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By: Linda Sellars

In the Special Collections Research Center, we acquire and build unique collections that document historical and contemporary aspects of fields of study that are strengths for NC State University so that researchers will be able to find and use them now and in the future. To preserve these valuable collections, we store them carefully, using acid-free materials and in climate-controlled buildings. In order for people to find and use these collections, we organize them, describe them, and publish those descriptions on the worldwide web.

Descriptions are the first step in making collections usable for researchers. They are the maps that lead researchers to the materials of interest to them. Organizing and rehousing also help to make collections usable. Some collections come to us well-organized and clearly labeled. These were often taken right out of filing cabinets, packed in boxes, and shipped to us. Other collections have traveled convoluted paths to reach us, paths that may have involved being packed up quickly for a move, being packed by relatives or friends of the collection creators, being shifted from one kind of box to another so that similar records don’t stay together, or being stored for some time in attics or basements.

Box as received, before organizing and rehousing

One of the satisfactions of archival processing work, the work of organizing, rehousing and describing collections for research use, is seeing the visible difference that is made when collections are organized and rehoused. A collection stored in acid-free boxes and folders, neatly labeled, and described on the web is much more user-friendly than a disorganized box or collection. We haven’t yet processed all of our boxes, but our goal is to make all of our collections very user-friendly!

Box after organizing and rehousing

To learn more about our collections, please consult our collection guides.

By: Gwynn Thayer

On May 16, 1950, the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright visited the School of Design at NC State University and spoke to over 5,000 people at Reynolds Coliseum for an architecture lecture. He even stayed with Dean Henry Kamphoefner at his modernist home in Raleigh. In the photograph above, from Special Collections, Wright is pictured walking with Dean Kamphoefner. North Carolina Modernist Houses has provided a full account of his visit to campus.

Unfortunately, a recording of this important lecture has never been located.  North Carolina Modernist Houses has been on a quest to find one. Can you help?

If you have any leads, please contact Special Collections or North Carolina Modernist Houses.

By: Todd Stoffer

In the past five and a half months we have preserved a total of 204 gigabytes of website data, including over 6 million individual web documents from 247 individual seed URLs. In an attempt to better contextualize the websites we have chosen to preserve we have launched our NCSU Libraries Web Archiving Website. This site gives researchers an overview of the project and works as a portal into our collections. While all of our archived web content is available directly through the Archive-It portal, we felt it was important to be able to provide a little more context about the seed URLs than was possible on that platform. Our site allows us to place links to archived web content, live web content, and related finding aids in one centralized location.

In addition to launching our web archiving site we have also begun adding seed URLs to three additional web archive collections. These collections are the Architecture and Design collection, the Landscape Architecture collection and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library Impact collection. The Architecture and Design collection and the Landscape Architecture collection are meant to enhance our existing collections in these areas. They include personal and professional websites of prominent practitioners in those fields, as well as the websites of their companies. While these two collections are currently quite small we have been able to preserve the websites of Alexander Isley, Frank Harmon, Greenways Inc., The Greenway Team, and NC Rail Trails. We will look to expand these collections as we work with other donors in these areas to identify and capture their web content.

The third new collection that we have launched is the James B. Hunt Jr. Library Impact collection, which contains web pages dedicated to documenting the opening of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library and the ongoing impact it has had throughout our community and beyond. The URLs for this collection were gathered by library staff documenting known articles that were published as well as by extracting URLs from tweets related to the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. It contains articles from a wide variety of sources including magazines, newspapers, blogs, and social media. This collection will continue to grow with as new articles are published about Hunt Library.

By: James Stewart

Map of tobacco and cotton plant pathology demonstrations. From 1954 annual report.

Many NC Cooperative Extension Service annual reports now digitized in the Better Living Collection can be a fascinating introduction to the agricultural sciences. One of these sciences is phytopathology, or plant pathology, the scientific study of diseases in plants caused by pathogens (infectious organisms like bacteria), environmental conditions, and physiological factors.

The Cooperative Extension Service extended the life of N.C. field crops by demonstrating new scientific techniques to farmers designed to combat these factors.  This helped save farms from losing thousands of dollars in crops each year. Howard R. Garriss, an early extension plant pathologist, was also the lead author of these reports. Reading Garriss’s reports shows the various teaching methods and scientific techniques used by the extension service.

Cropped section from cover of the 1946 Plant Pathology Annual Report.

Section from cover of the 1946 Plant Pathology Annual Report.

A good example of how extension agents operated is illustrated in the “Tobacco Diseases” section of his 1946 report. Tobacco is listed first in each report perhaps reflecting the importance of that crop to the agricultural economy of N.C. One of the most troubling pathogens to tobacco growers that year was downy mildew, or blue mold. Garriss documents how growers were very receptive to small group meetings and method demonstrations (step by step presentations) on using Fermate spray to kill the mold. He also documents the use of what were called “result demonstrations”, a method that used recorded evidence of the effectiveness of a new scientific method after a certain amount of time.

Circular letters, publications, publicity, and exhibits at the NC State Fair are also detailed in the plant pathology reports as successful ways to instruct farmers. In addition to tobacco, the reports address diseases of peanuts, cotton, small grains, vegetables and fruits. Other pests to crops like the nematode and Black Shank are described as well as their recommended treatments.

Resources related to plant pathology or plant diseases and other agricultural sciences are available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to other topics. Additionally, our Historic State Department of Plant Pathology timeline is a rich resource for more information about the development of this science in NC.

By: Gwynn Thayer

The Special Collections Research Center has just acquired a drawing by former NC State faculty member Duncan Stuart. Stuart was one of the founding faculty members of the School (now College) of Design. The drawing was donated by one of Stuart’s former students, who studied architecture at the School of Design in the early 1970s.

Stuart (1919-2001) was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and studied at the University of Oklahoma, Chouinard Art Institute, and Yale University. He served in World War II as a cartographer. In 1948 he was appointed by Dean Henry Kamphoefner as associate professor. During his long and distinguished career Stuart’s works were exhibited at a number of institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Chicago Art Institute. He worked in the 1950s on the geodesic dome and with Synergetics, Inc.

Stuart was known and recognized as an outstanding teacher, and during his career received the Distinguished Professor Award at NC State. On August 29, 1965, he was announced as the “Tar Heel of the Week” by the Raleigh News & Observer. The article included many quotes from former students, one of whom noted, “He was intent on teaching us to think for ourselves.” Another observed that, “He always seemed interested in us as individuals, not just as members of the class. He would talk to us about what we were doing and the conversation was two-way communication, not one-way.”

Stay tuned for more information about this drawing as we process this item and prepare the finding aid for access. The image above is a close view of the image, which is on paper and measures approximately 36″ by 36″. For more information about Architecture and Design collections in Special Collections, please visit our website.

May 27 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

By: Todd Kosmerick

Summer begins — the season for parades and picnics. Enjoy these and other historic images!

Picnic gathering in Wilkes Co., N. C., 1912.

Picnic gathering in Wilkes Co., N. C., 1912.

NC State ROTC cadets, ca. 1975

Home Demonstration picnic supper, Cabarras Co., N. C., ca. 1936

NC State ROTC band in a parade in Raleigh, N.C., 1930

By: Brian Dietz

1899 A&M Baseball Team

This weekend, the NC State baseball team, with its 10-1 win over Carolina, secured spots in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Baseball has been an organized sport at the university for 120 years now, with the first team being fielded in 1894. Above, the team portrait from 1899, is the earliest photograph of a baseball team in the archives.

Incidentally, on May 24, 1935 (76 years ago today), the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in Major League Baseball’s first nighttime game. The very first baseball game played under under artificial lighting was in 1880. Even though NC State’s earliest teams could have played night ball, the first evening sporting event on campus was held in Riddick Stadium in 1930, five years before the MLB played their first evening game. (The baseball team played at Riddick until Doak Field opened in 1966.)

Resources related to baseball and campus athletics are available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of images, video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. Additionally, our Historical State Athletics Timeline is a rich resource for information about the university’s prowess on the field, court, track, and pitch.

By: Rachel Jacobson

NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center is pleased to announce that there is now a fully processed (and recently renamed) finding aid for the Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers.

This collection now contains more professional documents from, and about, Charles A. Flink, President of Greenways Incorporated. The Professional Papers and Publications series in the Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers allows researchers insight into the details of the professional life of a leading landscape architect.  Within the Professional Papers and Publications (1972-2014) series there are documents about awards that Charles A. Flink received over the years, articles and information about various greenways, and papers pertaining to the book he co-authored, Greenways: A Guide to Planning, published in 1993.

Final decision on art to use for the book Greenways: A Guide to Planning

Charles A. Flink started Greenways Incorporated, a landscape architecture firm that specializes in the development of greenways, in 1986. Greenways are paths that usually run along naturally occurring or already created man-made corridors and are designated for pedestrian use. There are multiple greenway collections at the NCSU Special Collections Research Center.

In addition to greenways in the United States, Charles A. Flink has worked on some international projects. His international projects are admired and he has been nationally recognized as well. In 1995 Charles A. Flink and Greenways Incorporated received an Environmental Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration for the innovative Swift Creek Recycled Greenway in Cary, N.C.

Plan for the Grand Canyon Greenway

The path, created out of recycled material, is an example of some of the local innovative work done by Charles A. Flink and Greenways Incorporated. Another famous trail he worked on is located away from North Carolina, the Grand Canyon Greenway in Arizona has become known nationally as it is part of a national park.

As is evident in this brief description, this collection possesses information on many different greenway projects. Please refer to the recently renamed, Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers for further information.

By: Todd Stoffer

In order to begin exploring our web archive and how it can provide insight into historical events on campus, we chose to take a look at President Barack Obama’s three separate visits to NC State. Paying particularly close attention to how they were represented on the homepage of the main NC State website as well as other NC State websites. By looking at these three distinct events that coincidentally occurred three years apart from one another we were not only able to find new materials that did not previously exist in our archives, but also to get a better understanding of how rapidly web technologies have changed.

The first visit was on May 12, 2008 when then Senator Barak Obama gave a speech at Reynolds Coliseum following his victory in the 2008 Democratic Primaries in North Carolina. The captures of the main NC State homepage surrounding this date seem not to have captured the details of this visit. This is likely a result of this being a campaign visit, limiting the need for it to be highlighted on the front page of the main NC State website. However, exploring the archive of we were able to find the story outlining the victory speech. This news page included a rather small image gallery alongside a brief story documenting the speech. Looking at this page we can see that the website was, by todays standards, rather basic. The static HTML and small photo gallery made this version of the website relatively easy to preserve. The images in the gallery were hosted at the same place as the other web content, making them easy to capture as well. While many of the NC State News items have been migrated as the website has changed over the years, it appears that this story only existed on past versions of the website, making it impossible to find today without it having been archived.

On September 14, 2011 President Obama returned to Reynolds Coliseum for the second time seeking support for the American Jobs Act. As you can see in the archived version of the homepage from that day, the president’s visit was front page news, with the main story linking to the news article discussing the visit. The news page discussing this visit is structurally very similar to the webpage outlining his 2008 visit. The photos in this gallery were uploaded to Flickr, making them more difficult to archive as they were hosted on a separate service outside of the NC State website. The full size images in this web page were not captured in this crawl when it was completed in 2011. If you click on one of the gallery images at the bottom, you will be taken to a ‘capture not found page’ that gives us the option to search to full wayback machine for that photo. In this case we are able to find the full-sized versions captured elsewhere in the Internet Archive, which will then allow us to attempt to move those into the NCSU Libraries Web Archive.

On January 15, 2015 President Obama returned to campus for the third time. This time to announce that NC State would be leading the Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute that was partially funded by a $70 million grant from the Department of Energy. You will notice that the web pages from this capture seem less complete than the earlier ones, missing a lot of the layout elements on the NC State home page. Looking at the source code, it appears that the main banner image of the NC State homepage was replaced with a live video stream of the speech provided by the White House.

This added complexity caused errors in the archival capture of the site. That video was then uploaded to YouTube after the speech where the Internet Archive was able to crawl and capture it for future playback. You can playback the video from this link. While the archived YouTube page that is hosting the video does not render properly, you will notice that the video does indeed work. In addition to documenting the technical complexity of providing a live-stream from the homepage of, captures we have of the NC State home page surrounding this date document the rapid changes made to the NCSU homepage for breaking news stories. We can look at captures on the 15th and see links to the site where tickets for the event could be reserved, then on the next day we see the home page content changed completely to cover the president’s visit.

The examples above show not only historical information about campus events but also provide documentation of  the rapidly changing landscape of web technologies. In just seven years the primary media content of a story went from small, low resolution digital images to a live video stream of the event. While the captures of these events vary greatly in quality, they all provide enough context that we can gain insight into historical campus events. Additionally, they were able to provide us with additional archival materials, such as videos and photos, that were not yet part of our collection. As we move forward with our web archiving project we will be able to ensure more complete captures of the sites by managing the crawls in near real time as historic events unfold on campus.

By: Cathy Dorin-Black

Commencement, 1996

Just in time for commencement weekend, a timeline of all commencements held at NC State is now available on the Historical State website. It begins with the first “closing ceremony” (not yet called “commencement,” as there was no graduating class until 1893) on June 18th, 1890 and concludes with Saturday’s event.  Commencement speakers, honorary degree recipients, interesting facts, and images are all highlighted.  Some notable speakers include Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was Assistant Secretary of Navy at the time), Governor O. Max Gardner, first UNC System president Frank Porter Graham, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, UNC System president William Friday, Governor Jim Hunt, poet Maya Angelou, Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood), General Hugh Shelton, football coach Bill Cowher, and journalist Charlie Rose.

Other historical timelines include Athletics, Campus Buildings and Grounds, Cooperative Extension Service, and NC State Mascots and Colors, among many others.  For more images of commencement, consult our Rare and Unique Digitized Collections siteCommencement brochures also provide a glimpse of past graduations.  Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Commencement, 1929

Commencement, 1951