Monthly Archives: June 2019

Bibliographic Information in the Discover Online Catalog

[This blog post was written by Colin Reeve, Appraisal Archivist in the Records Analysis Unit, Government Records Section.]

An archive can have the greatest material, but without the means for researchers to identify and locate items, it becomes a lot of boxes stored on shelves rather than a usable collection. The Discover Online Catalog (DOC) allows users to locate items by searching on different types of bibliographic information.

Firstly, what is bibliographic information?

If we think of looking for research materials as a kind of journey, biographic information provides routes to locating the materials using signposts created by the archivist.


Figure 1: DOC Search Screen

Figure 1 shows the DOC search screen (displaying advanced options) and the various ways a search can be narrowed down. The column on the left of the screen allows users to filter their search by where the records are held, who created them, and (not shown in the screenshot) the search level, type of collection, and date ranges.  The main part of the screen allows users to make a more focused search, by using specific date ranges, creator names, title, subject, and so on.

Such a search will display a list of results, as illustrated in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Buncombe Co. Civil Action Papers (3 of 5 results shown)

Here, searching for civil action papers created by Buncombe County has yielded 5 results (though only the first 3 are visible in the screenshot.) Five results are manageable, but a larger number could be further narrowed down by date range and so on.

For each result, the creator is identified, the record ID is shown, and there is a brief description of the scope and contents. This level of description may be enough for a researcher to identify the required materials, but if it is not, clicking on the underlined title yields additional bibliographic information as Figure 3 shows.


Figure 3: Bibliographic Information for a Specific Record

The extent of the record (i.e., how much “stuff” is actually archived) is now shown. This is important information if a researcher is contemplating a long journey to the archive; does the extent make the trip worthwhile? And talking of making a trip, the location of the repository is also now identified, so the researcher knows where the record is physically held.

The full scope and contents are now displayed, describing the specific sources of the records, and how the records arranged; in this case chronologically, but materials may also be arranged alphabetically, or not ordered at all.  Additional subgroupings are described, as are any subseries. In the example illustrated, civil actions concerning land are filed separately, and these are shown as child records. Also shown are subject headings associated with the record. Researchers can use these subject headings in subsequent searches to locate similar records.

Once they are satisfied that the searching has yielded the required materials, a researcher can then request them using the Record ID number and/or the Container ID.

Prepared by Colin Reeve (; posted by Kelly Policelli.

Finding Aids in DOC

With the launch of the State Archives of North Carolina’s new catalog system, Discover Online Catalog (DOC), there will be a new way to access the Archives’ finding aids and they will also have a brand new look.

There are two ways you can access the finding aids in DOC. The first option: when you have located a catalog record, if there is a finding aid available, there will be a link “view finding aid” under the record summary. This will open the finding aid in a new tab.

DOC Search Result

DOC Search Result

The second option: after clicking on the catalog record, if there is a finding aid available, there will be a button labeled, “Finding Aid” on the right side of the window which you can click on to open the finding aid in a new tab.

DOC Bibliographic Record

DOC Bibliographic Record



Finding Aid in DOC

Please note that not every collection will have a finding aid available. However, the finding aid only re-formats data that is already in our catalog system. The catalog records and the finding aids are the same information just displayed in different ways. So even if the collection you are looking at in the catalog doesn’t have a finding aid, you can still be assured that what you are looking at is the most up-to-date information we have available.

Additionally, the new look of our finding aids is still under construction, and there might be some quirks in how information is displayed. If you are concerned that the information the finding aid is displaying is inaccurate, please consult the catalog record or contact a reference archivist for further assistance. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.

More information on how to navigate our new catalog system will be coming soon, stay tuned!


The latest installment of learning how to use the new Discover Online Catalog (DOC) at the State Archives is all about facets. Selecting a facet or multiple facets at the beginning of your search can help you to narrow down your search in the catalog. Facets are used to identify types or groups of information and a great way to start and continue your search of the State Archives records. Facets include, but are not limited to:

  • Repository
  • Creator Type
  • Collection
  • Record Begin & End Dates

For example, under Repository you can refine your search by selecting the location where the record resides – for instance, if you know the record you are looking for is at Western Regional Archives, you may click on its link.

If you are searching for records produced within a certain date range, you can select those dates under the Record Begin Date and Record End Date facets.

Please let any of our reference archivists know if you have questions. As always, stay tuned for more information about using the DOC at the State Archives of North Carolina!

Searching in DOC

[This blog post was written by Anna Henrichsen, Information Management Archivist in the Digital Services Section.]

Searching for North Carolina history in the State Archives has never been easier than in our new system, Discover Online Catalog (DOC). There are several ways to begin looking through our catalog. The easiest way is to type a keyword in the search bar at the top of the page. DOC will search for your keyword in all the fields used to describe our collections and return the most relevant results for you to explore.

Screenshot of the basic search bar in the Discover Online Catalog

Fig. 1: Just type a keyword in the search bar and press enter to begin looking for records!

If you have something specific in mind, use the advanced search options to narrow down your results. Search by combinations of subject, date, record creator, and more with DOC’s advanced search. In the following example, we conducted an advanced search for wills from Swain county.

Screenshot of the advance search fields with "wills' in the title field and "swain county" in the creator field. Below is a single result for Swain County Wills.

Fig. 2: Using advanced search options makes finding the records you want easy.

You can see that DOC immediately found what we are looking for and presented it without extra clutter. You can click the result to learn more information about this series and see our holdings. Searching our catalog is a good first step to take when determining if the State Archives has the records you are looking for. As always, you can also reach out to our amazing team of reference archivists who will be happy to help you out.

Stay tuned for further posts about DOC, including information about finding aids, bibliographic records, and more. We are very excited about this new system and we hope you are too!

King’s College in Charlotte

The student records from the King’s College in Charlotte are now in the custody of the State Archives.  Former students may request copies of their transcripts, please refer to the instructions on the archives website:

New Online Catalog Launches July 2019

screenshot of a search in the new online catalog for 'Wake County'

Screenshot of a search for “Wake County” in the Discover Online Catalog (DOC).

The online catalog MARS has had a lot of different looks since it was created in 1985. But whether it was online or only available on terminals in the Archives and Library building, the catalog’s functionality has remained pretty much unchanged since that initial launch. It’s been an invaluable tool for both staff and the public but doesn’t provide a lot of functionality that most people expect from an online tool in 2019.

That’s why we will be replacing MARS with something new in July 2019. The new system, which we’re calling the Discover Online Catalog or DOC, will give researchers a lot of searching options, while also being faster and more user-friendly than MARS. Over the next few weeks, we’ll provide a series of short blog posts from Archives staff giving you a preview of the new system. After DOC is launched, we’ll start creating online tutorials, a Frequently Asked Questions document, and a guide to help you learn more about how this new tool can help you find what you need in our collections.

Stay tuned!

Meet Faith Baxter, Digital Access Branch’s Summer Intern


We can all agree that History is important right? Conducting research can be challenging, the process for finding relevant information can be timely, and the information can be considered ambiguous depending on the perception. Gaining knowledge can be an intellectual boost and help with the formation of your identity, while also making you more empathetic to history.

I personally lean on search guides and multiple digital libraries to find most of my research. It’s comforting to know most research can be done in my pajamas and an episode of the Handmaid’s Tale playing from my TV. There are numerous search guides to help research, but the real work rests in the hands of researchers, students, and archivists to make this information known and available to the public.


Greetings! My name is Faith Baxter from Charlotte, NC. I am currently a student in the Master of History Program at North Carolina Central University. Post-graduation, I plan to obtain my Juris Doctorate in May 2020. I am one of the NCDCR HBCU/MIHE interns for the summer responsible for updating the Women’s Records Information Guide, under the Digital Services program.

I enjoy traveling, reading, hiking, canoeing, shopping, visiting museums and binge-watching Netflix/Hulu in my free time. An interesting fact about me is that I have a brother named Love and a sister named Hope. Women’s accomplishments have laid the foundation for young women like me to be vocal about my beliefs. Sometimes finding archival materials related to the accomplishments of women is challenging.

For this reason, the State Archives has created The Women’s Records Information Guide to introduce materials related to women’s history in the collections. Collection materials include, but are not limited to, correspondence, private manuscript materials, women’s organization notes, account books, photographs, and government documents. The Women’s Records Guide has not been updated since 1977. So, my focus this summer is to update the guide.


I love the idea that I will be helping to provide access to materials representing the storied history of women in North Carolina. Furthermore, I’m excited to create a model for future records guides, blog posts, and surveys to keep patrons informed. Hopefully, patrons will enjoy using this guide as a finding aid while also gaining information about women’s history.

In the coming weeks I’ll be asking for your suggestions of materials to include in the guide, so stay tuned. If anyone has any recommendations or questions, please feel free to email me at Faith.Baxter@NCDCR.Gov.