Over 250 years of journalism now available in state archives

Published 4:48 pm Thursday, December 17, 2009

If you think of history as dull or boring, check out the new online collection from the North Carolina State Archives, in the North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project (www.archives.ncdcr.gov/newspaper/index.html). Also now available is the website of the North Carolina State Archives Digital Collections (http://ncecho.contentdm.oclc.org/index.php).

From newspaper reports to family Bibles, records of the lives of North Carolinians over two centuries now are available. Almost 24,000 records are keyword searchable and offer a treasure trove for schoolchildren, researchers and people who love to know about life.

These newspapers offer a wealth of data about the civic, social, political and cultural life of citizens that few published sources can cover, explains Information Management Branch Head Druscie Simpson. Historic newspapers offer an intimate close-up view of the American past.

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Newspapers dating from 1751 in the State Archives are now just a mouse click away through the search or advance search links. The digitized newspapers date from 1751 to 1816 and ceased publishing long ago.

The states earliest newspaper was The North-Carolina Gazette published August 4, 1751, in New Bern. The earliest edition digitized is from November 15, 1751, with the Latin motto Semper Pro Libertate, et Bono Publico or Always for Freedom and the Public Good.

The North-Carolina Gazette purported to offer the latest advisories, foreign and domestic. The September 12, 1777, issue contains a report of a complaint from the colonists to the crown; news from Warsaw, Poland, of an alliance between Russia, Sweden, and Finland; and a story from London anticipating the arrival of the Emperor of Germany. A special challenge to the archivists was transcribing the Gazettes April 4, 1775, handwritten issue, which was 52 pages long.

Most of the newspapers were from eastern North Carolina, since most of the population was in the east. The Western Carolinian was based in Salisbury and the first successful newspaper in the western part of the state. It was an advocate for better roads, education and other improvements in the west.

Handwritten entries in family Bibles are found in the Family Records section of the State Archives Digital collection. An inspection of the A.E.S. Lindsey family Bible reveals that the family moved to Orange County, N.C., from Pennsylvania on or about 1736, and lists the grandparents, parents and children in a handwritten ledger.

Records of births, deaths and marriages from hundreds of family Bibles provide a glimpse of the timeline and experiences of early settlers in the state.

For additional information, call 919-807-7319 or visit wwww.ncculture.com. The State Library and State Archives funded the Bible Records project. A grant from the Library Services and Technical Assistance program of the State Library of North Carolina (http://statelibrary.ncdcr.com) made the newspaper project possible.