Monday, April 21, 2014

Le Flambeau

One of the pleasures of evaluating items for scanning is the opportunity to examine some truly fascinating items. Le Flambeau is particularly memorable, not just because of the unexpected burlap cover, but due to the contents themselves.

UNC only possesses the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau, the yearbook of St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines in Asheville, NC. Founded by nuns of the Religious of Christian Education in 1908, St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines would continue until 1971, and its lineage is preserved by the Carolina Day School. Among its alumnae is the author Gail Godwin.

According to the forward, the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau was the school's first yearbook, and was thus somewhat experimental in nature. This volume contains a variety of photographs and illustrations, as well as compositions in both English and French. These items provide a wealth of information about both the students and their daily lives.

The list of superlatives (called "statistics") provide interesting examples of which traits the students considered noteworthy: not only were there separate categories for "The Prettiest Blonde" and "The Prettiest Brunette", but there were also categories for "The Best Athlete" and "The Frenchiest." The student compositions include short stories, poems, histories of the school as a whole and of the 1917 school year, as well as a parody of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

But perhaps the most important aspect of Le Flambeau for this blog post is its reminder that these objects are not just representations of history, but physical objects with histories of their own. In order to defray costs, Le Flambeau included paid advertising. Apparently this advertising was successful in at least one case, because UNC's copy of the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau has had numerous advertisements cut out by an unknown person. See the image below as one example:

Le Flambeau is hardly the only case where an item that we intended to scan for the project is missing material. Materials in our libraries' collections come in a wide variety of conditions. In addition to pictures, articles, or even entire pages being cut out, more mundane problems, such as holes, water, or other damage, can destroy text or otherwise render it illegible.  In those cases, we have several options. If we have access to additional copies of an item, we can attempt to find a more complete version to scan. In at least one case, we found two copies, each missing different pages, and used sections from both so that one could supplement the other to make a complete copy. But sometimes, as with the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau, we have no choice but to digitize what we have. Items such as these are too interesting and useful to ignore just because of a few imperfections. To browse other items we have digitized, visit the Religion in North Carolina project at the Internet archives.

Neufeld, R. (2008, September 23). St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines' centennial stirs up school spirit.  Asheville Citizen-Times

Monday, March 31, 2014

Vintage Advertisements from the North Carolina Baptist Almanac

Many of the items we digitize for the Religion in North Carolina Project feature advertisements for various goods and services. These can be valuable not only for what they tell about local merchants and markets, but as insight into ordinary life for the consumers of these products. They also provide interesting contrasts with modern newspaper advertisements, demonstrating how marketing has evolved.
Consider the North Carolina Baptist Almanac. We have digitized several volumes of this serial, and aim to digitize more. The almanacs themselves have a wide variety of useful information, such as complete lists of ordained Baptist ministers in North Carolina for each year, brief descriptions of Baptist theology, lists of North Carolina government officials with their salaries and weather predictions. This post, however, will focus on the advertisements.

Consider the above 1900 advertisement for the Rock Hill Buggy Co., complete with a lengthy testimonial in which one of their buggies survived being flipped over and dragged for miles by a frightened horse. The advertisement also stresses the convenient price ("only a dollar or so more than the cheap ones"), as an argument against "taking the risk" of buying from one of their competitors.
Alternatively, consider this 1882 advertisement from the Upshur Guano Company, promoting their various lines of imported fertilizers. Stressing their size ("a large and extensive factory") and reputation ("very many testimonials from our agents and customers"), the Upshur Guano Company individually lists their various brands and the ingredients and sources involved. Those seeking additional information about the company (including a "Fac Simile [sic] of the medal and awards of the judges" from the four gold medals that their products recently won) were encouraged to write.
Finally, consider the above 1883 advertisement for Beckwith's Anti-Dyspeptic Pills, endorsed by the late Senator George E. Badger, among others. The manufacturers (using "the original receipt of Dr. John Beckwith") stress the long history of their product ("for sixty years and lost no reputation"), and rely heavily on testimonials. The advertisement includes no list of ingredients for this pill, which promises to be a"cure of dyspepsia and to prevent bilious attacks."

These are just some of the many 19th century products advertised in the North Carolina Baptist Almanac. This post barely scratches the surface of the variety of products and designs. To see more, visit the following links for the 1882-1897 and 1900 volumes, respectively. Or, look at some of the other items in our Newsletters, Newspapers and Serial Publications section.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Serials and the Importance of Bib Numbers

Serials, more so than many other types of items, can be tricky to control. And that's putting it mildly. Take, for example, the case of the Seven Mile Primitive Baptist Association Minutes --

Recently, UNC has started to prepare minutes from the Seven Mile Primitive Baptist Association. Around the early 1950s, the group split into two organizations, however several years of both groups' minutes were bound together in the same physical volumes. There are three separate catalog records that correlate to this serial. Prior to digitization this decision was not a problem, but for the project, this physical constraint creates an intellectual limitation as well.

Often most of the materials are scanned in full. Sometimes though, the project only wants to include part of the item, for instance if the last several pages are blank, or if the volume in question contains several different items bound together. When assembling the monthly cart, the UNC student worker indicates this choice to the Digital Production Center (where the items are scanned, or digitized) simply by placing strips of paper representing where the Scribe operator should start and stop the scanning.

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The student worker also makes a note in a CSV file that is sent to the Digital Production Center. That file contains all the necessary metadata for a given month's pick list of items. Metadata for this project includes title, volume number, date of publication, call number, sub-collection, bib number, copyright status, the URL license, and of course, any notes explaining how the item should be scanned.

A bib number is a seven-digit number preceded by UNCb- that serves as a unique identifier for items in the UNC Libraries system. Take a look at the URL of any catalog record and you'll see the bib number at the end of the address. You can search the UNC Libraries catalog by removing the "UNC" (ex: "UNCb6251324" becomes "b6251324") and typing the number into the either the main search bar on the UNC Libraries' home page or the Keywords search bar under Advanced Search. That bib number is important for the project's materials from UNC. Every item in the NC Religion Digital Collection has an Internet Archive entry, that entry contains the item's bib number, which links it back to the home library's catalog. Basically, for UNC, bib number equals catalog record. Duke and Wake Forest use similar identifiers for their materials, also called bib numbers.

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The bib numbers are indicated by the red boxes. The blue box shows the OCLC number, another unique number related to WorldCat that uses the same principles explained above.

In the case of the Seven Mile Primitive Baptist Associations, the idea of the bib number/catalog record is complicated because the two groups' minutes are bound together so that they are interspersed evenly (e.g., the two sets of minutes from, say, 1960, are placed one after the other) rather than divided to represent the two distinct groups. If the latter was true, then perhaps the project could have worked around the item's physical container by asking the Scribe operator to scan the first half as one Internet Archive entry and the second half as another Internet Archive entry.

That solution would be much neater. Each Internet Archive entry would contain the correct bib number and match its appropriate catalog record. Because of the physical arrangement of the volumes, the material must be scanned as it is. This is good in the sense that online users will see the item as it truly exists. But it is problematic as each Internet Archive entry can be assigned to a single bib number, and therefore single catalog record.

For the Seven Mile Primitive Baptist Association Minutes, that means that not only does the project have to scan the two groups' minutes together, it must also select one of two viable bib numbers: b6251324 and b6251334. How then can we convey that there are two distinct records of these two separate sets of minutes? With a digital collection, those of us involved in the project can't reach out and explain the materials to the users.

So what did we decide to do?

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Well, unfortunately, not every problem has a perfect answer. Ultimately, we looked at both catalog records and decided upon the one that provided the most information in terms of completeness and helpfulness with the hope that users interested in these materials would be able to discover the second catalog record, either by looking at the digitized item itself and/or by consulting the information available in the selected catalog record.

The third record, mentioned at the beginning of this post, is associated with a single set of minutes that is luckily unbound. The minutes from that year will be scanned separately and linked to its individual catalog record. UNC discovered additional sets of unbound minutes, which can be more freely assigned to the correct bib number.

One of our goals with this project, and as librarians in general, is to steer users in the correct direction of the information they are searching for. At times, that is easier said than done. When conflicts like this Seven Mile Primitive Baptist Association example arise, we do what we can to best outline the path to the materials. Digital collections, less directly mediated by librarians, provide new challenges. The concern is not always how to get the information into the hands of those who want it, but how to contextualize it. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Belated Happy Hanukkah from 1941

The newsletters, newspapers and serials in the Religion in North Carolina Digital Collection provide windows into how some North Carolinians viewed the events of the past.

As an example, consider December 1941. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the resultant American entry into World War II overshadowed much of American life in that month.

Unsurprisingly, The American Jewish Times was no exception. The January 1942 issue contained articles about Jewish soldiers in the army, patriotic poetry and advertisements for war bonds.

But December 1941 also included the festival of Hanukkah, which the same January issue spotlighted with several articles on topics such as "The Significance of Chanukah"  and "The Menorah, Symbol of a People".  Nor were these topics unrelated, with a political cartoon  symbolically equating the candles of Hanukkah with American freedoms.

In addition to these features, the January 1942 issue includes advertisements for local and national businesses, as well as articles on other topics of interest (see the index on this page).

To browse this issue, click on the link above or go to the 1940-42 volume of The American Jewish Times Outlook. To browse The American Jewish Times Outlook or other religious newspapers from North Carolina, visit the Newsletters, Newspapers and Serial Publications section of the NC Religion project at the Internet Archive.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Duke Publishes its 2,000th Volume

Today the Scribe machine at Duke University scanned the 2,000th volume since beginning production in October of 2012. The pamphlet, entitled The Life of Cleretta Nora Avery - the Wonderful Colored Girl Preacher, focuses on the life and family background of a 10-year-old prodigy who took the 19th century United States by storm with her oratorial skills. Written by her mother, Mrs. Victoria Georgie Avery (nee Andrews) and published in 1897, the pamphlet includes biographical information on her and Cleretta's father, Moses Brown Avery. While their daughter Cleretta is the focus, Mr. and Mrs. Avery didn't lead boring lives by any stretch of the imagination.

Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Moses grew up in Mobile, Alabama. He was brought there when he and his mother were freed from slavery by his white father, and was raised as an Episcopalian. He distinguished himself in his studies, and was one of the few African American officers in the Union Navy during the Civil War. Meanwhile, Victoria (also born in Pensacola, but to Latino and African American parents) knew Moses while growing up in Mobile. She survived the Civil War, and an attempt to sell her into slavery, by fleeing first to Texas and then alone on horseback into Mexico. When she returned to Mobile at the war's conclusion, she found Moses, who was involved in publishing and post-war administration in both Louisiana and Alabama. They married, and Cleretta was born around 1887. Moses was devoted to the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church , and had been ordained therein as a minister at some point during his life. According to Mrs. Avery, Cleretta was converted at the tender age of 18 months. Intelligent and outspoken, at the age of 3 she declared her intention to follow in her father's footsteps and preach, and did give her first sermon in Raleigh several years later at the age of 6. Her mother writes:

It was certainly marvelous to behold the command of language, knowledge of the Bible and elocutionary powers exhibited by her in this first sermon, of one half hour long, delivered to a large congregation. That sermon made her famous. Invitations to preach from churches and from white and colored people in the adjoining cities and towns poured in upon this tiny little preacher. (p. 7-8)
 Cleretta Nora Avery and her mother went on an evangelical tour, continuing even after Moses' death in Aberdeen, N.C. in 1895. Cleretta preached in North and South Carolina at first, but expanded her range to include Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, among other states. This pamphlet includes letters of commendation, praise, and admiration written to her by various preachers, including Rev. Dr. J.S. Caldwell of New York and Pastor J.H. Welch of Charleston. Despite this fame and ability to preach, Cleretta seems to have been a normal child in many other aspects, which is reflected in a charming newspaper interview where she discusses her dolls at length with a reporter.

Read this short but informative pamphlet on her early life in our collection on the Internet Archive. Readers should note that while this pamphlet is written by Mrs. Avery, it does include language used to describe persons of color, which while common in the late 19th century, is considered offensive today. This short biography is a valuable and fascinating work as it not only examines the rise and popularity of an educated, young woman of color at a time when it was uncommon for women of color to receive education (the first African American woman to receive a BA, North Carolinian Mary Jane Patterson, graduated from Oberlin College in 1862, a mere 30 years earlier), but it was written and published by another educated woman of color. Its language and the image it grants us of non-white, female life in a variety of southern states before, during, and following the Civil War gives us another piece we can add to the puzzle of what the lives of women of color were like at a time of racial, social, and economic upheaval in our country.


Avery, V.G. The Life of Cleretta Nora Avery, the Wonderful Colored Girl Preacher. Carthage, N.C.: Record Job Print, 1897.

Bailey, Richard. Neither Carpetbaggers nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders during the Reconstruction of Alabama, 1867-1878. Montgomery, AL: NewSouth Books, 2010.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The family unit
The Advent Christian Witness, a serial digitized by the NC Religion Project, focuses partially on international ministry and world issues. Specifically, the publication emphasized missionary work and outreach into third-world countries. Articles in Witness advocate for active members who share their faith through dedicated evangelism.

If you are interested in the topics alluded to above, flip through one of the eleven volumes. There's a treasure trove of material there. But today I'd like to spotlight another, more localized subject within the material: the family.

In preparing the serial for digitization, I noticed the frequency of articles related to the family. Witness stresses the importance of nurturing the family and provides conversational pieces filled with advice on strengthening the unity of families and marriages.

Additionally, other articles discuss the perceived challenges of cultivating a Christian family. The serial recommends for devoted practice of prayer and bible study along with constant communication and affection. Spending time together and embracing traditions are also stressed. Witness contemplates family life, morality and modern day temptations. Topics of concern run the gamut from drugs and pornography to Christmas holiday advertising.

 Keep on scrolling...!

Users might find it interesting to consider conceptions and portrayals of family within the serial as well as the anxieties and advice given. Witness appreciates traditional models and comments on the changing shape of the American family. The publication reveres the bonds between married couples and families, and is dispirited by the increase in divorces, single-parent households and other trends in American life as outlined in the snippet below:
As I mentioned before, the NC Religion Project digitized eleven volumes of the serial, which are available on the Internet Archive. This post features excerpts from the first five volumes. This is a photo-heavy post, but there were so many interesting bits to extract and plenty that got left out. See for yourself!

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Brunswick Stew p. 28"

Marginalia can tell us many things about the previous owners of a volume. In some cases, such as this note in the cookbook A Collection of Favorite Recipes, they can even tell us about the owners' favorite foods.

This note was handwritten on the cover, providing a quick reminder for where to find the Brunswick Stew recipe. Turning to page 28, we find that:

Mrs. H. H. Moore's Brunswick Stew recipe (not to be confused with Mrs. L. D. Moore's Brunswick Stew recipe right below it) is marked with an asterisk, which may correspond to the note on the front page.

A Collection of Favorite Recipes was compiled by the Women's Society of Christian Service at Hayes Barton Methodist Church in Raleigh. Created to raise funds for equipping a new kitchen, the cookbook contains recipes submitted by the parishioners. Feel free to flip through this item and look for recipes such as "Coffee Punch," "Old Virginia Spoon Bread," "Frankfurter Casserole," "Chicken Wiggle" or "Spanish Eggplant," as well as a wide variety of interesting local ads. Or head on over to the NC Religion collection on the Internet Archive, and check out our other cookbooks and items related to religious life and culture in North Carolina.