown of workers in November, 1936, listed cemetery survey workers or indexers in the following counties: Brunswick, Buncombe, Columbus, Durham, Franklin, Gates, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Pasquotank, Pender, Person, Scotland, Wake, Watauga, Wilkes, and Wilson. The Historical Records Survey (and the cemetery and tombstone transcription work) continued as a nationwide project until 1939 when “it was terminated as a Federal project and continued its work in the individual states as a series of locally sponsored projects operating within a national program.”

In a letter dated September 14, 1940, Mrs. May E. Campbell (state director of the WPA’s Professional and Service Projects) and Colbert F. Crutchfield (state supervisor of the Historical Records Survey) jointly described the cemetery survey work: “these records were compiled as a sort of side line to their work of surveying church records. They were requested to fill in their time between appointments with church officials by listing near-by cemeteries…. The worker prepares a cemetery form, containing pertinent data about the location and condition of the cemetery and a list containing an entry for each stone, giving only the factual information thereon. This material is forwarded to the Raleigh office of the Survey, where a card for each cemetery and for each stone is typed. The cemetery cards are filed in alphabetical order within each county in separate files. The tombstone cards are filed in straight alphabetical order by surname for the state as a whole. Each tombstone card, of course, carries the name of the cemetery and the county. The cemetery itself can be located by reference to the former file.” The writers further state that the work “is not by any means complete, as we consider it a by-product of the church records work and do not attempt to cover all cemeteries or any particular locality. We have to-date filed approximately 5,023 cemetery cards and 177,044 tombstone cards.”

A souvenir program prepared for a May, 1940, meeting described the tombstone transcription project as follows: “These files are in constant use by research workers and genealogist[s] from many states in the union, who have indicated that they find them of much value and interest. Even though the Survey has not discovered any so-called ‘Virginia Dare Stones,’ it has re-discovered quite a few heretofore unknown graves of prominent men. Two of the more recent finds were those of two North Carolina justices of the United States Supreme Court, James Iredell and Alfred Moore. This file will for the first time make such information available to the public at a central point…”

In a report on the overall status of the Historical Records Survey, dated April 10, 1941, the total number of cemetery cards typed and filed were 6,422 (with an additional 579 entries on hand to be typed); and the total number of tombstone cards typed and filed were 240,471 (with an additional 27,771 entries on hand to be typed). In what would be the Historical Commission’s final project proposal for additional funding for the fiscal year ending June, 1941, staff listed the need for an additional $2,295 to fund 3,939 man hours to continue collecting, filing, and typing cemetery data. The commission planned to pay for additional office supplies out of its own funds, including $240 for index cards. The same proposal listed the cemetery survey work as accomplished to date: 7,969 cemeteries surveyed, 7,025 cemetery cards typed and filed, 243,807 tombstones listed, and 219,553 tombstone cards typed and filed. It also listed the following work to be done: approximately 200 cemeteries to be surveyed in the next fiscal year, with an approximate 10,000 tombstones within those cemeteries to be transcribed (new surveys were to be held to a minimum), with 944 cards to be typed and filed for cemeteries previously surveyed, and 24,254 tombstone cards remaining to be typed and filed. Depending on which report is consulted, it can be estimated that the final overall totals for the Tombstone Transcription Project were: just under 8,000 cemeteries surveyed, and over 268,000 tombstones transcribed.

Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, under the guidance of Mrs. John Scott Welborn, were also greatly involved in their own concurrent project to transcribe tombstones and their group cooperated with staff of the Historical Commission to avoid duplication of effort. Copies of the WPA tombstone inscriptions were prepared by the Historical Commission and distributed to the state chapter of the DAR and some county lists were also sent to officers of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists as requested. Typescript copies of the DAR’s tombstone compilations were in turn deposited with the commission; however, the DAR cemeteries were not reflected in the project’s overall survey totals.

The nation’s entry into World War II brought an end to all WPA projects, and the Historical Commission shifted its collecting focus to that of gathering and compiling records and papers to document the state’s role in the war.

  1. Card Index (in Archives Search Room)
    The project’s card index is estimated to contain just under 8,000 Cemetery Summary Cards and over 268,000 Tombstone Inscription Cards. It is grouped into three main categories:
  2. Drawers Contents
    1 — 9 Cemetery Summary Cards
    10 — 175 Pre-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards
    176 — 203 Post-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards

The Cemetery Summary Cards are arranged alphabetically by county, then by town and name of the cemetery. In addition to the cemetery name, county, and location, the Cemetery Summary Cards usually include total numbers of marked and unmarked graves, total numbers of pre- and post-1914 graves. The Cemetery Summary Cards are also available on 2 reels of microfilm: Z.3.17 — Z.3.18.

The Pre-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are arranged alphabetically by name and include birth and death dates or other information if listed on the tombstone. The Pre-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are also available on 21 reels of microfilm: Z.3.19 — Z.3.39.

The Post-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are arranged alphabetically by name and include birth and death dates or other information if listed on the tombstone. The Post-1914 Tombstone Inscription Cards are also available on 5 reels of microfilm: Z.3.40 — Z.3.44.

II. Cemetery Listings (Typescripts) (in Archives Stacks)
These cemetery listings (or typescripts) are arranged alphabetically by county, then by town and name of the cemetery. Information usually includes name of cemetery, brief location information (usually), and names and dates from transcribed tombstones. Sometimes the same information is included that was typed on the Cemetery Summary Cards (such as total number of marked and unmarked graves, total numbers of pre- and post-1914 graves, and a more complete description of the cemetery location). The typescripts are also available on 6 reels of microfilm: Z.3.11 — Z. 3.16. PDF versions of this portion of the project are now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections ( and NC Family Records Online (

Box. No. Contents
1 Alamance — Bertie
2 Bladen — Cabarrus
3 Caldwell — Cleveland
4 Columbus — Forsyth
5 Franklin — Haywood
6 Henderson — McDowell
7 Macon — Onslow
8 Orange — Richmond
9 Robeson — Scotland
10 Stanly — Wake
11 Warren — Yancey
12 Duplicate Typescripts, Alamance — Yancey; Miscellaneous

Genealogy Workshop For Beginners

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

FREMONT – If you want to learn about your family’s past but don’t know where to start, the Governor Charles B. Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site will have some answers for you.  The Genealogy Workshop for Beginners, Jan. 28, 2-4 p.m., will offer expert advice on how to find your family history.

Debra Blake and Chris Meekins, from the N.C. Office of Archives and History, will give an overview of genealogy, tips on genealogy research, and the value of the State Archives and State Library records for genealogical research.  Handouts will be provided and there will be time for questions at the workshop’s conclusion.

Space is limited and registration is required. The fee is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Call (919) 242-5581 or email to register.  The fee is payable on the day of the workshop.

The Charles B. Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site interprets the life of a rural 1870s farm family in eastern North Carolina.  Born is 1859, Aycock was elected North Carolina’s governor in 1900.  He was dedicated to education and the site features a one room schoolhouse moved there in 1961.  It is part of the Division of State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

About the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people  through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state- supported  Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State   Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy.  To learn more, visit