Digital Collections

History Students Contribute to the UNCG Runaway Slave Ad Database

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)

Using Research Aids for Good Medicine

We are excitedly nearing the completion of our LSTA-funded Good Medicine project. As of last week, we had uploaded 3,850 items on the Greensboro's history of medical institutions and the practice of medicine We also know that this is a lot for anyone to comb through without some kind of guide, and to that end we've put together a few research aids to get you started in all your history of Greensboro medicine needs: what we've been calling the pathway.

These are guides to finding primary source materials for some of the research for which we know Good Medicine is needed. Each research aid will offer a very short summary of some of the history surrounding the topic. Then it will have a series of direct links to primary source items in the project. It will also point you to other parts of UNCG's digital offerings on the topic, bringing together materials from the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project, Civil Rights Greensboro, and a number of other UNCG and community resources. The first topic guide completed was on the topic of the Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, 323 F.2d 959 (1963) court case, credited with ending segregation in publicly funded health care.

The pathfinder
currently has the following topic guides:
In the future, we hope to add even more! Some of these topics might include:
  • The history of individual Greensboro-area hospitals
  • The growth of Richardson-Vicks and the Vick Chemical Company
  • Dr. Anna Gove’s work with The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
These will be written by staff and students working on the project, and will provide context and direction in a large project. Hopefully, these will make it even easier to research Greensboro's unique contributions to public medicine.

Good Medicine Project Update


The LSTA-funded Good Medicine project is proceeding on schedule. As of last week we have scanned over 27,000 items for the project. We are currently focused on the Wesley Long Hospital Collection, the Eloise Patricia Rallings Lewis Papers, and the Dr. Anna Maria Gove Papers. We are also working on several photo collections held by the Greensboro History Museum.

The photo of Wesley Long Hospital above, taken yesterday afternoon from the LeBauer Medical Building, is quite a change from this one, taken in 1960:

Wesley Long moved to its current site in 1961 and was greatly expanded in 1976. It because part of the Cone Health system in 1997. The digital collection will eventually document all these events,

More to come!

Full house


A full house in Digital Projects working on Good Medicine. We're closing in on the halfway point, with almost 20,000 items scanned. Many of these are already online as well, although the site is technically "under construction."

We've also added new material to the Cello Collections and Composer Collections, not to mention the full run of North Carolina Community Progress, an extension publication of the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) from the 1920s.

And, by the way, we've redesigned our website to make it easier to explore our collections. Let us know what you think!

Anna Gove postcard collection digitized

We're excited to announce that we have added a group of over 1700 postcards to the Anna Gove digital collection

Anna Gove was one of the first licensed woman physicians in North Carolina and was resposnsible for all health-related issues at the college that became UNCG. Gove also worked withe the Red Cross and traveled extensively throughout her life.

These cards mainly document the era before and after World War I but also include some items from as early as the 1890s and as late as the 1930s. Of particular interest are a group of cards depicting the devastation in France following the war. 

Anne Gove's papers are being digitized as part of the Good Medicine: Greensboro's Hospitals and Healers digitization project, which is a collaborative effort between the UNCG University Libraries, the Cone Health Medical Library, the Greensboro Historical Museum, and the Greensboro Public Library. The project is funded through the Library Services Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina. The full project will be online by the summer of 2017.

Thanks to student workers Christian Henderson and Masami Oshita for all their work on this part of the project!