North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project
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    About This Project

    In 2007, the State Archives of North Carolina began a pilot project, funded by a LSTA grant provided by the State Library of North Carolina, to digitize the earliest known newspapers, The Western Carolinian and the Carolina Watchman.  The goals of the project were to determine the amount of effort it took to digitize early newspapers, establish best practices for outsourcing the digitization of newspapers, and to create 3 lesson plans for K-12 stakeholders.  An advisory board Project Team was appointed in October, 2007 and the process of selecting and analyzing the newspapers began in earnest.  OCLC Preservation Services were selected to do the digitization and their CONTENTdm system was chosen to make the materials available online. 

    The project was finished in 2009 and the entire collection is now available online - a total of 23,483 digital images that are keyword searchable and include papers dating from 1752-1890s from cities like Edenton (1787-1801), Fayetteville (1798-1795), Hillsboro (1786), New Bern (1751-1804), Salisbury (1799-1898), and Wilmington (1765-1816).

    About Newspapers in North Carolina

    Newspapers are fundamental research tools for all researchers, from elementary school students and casual readers to university faculty and professional genealogists.  No other published source covers such a wide range of material and reaches so deeply into the communities in our state. They provide a wealth of data about the civic, political, cultural, and social events of the periods they document. Historic newspapers offer an intimate close-up view of the American past that few other sources can provide.

    Newspaper publishing in North Carolina began on August 9, 1751, with the publication in New Bern by James Davis of the North Carolina Gazette.  The first known surviving issue of the Gazette is the oldest of the papers represented in the series of eighteenth century newspapers microfilmed by Archives and History beginning in 1959.  Represented in the series are papers from six towns—Edenton, Fayetteville, Hillsborough, Halifax, and Salisbury, in addition to New Bern. (six reels)

    Given that the eighteenth century papers are predominantly eastern, staff working on the newspaper project gave prime consideration to papers originating west of Raleigh during the early nineteenth century. The Western Carolinian (Salisbury) (1820-1844) was the first successful newspaper west of Milton, N. C.  The weekly, four-page paper was a vigorous champion for the interests of western North Carolina, an opponent to the political dominance of the East, and an advocate for better roads, education, and internal improvements. Based on an analysis of death and marriage notices in The Western Carolinian, the paper covered Burke, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Stokes, Surry, and Wilkes counties in addition to Rowan County where it was located.  The run held on microfilm by State Archives of North Carolina is reasonably complete with some issues missing for 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1841.  (five reels) 

    The Carolina Watchman (Salisbury) (1832-1898), also a weekly, extended its run well beyond that of The Western Carolinian.  Established in part to oppose the political opinions of the other Salisbury paper, the Watchman had a run which extended well beyond the Jacksonian period to cover sectional strife and postwar issues. (eighteen reels)

    Last Modified: 07/01/2013