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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.

By: Gwynn Thayer

Come contemplate the many facets of design!

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at NCSU Libraries will continue its tradition of a fall “show and tell” event at the College of Design. This is an exciting chance to see a sampling of Special Collections materials selected for those who are studying at the College of Design.

October 27, 11 AM to 1 PM

The Belk Rotunda at Brooks Hall, NCSU College of Design

Free and open to the public.

Email us at library_specialcollections@ncsu.edu for more information.

By: Meaghan Lanier

It is our great pleasure to announce that the Roscoe Braham Papers are now processed and open for research. The collection guide is available here. Roscoe R. Braham, Jr., is a pioneering meteorologist, educator, noted expert in cloud precipitation physics, and visiting professor at North Carolina State University. As a scholar, Braham helped lead the 1940s Thunderstorm Project–the first large-scale meteorological study undertaken–and co-wrote The Thunderstorm, which is required reading for meteorologists. He is also credited with the discovery of cell organization of thunderstorms and the coalescence-freezing mechanism of precipitation formation in natural clouds.

Braham has published more than eighty scientific reports, books, and monographs during his academic career. Braham received an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree from Chancellor James L. Oblinger during North Carolina State University’s fall commencement on December 20, 2006.

The Roscoe Braham Papers total 53 linear feet and contain personal records dating from 1863 to 2011 with some undated material and contain class notes, correspondence (some handwritten), office files, research notes, grant proposals and reports, notes and related documentation from meetings and conferences. Also included are black and white photographs and negatives, newspaper articles, pamphlets, bound research projects, glass slides, slides, film reels, and annual American Meteorological Society (AMS) Council Meeting correspondence. The records provide insight into Braham’s research on cloud precipitation physics, his engagement with other scientists, scholars, and institutions, such as the University of Chicago and North Carolina State University, and his involvement with professional organizations.

This collection provides a unique insight into the field of cloud physics not widely represented in other collections and will be of great interest to researchers interested in 20th century advances in the fields of meteorology, cloud physics and weather control. For more information about this collection, please consult the collection guide.

By: Jason Evans Groth

Throughout our born digital strategic initiative here at NC State Libraries we have debated over the last year just how we will make digital items discoverable to our patrons. Archival discovery begins with the finding aid or collection guide. These guides provide the context of the collection for researchers, and also present the description of the content of the collection. So how does one represent, say, a 16gb USB flash drive as a usable list or, even more challenging, a 2TB external drive, inside one of those lists? And, inside that list, how do you arrange those files/folders/hidden files/trashed files/all of the other stuff that each of us manages on our own digital landscape in one way versus the way we manage our physical landscapes (real desktops, book shelves, and on and on)? The thing is, digital objects are, in some way, already arranged when they are donated, and they are arranged in a way that made sense to the person who donated them.

It is no secret that researchers are interested in the process that goes into creating the subject of their research, so the arrangement of files on a laptop, for example, also gives clues as to what the person who arranged them might have been thinking. We decided, therefore, to give our patrons the chance to experience the arrangement of files and folders in the way they were given to us. In other words, we would not rearrange them in any way since it is assumed that the person who did the arrangement had a reason and that this kind of archival practice – digital, that is – gives us the chance to actually retain original order. But, again, how do we show this to a patron? If it’s just a list then there is no context for the files, outside of knowing who created them or what collection they come from.

An NCSU reference librarian circa 1985 possibly demonstrating an older style of arrangement and description of digital objects.

Working with our Digital Library Initiatives department (DLI) we have developed a plan to not only give patrons easy access to this list, but to also allow them to ascertain context and description easily without us spending hours at the item level trying to decipher a donor’s file scheme. We call this idea “Archivision,” and it is really just a way to allow the bits of a digital object to describe itself by generating a visual browsing environment of the object.

But how? Well, in the course of our workflow we run several tools over digital objects. These tools extract metadata, and included in this metadata are paths to where the files exist inside the disk structure, as well as metadata about these files that tell us what they are, what they contain (at least technically), when they were created, by whom, etc., etc. If they happen to be text files or contain text we can run tools that tell us what words are in those files. If they are media files we can decipher video CODECs, sample rates, and more. By drawing information from these reports we can create a virtual disk browser that looks similar to a Mac finder window or a Windows explorer window, and by simply providing a link to this virtual disk browser inside of our finding aid (next to the description of the object itself, for example – like “USB Flash Drive”) the researcher can move through the digital object as they would if they had it loaded on their own CPU. An even simpler addition – a sortable spreadsheet that contains all of the file information from the disk – will be provided as a download, too, so the researcher will not have to rely on an internet connection to look through the digital objects we have in our collection. In this way the researcher is not relying on a description that we force upon them that may not lead them to what they need for their work, but rather can contextualize the information in the way that best suits their needs.

This saves time for us and for the researcher, and is an affordance that is specific to digital information. We could not allow a box of papers to “describe itself,” but by using the archival practice of original order, we can leave the disks the way we find them and, rather than looking over each file at the item level, use tools that allow the bits to tell their own story. In this way we hope to increase the amount of digital information we can get to our patrons, make it easier for them to sort through, and save time on our end by taking advantage of the benefits of digital environments while retaining original order and getting closer to a more genuine representation of archival objects.

By: Linda Sellars

The Special Collections Research Center has completed a two-year project to make available unique and valuable collections documenting the animal rights and animal welfare movements. The Animal Rights Network (ARN) records, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) records, and the Ron Scott Animal Rights Videotape collection offer new documentation that will facilitate the study of the animal rights and animal welfare movements in the second half of the 20th century. A grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported arrangement, rehousing, and description of these collections.

Poster opposing hunting and killing of gorillas and chimpanzees (in French).

The Animal Rights Network Records contain correspondence, office files, reports, publications and audiovisual resources documenting the activities of the Animal Rights Network (ARN) in advocating for the ethical and humane treatment of animals. Issues addressed by the organization include live animal experimentation, exploitation of animals for sport and entertainment, intensive breeding and slaughter of domestic animals for food, and irresponsible pet ownership. The Animal Rights Network published a bimonthly magazine, The Animals’ Agenda, which contained original content and also served to assist smaller animal rights organizations network with members of the animal rights community. The ARN also maintained a library and archives component. The organization encouraged its members to collect and maintain their own collections documenting the animal rights and animal welfare movements, and many members donated their collections to the ARN. The bulk of the material dates from the 1950s to 1990s.

Report advocating better housing for laboratory animals.

The records of the Animal Welfare Institute include administrative files of both the AWI and the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), subject files on animals the organization works to protect, files on legislation that SAPL has been involved with, files on the work of other animal rights groups, subject files on regional activities, photographs, publications, books, and audiovisual materials. Materials of the organization range in date from its founding in the early 1950s to the early 2000s; other materials in the collection date back to the 1930s.

Live Animal Trade and Transport Magazine cover, March 1996

The Ron Scott Animal Rights Videotape Collection contains Scott’s videotape footage of animal rights events and cruelty to animals. Scott shot a portion of the footage at several Culture and Animal Foundation festivals in Raleigh, N.C. Interview footage from animal rights cable television shows is also included.

For more detailed descriptions of these and related collections, please consult the collection guides here and search for “animal rights” or “animal welfare.”

By: Brian Dietz

To wrap up Image Discovery Week, I’m sharing one of my favorite photos from the collection. It’s an undated photograph of men building a silo. This image is compelling in its own right, but I especially like it juxtaposed to a photograph taken of the construction of the silo-like elevator and stairwell column at the new Talley Student Center. Every time I pass by Talley, I think of the image of the stave silo on M. W. Jackson’s farm near Edenton. While these silos are separated by decades of building design and technologies, Talley’s decorative version references the other as a representation of the state’s agricultural heritage.

Farm Silo Construction
Farm Silo Construction
Talley Student Center Project
Talley Student Center Project

These resources, and lots more related to campus and town, 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.

By: Cathy Dorin-Black

As part of Image Discovery Week, we would like to highlight our images of University History, culled from the University Archives Photograph Collection. From snapshots of student life to athletics, UAPC has a little bit of everything dating from the founding of the University to present-day. Check out some of these images from throughout the years:

Football Team, in 1895

A crowd waits on Hillsborough Street for Harry Truman, circa 1948

Students eating at outdoor event, circa 1977

Homecoming Parade, 2008

These resources 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.

By: Laura Abraham

Ewes and early lambs at Upper Mountain Experiment Station

One of my main responsibilities in working at North Carolina State University’s Special Collections Research Center is to “enhance” images, which means I update their descriptions and add subjects to their online resource. A collection I’ve worked a lot with is our Agricultural Extension and Research Services Photographs, which features just about every possible aspect of agriculture from N. C. State and in North Carolina.

While these photographs were taken for academic and scientific purposes, I’m always surprised by the unexpected beauty that pops up in them from time to time. The above image was made to show the status of the sheep flock at this agricultural experiment station, but with the sky framed by the trees and the ewes and lambs lined up on the horizon, it’s a photo I want framed.

These resources, and lots more related to agriculture, 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.

By: Brian Dietz

It’s Image Discovery Week, and from freeze-dried fruit pellets to desserts made with flaked sweet potatoes, our Rare and Unique Digital Collections have some interesting and entertaining images related to food science just waiting to be discovered!

Freeze-dried fruits Processing cucumbers
Freeze-dried fruits Processing cucumbers
Flaked sweet potatoes Assembling equipment
Flaked sweet potatoes Assembling equipment
Food experiment Seafood Lab
Food experiment Seafood Lab

These resources, and lots more related to food science, 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.

By: Gwynn Thayer

This week, in conjunction with the Design Library, the Special Collections Research Center is promoting Image Discovery Week. We will be showcasing various image-related resources available to library users.

There are many digitized resources available to Special Collections users which we will feature throughout the week, including digitized materials relating to architecture, landscape architecture, and design.

However, not all of our resources are digitized. To begin exploring our many collections relating to architecture, landscape architecture, and design, start by browsing here. To learn more about what is in a particular collection, look at the finding aid to determine its contents. For example, there are several different series listed in the finding aid for the Frank Harmon Papers, which include, in part, project files, drawings, and photographs. The finding aid will also include a description of the “scope and content” of the collection as well as other information of interest, such as a biographical note.

Our collections can be viewed in person at the Special Collections Research Center, located in the East Wing of D. H. Hill Library.  If you would like to see an item in the Frank Harmon Papers, or another collection, please contact Special Collections via library_specialcollections@ncsu.edu or click here in order to set up an appointment.