Yesterday marked the final day of our two-year project to digitize and make accessible over 40,000 pages of documents critical to understanding the history of agriculture in North Carolina. “Cultivating a Revolution: Science, Technology, and Change in North Carolina Agriculture, 1950-1979” serves students, teachers, researchers, and the general public by documenting the development of modern agricultural practices and their economic impact across the state of North Carolina. The industry currently generates $70 billion in value annually in the state. Drawing from thirteen different archival collections held by the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, “Cultivating a Revolution” provides primary source documentation and valuable historical information about the evolution of modern agricultural practices in North Carolina and the southeastern United States at large.
Highlights of the collection include drawings by Dr. William Johnson, Dr. William Splinter, and their graduate assistants, in the College of Agriculture and Life Science, of their designs for tobacco harvesters and bulk curing barns; correspondence with the international academic and business community regarding developments at NC State on bulk curing and mechanized harvesting of tobacco and other crops; and documentation of research into pesticide development, plant disease prevention, and genetic modification of crops.
In addition to the text and photographic materials, over one hundred and fifty 16mm films from the University Archives Film Collection and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Records at NC State are now available online. The films include interviews with scientists, engineers, extension workers, and farmers who developed and applied innovative agricultural practices, as well as footage of the application of these practices around North Carolina. The films include interviews with the creators and users of the newly developed bulk curing barns in the mid-1960s, a visit to the NC State Dairy Farm in the 1950s, and test runs of sweet potato and cucumber harvesters at the university’s research stations.
The funds to support this work were awarded by the State Library of North Carolina and are made possible through funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.
The “Cultivating a Revolution” website at www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/projects/cultivating-a-revolution.html provides more information on the project and links to the digitized materials. The NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Materials website at go.ncsu.edu/cultivatingarevolution also makes it easy to access the digitized materials from the project.