Online Research Tools from the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives

Thank you for joining us again. My name is Ashley Yandle. I am the digital access Branch Manager for the State Archives of North Carolina and I am joined with…Michelle Underhill. I’m the director of the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library at the State Library of North Carolina. So we’re going to talk to you a little bit about online resources for genealogical research. One of the caveats we’ll say up front is that neither one of us are actually genealogists, so we may not be able to answer some of your really detailed research questions, but we can answer some of your questions about the online materials that we have available for you. First of all we’re gonna talk a little bit very briefly about our institutions since you’ve already gotten the excellent introduction from Rebecca and from Debbie about our two institutions. We are sister organizations underneath a big umbrella that is Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The State Archives deals with things like state and county records. We also have what we call special collections. That includes things like manuscripts, newspapers, maps, military collection materials, non-textual AV materials and lots more. You want to talk about the State Library? Sure. The State Library, it’s sister institution. We are the permanent repository for all state government publications. We have print and digital. We also have a great collection of books periodicals and some vertical files. Our book collection spans North Carolina and the South, and Southern history. And the vertical files, the reason I mention that specifically, is we’re going to talk a little bit more about some of the vertical files that we have digitized and put online as well. So this is kind of a spoiler alert. This is what we’re going to be highlighting today. We’re going to talk about some of the collections within the North Carolina Digital Collections. We will be talking a lot about the North Carolina Digital Collections today. We’re also going to talk a little bit about the Mars catalog, which is the greatest acronym I think for any catalog. Ashley will talk to you about that as well and We’ll talk about NCpedia, which is the online encyclopedia about North Carolina. We have a few other resources that we’re also going to talk about that are great resources for genealogical research. The North Carolina Digital Collections. This URL, digital dot NCDC dot gov, is the URL you can use to search a lot of what we’re going to talk about today. If you are viewing from home feel free to bring up in another screen or window this site and do some searches. Through this particular website, in this particular screen, you can actually search across over 40 collections at the same time, and you’re doing a full text search so you’ll search across all kinds of material. I’ll tell you a little bit about the variety of materials we have in these collections because some of them are great for genealogical research, some are just great for research but not necessarily genealogical research. Some of the types of materials that you’ll find in the North Carolina digital collections include historical photographs, contemporary photographs, books, magazines, state publications, maps, newspapers, government reports, diaries, posters, registration log books, founding state treasures, governor’s materials, and links to government resources. Currently, we have 41 collections within the North Carolina digital collections and over 92,000 items within those collections. Some of the collections
are really big and others are smaller, but the research value is immense in them. Listed on the slide you’ll see five of the collections that we’re going to talk about today, five of our larger collections. We’ll also talk about a few of the smaller collections that also have great resources for genealogy research. I also have to mention that you can’t find everything online in our digital collections. Both Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina have a wealth of material, that for whatever reason, some of it just will never be able to be online, others we just haven’t gotten online yet. Here are some examples of materials that aren’t available online, but that you should definitely come visit us to use or contact us and we can help you get some of the information from from those materials. When you visit the digital collections, one thing to be aware of is that we have many different types of digital collections. This line will show you a little bit about sampling collections versus complete collections. For example, you’ll see things like the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications or the alien registration and naturalization materials will be complete collections that means every item that the State Archives has in our collections will be available online. Then you’ll see other things that have sampling will have a little black bar at the top of the image that will say sampling and it will that includes things like the Black Mountain College materials, the Carolina Christmas and other collections. That just gives you a little tip when you first get into a collection to know whether you’re seeing everything that we have or if you’re only seeing a representative sample. All the collections have landing pages and what we mean by landing pages is sort of a summary of what you can expect when you actually get into the materials. They will have things like a title. They provide subject links to very popular subjects within the collections. They will be able to search cross just that particular collection itself or browse which means you’ll see a list of everything that we have in that digital collection. Landing pages also have segment on them that describes the materials in there or the materials that aren’t included in there, other resources that you can consider using if you’d like. Just whatever we think might be helpful for you when you go to using materials for the first time. Two of the really useful collections that are completely digitized and online are the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications and the War of 1812 Pay Vouchers. On the surface these are records for two very different wars, but they are very similar in that they are both documentation of payment exchanges for veterans of these wars and they are presented on Form documents basically with handwriting to actually contains the information that you’re going to be looking at. You can see at the bottom of the screen we’ve listed how many items. The 1901 Confederate Pensions is probably one of the largest collections in the digital collection. So there is a lot of stuff there. What could be in a 1901 pension application folder? It can include everything from soldiers’ application or several applications and then we had a question that came in on Twitter about Revolutionary War applications and would other applications be if they were declined. I don’t know the answer for that one, but I can tell you, for 1901, it can have multiple applications, also the widows applications in the same folder, all organized under the soldier’s name and the county in which they applied, along with applications for admissions and soldiers homes. There’s a small number of applications for admissions and soldiers homes there’s a small number of African-American applicants. People who did work for the Confederate military or government at the time and supporting documentation, such as letters. You can also find information on the applicants name or husbands name or widows name, place of residence, established enlistment date and location, county served in, details of service, death dates, if that is applicable, and health and financial information. When you do a search, this is what you’ll see. You’ll see a result screen. And this will provide you information about the person that these applications are associated with. This is just basically the folder title. If you were actually looking at the items in the archive you would see that folder title listed in the title field. It has the the soldier and the county they applied in, the dates for the items that are actually in the folder and then a few sentences about the description of the items that are in there just to give you a preview before you actually click on the item to see whether you will be interested in it. Now we’re going to the War of 1812. These are the vouchers. They will have included things like the voucher number, the date issued, the soldiers name and rank, the captain’s name and county, and the amount due to them. Not all counties have vouchers. There’s only 31 counties, and when they’re redeemed you’ll see they have a hole punched in the middle. If you’re very very lucky, the hole will be punched in a non-vital part of the document. I’ve seen a few of them a few of them where they’ve gotten really close to name which is unfortunate. We’ve done the best we can to fill in what those names actually were, but that’s what the hole is. Another set of really interesting records are the alien registration and naturalization materials. These are volumes of county records that deal with the naturalization of foreign-born citizens in North Carolina. This was part of a short-lived period in our history where county officials perform that function. They can include things like the declaration of intent to become a citizen, petition for naturalization and alien registration and often include a lot of very good information, including the county of origin, North Carolina county currently living in, their profession, information about their children and other family members that might have integrated with them. When you look at these materials, an actual item, what you’ll be presented with is a series of pages. You’ll see on the right hand side of your screen those are all the pages that are actually in the document. What we’ve done is we’ve put an index of all the names that are listed and some of the pertinent information about people listed in this volume over the front. That part is searchable. The individual pages for the volumes are not. If you do a name search that should ping back on those first introductory pages. Then if you scroll down below you’ll see the actual first page of the document, which we are looking at the small screen here. One of the other great things and one of the reasons why I love these materials is they also can include snapshots of the people who are applying. This is a great way to sort of get a feel for people that might be in your family tree that you may not have ever seen before. This is a cross-section of some of the individuals that you can find in these collections. I actually have a list of all these. If you’re ever curious you can always email me or write me at web archivist on twitter and I’ll tell you about any of these folks. Moving on to the North Carolina Family Records Online Collection. This is where we’ve captured a lot of our really meaty genealogical information, but it is not the sole source of genealogical information you can find in the digital collections. It can include things like Bible records, cemetery records. All sorts of things. One thing I’m going to talk about a little bit that Debbie alluded to earlier was the Bible Records. We begin collecting bible records in 1968. Online you’ll find over 2,000 Bible records available and when I’m talking about Bible records, what I’m talking about, if you’ll remember looking at family bibles, they’ll have the part in the middle or at the beginning or end that will have spaces for births, deaths, marriages and all that sort of juicy biographical information there. Most of our collection are either photocopies or scans of the bible records themselves, not the actual bibles. Most of our materials date from the 1800’s. Although, we have some earlier and later dates. To be a part of this collection the records need to have at least one person who had lived in or was born in North Carolina and at least one birth or death dating to 1913 or earlier. The reason for that is, because the State North Carolina really started gathering birth and death information in 1913. These bible records help us fill in that gap before the time that the state starts gathering that information. You can find a lot of things in bible records. You can find family trees, births, deaths, marriages, baptisms and lists of slave names. Also, references to historical events. You can see one of the family trees from one of our bible records pictured here. You can also find lists of slaves. The highlighted box there will show you a series of names and birth dates. Just to give you an example of the type of things you can find in vital records. Also in the family records online, you’ll find some cemetery information. The WPA cemetery survey is part of that collection. That was a Work Progress Administration project that was done around 1937 to survey cemeteries across the state of North Carolina. We don’t have documentation for all 100, counties only for 97. Some of them are really really extensive and some of them are very very short and brief. I’m originally from Edinburgh County and Mecklenburg County, for example, I think there’s only about three cemeteries that were surveyed at the time and I’m relatively certain there were more than 3 cemeteries in all of Mecklenburg County at that period in time, but for whatever reason that’s what they surveyed. If you’re going to use these, what you’ll need to know is a person’s name and the county that they would have been buried in. They’re organized by county first and then by cemetery and then alphabetical within each cemetery. I will warn you that these aren’t perfect as far as their transcriptions, so you’ll find a lot of errors. We don’t update these of course because as Archives our role is to present authentic records not to update the records. Just know they are served up as they were created at the time. Something else that you’ll find, we also mentioned the photographs of headstones. We have 2 Hebrew cemeteries in Raleigh that we do have pictures of the headstones that are included in the Family Records Collection. I will let you know that they were all taken in 2010 and donated to us, the pictures themselves or copies of the pictures and they haven’t been updated as additional headstones may have appeared in those those cemeteries. The next thing I want to talk a little bit about are those vertical files. If you have had the wonderful opportunity to visit us in Raleigh’s at the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library, you may realize that we have a great collection of vertical files and this is donated research from researchers. One project that we’ve started, that has been ongoing for a few years is we are digitizing our genealogy vertical files. The vertical files are arranged alphabetically by surname and any pages from those vertical files that are either not copyrighted or not copyrightable we do put online in our digital collections. Currently, we have some information from a handful of letters, we have digitized all of the surnames that begin with A, B, E, R, & S. Those are online through the the digital collections. This is only those those files in those vertical files that are not copyrighted or copyrightable. There is still some copyrighted material that we couldn’t include in the online version. We also have several parts of other letters that have been digitized. This makes them full-text searchable. Another thing that you’ll find in the Family Records Collection Online from the Government and Heritage Library, is a six-volume set of marriage and death notices. These books and indexes were compiled by Carrie Broughton, who is a former State Librarian. They index marriage and death notices. They were from the Raleigh Register, the North Carolina State Gazette, the Daily Sentinel, the Raleigh Observer and the News and Observer between 1799 and 1893, but as you see, they’ll list names and they’ll also list places where people were from. We also have some family history books. A lot of the books in our Family History Collection at the North Carolina Government & Heritage Library are under copyright, so they’re not things that we generally can digitize input in the Family Records Online Collection. However, we have digitized those books that were published prior to 1923. So we’re generally considered in the public domain. We make those available online and we also have a handful of books like the “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” that are listed on this slide for which the author has given us permission to digitize and display the book in the North Carolina Digital Collections. We don’t own the copyright to the those items, but we have received permission to digitize and display those books. Have you’ve written a book on family in North Carolina? And you’re interested in having it included in the North Carolina Family Records Online Collection, just let us know. Another resource that Ashley will now talk about are our newspapers. Indeed. The slide will show you a few of the newspaper resources that you can use. We’re only really going to talk about the newspapers through the digital collections and also Chronicling America really briefly, but there are also,, the News & Observer index which the State Library put online and then also the North Carolina Newspaper Locator. The North Carolina Digitization Project, which you can find through the NCD, the North Carolina Digital Collections, was completed in 2009. It’s a very small segment of the newspaper collection actually at the State Archives. We have a really extensive microfilm collection of North Carolina newspapers, but the point of it was, of course, to make available materials that had previously not been available online. It includes about 23,000 digital images that are keyword searchable and includes papers dating from 1752 to 1890s from cities like Edenton, Fayetteville, Hillsborough, New Bern, Salisbury and Wilmington. This slide I wanted to show you sort of example of part of the issue you can have with OCR, optical character recognition, which part of how we created the search ability on some of these images. You can see highlighted in red is a search I did on my last name, Yandle. It came up with a hit and clearly highlighted as far as where it was on the page, but if you look a couple lines up above from that you’ll find that Yandle was mentioned again, but is not highlighted. This means that it’s not been caught by the software and identified as the same word as the other highlighted term. If you look really closely, at it you can see that the a in Yandle is actually smudged a little bit and that’s the reason why it’s not read by the software as being the same word. I mention this just to say, that when you do searches even if something is completely full-text searchable, don’t completely rely on the technology to be 100% accurate. Also, look above and below where you find a hit and search around a little bit to see if it’s possibly missing anything. This is also a cool really cool case to read. I always want to bring up the slide of this very distant family member of mine who committed some crimes. I’ll let you read that in your own free time, if you would like. A bigger project is Chronicling America. This is a Library of Congress project, a really fantastic, very extensive digitization project, that includes newspapers from 1836 to 1922. They’re working with different institutions across the U.S. to digitize newspapers. The State of North Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina Collection is one of the organizing entities for microfilm newspapers, heavily pulling from the State Archives collection also. When you do a search, the slide says how many search hits you’ll actually find, but I have just checked yesterday. They really updated in the last couple of months. it’s actually closer to 200,000 results, if you do a search of this now. So that’s a great resource to check also. The next thing we’re going to talk a little bit about are state publications. People don’t immediately think of state government publications as being resources for genealogy research. The state publications I’m going to talk about today are available through the North Carolina Digital Collections. That URL is You can search across the various collections we have and you can also link directly to the state government publications. A few of the ones that I’m going to talk about today are the public documents and session laws, some directories and North Carolina reports, because what some of these things have in them are names. Now they’re not going to give you necessarily the date someone was born or died, but they will sometimes give you some additional context and information about their life, maybe their profession or some of the things that they were involved in professionally. The public documents really provide an overall picture of what state government was like in a particular year. These reports can help researchers get that additional context, because they have tons of names in them and the different contents and annual reports and everything vary by the year. One thing I want to mention, is here we have a table of contents for an 1860-61 public document. From here you can go to the Report of the Controller of Public Accounts, later known known as the Auditor’s Report. What you can find in those reports are lists of people that work for state government that received contracts from the state. You’ll find the names of sheriffs and interesting odd pieces of information, like names of people paid to transport patients to insane asylums and sometimes even the names of people transported. You can also find other things that you maybe wouldn’t necessarily expect. Like this slide that has the list of officers engineers and assistants of the Western North Carolina Railroad Company from 1859. Some things that you may find in these reports at different years, because it varies, our list of teachers, catalogs of students and even military officers. Another thing I wanted to illustrate that shows that you can find some unexpected things, this is from a public document. I did a general search on my surname, on Underhill and I came across this document from the public documents of 1895. There are two Underhill’s listed on it. One thing I also want to give a little bit of of information about navigating the items within the North Carolina Digital Collections. You’ll see on the little sidebar on the right of the page a list of page numbers you can go up and down there. If I go up another page I see that this is actually a list of pupils. You see that it is listing the pupil’s name, their parent or guardian and the county that they are from. I looked a little bit further in this item and it actually ended up being a list of students at the time for the school of the deaf in Morganton. It’s interesting and helpful that it lists the individuals, their parents and where they’re from. The next thing I’m going to talk a little bit about are the Session Laws. Just this last year we added some of the earlier session laws to the North Carolina Digital Collections. They are digitized and available now. The slide needs to be updated to we have 1777 through 2014. This provides all of the laws that were passed in a given year. You’ll see for different years that sometimes there are private laws and public laws. There is this large criteria of if thens as to determine whether something is the public or private law. The great thing is with a North Carolina Digital Collections, you don’t have to know all that. You can just search across all of them at the same time. It’s really the private laws that are of interest to genealogy researchers because they’ll have little tidbits. For instance here in the laws of North Carolina from 1797 and from 1818, you will actually find divorces. Of course, there weren’t a lot of divorces at the time, but this is back when the legislature had to approve all of the divorces. So you’ll actually find those in the session laws. You also find a variety of directories for state and county officials. One thing that I want you know, is that the definition of state and county officials is broader than what I necessarily would think. You can actually find some things like the county librarian or coroner or tax collector. You can search not only for government officials but some of these other positions that your relatives may have had or ancestors may have had in the past. I’ll also talk a little bit about the North Carolina Reports. We do have those digitized and online. And the Official Reports of the Supreme Court from 1778 to present. It is interesting because it also lists attorneys in a lot of the volumes. Here is one from 1870 and you’ll see that it lists attorneys, including those that had just become attorneys that year. What I love is that there’s also this little note at the bottom. This is from 1870. There were no licenses granted at the earlier term owing to the statute granting licenses upon proof of good moral character. Apparently in the previous session there was not proof of good moral character, so they were unable to license new attorneys. I also wanted to share this one from 1878, because it shows the first woman attorney that was licensed in North Carolina. She took apparently the bar exam orally and did not miss a single question. I also want to mention the Our State Magazine digital collection that we have in the North Carolina Digital Collections. This project was a collaboration between the State Library of North Carolina North Carolina, Our State Magazine, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, which is housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, East Carolina University’s Joyner Library and Caswell County Public Library. A question that we frequently got at the Government and Heritage Library was “My grandmother was on the cover of The State Magazine in 1954 or was it 1955?” We actually got this question pretty regularly, every few months I would say. That gave us the idea that this would be a great resource for people to be able to peruse online, to look through. It also is an interesting slice of North Carolina history because there are articles about towns in different time periods in North Carolina, of course between 1933 and 2013. The State Magazine, as it was called earlier, was actually a weekly when it was initially published. There is a lot of information about what was going on in the state at the time. Now my turn to tell you a little bit about MARS. MARS is the online catalog of the State Archives of North Carolina. Here is a screenshot of it. One of the things that always causes confusion is, what is MARS and what isn’t it. MARS an online catalog. Visualize it as like the online version of your card catalog, if you’re like me and old enough to remember card catalogs. You’re going to find information about the creator of the collection, what’s the title of the collection, what are some of the important subjects included in the collection, how many boxes or items or folders of material are included and a description about it. Don’t think of it like a digital collection even though you will find a small number of scans of materials. The majority of what you’ll actually find is information about resources that you’ll then either write in and ask us questions about or come visit us in person and do further research. Need more help locating records at the State Archives? We have tutorials on YouTube on Mars which are really really helpful. You can also email us or call me and ask questions. I’m happy to what people through using the catalog. We also have other tools like county records, lists, and finding aids for things like special collections or state agency records. That’s all available on our website. Another tool that you may find useful is NCpedia. NCpedia is our online encyclopedia about North Carolina. It is a collaborative project. Through a licensing agreement with UNC press we have added the 6 volume Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, The Encyclopedia of North Carolina and the North Carolina Gazetteer. That expansion was funded through a Library Services and Technology Act grants through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. We also have lots of articles from the Museum of History and some other content providers as well. One thing that I want to mention, since we’ve added the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography to NCpedia, we are getting more questions through NCpedia about genealogy. People are finding articles about their ancestors in NCpedia. Sometimes they will add additional contextual information in the comments or ask questions or clarify things which really brings the resource to life, I think, and these individuals to life. I also want to mention that the North Carolina Gazetteer is fully searchable through NCpedia. It is a resource that has 20,000 dictionary length entries about places in North Carolina. When you are researching your family history relating to North Carolina, it is a goldmine to try to learn a little bit more about where they might be located. There’s information about creeks and towns and just a variety of places. It’s a gold mine. Let’s talk a little bit about maps. Debbie mentioned earlier that NC maps is a great tool. This was a collaborative project between the State Archives, the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Outer Banks History Center to compile three of the largest map collections in the state into one online resource. I will note that not all of our maps are actually digitized in this project. This is something we keep revisiting the possibility of expanding in the future, but you will find quite a number of maps like Michelle was mentioning with the NCpedia. This is something that can give context to information. If you find a location and you want to know where exactly that was or what did it look like historically. Another great resource is DigitalNC. This is the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center located at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, but also partially funded by the State Library of North Carolina. They have a vast number of resources that can be really useful, including things like year books, newspapers, images, memorabilia, city directories and audio-visual materials. They just recently expanded some of their audio-visual materials and stuff from us. So, by all means go and take a look at that. One of the really heavily used genealogical collections is the yearbook collection. They have yearbooks from colleges and universities in the state of North Carolina and also some high school yearbooks. The image that I have here is from 1964 Appalachian State yearbook. My mom is actually featured in this. Mom, if you’re watching, you are now part of our talk. Congratulations. It also includes things from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I’ve selected 1964 Bennett College. There’s Johnson C. Smith and North Carolina Central University. It gives you not only names, but also clubs & extracurricular activities. It gives you sort of a slice of life in communities at certain periods of times. It’s a great resource. Another resource that I want to make sure you all are aware of which is a wonderful resource. It is not a resource specifically of the State Library of North Carolina or State Archives. Institutions across the country use it and that’s Internet Archive or archive dot org. At the State Library of North Carolina, we do use some of the scanning centers at Internet Archive too. We outsource a good bit of our scanning. It’s just it’s very cost-effective and lots of other institutions do as well. Through this website you can search resources that have been digitized from lots of institutions. It’s not just books. You can also find old games and old film footage. If you haven’t explored archive dot org in the past and you do so, be willing to invest a few hours. It’s very easy to get lost in it. One thing I want to mention, is that when you do a search on Archive dot org, you’re not searching the full text of all of the books. You’re just searching the title, the author, that kind of high-level information. I did a search on Underhill family and got some results. I want to show you, that once you go into an item, you can read it online and flip through pages just like you would a book. There’s also a variety of formats you can download it in. There’s kindle or an ePub format. You can download it onto your device or PDF. Another resource that I wanted to let everyone know about is the Digital Public Library of America. This site searches across a lot of
digital collections across the country. The State Library of North Carolina and the State Archives of North Carolina, our content that we have online is available and searchable through this, as well as the Digital Heritage Center’s information. They actually coordinate, kind of funneling all this content up to the Digital Public Library of America. There’s lots of other institutions too. No matter what you’re searching. If you are just searching North Carolina, you can also see what about North Carolina might be online by institutions like the Smithsonian. It is a wonderful resource, and it is just like a search layer that searches across all of them. I did my search on Underhill family again, and you see that there’s some pictures as well as some books. I just wanted to show you what a record was like there. Once we go into it and go a little further it gives us more context. There is a link to go to the item itself, and when you click on that it takes you to the site that has the item posted. This particular one is in the HathiTrust, which a lot of academic institutions have content in it. You can see that there’s different universities that have versions of it, and you can pull up any one of those. You can read it within their interface. That’s all of the resources that we had to share with you today. If you have any questions, you can post them to Twitter or through the live stream. You can also contact either contact either of us after presentation. Thank you.

Maurice Vega

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