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Digital Collections

Big changes

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Over the next year or so, we will be making big changes to the UNCG Digital Collections as we move to a new content management system and create a brand new user experience. More details will follow, but our hope is that the new website will make it easier for users to find information, and will provide better search and viewing options for our collections. The look and feel will be simplified and should be much more accessible on mobile devices. Our collections will also continue to be discoverable through WorldCat and the Digital Public Library of America.

There may be some impact and a few moments of confusion starting in a few months as we begin migrating our collections to the new platform. We will try to keep you updated and to minimize the disruptions. The main thing you may notice to begin with is that we will be adding very little new content for the next few months as we do not want to end up adding items in two different places.

Again, more details will follow. We're excited!

William Sidney Porter a/k/a O. Henry

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Original pencil drawing by William Sydney Porter
UNCG Digital Collections is excited to be working with the Greensboro History Museum to host digitized items from the William Sydney Porter Papers, 1839-1982.

Porter, a Greensboro native, was better known by the pseudonym O. Henry, was the well-known author of some two hundred published short stories, including "The Ransom of Red Chief" and "The Gift of the Magi."

The William Sydney Porter Papers contain many first editions, as well as correspondence, printed materials, financial/legal documents, and literary productions. The collection also includes scrapbooks, radio dramalogues, newspaper clippings, sketches and drawings, photographs, magazines, paintings and an audio recording. The bulk of material dates from William Sydney Porter’s lifetime, 1862-1910.

Only selected items from the collection have been digitized, specifically the correspondence series and portions of the financial/legal and artwork series. Additional items may be digitized in the future.

The full collection may be viewed at the Greensboro History Museum.

Neo-Black Society Records

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A major new addition to the UNCG Digital Collections is the Neo-Black Society Records, 1969-2013.

From the collection finding aid:

This collection contains the official records that reflect the functions and activities of the Neo-Black Society. These records contain materials related to general body and executive board meetings, budgets, correspondence, memorandums, committee and presidential reports, flyers, programs, and general topics including but not limited to the 1973 funding protest. The collection also contains video tapes, cassettes, compact disks, and floppy disks with photographs and documents. In addition, there are separate collections of photographs, artifacts, and textiles related to the records of the Neo-Black Society...

In 1967, black students at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) formed the student group, the Neo-Black Society (NBS), in response to growing concerns about the support and acceptance of black students on campus. At its founding, the NBS was extremely separatist, calling for parallel university events for black students. The organization was also very vocal in advocating the recruiting of more black faculty at UNCG as well the incorporation of more black history and culture into the curriculum. First meeting in the student lounge, the NBS soon moved to a more permanent room in Elliott Hall. The organization quickly distinguished itself across the campus and within the Greensboro community through its sponsorship of an annual Black Arts Festival as well as a Gospel Choir and other social activities.

In 1973, the NBS had clearly established itself as a strong, albeit confrontational, presence across the UNCG campus. This resulted in some resentment by some white students who consequently pushed for the removal of student funding for the NBS. They argued that the society was segregationist by refusing to admit whites which was a direct violation of the university anti-discrimination regulations. Acknowledging the students complaints, the student senate on the night of March 26-27, voted to withdraw funding for the organization. Hearing the results of this meeting created an immediate backlash across the university as over 300 students began a sit-in movement to occupy the Foust building. Recognizing the frustrations of the students, Chancellor Ferguson agree to appoint a faculty review committee to look into the matter. During this time, the students continued to peacefully maintain a sit-in presence while the committee investigated the matter.

Chaired by psychology Professor Kendon Smith and made up of three white professors and two black professors, the committee agreed on March 30th to uphold the NBS funding and found the student senate in serious breach of procedural errors. Chancellor Ferguson accepted the findings as did most of the faculty. Despite the ruling, some students were still upset and appealed to the board of trustees who voted to remand the matter to the student senate for further consideration. In the fall of 1973, the NBS agreed to add several white members to the organization as well as draft anti-discrimination language into its constitution which appeased the senate and funding was restored.

Today, the Neo-Black Society continues to be an active organization at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Approximately 4000 pages of material were digitized. The project also includes digitization of a group of approximately 150 photos from the University Archives Photographic Prints Collection pertaining to the Neo-Black Society. Selections from the collection had been made available previously as part of the Civil Rights Greensboro project in 2008 and 2009.

The collection was digitized with funding from the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.

Digital Projects Status, 2016-2017

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Good Medicine
This LSTA-funded project involved digitizing 47,000 items (over 62,000 items were ultimately completed) related to the history of medical practice in Greensboro. The $60,000-plus grant was completed in collaboration with the Greensboro History Museum, Cone Health Medical Library, and the Greensboro Public Library, with UNCG as the lead.
  • Project is complete and we exceeded the number of items promised by nearly 15,000.
  • 62,000-plus items online, making it our largest completely in-house project ever.
  • New pathfinders completed to link to specific topic-based items in lieu of more traditional contextual essays: http://libcdm1.uncg.edu/cdm/goodmedpathways/

Cone Hospital Records
This project resulted in the digitization of nearly 20,000 items from the Cone Hospital Collection held by the Cone Health Medical Library. Cone Health provided corporate funding for the project.
  • Complete with the exception of a couple of low-priority scrapbooks we're finishing up. All funding has been received, though we were actually under budget on payroll.
  • This project led to the larger Good Medicine project (above).

I Wish to Say
This project, part of the University Libraries Digital Partners Grant program, digitized and transcribed  items from UNCG faculty member Sheryl Oring’s “I Wish to Say” art project, specifically 3200 postcards composed by participants and mailed to national and world leaders. Oring’s project has received significant national attention and has been published in a book. We coordinated the digitization and ingest into CONTENTdm and the devlopment team built an API-based interface.
  • Complete. Working on a second phase.
  • Over 3200 items online.

Slave Ads Grant
A UNCG strategic seed grant ($20,000) was to support a pilot project for the next phase of the NC Runaway Slave Ads project (one of our most-used digitized collections) which will identify, digitize, and transcribe ads that appeared in North Carolina newspapers from 1840-1865. The grant supports hiring of student workers to benchmark the project and also to coordinate a classroom integration aspect, with HIS and LIS students working on class projects related to the project.
  • Applied for and received UNCG strategic seed grant. Project in progress.
  • Worked with 3 classes already, 2 student workers hired.

Women's Professional Forum Records
This collection was donated to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives with funds for processing and digitization.
  • Processing was not complete for last year's cycle.
  • Student in place and working on this now. May hire an additional student.

American Publishers Trade Bindings metadata cleanup
This is a project to clean up faulty metadata associated with a ten-year-old (but ongoing) digitization project involving rare decorative bookbindings.
  • Almost done. projected completion late summer/early fall.

Children's Literature (Phase 2)
A project to digitize unique and rare children’s books held by UNCG.
  • In progress as time and resources permit.
Early Cello Manuscripts
Project to digitize early cello manuscripts, some dating to the 1700s, from our vast cello music holdings.
  • Complete. Added an additional 500-plus pages in addition to the promised 750.

Maud Gatewood Papers
Project to digitize the papers of artist Maud Gatewood, for whom UNCG’s studio arts building is named. The collection includes thousands of sketches in addition to other items.
  • Largely complete. Still assessing some oversize sketches for scanning vs. photography.

Peter Paul Fuchs Papers (Phase 1)
Project to digitize music scores pertaining to Peter Paul Fuchs, a Greensboro conductor, composer, and teacher.
  • Complete. Approximately 1600 pages of material.

Women Veterans Historical Project
Ongoing contributions to one of our most-used digitized collections.
  • Added 24 oral histories, plus about 500 additional items (photos, documents, etc.)

Alpha Delta Kappa Records
Digitized records (mostly scrapbooks) from collection of records related to an organization of women educators at UNCG.
  • In progress: Promised 3600 pages, completed 7611 pages. Maybe halfway done at this point.
  • Project much bigger than anticipated.

Metadata projects
  • DPLA rights statements (http://rightsstatements.org/) completely implemented on all but one collection. ETA for completion: End of July.
  • Worked out local subject tags issue controlled vocabulary and implemented changes on Good Medicine. Holding off on retrofitting other collections pending CDM replacement.

Other accomplishments, side projects, etc.
  • CONTENTdm site redesign with new navigation and improved user interface. 
  • Additional small-project work with Greensboro History Museum:
  • Greensboro Business Magazine digitization completed.

History Students Contribute to the UNCG Runaway Slave Ad Database

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During the Spring semester 2017, students in the history research methods classes, HIS 391 and 430, helped to expand the UNCG NC Runaway Slave Advertisements Database. The current database contains advertisements through 1840 and is one of the most widely used digital collections maintained by the UNCG Library. Colson Whitehead acknowledged the database as an important resource for his award winning novel, The Underground Railroad. Students researched newspapers published across North Carolina in the 1850s and 1860s to add new material to the database.

The project offered valuable firsthand experience in how primary sources are digitized and how digitization changes the research process. Library staff trained students in the use of microfilm readers and archival practices for digitizing primary sources, including scanning the original documents and identifying the metadata that will assist researchers in searching the collected advertisements. Students learned how digitization changes the process of historical interpretation—what kind of information is lost and what is gained. For example, they considered what they learned from seeing a runaway slave ad in the context of the original newspaper page and how that context is lost when ads are collected and organized in a database. On the other hand they learned it is possible to study many more digitized ads searching the database compared to the amount of time it took to read the microfilmed newspaper and identify each advertisement.

After collecting and scanning the advertisements, students designed a wide variety of individual research projects on topics inspired by the primary sources.

This advertisement for the remarkable runway, James Lord, who worked as a Pressman for the Fayetteville Observer, inspired a student research project on the ways that runaway slave ads document literacy among slaves.
Topics ranged from the experience of women runaways to constructions of African American masculinity; from medical practices documented in the ads that described marks from cupping and lancets to an exploration of the objects that runaways took with them when they escaped; from the distinctive experience of runaways in the North Carolina mountains to the maroon communities of the coast.  Newspapers from the Civil War era were included in the sample so that we could see how the last years of slavery affected runaway experience. Students made fascinating discoveries about the continued use of runaway advertisements long after the 13th Amendment ended slavery.

This advertisement for runaway George Washington was published in the Greensboro Patriot in November 1867. It inspired a student to research the role of the Freedman’s Bureau and the continued practice of indenturing workers after the Civil War ended.
The Library has been awarded a strategic seed grant to expand the database and the advertisements collected by history students will be added to the database in the coming months.

(Contributed by Dr. Lisa Tolbert, UNCG Department of History)