Author Archives: Ashley

Documenting the World of Outlander #4: Cherokee Land Boundaries

[This post was written by Alison Thurman and Josh Hager, Reference Archivists]

This blog is intended as a “bonus feature” for fans of Outlander who want to explore the world of Jamie and Claire through original documents housed at the State Archives of North Carolina. SPOILERS for the first 9 episodes of Season 4!

Outlander, the hit series from Starz, has officially arrived in colonial North Carolina. This season, Jamie and Claire will traverse the state from Wilmington to the mountains. The State Archives of North Carolina will join them on this journey as we showcase documents that provide a window into their world. Welcome to our biweekly series, Documenting the World of Outlander, wherein each new entry in our series will focus on one topic that appears on screen in Outlander.

In the most recent episodes of Outlander we have seen Jamie and Claire receive a land grant for 10,000 acres in the back country of North Carolina upon which they build a homestead they name Fraser’s Ridge. Fraser’s Ridge appears to be a successful farm and happy home for the Frasers, but there is always a new challenge around the corner wherever they go.  In this case, one of the realities of living in the North Carolina back country in 1767 for Jamie and Claire, is carving out a peaceful and respectful relationship with their closest neighbors, the Cherokee Indians, also referred to as the Tsalagi. In this entry of our blog series we would like to focus on Native Americans, specifically the Cherokee, and showcase some of the documents in the State Archives that pertain to the complicated history of colonial expansion and changing land boundaries in North Carolina during the late 1760’s and beyond.

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A Final Salute to Dr. H. G. Jones

[This post was written by Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]

Whether you knew him as H. G. or Dr. Jones, he was certainly a formidable presence. I was fortunate to call him my colleague and my friend. While working at Historical Publications in 2000, he approached me about publishing a book called, Sketches in North Carolina USA, 1872 to 1878: Vineyard Scenes by Mortimer O. Heath, in cooperation with the North Caroliniana Society. His steadfast attention to detail brought both admiration and frustration. The final product sits on my bookshelf with his personal note to me, which was written on his 78th birthday: “For Donna, who made this book possible and beautiful. With thanks and best wishes, HG Jones, 7 January 2002.”

H.G. Jones sits behind a tabble with various photocopies in plastic sleeves spread out in front of him.

Historian H. G. Jones looks over his papers and sketches from his compilation of Sketches in North Carolina USA: 1872 to 1878. 2002, News & Observer file photo. Reproduced with permission.

Dr. Houston Gwynne Jones was born on January 7, 1924 in Caswell County and he passed away on October 14, 2018 in Chatham County. Throughout his life he was the ultimate historian, recording his own thoughts and activities in a daily journal, now preserved as part of his collection (PC.1681) at the State Archives of North Carolina. He served as director of the Department of Archives and History and as state archivist from 1968 to 1974. When the agency no longer had departmental status, he made certain that the biennial report for 1970–1972 was printed with a black cover. In fact, the opening paragraph of his director’s report stated: “It must be something like preaching one’s own funeral—the writing of the final biennial report of the State Department of Archives and History as an independent state agency.”

H.G. Jones behind a desk with books and papers on it. A typewriter sits on his left and a bookshelf stands against the far wall

H. G. Jones, State Archivist, 12 September 1956; Photo by D. Phillips. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of NC, N.56.9.28.

After graduating high school, H. G. volunteered for the Navy in World War II. He wrote about his experiences in the book, The Sonarman’s War: Chasing Submarines and Sweeping Mines in World War II. After the war he attended school under the G.I. Bill, earning both a master’s degree and Ph.D. He then taught for several years until he was appointed State Archivist of North Carolina by Gov. Terry Sanford in 1956. In 1968, Dr. Jones was tapped to serve as the director of the State Department of Archives and History, until he resigned in 1974 to take on the duties of the curator of the North Carolina Collection and adjunct professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill. Many of today’s public historians took courses under him. He retired from that position in 1994, although he became the Thomas Whitmell Davis Research Historian and could be seen in a carrel in Wilson Library conducting research until his health prevented him from doing so.

From 1969 to 1986, Dr. Jones wrote a weekly column titled “In Light of History,” which was devoted to North Carolina history. He also wrote many award-winning books, including For History’s Sake, Local Government Records, North Carolina Illustrated, and North Carolina History: An Annotated Bibliography. Just a few years ago, he wrote Miss Mary’s Money: Fortune and Misfortune in a North Carolina Plantation Family, 1760–1924.

Dr. H. G. Jones, with pipe and beard, January 1974; Photo by Randall Page. From the General Negative Collection, State Archives of NC, N.74.1.162

In 1975, Dr. Jones co-chartered the North Caroliniana Society to encompass all the state’s cultural heritage, not just history. He remained secretary-treasurer of that organization until 2010. As evidenced in his collection at the State Archives, Dr. Jones served as chair or president of nearly all of North Carolina’s historical organizations at one time or other during his lifetime. He was appointed to the North Carolina Historical Commission in 1978 and served as an emeritus member from 2002 until his death. Nationally he was elected president of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), secretary of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), and commissioner of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). His publication, The Records of a Nation, was used as evidence during the Watergate hearings.

Dr. Jones received numerous accolades throughout his career and beyond. A few of the highlights include the Award of Distinction (AASLH), the Award for Distinguished Service in Documentary Preservation and Publication (NHPRC), the Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award (North Carolina Literary and Historical Association), the Ruth Cannon Cup (North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities), the John Tyler Caldwell Award (North Carolina Humanities Council), and the North Carolina Award for Public Service, bestowed upon him by Gov. Mike Easley in 2002.

There are many more things that could be noted here about Dr. Jones, but many of his accomplishments can be read online using a simple Google search. Here are but a few links:

What I will remember most is my last visit with him on September 19, coincidentally my birthday. I shook his hand and he told me how much he pitied the archivist who would have to organize his papers. I smiled and assured him that his collection was in much better shape than most that make their way to the Archives. His voice was weak, but his spirit was strong, and it was evident that he was concerned about his legacy, even near the end. His wish was that his papers be preserved in the State Archives, an agency that grew stronger under his leadership as both an employee and later as a member of the Historical Commission, spanning over half a century.

Portrait of Dr. H. G. Jones, emeritus member of the North Carolina Historical Commission, May 18, 2015.

Electronic Records Day 2018: “Back to the Repository” and Storage Structure

[This blog post was written by Jamie Patrick-Burns, Digital Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina]

It’s October 10 and that means Electronic Records Day! Sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), Electronic Records Day is an opportunity to share how we manage our state’s digital resources and raise awareness about best practices for electronic recordkeeping and preservation. The State Archives of North Carolina presents the short film “Back to the Repository.”

Repository structure was fresh on our minds as we have recently restructured our digital repository. The principles below guided our planning and can apply to any file management system at home or in the office. Think about structure and file/folder names that will age well and be clear in the future. A folder or document called “Minutes” might make sense for a couple of weeks if you can remember what the meeting was about and when, but in one year or 20 years you won’t remember! A better title could be “20181010_board_minutes” to include the date and the group that had the meeting.

  1. Hierarchy: organize folders in a hierarchy that is natural to your organization. For the
    Series of boxes indicating a file structure

    Example folder hierarchy

    archives, state agency records are organized by record group (office), series, item number (used to track a particular group of records, e.g. Director’s Correspondence), and accession number (number assigned when records are officially taken into archival custody). Special Collections are arranged by unit, collection number, and accession number. The hierarchy uses identifiers that are well-known to all staff in the Records Center and the Archive, rather than an individual user’s schema. Learn more about record groups, numbering, and retention schedules on our website at https://archives.ncdcr.gov/government/retention-schedules.

  2. File paths: the file path is the full path the computer must navigate to open a document including drive, folders, and file name, for example C:\My Documents\Budgets\2018_budget.xlsx. File names should be descriptive but concise, as some operating systems have a limit to how many characters the file path can be. Microsoft cannot open files with a path longer than 255 characters. In order to avoid long file paths, we use standardized abbreviations in the repository. For example State Records is “SR,” local/county records is “CR,” the Audiovisual Materials unit of Special Collections is “AV.” We also use a numbering system from the catalog that assigns numbers to record groups and series, so that rather than spelling out “Department of Insurance” or having a number of variations such as “Dept. of Insurance,” “Dept of Ins,” etc., the number 00009 is assigned to that department. Numbers have five digits to leave room for expansion and to sort properly in the file system, and we have an index of materials in the repository to help users navigate the abbreviations and numbers. There are also certain characters that should not be included in a file name as they can cause confusion or problems for the operating system: \ / : * ? “ < > | [ ] & $ , . These characters mean something in an electronic environment – for example, the forward slash / indicates folder levels for Microsoft, and a period . denotes a file extension, so if they are in a file name the computer may not know how to interpret them. For more information, see our documentation on best practices for file naming: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/documents/best-practices-file-naming.
  3. Finally, good governance of a repository includes policies for appraisal and collecting.
    Cover of the Managed Storage Guidance for Archival and Permanent Materials

    Cover of the Managed Storage Guidance for Archival and Permanent Materials

    Having clear guidelines on what will and will not be accepted (retention schedule, in-scope documentation, etc.) prevents a “let’s collect everything” attitude or spur-of-the-moment decisions, so that space is not wasted, materials can be found, and you and future users know why something is in the repository in the first place. The State Archives of North Carolina’s repository includes digitized and born-digital records from state and local government as well as special collections. From email to GIS data to PDFs and Word documents, the repository contains records of North Carolina history and activities in electronic format. We all do our best with the knowledge we have, and no one can know the future. But we do our best to have a repository with policies and practices that will stand the test of time so that in another 20 years, digital archivists will be able to find what they’re looking for and won’t have (too many) reasons to say, “What were they thinking?”

Happy Electronic Records Day!

Document Facsimiles Relating to Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge on Display at the State Archives of North Carolina

[This blog post comes from Donna E. Kelly, head of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

A page of handwritten text of Court minutes for men accused of storing Blackbeard's booty.

Part of the General Court minutes for men accused of storing Blackbeard’s booty. Colonial Court Records. State Archives of North Carolina [call number: C.C.R. 103]

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death, the State Archives of North Carolina is displaying several facsimiles of documents relating to his exploits along the coast, including his capture and death. The display, “Gone Out a Pirateing”: Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is currently on display in the State Archives’ Search Room and will run through early October.

“Gone Out a Pirateing” features a 1709 map of North Carolina and pages from the Chowan General Court Papers and the Executive Council Journal, both dated 1719. They include descriptive testimony against Edward Thatch, otherwise known as Blackbeard. The display also includes photocopies of four documents from the British National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office [PRO]). They were obtained through the Colonial Records Project, an initiative in the 1960s to copy all documents pertaining to North Carolina that were filed in the PRO.

From September 18 through October 1, this small exhibit will be displayed on the second floor of the Archives and History/State Library Building (109 East Jones St., Raleigh). It will run Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A digitized version of the document, with additional pages, is available for viewing 24/7 in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Rare Irving Berlin WWII Play Photographs Online

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

Photograph of songwriter Irving Berlin, wearing his U.S. Army uniform, standing against a wall next to a poster advertising the only civilian performance of Berlin’s traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army at the Teatro Reale dell’Opera in Rome, Italy, in June 1944. The play was in Rome performing for U.S. military personnel during an international tour in World War II (June 1944) [Photograph by: Zinn Arthur].

The State Archives of North Carolina’s Military Collection is excited to announce the availability online of 416 original photographs documenting the international tour of American songwriter Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. Army play This Is The Army was performed from October 1943 through October 1945 during World War II. Developed from the 1942 Broadway musical play and the 1943 Hollywood film of the same name, This Is The Army (abbreviated by the cast and crew as “TITA”) was initially designed to raise money for the war effort in the United States, and featured one of the most famous wartime songs of the 1940s “This Is The Army, Mister Jones.” TITA became the biggest and best-known morale-boosting show of World War II in the U.S.

Beginning in October 1943, TITA left the U.S. for England, where it remained through February 1944. From there, they traveled to North Africa, Italy, Egypt, Iran, India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Guam, Mogmog Island, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Hawaii, and numerous other locations in the Pacific Theater. The play traveled with makeshift stages that they set up on numerous locations and U.S. military installations/camps. The play’s cast played to hundreds of thousands of U.S. service individuals, including women’s bases and camps such as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) camps in the Pacific. They traveled by troop transport ships, rented cargo ships, and landing crafts.

View of African-American dancer, soloist, and comedian James “Stumpy” Cross introducing the song “Shoo Shoo Baby” during a performance by cast members of Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army the hospital at Camp Huckstep in Cairo, Egypt, in August 1944. Part of the play’s “jam band” is pictured playing in the background. Photograph taken while the cast was stationed at Camp Huckstep to perform for U.S. military personnel in Cairo, Egypt, during an international tour (August 1944) [Photograph by: Zinn Arthur].

This Is The Army was the only full-integrated military unit in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII, with African American men eating, performing, and traveling with their fellow white cast and crew members. Many of the men were not just performers before the war, but also recruited to perform in the cast from the U.S. Army ranks in 1943. The cast was all-male, which required the men to dress as women in drag for the women sketches in the play. In all, the play would prove to be the beginning of the eventual desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces under President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 Executive Order 9981.

This particular collection of photographs was mostly taken by singer and later celebrity photographer Zinn Arthur. Arthur would select and send these photographs to fellow cast member and singer Robert Summerlin of Tarboro, N.C. Both men would add identifications to the images over the years, resulting in the collection currently held at the State Archives. This collection of the This Is The Army photographs is the only known, publicly-available collection of these images in the United States.

The complete set of photographs is available online in an album through the State Archives’ Flickr page. Original programs and tickets for the play are available for viewing in-house in the State Archives’ public Search Room.

Photograph of singer Robert Summerlin from the cast of Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army, standing in front of a lifeboat on the deck of the small freighter El Libertador, which carried the cast and crew of the play around the South Pacific in May 1945 during World War II. The ship was in Manila, the Philippines, when the photograph was taken. Photograph taken while the play was traveling throughout the South Pacific to perform for U.S. military personnel during their international tour [May 1945] [Photograph by: Zinn Arthur].

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.

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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