Author Archives: Ashley

Housing 220 Drawings from a Black Mountain College Student

[This post was written by Kate Vukovich, conservation technician for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Don Page, a young man wearing glasses, sits at a vertical loom, weaving. The picture is taken through the warp threads of the loom.

Figure 1. Don Page, a young man wearing glasses, sits at a vertical loom, weaving. The picture is taken through the warp threads of the loom.

Black Mountain College was an experimental liberal arts college in Western North Carolina, active from 1933-1957. One of its students was Don Page, who went on to become an architect, graphic and interior designer, and artist. The Western Regional Archives (WRA) has a collection (PC.1924) of his drawing studies and textile designs from his time at Black Mountain College, 1936-1942. These drawings are done in mixed media, mostly on paper (with a couple on wood) and were stored in folders organized by genre, but needed new housing to stabilize them. Because many of the materials used to make the drawings are friable—pencil, ink, charcoal, pastels, and other similar media—placing many drawings together without interleaving had led to smudging and media wearing off onto adjacent drawings.

A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

Figure 2. A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

Ultimately, we decided on making sink mats to accommodate groups of 5-10 drawings, which remained sorted by genre as they had originally been. Sink mats are a type of mat

Figure 2. A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

Figure 2. A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

that allows for the pressure of the cover of the mat, and anything that might rest on top of the mat, to rest on the material of the mat and rather than on the items themselves. It also allows for storing multiple items or thicker works than a traditional window mat.   Because many of these drawings were made with friable media like charcoal and pencil, it was important to make sure that they wouldn’t wear on each other any more than they already had. We chose to use PhotoTex paper as interleaving between each drawing. PhotoTex is designed to be ultra-smooth to not abrade photographic materials, textiles, and works on paper. Its smoothness means there’s little friction for it to pick up friable media.

We constructed the mats out of archival quality corrugated cardboard, making hinges on two sides so the drawings could be removed easily, and making a cover out of heavyweight cardstock. This was hinged to the mat with linen tape. While the mat base and cover were cut to a standard size, each mat is custom-fit to the drawings within (you can see the differences in the sizes of the drawings in the images below!).

Figure 4. Two completed sink mats of the same size are placed next to each other. One holds a small set of drawings (about 9 inches by 12 inches) and the other a large set (about 19 by 23 inches), demonstrating how mats are custom built to different drawings.

Figure 4. Two completed sink mats of the same size are placed next to each other. One holds a small set of drawings (about 9 inches by 12 inches) and the other a large set (about 19 by 23 inches), demonstrating how mats are custom built to different drawings.

The completed mats—with interleaved drawings inside—are put in boxes for convenience and additional protection. Forty-eight sink mats were made for about 220 items.

Figure 5. Five boxes are stacked on a table. The top box’s lid is removed, so the contents (the completed sink mats) are visible. A ruler is included for scale: the boxes are 25 inches by 32 inches.

Figure 5. Five boxes are stacked on a table. The top box’s lid is removed, so the contents (the completed sink mats) are visible. A ruler is included for scale: the boxes are 25 inches by 32 inches.

The WRA finding aid for the Don Page Collection is here. If you want to learn more about Black Mountain College, check out the NCPedia article, the NC Archives Digital Black Mountain College Collection, and the WRA finding aids of the Black Mountain College collections.

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Highlights from the William and Mary Coker Joslin Papers: Mary Joslin, Woman of Many Talents

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist in the Special Collections Branch of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, private manuscripts archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina, I am arranging and describing materials in the William and Mary Coker Joslin Papers (PC.1929). This work is made possible through generous funding from the Joslins’ daughter Ellen Devereux Joslin.

Mary Coker (far left, with cello) at Vassar College, ca. 1943, around the same time she was experimenting with soybean cultivation.

Mary Coker (far left, with cello) at Vassar College, ca. 1943, around the same time she was experimenting with soybean cultivation. PC.1929.1

In 1975 and 1980, Hartsville, S.C., native and longtime Raleigh, N.C., resident Mary Coker Joslin (1922–2016) earned master’s and doctorate degrees in French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught the language at Ravenscroft School and Saint Augustine’s University, and her fascination with medieval French literature led her to publish a book on the subject with her daughter Carolyn Coker Joslin Watson. However, some thirty years before her graduate studies in French, Mary Joslin’s academic pursuits had taken a different direction. In 1944, she earned a degree in botany from Vassar College. Joslin earned her master’s degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946. Both of these endeavors revealed her interest in social causes.

Mary Joslin’s undergraduate studies were likely influenced by the work of her father, David Robert Coker (1870–1938), and her uncle William Chambers Coker. David R. Coker championed agricultural reform and experimented with plant breeding. Both pursuits had the ultimate goal of improving farmers’ yields and economic livelihoods. To these ends, David R. Coker’s Pedigreed Seed Company developed and sold superior varieties of cotton, corn, tobacco, and other crops. William C. Coker (1872–1953) was an associate professor of botany at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1902 to 1945. In addition to his teaching duties, he made an extensive study of Chapel Hill’s flora, cultivated a six-acre garden on the university’s campus (the present-day Coker Arboretum), and authored numerous publications.

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See World War I Materials at Alamance Community College on March 29

[This blog post comes from Sarah Koonts, Director of Archives and Records for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Isham B. Hudson's war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Isham B. Hudson’s war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

One of the most rewarding experiences as State Archivist is the development of special exhibits utilizing a few unique original materials from our collections.  We develop these special exhibits on occasion to partner with a local historical society, museum, or historic site, often to promote a specific anniversary or event.  This year we are thrilled to offer a special exhibit with one of our favorite partners, Alamance Community College.  We invite you to join us March 29 for a full slate of programming around the centennial of World War I.

Held at the main building on the Carrington-Scott Campus of Alamance Community College (1247 Jimmie Kerr Road in Graham), the special exhibit will be held from 9 a.m.—5 p.m. on March 29.  Due to the number of school groups scheduled for the morning, the public is encouraged to consider an afternoon visit, if possible.  During the event, you can see some World War I materials from our military collections, a traveling exhibit about North Carolina and the Great War, and speak with costumed living- history specialists interpreting military service from the period.In addition, there will be soldier, nurse, and Red Cross uniforms on display from the Haw River Museum, Alamance County Historical Association, and the Women Veterans Historical Project from UNC, Greensboro.  Kids can join in the fun by coloring their own WWI poster and participating in other activities throughout the building.

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

We enjoy taking our treasures out to locations outside of Raleigh.  It is fun to share our collections and explain a little more about what we do at the State Archives.  North Carolina has a rich military history and our World Ward I materials are among the most prized.  Come visit Alamance Community College on March 29 to learn more about that history from 100 years ago.

A Major Move in Manteo

[This blog post comes from Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]

Donna working with maps at the OBHC

Donna Kelly inventorying maps at the OBHC

During February 19–23, Bill Brown (State Archives registrar) and Donna Kelly (head of Special Collections) traveled to the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) to help Samantha Crisp (director of the OBHC) and her staff renumber, relabel, and shift records. This effort was part of a larger one to standardize the numbering of archival records within the Special Collections regional facilities. In addition, collections were shifted to provide easier access and provide uniformity to records storage at the OBHC.

On the first two days Donna renumbered 162 maps, incorporating a new call number system used at the main office of the State Archives in Raleigh. For the last three days she inventoried and reorganized 20 of 40 map drawers, which included approximately 874 maps. Folders within each map drawer were labeled A to Z.

Over the course of five days, Bill shifted and recorded shelf locations for 154 renumbered collections (including the Manteo Coastland Times bound newspapers). He moved 657 cubic feet of material from the back of the stacks to the front for better access. (A cubic foot is approximately the size of a box of copier paper.) He also cleaned five rows of shelving with ethanol.

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Samantha shifted approximately 735 cubic feet of materials, including photographic collections, periodicals, and unprocessed records. She also assigned new call numbers to 150 collections and relabeled 200 boxes.

Stuart Parks relocated all of the framed artwork and renumbered digital files of scanned items. He also helped move shelving and cut folders that were used to rehouse many of the maps. Tama Creef covered the front office.

All in all it was a productive, albeit exhausting, week!

Support the Conservation of Our Archival Treasures

[This blog post comes from the Friends of the Archives.]

The Friends of the Archives is a non-profit organization that privately funds some of the services, activities, and programs of the State Archives of North Carolina not provided by state-appropriated funding. Some of our most treasured documents are in critical need of preservation and restoration.  After careful evaluation of these materials, the Friends has set their funding goal for 2018.

Detail of a portrait of King Charles on the first page of the Carolina Charter of 1663

The first page of the Carolina Charter features an elaborate drawing of King Charles. Learn more about this document in the North Carolina Digital Collections: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/10

The Carolina Charter needs immediate attention.  The Carolina Charter of 1663 is considered the “birth certificate” of North Carolina. The document consists of four vellum sheets and details the granting of land in what is now known as North Carolina. It has been more than twenty years since the Carolina Charter has been examined for treatment. The document will be exhibited in early spring and repairs are needed immediately.

North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights serves as an example of North Carolina’s involvement in the ratification of the United States Constitution.  The one-page document was presented to North Carolina after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

The Papers of Peter Carteret, Governor of the County of Albemarle. The county of Albemarle is the oldest county government in North Carolina. Peter Carteret served as governor of the Precinct of Albemarle from 1670 to 1673 and his papers document his influence and actions from 1666 to 1673 in Albemarle County.

We have already raised $3,500 of the approximate $12,000 needed for the preservation of these documents.

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789. Part of the Vault Collection. Available online at http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/29.

These precious documents are exhibited for special occasions but even the slightest exposure to light can be harmful to them.  With improvements in preservation technology, we will be able to conserve these documents for an extended period.

To donate to this preservation fund, join the Friends of the Archives, or renew your membership, visit the Friends of the Archives  website and click on Become A Friend of the Archives Today!  If you are already a member you may donate on that same page. Benefits of membership include discounted registration to public programs and on some publications, DVDs, and posters. Please note that The Charter is now available only electronically, so please don’t forget to include your e-mail address.

If you’ve already renewed for 2018 or made donations to preservation, thank you. As a member of The Friends your support is an important part of our success.

Basketball and High School Romance: Vada Palma and Pete Maravich Papers, Private Collection (PC) 2071

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina.]

Pete and Vada at her home before leaving for the Queen of Hearts Dance.

Pete and Vada at her home before leaving for the Queen of Hearts Dance. Call number: PC2071_2_F11_A. From the Vada Palma and Pete Maravich Papers, PC.2071.

As Valentine’s Day approaches and we are full throttle into the basketball season, this post calls attention to one of the many unique collections in our holdings: the Vada Palma and Pete Maravich Papers, Private Collection (PC) 2071.

Millions of fans have heard of Pistol Pete Maravich. However, not all know that this iconic professional basketball player spent a few but highly formative years in Raleigh while his father Press Maravich was coaching the North Carolina State University’s basketball team, 1964–1966. Furthermore, few of the stories about the legendary Pete Maravich (1947–1988), mention that Pete was smitten by a girl named Vada during the height of his stellar career at Raleigh’s Needham B. Broughton High School, 1965. Known then as “String Bean,” Pete was considered girl shy and socially awkward.  Early on he had a passionate devotion to basketball, and his father hoped to hone and focus that passion, in part by steering him away from girls. Coach Press Maravich’s sense of discipline and his parental hopes aside, young Pete fell hard for a popular, pretty junior, Vada Palma.

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New Collection of a U.S. Army Comic Books Series Available

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

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina would like to announce the recent donation of the PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly Collection. The PS Collection is composed currently of 69 issues of the U.S. Army technical bulletin PS: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, ranging from 1953 to 1993 (with gaps).

Two-page spread of the PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly

PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly, Issue 203, 1969

The bulletin uses cartoon characters and graphics in a comic-book style to add humor to maintenance challenges and equipment repair processes for Army soldiers, Army civilians, and contractors that own, operate, and maintain the Army’s equipment—particularly vehicles and tanks. PS is filled with cartoons detailing technical, safety, and policy information, with artwork from leading cartoons and comic-book artists. The PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly Collection is available for use in the Search Room at the State Archives, with a finding aid consisting of an inventory of the bulletin’s issues available.

As the U.S. Army ramped up for its involvement in the Korean War between 1950 and 1951, it realized that its soldiers were encountering problems with their Army equipment—particularly vehicles and tanks. The Army had experienced some degree of acceptance and success during World War II in utilizing cartoons for educational purposes through the publication Army Motors. Army Motors utilized the cartoon drawings of then Cpl. Will Eisner, who was already famous for his work on the comic book The Spirit when he was drafted for duty during WWII. An established comic-book writer, artist, and editor, Eisner had been appropriated to draw such characters for WWII publications (including Army Motors) as Private Joe Dope, Connie Rodd, and Master Sergeant Half-Mast McCanick. In 1951, the U.S. Army hired Eisner to create similar instructional material for its new publication to address equipment issues, called PS: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly. PS is an official Army technical bulletin.

Eisner founded the American Visuals Corporation in the late 1940s as a commercial cartoon artwork company. The company produced educational cartoons and illustrations and giveaway comics for a variety of clients and industries. As part of AVC’s contracts, PS was created by Eisner and his contract artists, with him serving as the publication’s artistic director from its inception in 1951 through the end of 1971. In the case of PS, Eisner created the continuity section and the art of each issue, based upon the technical manuscripts provided to him by the Army’s PS staff. As part of his contract with the magazine, Eisner was sent on location to places like Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, in order to meet soldiers and better understand the situations they and their equipment experienced.

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Each issue of the PS magazine consisted of a color comic-book-style cover, often designed and drawn by Eisner; eight full pages of a four-color comic continuity story in the middle; and the rest of the publication filled with technical, safety, and policy information printed in two colors to save money. The continuity story starred Eisner’s earlier character, and was called “Joe’s Dope Sheet.” Each episode offers the same cautionary tale: a soldier who ignores preventive maintenance learns of its importance in the end.

The Military Collection could use your help in building the collection’s holdings of issues of PS. There are over 750 issues as of 2017. If you or someone you know has any issues of PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly and are willing to donate them, please contact Military Collection Archivist Matthew Peek by phone at 919-807-7314 or by email at matthew.peek@ncdcr.gov. Any new issues will be added to the collection. We hope to build it into one of the largest collections of PS in the United States.