Category Archives: News

Digital Services Section New Staff Introduction Series

Since the start of 2017, several new staff members have joined the Digital Services Section. All of us will be making regular blog posts on History For All the People, so we thought it would be nice for each of us to introduce ourselves, describe our roles in DSS, and preview the projects we’re working on.

Introducing Sara Pezzoni: Metadata and Digitization Assistant in the Digital Services Section

My first few weeks here have been a whirlwind of excitement, and I’m so happy to be here! I am a homegrown Tar Heel, grew up in Raleigh, and completed my BA in Communication Studies with a minor in English from UNCW. I also received my MLIS from Florida State University, which I completed through online courses. I look forward to working in Digital Services and undertaking associated challenges brought about by issues surrounding information lifecycle management, long-term retrievability, and access.

Before coming to the State Archives, I would say I’ve kept fairly busy in searching for my “place.” Like most in this field, I feel as though I have had many different past lives before focusing on archival work—I guess that’s what happens when you have a wide variety of interests pulling you in several different directions. I first fell in love with photography as a teenager, and decided I would give news photography a try at my college newspaper, which later led me into a photographer position post-college at a newspaper in Kinston, NC. I fell in love with telling stories through the art of photography, but never truly felt like it was the career path for me. Straight out of college, I side-tracked into a part-time position at a small publishing company due to my minor in English and interests in editing/writing—also not quite the desired career path for me. I then interned for a few months at NCMA in the Education Department to see if working with art as opposed to creating art was a better option for me. This experience led me to explore other opportunities in the world of art and photography, and I began two simultaneous internships at the National Archives II in College Park, MD and Magnum Photos in NYC—all while working on my MLIS. I might not have had much time to sleep, but that didn’t seem to matter at the time.

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Grand Opening: State Archives of North Carolina Store

[This blog post was written by Vann Evans, Correspondence Archivist in the Collection Services Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [N_53_15_6340]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [Call number: N_53_15_6340] From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.

To further its mission of providing access to North Carolina’s public records, the State Archives offers researchers the ability to request records and pay for reproductions from the comfort of their home. In 2012, the State Archives first began accepting electronic payments. Since that time, over seven thousand researchers stretching from Murphy to Manteo, across all fifty states, and from many foreign countries have utilized this service. On April 29, the State Archives of North Carolina opened its new online store.

Some highlights of the new store include images of record types and descriptions of records advertised, links to helpful collection guides, box lists, and digital collections. Other changes include enhanced security protections for credit card data and the addition of new record categories, like Coroners’ Inquests, Bastardy Bonds, Guardian Records, and Revolutionary War era materials.

North Carolina residents never incur fees when requesting records. If a record is found, an invoice will be generated in response to your inquiry. The invoice includes a citation for the material requested and a quote for copying costs. If no record is found the invoice will state that instead.

Since 1978, out-of-state residents have been required to submit a search and handling fee (presently $20), which offsets the cost to North Carolina taxpayers for this service.

Lunch and Learn: Finding Your Ancestors

Lunch and Learn flyerOn May 10-13, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) will hold its annual conference in Raleigh. To help participating genealogists prepare for their visit, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will host two Facebook Live sessions on its Facebook page. The “Lunch and Learn: Finding Your Ancestors” series will take place over two days:

  • Wednesday, May 3 at 12 noon – Tune in to hear about genealogical research at the Government and Heritage Library, part of the State Library of North Carolina.
  • Thursday, May 4 at 12 noon – Learn about resources available both in the Search Room and online from the State Archives of North Carolina.

The State Archives has also updated the information under the genealogical research tab on this blog in preparation for NGS 2017. If you have any additional questions about your upcoming visit to the State Archives, please contact us.

Join Us for World War I Social Media Day on April 11

Seven smiling French and American soldiers

Seven smiling French and American soldiers. From the George W. McIver Papers, World War I Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina. Available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Smithsonian is coordinating a World War I social media day on April 11, 2017. On that day, they plan to host Q&As, pop quizzes, and other online events while joining with institutions like the Presidential Libraries and the National Park Service to post content related to World War I. A schedule of events is available through the National Museum of American History’s website.

The Smithsonian has also invited other libraries, archives, and museums from around the world to join the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms using the hashtag #WorldWar1. The State Archives of North Carolina (@NCArchives) and the State Library of North Carolina (@ncpedia) plan to take part, as do several of our sister institutions from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including the NC Digital Heritage Center (@ncdhc), Wilson Library (@WilsonLibUNC), and the North Carolina Collection (@NCCollection).  Other Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (@ncculture) institutions will likely participate as well, which means there should be quite a bit of North Carolina content available on that day.

So please join us on Wednesday, April 11 to learn more about World War I!

Women’s History Month: Ella Currie McKay

[This blog post was written by Stephen C. Edgerton, who donated the collection to Private Collections, Special Collections Section, and is volunteering under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist.]

In Recognition of Women’s History Month (March 2017): Focus on Researching Women in History, from the McKay, McPherson, and McNeill Private Papers (PC.2144)

Farmer’s Daughter

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917. From PC.2144, State Archives of North Carolina

Ella Currie McKay was born in 1888, the daughter of a progressive, North Carolina farmer with 75 acres of sandy, arable land in Robeson County. A highly resourceful man, her father managed to send four of his nine children—two girls and two boys—to college. Three of them became medical professionals—two doctors and one registered nurse. Ella was that nurse.

At age twenty-four in 1911, Ella graduated from Philadelphus High School. At Red Springs, a mile away, she attended and graduated from Flora MacDonald College for women, and in time, Whitehead-Stokes Sanatorium Nursing School in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her professional nursing career began in May of 1917 at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Raleigh. Her many letters to her family at this time reveal thoughts about her two brothers, doctors serving in the war, and about whether she should join in the fight.

“Oh, this is hell here now”

Just prior to the end of World War I, in September of 1918, Ella joined the U.S. Army as a Red Cross nurse. Her first posting was at the military hospital at Camp Meade, Maryland, nursing the wounded and afflicted soldiers. Within ten days she contracted Spanish Influenza. Too ill to work, she was kept isolated from her patients and others for weeks. Her eyes remained “glued shut,” she said, and her back ached as if it would break. But her symptoms were more merciful than those suffered by the soldiers she encountered once she again took up their care. She surely was now squarely on the front lines of the flu epidemic of 1918, estimated today to have killed more people worldwide in the short time it raged than all those who died in the four years of the First World War.

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Sunshine Week 2017: Text and Instant Messaging Guidelines Update

Visit our records management blog for an update on text and instant messaging guidance.

The G.S. 132 Files

The State Archives of North Carolina has released an update to its Best Practices for Electronic Communications Usage in North Carolina: Text and Instant Message document. Released in February 2017, this document is an update to the 2012 guidance document for state agencies using text and instant messages in the workplace, including employee responsibilities according to general statutes and records retention and disposition schedules.

IM and texting are methods of communication that can make communication fast and easy regardless of when or where the participants in a conversation are. They can be quick exchanges to arrange meeting for lunch, or they can be long exchanges about complex topics. But while IM and text messaging can make day-to-day communications easier, when they are used in the conducting of public business—and therefore the creation of public records—they can also make records management more complicated. GS 132 defines public records by content, not…

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Alfred Fowler and the Vietnam War

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

Snapshot of Alfred Fowler standing next to an artillery gun in a bunker in Vietnam

VW 1.B2.F12.1: Snapshot of Alfred Fowler standing next to an artillery gun in a bunker in Vietnam at an unknown location in June 1968, during his service with B Battery, 321st Artillery, 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army. Photograph sent to his wife Cynthia Fowler with a June 23, 1968, letter. From the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.

In honor of Black History Month, the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina wants to feature one of its most important collections from the Vietnam War—the Alfred Fowler Papers.

Alfred Fowler was born on September 26, 1942, in Whites Creek Township in Bladen County, North Carolina. His parents were John Edd and Laney (Shaw) Fowler. Alfred’s mother died when he was five years old, leaving him to be raised by his father, with whom he was not very close. Alfred’s mother gave birth to nine living children, the oldest of whom—Mary Lee—worked to raise Alfred and his siblings. Growing up, Alfred was very close to his youngest sister Mabel.

Alfred Fowler would meet Cynthia L. Bryant while the two were in New York in the 1960s. Bryant was from Sanford, North Carolina. Alfred Fowler married Cynthia in August 1966, and they remained in New York until January 1967. In January 1967, the couple moved to Sanford, and lived with Cynthia’s parents on South Horner Boulevard.

Alfred Fowler worked at the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics plant in Sanford prior to his service in the Vietnam War. Seattle-founded Cornell-Dubilier, a pioneer in producing capacitors for radios and other electronics, opened a Sanford plant in 1955. Fowler worked in a laboratory at the company testing its products.

Prior to moving to North Carolina, Alfred Fowler had attempted to enlist voluntarily in the U.S. military, but was rejected three times by the military—likely due to his having high blood pressure. When the Fowlers relocated to North Carolina, however, Alfred received his draft board notice about six months later on July 3, 1967. Partly due to the Fowlers’ recent relocation, Alfred would receive draft notices from three different local draft boards between August and October 1967, as different localities were trying to claim him for draft quotas. He received his final draft notice, which indicated his date of induction would be in November 1967.

Alfred Fowler was inducted into the U.S. Army as a private on November 28, 1967. He entered basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December 1967, where he remained until February 1968. Alfred was assigned to the 2nd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, in the U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Bragg. He would be transferred to Fort Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma, arriving there between February 9 and February 10, 1968. While at Fort Sill, Fowler was a member of Battery E of the 3rd Training Battalion at the U.S. Army Training Center-Field Artillery command. It was during his nearly three-month stay at Fort Sill that Fowler learned how to operate a variety of field artillery guns, which he came to utilize in the jungles and mountains of Vietnam.

Certificate for Alfred Fowler’s Bronze Star Medal

Certificate for Alfred Fowler’s Bronze Star Medal. From the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.

Serving with Battery B of the 2nd Battalion, 321st Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Alfred Fowler was sent to Vietnam with his regiment between the end of April and the first week of May 1968. He was promoted to corporal by July 3, 1968. Fowler’s overseas service ended in April 1969 after a year-long term in Vietnam. While in Vietnam, Fowler’s artillery unit participated in regular firefights with the Viet Cong. Upon returning to the United States, he was transferred to Fort Carson in Colorado—rather than his preferred location of Fort Bragg—sometime in May 1969. Fowler served at Fort Carson until being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on November 26, 1969.

Alfred Fowler returned to work at his job with Cornell-Dubilier, and would attend Central Carolina Community College in Sanford for a couple of years. Fowler’s family recollects that he suffered mood swings and mental distress from his service in Vietnam, believing this to be what today is identified as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He never would openly discuss his service, shielding his family from the horrors of what he experienced in Vietnam. Alfred had changed quite a bit upon his return from service, and the letters he wrote from Vietnam indicate some of the struggles he was going through during combat.

Since they had been newlyweds when he left for the U.S. Army, Alfred and Cynthia Fowler would have to relearn to live with each other, facing the challenges of adjusting to the drastic personal and cultural changes of the late 1960s as an African American couple in North Carolina. The Fowlers would remain together until Alfred’s death on July 17, 2004. He was buried at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake, North Carolina.

You can learn more about Alfred Fowler from his collection, the Alfred Fowler Papers (VW 1) in the Vietnam War Papers of the Military Collection, that contains more than 180 letters written between him and his wife during Fowler’s service in the Vietnam War.

You also can currently see Alfred Fowler’s Vietnam War Army uniform on display in the North Carolina Museum of History’s “Call to Arms” Gallery on the Third Floor of the Museum in the Vietnam War section of the exhibit.