Posts Tagged ‘Archives’

This 2012 proclamation for Rosenwald Schools Day is just one of the hundreds of thousands of records from the Perdue administration preserved by the State Archives

This 2012 proclamation for Rosenwald Schools Day is just one of the hundreds of thousands of records from the Perdue administration preserved by the State Archives

Though the transition to the new gubernatorial administration is only a few weeks old, the State Archives has been working behind the scenes for months to keep government transparent and ensure that all records from the previous administration are retained for posterity.

Since October, nearly 400,000 digital records from the Perdue administration have been transferred to Archives for permanent storage. These files include more than one terabyte (1 TB) of videos, images, emails, databases, press releases, Executive Orders, Proclamations, speeches, appointments, reports and more. To put it in perspective, 1 TB of information is the equivalent of about 330,000 photos, 250,000 songs or 1,000 hours of digital video.

The Archives and State Library have also regularly captured more than 35 websites and social media accounts managed by the Office of the Governor, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr accounts.

For more than 100 years, the State Archives has captured the paper records of gubernatorial administrations, but since the dawn of the computer age the Archives has added digital transfers like this one to its normal preservation practices to ensure that all records are retained.

To ensure the authenticity of records, the Archives uses strict file integrity protocols, and as a result of those protocols, the Archives can demonstrate that the files currently stored in its repository are the exact files transferred to it from the Office of the Governor.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that the work of the Archives isn’t finished yet. Staff members are still in the process of preserving several email accounts and other records. Check out the Digital Collections of the State Archives and State Library, the State Government Web Site Archive and the beta State Government Social Media Archive to browse records from the Office of the Governor and other state agencies from the comfort of your own home.

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Fall train excursions, untold stories of the Civil War and a brief history of chocolate are just a few of the fun events that you’ll find this weekend at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Start your weekend off tomorrow night at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem with the screening of a documentary on famed artist William Kentridge’s artistic philosophy and creative process.

Explore the Greek gods in sculpture Friday at the N.C. Museum of Art

The focus on the arts will continue Friday, when the N.C. Art Museum in Raleigh shows This Gun for Hire as part of its “Femme Fatale” movie series and presents gallery tours that explore how the Greek gods and goddesses are portrayed in stone.

Saturday morning, discover how you can record and preserve your family’s history through oral histories at a workshop hosted by the State Library and State Archives in Raleigh, or have lunch while listening to a lecture about the work of the work of Edvard Munch at the N.C. Museum of Art across town. Throughout the day, the President James K. Polk State Historic Site in Pineville will celebrate our 11th president’s birthday by recreating life as it was in 1795, while Tryon Palace will put on programs about the history of chocolate and alcohol in America.

Round your weekend out Sunday by spending the day on a train ride to Georgia and back with the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer, or listening to alternative histories of several famous Civil War battles at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

All weekend long, the N.C. Symphony will present a concert of Hayden and Mahler in Raleigh and Wilmington, while Tryon Palace will host performances of the Tony Award-winning play, God of Carnage.

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Rose O’Neal Greenhow was a widowed Washington socialite turned Confederate spy.  While well known for her pro-states’ rights and slavery expansionist views, she also maintained friendly relationships with leaders from the North.

Image of Rose Greenhow from the book My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule At Washington, by Rose Greenhow, 1863.

When war broke out, Col. Thomas Jordan and General Pierre G.T. Beauregard recruited Greenhow to lead a Confederate espionage ring. In July 1861, she provided Beauregard with details concerning the strength and route of Union forces headed towards Richmond. The information helped Beauregard secure a victory at the first Battle of Bull Run (Manassas).

Allan Pinkerton, the head of the Federal Secret Service, caught onto Greenhow’s activities and placed her under house arrest. This only forced her to get more creative in her system of communication.  In January, 1862, she and her daughter were transferred to the Old Capitol Prison. During her time there, she still managed to relay messages to the South. In June 1862 the Federal government tried her and sent her to the South where she was welcomed as a hero and awarded $2,500 by President Jefferson Davis.

Davis sent her to Great Britain and France in 1863 to raise support for the Confederacy. Her return trip a year later was aboard the blockade-runner Condor, which ran aground near Fort Fisher. Greenhow was carrying dispatches for the Confederacy and $2,000 in coins, secured in a heavy purse worn around her neck. Fearing imprisonment, and contrary to the captain’s advice that the ship would rise with the tide, she fled in a lifeboat with five crew members to escort her ashore. The lifeboat capsized and she drowned, pulled under by the weight of the purse.  Everyone else from the Condor escaped capture.   Greenhow was buried with full military honors in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

Fort Fisher state Historic Site is hosting a special 2nd Saturdays program on August 11.  Spies, Signals, and Secrets: Civil War Communication” includes a presentation about Rose  Greenhow, plus coding activities, signal flag demonstrations, and tours by costumed interpreters.  The visitor center includes Greenhow in their interpretive panels.  The state archives houses Greenhow’s European diary and a cipher code that were among her possessions aboard the blockade runner.

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I am fortunate to be able to spend a good deal of time in and around Black Mountain.  I am always amazed at the breadth of talent and artistry in the area.  It’s not uncommon for a small town to have a creative atmosphere, but I’m always reminded of the days when Black Mountain was home to a remarkable experimental center of learning.

supine dome

The Supine Dome Model with Si Sillman (bending), Buckminster Fuller, Elaine de Kooning, Roger Lovelace, and Josef Albers, Black Mountain College, summer of 1948. Photograph courtesy of the Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Estate, Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico

Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College focused on fine arts education—but the education was not always text-book, so to speak.  The teachers and students lived together as a community and learned from one another.  One writer stated “As the college evolved, it assumed characteristics of a small college, a summer camp, a religious retreat, a pioneering community, an art colony and a farm school.”  In a way, it defies categorizing—it is, simply, Black Mountain College.

The list of teachers and students at Black Mountain College reads like a virtual who’s who of 20th Century arts, including musicians, painters, poets, actors, dancers, fiber artists, sculptors, and architects.  Names like Robert Rauschenberg, Walter Gropius, Robert Motherwell, Josef Albers, John Cage, Charles Olson, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham and Willem de Kooning.

The North Carolina Archives accepted the college’s administrative records after it closed in 1956.  The papers and the manuscript collections associated with students and faculty have long been popular with researchers who traveled to Raleigh from all over the world to study the influential college.  The archives’ collections related to Black Mountain College recently have been transferred to the new Western Regional Archives, officially opening on August 13 in Asheville.

John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Black Mountain College 1953 Summer Institute in the Arts. Black Mountain College Research Project Papers, Visual Materials, North Carolina State Archives, Western Regional Office.

Having the documents and photographs close at hand will surely be a great complement to Asheville’s  Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, a facility that explores and preserves the legacy of the college through exhibits and programs.  And, of course, North Carolina is known around the world for the breadth of its traditional and contemporary arts.  Learn more at the North Carolina Arts Council.

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I don’t think that many people are aware that the two most famous sets of conjoined twins in the 19th century called North Carolina home – Chang and Eng Bunker (the original Siamese Twins) and Millie-Christine McKoy (the Carolina Twins or the Two-Headed Nightingale).


Chang and Eng Bunker. Image from the State Archives.

Chang and Eng Bunker, born in Thailand (then Siam) in 1811, amassed a fortune for themselves on the circus and exhibition circuit and retired to North Carolina in 1839.

They first lived in Wilkes County, where they married sisters Sarah and Adelaide Yates. With growing families, the brothers purchased land in Surry County and built large homes a little over a mile apart. For the rest of their lives they spent 3 nights at one house and then 3 nights at the other.

If you visit the Andy Griffith Playhouse  in Mount Airy you can see a large collection of Siamese Twin memorabilia. The North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill has Chang and Eng papers and artifacts.

Millie-Christine considered herself one person and railroad lines even issued letters to conductors instructing them to require only one ticket for the “dual woman.”  She was born into slavery near Whiteville, Columbus County, in 1851.


Millie-Christine McKoy. Image from the State Archives.

Exhibited initially as a curiosity, the twins eventually learned to sing and dance.  She even performed for Queen Victoria in England. Having eventually been able to profit from shows and exhibitions (after emancipation), Millie Christine purchased the Columbus County property on which she’d been born.

The State Archives has manuscript collections for both Millie-Christine and Chang and Eng—they have put together an educational resource site that includes digitized images of some of the documents.

Chang and Eng and Millie-Christine are buried in North Carolina, and using findagrave.com, you can see their final resting places. (You can also see the grave of celebrated 20th century conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, who spent their last years working at a grocery store in Charlotte.)

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Brynn Hoffman served as a summer intern with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources in the Office of Archives and History.  As a member of the Military Archives team, she researched the story of Rev. Elmer P. Gibson, an African American chaplain during World War II and the Korean War, through the study of his papers and war documents. Hoffman is a graduate student in the Public History program at N.C. State University.  Her internship was made possible through a generous gift from Rusty Edmister.  

As my time with the Elmer Gibson collection comes to an end, it seems like the appropriate time to consider what an influential man Gibson really was.  Elmer Gibson played a critical role in American society and served the United States Army during some of the most pivotal time periods in American history.  The 20th Century was a period of change and Gibson was able to fully experience and participate in many of these changes. 

Gibson served in the United States Army as a chaplain throughout World War II and the Korean War.  As a chaplain, Gibson served the spiritual and emotional needs of soldiers during the difficult times of war. He offered religious services on an almost daily basis and counseled men one-on-one about personal and professional issues.  In addition, he also put his own life in danger because he was stationed alongside soldiers overseas and in the battlefields. 

Besides just performing his chaplain’s duties, Gibson went out of his way to actively participate in the debate over the integration of the United States Armed Forces.  While in the Army, Gibson earned the prestigious Legion of Merit Award for his service in World War II and the Bronze Star and Oak Leaf Cluster for his service in the Korean War.  Gibson retired from the Army in 1957 with the ranking of Lt. Colonel.   

After his time in the Army, Gibson went on to earn a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology fromTempleUniversityin 1959 and was elected as the president of Morristown College in Tennessee that same year.  He stayed at Morristown College for the next ten years and actively encouraged the higher education of African-Americans of all ages.  Additionally, he also served at several churches, was a loving husband, and was the proud father of two children, Cornelia Gertrude and Elmer H.  

Having the opportunity to work with the Elmer Gibson collection has been an incredible experience on two levels.  First, I had the opportunity to work with and process an entire collection from beginning to end.  Basically, I organized the collection and created a finding aid to help lead researchers through Gibson’s papers. More interestingly, however, I had the chance to learn a lot about an incredible man and what it means to be a chaplain in the United States Armed Forces.  Although I have knowledge of all the wars the United States has participated in, my understanding of what life was like for the men and women participating in these wars is lacking, and this collection gave me the chance to get know one of these men.  Working with this collection has been a treat for me and I look forward to more of these experiences in my future!

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A familiar question often rings out after days of togetherness at the holidays – “What can we do for fun?”  And, after holiday bills, many are looking for something to do as a family that doesn’t break the bank.   The NC Culture Blog continues our look at suggestions on how to “Make History This Holiday.”  (The ornament at right is from the Museum of History Gift Shop.)

Carolina Christmas

Carolina Christmas” is now available through the newly revamped North Carolina Digital Collections page.  The collection of holiday history from the North Carolina States Archives includes photographs, letters, diary entries, posters, greeting cards, recipes and other documents will delight young and old alike.

Online visitors can browse the materials or can select items from categories to see materials related to specific subjects that include cards, children, Moravians, Civil War, window displays, trees and wreaths, wartime Christmases, posters, the Executive Mansion and decorations.

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