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By: Gwynn Thayer

The contracting firm D. J. Rose and Son Inc., based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has donated a major collection of historic architectural drawings and other documents to the North Carolina State University Libraries. Established in 1890 by builder David Jeptha Rose, D. J. Rose and Son is the oldest continuously operating general contracting firm in North Carolina.

Towering tobacco and textile mills, tall and elegant banks, classical courthouses in county seats, railroad stations large and small, electric power plants and fertilizer factories, hospitals and churches, and commercial buildings and residences in every style—for more than a century the Rose family firm constructed essential buildings of every kind throughout Eastern North Carolina and as far away as Florida and Maryland. Year by year, each generation of the firm filed away the records of their projects in nearly every town in the region.

The donors of the collection, Dillon Rose, Sr., and Dillon Rose, Jr., discovered the significance of the records after exploring NCSU Libraries’ website, North Carolina Architects and Builders at Dillon Rose Jr. saw the biography for architect William P. Rose (David Jeptha Rose’s brother) and contacted the library to ask if the D. J. Rose firm was to be included in the website. Catherine W. Bishir, Curator of Architecture at the Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries, learned from him about the family collection. Rose recalls, “I didn’t realize the importance of what we had until I talked with Catherine.”

To ensure the collection’s long-term preservation and access to researchers, the Roses agreed to donate the collection to the Libraries. The NCSU Libraries secured a matching grant from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation of Greensboro, North Carolina, to enable the records—many of them more than 100 years old—to be cleaned by a conservation contractor.

The hundreds of rolls of drawings include works by some of the region’s leading architects for whom most records have been lost—Benton and Benton of Wilson, John C. Stout of Rocky Mount, Joseph Leitner of Wilmington, to name a few. Rows of boxes hold thousands of documents that tell the story of changing times and the work of many people, from local workmen asking for jobs to bills from distant suppliers of hardware and machinery. “It is a rich and amazing collection,” says Bishir. “We’ve seen just part of it, and can’t wait to see the rest of its treasures.”

Much of the collection involves railroad facilities—depots, turntables, platforms—especially those for the present Atlantic Coast Line (ACL), the lifeline of the region’s economic development. The company’s location by the railroad linked it to projects near and far, including the rail-oriented warehouses and factories where hundreds of workers sold or processed the region’s principal crops of cotton and tobacco.

As Gwyneth Thayer, Associate Head and Curator of Special Collections, who orchestrated the cleaning project, states, “Thanks to the Rose family and the Covington Foundation, historians and the interested public for years to come can learn about transportation and industrial history as well as architecture in ways that would never have been possible otherwise.”

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at the NCSU Libraries continues to assemble and archive the work of leading architects and builders to make these unique materials available to a wide audience. The SCRC has collected the papers of key architects, including G. Milton Small, Jr., George Matsumoto, and William Waldo Dodge, as well as those of past and present faculty members of NC State’s College of Design such as Henry Kamphoefner, Marvin Malecha, Matthew Nowicki, and Frank Harmon.

The SCRC holds research and primary resource materials in areas that reflect and support the teaching and research needs of the students, faculty, and researchers at the university. By emphasizing established and emerging areas of excellence at NC State University and corresponding strengths within the Libraries’ overall collection, the SCRC develops collections strategically with the aim of becoming an indispensable source of information for generations of scholars.

By: Laura Abraham

While N. C. State students are taking exams, let them take comfort that they are not the first to go through this end of year stress.

Here are some pictures of students hitting the books from the archives of NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. Please visit our online Rare and Unique Digital Collections to learn more about University history. Best of luck to you all!

These photos and lots more 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.

By: Cathy Dorin-Black

A selection of posters was recently added to the Union Activities Board (UAB) Records held by the University Archives. The posters date from the 1970s to the 1990s, and they mostly reflect UAB-sponsored performances that took place in Thompson Theatre.  UAB was originally founded in 1951 as the College Union Board of Chairmen in order to promote social and cultural programs for students. It was renamed the Union Activities Board in the early 1970s. It sponsored many dramatic performances that were shown in Thompson Theatre. 

Flashback to the 1960s poster

The posters showcase the variety of plays performed in Thompson Theatre, including those authored by Henrik Ibsen, Tennessee Williams, and William Shakespeare. Also included is a poster for the rock musical “Viet Rock,” which was a theatrical protest against the Vietnam War. There are also posters for original productions, such as multimedia shows sponsored by the School of Design and directed by Gene Messick.  The posters also highlight a children’s theater program that centered on the fantasy world of the “Frog Pond.”

Viet Rock poster, 1970

A Stranger in Frog Pond poster, 1987

UAB also sponsored other activities, such as talks given by special visitors to campus, exhibits, and an annual medieval-style Madrigal Dinner. Notable among the posters for those events is one describing Germaine Greer as a “Saucy Lady Activist.”

Germaine Greer poster, 1974

Please consult the “Posters and Flyers” series in the Union Activities Board Records online collection guide for more information about these materials. Related sources include digitized images of Thompson Theatre performances as well as the ARTS NC STATE history of University Theatre. To request to view any of the posters, please use our webform.

By: Gwynn Thayer

The Special Collections Research Center has been busy this fall partnering with various faculty members at NC State as they use Special Collections materials in the classroom. Dr. Margaret Simon recently brought in two of her English classes to study some of our rare book collections. The undergraduates enrolled in English 261 were learning some of the basics about rare books; one perennial student favorite was “A Display of Heraldry” by John Guillim, which includes hand-colored coats of arms from England. The author of the book was an officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. A similar version, a partial manuscript draft of the book (ca.1610), was recently featured in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s blog.

Dr. Simon also brought in an example of a parchment sheet from her own collection that the students could examine closely, and compare visually with an example of a manuscript leaf in Special Collections. The students also spent some time studying and appreciating the “book as object,” noting early bindings (and later re-bindings) as well as metal clasps and evidence of contemporary repairs with re-used manuscripts.

By: Brian Dietz

We like to have fun at the SCRC, and sometimes that means poking fun at ourselves. In that spirit, today’s post falls into the category “betadata.” For us, often intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, description (or metadata) is always in beta. Which is to say, it can always be improved. So, on this day before Thanksgiving, I share with you an image of North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford (1961-1965) and a turkey, which expressed, before it was fixed, the beta-ness of metadata records.

Governor Terry Sanford holding a turkey named Chef Boy

Governor Terry Sanford with turkey Chef Boy on leash

Transcribed in the descriptive record is what was found written on the back of the print:

Chef Boy’s introduction to Gov. Terry Sanford re economic importance of turkey industry to North Carolina

Simple enough? Keep in mind we don’t know who jotted that on the print. And it’s a vague statement. Could a man holding an animal on a leash also be said to be receiving an introduction? Is the guy on the left, the one with the box, the one being introduced to the turkey? To those who recognize Sanford, it’s clearly a picture of him, and he’s got a turkey, named Chef Boy, on a leash. And this is what the image’s title is now. When the image was first described, however, the descriptive record creator record didn’t appear to know what Sanford looked like (or try Googling his name), because, despite the clues in the inscription, the image was given the title:

Chef Boy with turkey on leash

Which makes it sound like Sanford is Chef Boy. Now, in a way, I like this title better. Although it’s not accurate, it’s fun, it’s simple, and there’s good metre. (Also, giving a turkey the name “Chef Boy” seems cynical.) While I like to think of a person having the nickname Chef Boy, my guess is the record creator thought that Sanford was a person whose last name was “Boy” and that his professional role was a chef. Like how we might call Gordon Ramsay “Chef Ramsay.” Maybe it was thought that the chef, Chef Boy, was debuting this beautiful bird before cooking it for some official meal. (An alternate interpretation is that the record creator was a Sanford detractor who figured the bird was indeed named Chef Boy.)

Oddly enough, the image’s record included the heading for Terry Sanford, which linked this image up with other images of Sanford, even though it wasn’t clear to the person who created the original record which person in the photograph was Terry Sanford. This small act made the image a bit more discoverable than it would have been otherwise.

All this to say, description is iterative, there’s always time to improve it, and things in need of fixing have a way of surfacing. I found this image, for instance, by viewing what visitors to our digital collections site were viewing, using the site’s Now feature.

The photo of Chef Boy, and lots more, is 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.

By: Linda Sellars

Contributed by Rose Buchanan and Rachel Jacobson

John Augustus Moore, Jr., to John and Mabel Moore, March 26, 1945

Although born in 1917, John Augustus Moore, Jr., was like many young people today. He grew up in semi-rural Franklinton, North Carolina, as the youngest of three children. His father, John Sr., ran the Sterling Cotton Mill Company, while his mother, Mabel Vann Moore, raised the three children and was active in community service. John Jr. went to UNC-Chapel Hill for his undergraduate degree, where he made new friends, rushed a fraternity, and struggled with tough courses. Like many students today, John Jr. also worried about the future; he wanted to go to graduate school for business, but he was not sure if his grades were good enough. When he was finally accepted into the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1939, John Jr. (and his parents) breathed a sigh of relief. His future would be bright indeed.

But then something happened, something that separates John Jr.’s experiences from those of young Americans today. John was drafted. He and his family suspected it was coming, as the United States had declared its intentions to go to war with Germany and Japan in 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Moreover, John Jr. had a low draft number, meaning that he would be in the first wave of men called into combat. When he received that call in 1942, not long after graduating from Wharton, John packed up, said goodbye to his family, and moved to Florida to begin training.

Mabel Vann Moore to John Augustus Moore, Jr., June 1945

We are familiar with John Augustus Moore, Jr.’s story, similar to many other Americans’ experiences during World War II, because his family’s letters and papers were recently donated to the NCSU Special Collections Research Center. This collection, the Elizabeth Vann Moore Family Papers, includes family history materials as well as extensive records about the day-to-day operations of the Sterling Cotton Mill. The letters between John Jr. and his family date mainly from the late 1930s through the 1960s, and they include his wartime correspondence. John wrote frequently to his mother, Mabel, while he was in military training and later, while he served in the Pacific Theater as a Captain of the Army Air Force. John talked about conditions in the Army and how he missed Mabel’s cooking, but also about the course of the war and when he thought it might end. The letters that Mabel and others sent to John updated him on events at home and expressed their hope that he would return safely. The letters are therefore an excellent resource on soldiers’ experiences in World War II and their families’ experiences at home.

John Jr.’s military service ended with the conclusion of the war. After his father’s death in 1947, John Jr. returned to North Carolina and took over the management of the Sterling Cotton Mill Company. He married Margaret (Peggy) Parsley Young in the early 1950s, and had a son, John Augustus Moore III, in 1956. Although he died in 1982, John’s memory lives on in the letters and memorabilia preserved in Special Collections. For more information about John and his family, please consult the Special Collections Research Center staff.

By: Jason Evans Groth

There are numerous obstacles to overcome when instituting a born digital processgathering equipment, establishing basic institutional requirements for how processing is done, and deciding on tools are just some of the steps that need to be completed before a workflow is put into place. Thankfully, as the field grows, so does the amount of resources available to those just starting out. The Demystifying Born Digital Reports from the OCLC, the Digital POWRR Tool Grid, and the Digital Curation Google Group are just three helpful, and ever-growing, examples of this. But other resources are always out there, and sometimes they don’t need a URL – they may be your neighbors.

NC State University Libraries is part of the Triangle Research Library Network (TRLN). TRLN is a collaborative organization comprised of NCSU and other Triangle academic libraries – Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Central University – the “purpose of which is to marshal the financial, human, and information resources of their research libraries through cooperative efforts in order to create a rich and unparalleled knowledge environment that furthers the universities’ teaching, research, and service missions.” In other words, we have agreed to share our stuff and staff with one another.

Just a small sample of some of the legacy media in the NCSU SCRC born digital collection.

In early 2013, the TRLN Born Digital Task Group was formed. Archivists from Duke, UNC, and NCSU worked together on a report to explore the state of born digital programs at each institution. As expected, we all discovered that we shared similar questions about requirements, hardware, and software. Because our three institutions have different identified requirements for born digital materials, not all of our answers will be the same, but the opportunity to share experiences regarding hardware and software is an immediate benefit of working together. Some of the many action items identified by the report included sharing transparent documentation about our processes as well as sharing equipment when needed.

Having such cooperative neighbors has already paid off. Recently, Duke and NCSU Libraries got together to explore various floppy disk controllers, and to compare notes about how to evaluate hardware problems versus disk obsolescence issues. This kind of sharing brought our report to life – real outcomes, both in the form of digital files and a new understanding of tools, were achieved by sharing knowledge and tools.

In addition to sharing, the report focused on several other areas of collaboration that were of interest to the three schools, including:

  • More collaboration with the BitCurator team, some of whom are on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, and who are an amazing resource for all three institutions since all three of us plan or are planning to use BitCurator for at least some of our processing workflow.
  • Working on enhanced communications strategies with IT administrators. Born digital is not just an IT problem – it is a universal problem with IT solutions. Maintaining strong relationships and transparency with those who provide us IT solutions is of the utmost concern when looking toward a long-term solution to born digital.
  • Creating a stronger relationship with the robust and experienced UNC Digital Forensics Lab, to better understand the tools of our trade and to have a place to do comparisons (the example of the floppy controllers above is a version of the kinds of tool comparisons we expect to see more of).
  • More discussion of potential emulation environments.
  • An exploration of BitTorrent as a potential avenue for born digital file transfer within and between institutions.

The TRLN report has led to an extension of the Born Digital Task Group, and judging by the results of our first equipment share, our perceived shared needs, and the ease with which we have already worked together, it’s bound to create a template for other neighborly schools to follow.

By: Linda Sellars

Contributed by Lori E. Harris

Born in Bath, England, during the outbreak of World War II, sculptor John Perry received no formal art training while growing up. While stricken with a rare bone disease as a child, he became bedridden for over 18 months and used this time to perfect his sculpting skills. His journey into using his art as a form of activism began in 1974 when he was vacationing in Hawaii. While riding on a catamaran in the beautiful Hawaiian waters, a whale swam alongside of the boat. Perry remembers the beautiful shape and color of the enormous mammal and how that moment became transformative for him as it made him realize how little the public was aware of the plight of the whale.

Betsy Beaver protesting steel jaw traps

Perry wanted to develop a way that he could use his art form to publicize and help raise awareness about animal rights activism. He came up with the idea of creating oversized inflatable animals (whales, beavers, elephants and kangaroos) that were either endangered or were being killed for their fur, meat or ivory. One of his more famous creations was a 20-foot inflatable beaver by the name of Betsy Beaver. Betsy was covered in faux-fur with two prominent front incisors and the requisite broad flat beaver tail shaped like a canoe paddle. Betsy was used to call attention to the Animal Welfare Institute’s (AWI) work to outlaw the use of steel jaw traps. These devices were used to catch animals such as beavers and foxes. However, oftentimes these traps ended up trapping companion pets such as hunting dogs, cats, birds as well as deer and other wild creatures. AWI developed and distributed press kits and monographs to highlight how steel traps were the cause of unnecessary pain for animals. Their information kits also offered less cruel alternatives to the steel trap method.

Betsy Beaver protesting steel jaw traps

Betsy Beaver traveled throughout the United States and Europe. One activist recounts an encounter where Betsy was in Minneapolis helping to promote pending legislation to ban the leghold trap when a park police officer instructed the activist to deflate Betsy. Instead, he took Betsy on a stroll and Betsy was arrested and packed into the paddy wagon! Luckily a supervisor advised the police to release Betsy and she was allowed to float free. Betsy also visited Europe in support of the European Union Regulation against steel jaw leghold traps. John Perry tells the story of how Betsy, while riding on the back of a Fiat that was driving down the Champs d’Elysees, they were stopped by gendarmes near the Arc de Triomphe. He notes that they were taken to jail, searched, and had to sign papers stating that they were not in Paris to overthrow the government!

Johanna the Kangaroo

John Perry has also created other artistic pieces such as his jigsaw elephant puzzle. The puzzle is made out of foam core and was a silhouette of an African elephant that measured 10 x 12 feet and required a large floor space in order to assemble. (The puzzle is currently part of the Animal Welfare Institute records in the Special Collections Research Center.) Perry also created other inflatable animals such as Johanna, a 16-foot kangaroo and an inflatable whale by the name of Flo who measured 25 feet. As the photos illustrate, these inflatable animals were a favorite of both children and adults. Their extraordinary size and appearance was a great catalyst to begin a conversation about the indiscriminate killing of animals for their meat, fur and tusks and also helped to highlight the Animal Welfare Institute’s work to outlaw the use of steel jaw traps throughout the United States and Europe.

For more photos of Betsy Beaver and more information about animal rights activism, please consult the Animal Welfare Institute Records in the Special Collections Research Center.


A Brief History of the Animal Rights Coalition from 1978 to 1990 from a speech given in 1992by Vonnie Thomasberg, ARC co-founder and past president. Retrieved 05/10/14 from:

John Perry Studio. Retrieved 05/10/14 from:

Outside Live Bravely. For the Record, By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta, January 1997. Retrieved 05/10/14 from:

Animal Welfare Institution. Retrieved05/10/14 from:

Tier-Zeitung, Einzelpreis DM 1,50, Abonnement DM 6,-Nr. 3, 3. Vierteljahr, 5. Jahrgang 1984 TZ., D-7500 Karishue 1, Postfach 5366

Nov 03 2014

Homecoming Week 2014

By: Brian Dietz

It’s Homecoming Week! And, while the Alumni Association has a lot of great activities planned, none could be quite as exciting as this game of paper football, played during the 1997 Homecoming festivities, must have been:

A student lines up a field goal in a game of paper football

In this year’s game, the Pack takes on Georgia Tech. If it’s a tie at the end of regulation, new ACC rules dictate that the game is determined not through overtime but through a game, played at center field, of paper football. Here’s a tie through four quarters.

This resource, and lots more related to homecomings of recent and distant past, 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.

By: Todd Kosmerick

First Graduating Class, 1893. Walter J. Mathews (back row, third from right) is considered to be the first student at NC State. Alexander Q. Holladay (center) was the first college president.

This October marks the 125th anniversary of the first classes held at NC State and the first students enrolling in the college.  By tradition, Walter J. Mathews is considered to be the first student.  The University Archives holds an oral history recording of Mathews, made in June 1966, when he was 95.  In the interview Mathews says that he was the first student by virtue of having arrived first on campus on September 30, 1889.  An early register in the University Archives does list those first students in 1889.  Mathews is among those listed on the first day of classes (October 3, 1889), but he is not the first on the list.  In the interview he indicates that he was not the first person entered in the register.  He said that Professor D. H. Hill was the one entering the names in the register and did not list students in order of arrival.  (Hill later became college president, and he is the namesake of the library.)

Walter J. Mathews (first NC State student) in later life.

Walter Jerome Mathews was born on August 20, 1870, in Buncombe County and grew up on a farm near Asheville.  His education at NC State focused on mechanics, and he was part of the college’s first graduating class (1893).  He had a career in construction, eventually owning his own business in Goldsboro.  He even served a term as mayor of that city.  He died there on August 28, 1967, shortly after his 97th birthday.

In the oral history, Mathews recalls the train trip to Raleigh in 1889, and he remembers that when he arrived no one in town knew much about the college.  He walked out to the school, which consisted of only Holladay Hall at the time, and found only one person and no furniture when he got there.  Elsewhere in the interview he talks about working on the school farm, student life in general, and the first commencement exercise, and he mentions the early literary societies and first dormitories.  The recording is now available online.

In addition to the oral history, the NCSU Libraries also has Mathews’s diploma (a bachelor of engineering) and newspaper clippings about his life and career.  Please contact the library’s Special Collections Research Center for information on how to access these items.