Tag Archives: newspapers

The Scary Truth Series, Pt. I

This is the first of three entries in a special Halloween-inspired blog series highlighting a collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore, and facts from North Carolina. Like sweet tea and college basketball, folklore is a major part of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Legends and stories passed down from generations keep the state’s history alive and ultimately help us remember life as it once was.

The Murder Mystery of Nell Cropsey

On November 21, 1901, Nell Cropsey mysteriously vanished from her family home near the Elizabeth City waterfront. Her body was discovered nearby in the Pasquotank river 37 days later, a mere 130 yards from where she was last seen. The first glaring suspect: Jim Wilcox, her suitor. Despite two trials and the subsequent conviction of Wilcox, many questions about her death remain unanswered. Some say her spirit haunts her family home to this day.

cropsey_wilcox2

Portraits of Jim Wilcox (left) and Nell Cropsey (right), courtesy of the Museum of the Albemarle.

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Mount Olive Tribune newspaper addition

An ongoing project in the Imaging Unit is the Wayne County Mount Olive Tribune newspaper (call number MouT-#). The unit has been imaging the newspaper for microfilming. There were a few early 1906 issues but the bulk of the material runs from that year through 2014 – and the imaging project is working in 1982. The first 65 reels of microfilm have been completed.
Recently the donor organization, Wayne County public libraries, purchased duplicates of all 65 reels of microfilm produced to date. Researchers who wish to use the paper for those periods – 1906-1981 – should contact that library.
The Archives usually does not add newspapers through such a current date, however, we will be adding 33 reels of the microfilm through the end of the year 1962 to the reading room. These reels should be available to researchers after the 2017 Labor Day holiday.
The Imaging Unit continues to microfilm the newspaper. We estimate that the project will be completed in May 2018. The whole series will be available at the Wayne County library after that date.
Researchers who wish to purchase copies of microfilm – Diazo or digital formats – can contact Chris Meekins at chris.meekins@ncdcr.gov for more information.

Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist working with Private Collections in the Special Collections Section.]

Under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, private manuscripts archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina, I have arranged and described the newest addition to the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers. This work was made possible through generous funding from Dail Barbour, Ruth Barbour’s stepdaughter. The late George Stevenson Jr. processed the original accession of the Barbour Papers. His finding aid for the collection may be accessed here: http://ead.archives.ncdcr.gov/P_C_1859_Ruth_Peeling_Barbour_P_.html.

Small head shot of Ruth Peeling ca. 1947–1948

Ruth Peeling, ca. 1947–1948. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Ruth Peeling Barbour was born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1924. As a student at Syracuse University, she majored in history and edited The Daily Orange student newspaper. After graduation in 1946, Barbour moved to Beaufort, North Carolina, to edit the Beaufort News. The paper subsequently merged with Morehead City, North Carolina’s Twin City Daily Times, reestablishing itself as the Carteret County News-Times. In 1952, Barbour left the News-Times to attend graduate school. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Florida State University the following year. Barbour then resumed editing the News-Times. In 1970, she married J. O. Barbour Jr., and in 1976 she stepped down from her position as editor. Barbour continued writing editorials, columns, and feature articles for the News-Times until 2000. She was also active in numerous professional, historical, and civic organizations, including the Carteret County Business and Professional Women’s Club, the North Carolina Society of County and Local Historians, and the Carteret County Salvation Army. Barbour died in Morehead City in 2014.

Ruth Peeling Barbour and Lockwood Phillips Sr. at a book signing for Cruise of the Snap Dragon, ca. July–August 1976

Ruth Peeling Barbour and Lockwood Phillips Sr., owner of the Carteret County News-Times, at a book signing for Cruise of the Snap Dragon, ca. July–August 1976. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Barbour did not limit herself to journalism. In addition to working for the News-Times, she published several plays and historical monographs, a novel, and a memoir. (A bibliography follows this post.) The Carteret Community Theatre, with which Barbour was long associated, produced her historical plays. Settings for her dramas included the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. North Carolina historical figures featured in the plays include pirate Edward Teach (Blackbeard), privateer Otway Burns, and Confederate spy Emeline Pigott. Barbour also featured Otway Burns in a 1976 novel entitled Cruise of the Snap Dragon. Her unpublished sequel to the novel was alternately titled “Third Cruse of the Snap Dragon” and “Captain from Carolina.” Barbour also undertook histories of the Beaufort Historical Association; of newspapers in Carteret County; of Open Grounds Farm; and of John Stewart McCormack, who advised her about naval matters for Cruise of the Snap Dragon. In 2005, she published Turning Back the Tide, an account of her journalism career in North Carolina.

Barbour’s original gift of private manuscripts to the State Archives includes letters and clippings concerning the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the potential unionization of the North Carolina Ports Authority; manuscripts and research materials for Cruise of the Snap Dragon and its sequel; and scripts of Barbour’s plays. The recent addition to the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers contains notes, clippings, and drafts related to Barbour’s writing for the News-Times and for independent projects, as well as a large amount of research material concerning Carteret County history.

The new accession to the Barbour Papers demonstrates her meticulousness as a writer. Drafts of Barbour’s works reveal much about her composition process. Whether writing children’s stories in the 1940s and 1950s or news articles in the 1990s and 2000s, she relied upon extensive revisions to achieve her final product. Her drafts of “Captain from Carolina” and Turning Back the Tide are heavily corrected, and they feature pages and chapters rearranged to reflect experimentation with structure and final content. In some instances, Barbour edited her prose by cutting pages in pieces and pasting text together in the order she desired.

Barbour and her sister, Margaret Hall, took a similar approach while working on Hall’s unpublished memoir of her life in rural New Brunswick, Canada. Drafts of Hall’s manuscripts bear corrections from both sisters. Barbour and Hall were faithful correspondents—many of Hall’s letters are included in the Barbour Papers—who discussed composition and publication prospects alongside family matters. Their interests and lifestyles were different, and Hall claimed that writing was Barbour’s specialty, not hers. Yet both women had a similar eye for detail and the makings of a good story.

Barbour was as thorough a researcher as she was an editor. Her interest in Carteret County’s history was comprehensive. In addition to the many notes she accumulated while researching local newspapers and Open Grounds Farm, Barbour preserved clippings, pictures, and other documents chronicling her adopted home’s past. Materials available to researchers include:

  • interviews with local residents
  • articles about shipwrecks, Fort Macon, the Morehead City train depot, and the “vanished” community of Diamond City
  • information about dog racing in Carteret County and World War II’s impact on the North Carolina coast
  • notes from early newspapers and land and court records
Unidentified Beaufort, NC, residents in the aftermath of a flood, ca. 1933

Unidentified Beaufort, NC, residents in the aftermath of a flood, ca. 1933. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Ruth Peeling Barbour wrote about history, but she also lived it and made it. At the helm of a local newspaper at a time when women did not commonly hold such positions, she was a pioneer. Yet Barbour’s novel is out of print, and her histories were published in limited numbers. The private manuscripts she donated to the State Archives would be an excellent resource for students and scholars of North Carolina history and literature. It is to be hoped that these papers will make Barbour and her lifetime of writing and research more widely known.

 

Ruth Peeling Barbour Bibliography

Plays:

“Bonnie Blue Sweetheart” (1959)

“Blackbeard, Raider of the Carolina Seas” (1964)

“Otway Burns, Firebrand of 1812” (1969)

“It Happened Here” (1976)

“The Best of All” (1976)

“Prelude to Victory” (ca. 1981)

“On These Shores” (1985)

 

Novels:

Cruise of the Snap Dragon (1976)

“Third Cruise of the Snap Dragon”/“Captain from Carolina” (unpublished, ca. post-1975)

 

Nonfiction:

The Inimitable J. S. M. (1981)

History of the Beaufort Historical Association, January 25, 1960–January 1, 1990 (1990)

A History of Newspapers in Carteret County, NC, 1852–1992 (1998)

Open Grounds: Then and Now (2001)

Turning Back the Tide (2005)

“Extra! Extra! Learn all about It” Workshop at the Western Office to Feature Online Newspapers

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

Western Carolinian issue Nov. 6, 1821ASHEVILLE, N.C – Did you ever wonder what was going on in the headlines on the day you were born? Do you want to uncover history from primary resources? Would you like to learn about newspaper collections available online and how to use and use them? The Western Regional Archives is offering a special workshop Extra! Extra! Learn All About It! that will explore some useful databases for accessing online newspapers. The hour-long program on Tuesday, February 16th from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. is suitable for researchers, teachers, students, genealogists and those interested in gaining an insight into where to start when researching and is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to bring suggested topics of interest that will be investigated during the workshop.

Extra! Extra! Learn All About It! will be conducted by archivist, Sarah Downing of the Western Regional Archives. A certified North Carolina librarian, Downing has been with the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for over 20 years, and joined the staff at the Western Office a year ago. She enjoys helping patrons fulfill their research requests and conducting historical research with old newspapers. Sarah honed her skills while writing several books for The History Press and wanted to share what she has learned.

The Western Office of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is located at 176 Riceville Road, Asheville, N.C.  For additional information, please call (828) 296-7230, email sarah.downing@ncdcr.gov, or visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/westernoffice.

 

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

La carrière ouverte aux talents [the tools to him that can handle them] ~ Napoléon

Researchers today enjoy many new tools at their fingertips – figuratively and literally.   Any number of new digital repositories can give a researcher access to out-of-print books, rare books, census materials, state agency publications, city directories, maps, national records, international records – the list continues to grow.  A recent and still growing database allows researchers to peruse newspapers – newspapers.com and Chronicling America by the Library of Congress.

These scanned newspapers are indexed and searchable.  As with any such searchable data the savvy researcher will understand that such a search engine is only the start. A search may seem overwhelming due to the number of “hits” returned on the word or phrase checked but one must remember that even though exhaustive such a search cannot and does not find all instances of the word or phrase.  In addition to such an initial search a researcher should use good old fashioned legwork in the newspaper – using a microfilm edition – to see if there are things the data-search missed.

One interesting side-benefit of having a searchable database of newspapers is that a researcher can see the way a story spreads across the news.  In this world of instant social media where a YouTube post can trend and become an international sensation in a matter of hours, it is interesting to trace an arc of a story across United States newspapers in the 19th Century – to see a story, in effect, go the equivalent of 19th Century viral.

For example, information on the infamous Lowery Gang that hailed from Robeson County in post-Civil War North Carolina traveled across the United States as one paper after another picked up the thrilling exploits and eventual demise of the gang. Lowery was a mixed-ethnicity individual who resisted conscription by the Confederate army, eluded capture by the US army and evaded all post-war attempts by civilian authorities to permanently capture him. A newspaper reporter from the New York Herald came south to interview Lowery and his gang in March 1872. Henry Berry Lowery was reported as deceased prior to the reporter’s arrival.  The story of his death reverberated throughout the nation.  The reporter nonetheless interviewed gang members. His correspondence to his editor was published and this story too began to echo across the U.S. The twin events – Lowery purported death and the reporter’s story – went “viral.”

The Wilmington Star (Wilmington, NC) reported Henry Berry Lowery dead in the March 6, 1872 issue. About the same time a Raleigh paper ran a similar notice of the death of Lowery.  By April 1872 the Newberry Herald of Newberry, SC reported “dailies have teemed of late with the rumored accounts of the …killing of Henry Berry Lowery.” Papers around the country picked up the Wilmington or the Raleigh death article. The Wilmington account spread quickly and widely. On March 7th it appeared in a Washington, DC paper. On March 8th papers in Alexandria, VA, Wheeling, WV, Baltimore, MD, Rock Island, IL, and Richmond, VA carried the same notice.  By March 14th the local paper in Upper Sandusky, OH ran the account on the front page.  The next day it appeared in a Bolivar, TN newspaper.  The Raleigh version popped up on March 7th in Charleston, SC. A week later it was in an Eaton, OH paper.  On March 15th the local Albany, OR paper ran the Raleigh account of Lowery’s death. The Raleigh story appeared in a Washington, DC newspaper on the 18th and reached Paw Paw, MI on the 22nd.

When the New York Herald ran the story written by the correspondent in the March 18th, 1872 paper that story too “went viral” and in a matter of days found its way to Winchester and Columbia, TN, St. Paul, MN, Staunton, VA and Charleston, SC.  Elements of the article would continue to appear in newspapers across the US for many months to come.  It is interesting to see how such sensational stories as the Lowery Gang captivated an audience and spread out over the media of the time – newspapers.

Of course, it may be that checking microfilm of papers during this time period may yield other examples of the story bouncing around the continental United States.  Due diligence serves every researcher.

[Search “Henry Berry Lowery” on the Chronicling of America database for more newspaper stories and to see how new information repeated the cycle of propagation of news about the gang.]

Another thing to consider when looking and researching in newspapers is how to handle missing issues.  Inevitably, the newspaper in the town where your research interests have you looking for information is missing the years or issues germane to your research needs.

Is the town or area in question near a railroad station?  Is the community connected by rail to other nearby or even far away towns?  For example, Weldon, NC is at one end of the Wilmington and Weldon railroad.  If you can’t find the issue of the paper you need perhaps looking in the Wilmington papers a week or so after the event might get you the repeat of the Weldon newspaper story.

The same is true for anything along the railroad line that ran from Charlotte to Raleigh – is the Hillsborough Recorder missing the year your ancestor died?  Check any paper along that rail line from Raleigh to Charlotte and see if the death notice is picked up; particularly by local papers closer to the point of interest.  A marriage notice might not gain much traction outside the immediate community but a death notice might – or, say, a murder.  If you are looking for information on a local hotel in Salisbury but the Salisbury paper yields nothing – go down that rail line and see if a local paper elsewhere might be advertising that hotel.  After all, if you see ads in the Salisbury paper for the Raleigh Yarborough House then you might expect the reverse to be true – Salisbury establishments in Raleigh newspapers.  Railroads connect people and towns but also ideas and industry.

The Dunn Dispatch

A new newspaper resource is now available for researchers who visit the State Archives of North Carolina.  A nearly complete run of the Harnett County newspaper The Dunn Dispatch has been donated to the Archives.  The Imaging Unit has completed preservation microfilming of the newspaper.  A security copy of the microfilm was added to the Archives security vault and a research or reading copy of the film has been added to the Archives search room. Our holdings for the newspaper range from 1914 through November 1965.

This newspaper adds a valuable resource to local events in Harnett County.  It is a timely addition to the collection considering that currently the Centennial of the Great War (or World War One) is being observed and the newspaper began at just about the same time as the Great War.

The newspaper is in the microfilm room at the State Archives.  Researchers are encourage to use this new resource.  The microfilm room is a self-service room but Archives staff are happy to assist researchers in getting started using the microfilm holdings.

The State Archives of North Carolina continues to seek North Carolina based newspapers to add to the newspaper collection.  Please contact Chris Meekins, Head of the Imaging Unit, if you have a North Carolina based newspaper you wish to donate to the State Archives.  He can be reached via email – chris.meekins ncdcr.gov or by phone – 919-807-7333.

State Archives of North Carolina’s Efforts are Foundation for Digitization of Early Newspapers for Easy Public Access

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

Front page of the North Carolina Standard, Sept. 27, 1851.

Front page of the North Carolina Standard, Sept. 27, 1851.

RALEIGH — Since 1959, the State Archives of North Carolina has microfilmed newspapers from across the state as part of the North Carolina Newspaper Project. This initiative includes more than 1,000 titles published from 1751 until 1898 with the goal of preserving these papers for future researchers.

Two new projects, managed by the UNC-Chapel Hill Library, promise to make these materials accessible to the public in ways that might have seemed impossible during the 1950s.

The Chronicling America project focuses on newspapers printed between 1836 and 1922 in the United States to make them available online. It is a joint project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A second project with Ancestry.com will provide digital access to newspapers printed prior to 1923 through Newspapers.com. Both projects use newspapers microfilmed by the Collections Management Branch of the State Archives of North Carolina and then digitized for UNC Library.

Ancestry.com will allow free access of the Newspapers.com collection to users with a UNC login and on-site at the State Archives, Outer Banks History Center and Western Regional Archives. Access to the Chronicling America online collection is free to all users and can be found at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/?state=North+Carolina.

To date, UNC Library has overseen the digitization of 100,000 pages for Chronicling America and 1 million pages for Newspapers.com, including newspapers from Asheville, Raleigh, Tarboro, Boone and Charlotte. A full list of the newspapers included in the State Archives microfilming initiative is available at http://www.ncdcr.gov/archives/Public/Collections/NonGovernment.aspx#newspapers.

The North Carolina Newspaper Project at the State Archives began microfilming North Carolina newspapers in 1959, capturing papers published from 1751 until 1898 and including more than 1,000 titles.

The State Archives and the UNC Library have worked collaboratively on several projects to provide access to citizens and researchers on the wealth of history and information about North Carolina.

For additional information, please call (919) 807-7329. The State Archives is within the Office of Archives and History at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.