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Category: Collection Highlights

Jun 28 2017

Wolf Tales 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant Wraps Up

Participants in Wolf Tales recordings made possible through the 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant.

Participants in Wolf Tales recordings made possible through an NCSU OIED 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant.

Wolf Tales has wrapped up a busy and productive spring thanks to funding from an NCSU Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) 2016-2017 Diversity Mini-Grant, supporting partnerships and recording events to create a more diverse and inclusive picture of our community in the archives.

Beginning in December 2016, the Wolf Tales team began targeted outreach to campus groups and student organizations to build awareness of the mobile video oral history program, and to plan recordings at major events throughout the spring of 2017.  With the planning and partnerships underway, Wolf Tales brought recording stations to 6 different events, capturing a total of 31 recordings with 44 participants in March and April 2017.  Events included student group EKTAA’s Oak City Revolution South Asian dance competition, Native American Student Affairs’s NCSU Pow Wow, the GLBT Center’s Lavender Graduation, and the Ebony Harlem Awards of Excellence Celebration presented each by the African American Cultural Center in conjunction with the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs, in addition to two open recording days in the Talley Student Union where all members of the NCSU community were invited to participate.

These partnerships and outreach allowed Wolf Tales to capture an increasingly diverse and inclusive range of stories and voices now documented in the archives, representing GLBT, Latinx, South Asian, East Asian, African American, Muslim, Native American, and other communities. The recordings will be a resource for research and teaching about NC State history and about issues around diversity within the campus community, as an important foundation of a collection that will continue to grow in the years to come.

Many of the recordings from the Diversity Mini-Grant period are currently available online as part of the Wolf Tales digital archive, with more on the way!  Recordings are shared through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site, so stay tuned as more become available in the future.  For more information on the Wolf Tales program or to discuss a partnership please contact

Jun 19 2017

Who was Eliza Riddick?

contributed by Jennifer Baker

In honor of our continued WWI coverage, it’s time to shed light on a tiny mystery of NC State history.

1919 Agromeck

From 1918 to 1919, the Spanish influenza made its presence known on the campus of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering. A temporary hospital was set up on campus to accommodate the large number of students falling ill. Sixty-six women are listed in the 1919 Agromeck as being “on duty at State College during the influenza epidemic.” At the top of the page is a Memoriam to two nurses who “died while nursing State College boys during influenza epidemic.” These nurses are listed as Miss Eliza Riddick and Miss Lucy Page.

For many years, Eliza Riddick has frequently been identified as the daughter of Wallace C. Riddick. Wallace C. Riddick was the 4th President of the College and led the school through  the first world war and the influenza epidemic.

Eliza Riddick shares Wallace C. Riddick’s last name, but she was not his daughter.

Letter from Anna Riddick, 1967

The university archives has several folders of material on Wallace C. Riddick, including newspaper articles, copies of speeches, and obituaries. None of these sources mentions the loss of a daughter. There are several sources which list his children by name: Wallace Whitfield, Lillian Ivy, Narcissa Daniel, Anna Ivy Jones and Eugenia Trovers (note there is no “Eliza” listed). And perhaps the most definitive piece of evidence, a letter written to the University Archivist in 1967 by Anna Ivy Jones Riddick (one of Riddick’s daughters) lists the children of Wallace Carl and Lillian Riddick and states quite plainly “children – all living.”

Now that we have established that Eliza Riddick was not, in fact, Riddick’s daughter – the question remains, who was she?  An article in the November 1, 1918 Alumni News describes her as “only 24, gladsome, buoyant, joyful, radiant.” She was a “young soldier who enlisted against the scourge…She labored for her Government by day and by night, followed disease to its den, that those who fought it off might be reinforced by the presence of a woman.” Certainly, she made an impression on the writer – there doesn’t appear to be a similar article for Miss Lucy Page, the other young woman who died while nursing sick students.

This, of  course, STILL doesn’t answer the question of who Eliza Riddick was. In the 1919 Agromeck Memoriam, there are 5 women listed with the last name of Riddick: Mrs. I.G. Riddick, Miss Eliza Riddick, Mrs. W.C. Riddick, Miss Lillian Riddick and Miss Anna Riddick. Knowing that Lillian and Anna were both daughters of Mrs. W.C. Riddick, and assuming that the names were listed in some sort of mother/daughter relationship (since its clearly not alphabetical), it stands to reason that Eliza was the daughter of Mrs. I.G. Riddick. Wallace C. Riddick was born and presumably raised in Wake County by an uncle or grandfather following the death of his parents. His mother was from Wake Forest and his parents chose to settle there after marrying. These familial bonds to the area indicate that Mrs. I.G. Riddick was a likely a family member, perhaps a sister-in-law. If Eliza was her daughter,  this would make Eliza Riddick a niece of  Wallace C. Riddick and a cousin to his children.

This last bit is speculation of course, but a mystery we invite someone to solve! So while we still aren’t sure who Eliza Riddick was, there is ample proof that she was not the daughter of Wallace C. Riddick!

For more information on Wallace C. Riddick or NC State’s involvement in World War I, please contact us at

Jun 09 2017

Rediscovering Agricultural History on the Campus of North Carolina A&T State University

This post was contributed by James R. Stewart Jr., Archives and Special Collections Librarian, North Carolina A&T State University.

Better Living In North Carolina is a collaborative digitization project between the NCSU Libraries and the Bluford Library at North Carolina A&T State University that is designed to reveal how agricultural practices transformed the state of North Carolina over the course of the last century. Materials from NCA&T that are now online and are being digitized present a wealth of information on the history of the NC Cooperative Extension Service and vocational education for African Americans. The majority of materials currently online from A&T are from the John D. Wray Collection and the S. B. Simmons Collection. This blog entry is about the three additional collections our materials originate from and their value to researchers.

Unidentified NFA Student Members
A Photograph of Unidentified NFA Student Members Holding a NFA Banner

The New Farmers of America Collection contains programs, banners, papers, photographs, scrapbooks, and so much more about the early national vocational education group for young African-American men in the nation and the state of North Carolina. These items provide more insights into the lives of S. B. Simmons, John C. McLaughlin and many other people who served in the NFA, NCA&T’s School of Agriculture, the extension service and many other regional or national educational groups.

Materials from the North Carolina A&T State University Cooperative Extension Service Archives Collection features a wealth of information not only about the role of the A&T extension service, but also about vocational agricultural education throughout the nation.

Images from the Pearsall Photographs Collection are also being digitized. Many vintage photos in this collection from 4-H camps, farm shows, cattle shows, and home demonstration meetings will complement the more than 200 photographs from the S. B. Simmons collection that are currently online.

RFD Piedmont was an agricultural program broadcast from WFMY-TV in Greensboro
RFD Piedmont was an agricultural program broadcast from WFMY-TV in Greensboro, NC during the 1950s & 1960s. This film is a fascinating time capsule of 4-H and the lives of extension agents R. E. Jones, Minnie Miller Brown, and Bessie B. Ramseur.

A unique contribution of these collections is that a majority of the non-text materials currently in the “Better Living” project originate from A&T. The collections of S. B. Simmons, the NFA and our extension office include a vast amount of audio-visuals of agricultural history. In collaboration with A/V Geeks and Post Pro, both of Raleigh N.C., 12 radio and musical recordings of the NFA and one broadcast of the Greensboro agriculture television program RFD Piedmont were digitized for future generations. It is incredible to see and hear many legends of North Carolina extension and vocational education like Robert E. Jones, Bessie B. Ramseur, James L. Moffitt, Minnie Miller Brown, T. E. Browne, and S. B. Simmons, as well as former NC governors R. Gregg Cherry and J. Melville Broughton.

As the project continues more reports, papers, photographs, educational aids, posters, scrapbooks, and even awards are being digitized from A&T’s collections. The rediscovered materials at both NCA&T and NC State University complement each other for a full multimedia history resource of our state’s agricultural development.

To see these and other resources related to the Better Living project and Community and Extension, visit the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. While you’re at it, check out NCSU Libraries’ Historical State timeline on the Cooperative Extension Service.

Jun 01 2017

Additions to the Libraries’ Online Agromeck Collection

The SCRC recently added issues of the Agromeck, the university’s yearbook, to the Libraries Rare and Unique Digital Collections site. We now have a near full run of the yearbook, from 1903 to 2005, available online and fully searchable.

1916 Agromeck
1916 Agromeck

1967 Agromeck
1967 Agromeck

1968 Agromeck
1968 Agromeck

1990 Agromeck
1990 Agromeck
1994 Agromeck
1994 Agromeck
2004 Agromeck
2004 Agromeck
2005 Agromeck
2005 Agromeck

These, along with other issues of the Agromeck and resources related to university history and student life, are available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to hundreds of thousands of images, video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. Also be sure to check out another great resource on university history, our Historical State timelines.

May 17 2017

Celebrating the Class of 1967 and the Forever Club

Last week, members of the NC State University graduating class of 1967 joined the Alumni Association’s Forever Club, a community of alumni who graduated from NC State 50 years ago and earlier. Special Collections joined the celebration for a third year in a row, bringing a show and tell of items from the archives that reflected their time as students at NC State.

Archival materials on display for the Class of 1967 and Forever Club.

Archival materials on display for the Class of 1967 and Forever Club.

The class of 1967 would have taken classes in the newly constructed Harrelson Hall, spent time in the Erdahl-Cloyd Student Union (currently housing the Atrium and West Wing of D.H. Hill Library), witnessed the Pullen Hall fire of 1965, welcomed growing numbers of female students living in the first female dorm on campus in Watauga Hall, celebrated the first football game in the new Carter-Finley Stadium, honored legendary basketball coach Everett Case and welcomed new coach Norman Sloan, and much more.

Alumni gathered at the Park Alumni Center to kick off their reunion weekend, and spent time exploring Agromeck yearbooks, issues of the 1964-1965 Technician from their freshman year, admissions booklets for prospective students noting the price of tuition in 1964 ($162.50 per semester for in-state students), athletics programs, brochures and calendars of events in the student union, photographs, computer punch cards from the first Computing Center on campus, and more.

Alumni browse materials on display.

Alumni browse materials on display.

Alumni shared some of their memories of the events reflected in the materials on display, and several sat down to record these stories in Wolf Tales recordings that will add more nuance to the record of this period on campus. One alumnus described watching the news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and being sent home early for Thanksgiving that year. Another alumnus spoke about the excitement and challenges of using a large, shared computer in the Computing Center to complete his course work as an Electrical Engineering student.

As part of our work to document and share the history of NC State, especially from the student perspective, we look forward to collecting stories and bringing materials from the archives into the hands of alumni and other members of the NC State community. You can explore more university history through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site, where you can also access thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics.  If you’d like to learn more about these resources or have any other questions, as always, please feel free to contact us!

May 08 2017

“Better Living” Grows with Influx of Microfilm

As the “‘Better Living’ in North Carolina” project enters its final months, Special Collections staff are working hard to make many cooperative extension materials available through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections website. Recent additions to “Better Living” include digitized microfilm reports from county and state-wide extension agents. These reports exist only in microfilm format, which is difficult to use. They reveal a staggering amount of detailed information about agricultural extension and home demonstration work in North Carolina at the individual county level. The reports currently online span the years 1908 – 1935. Depending on the year and the county, there could be reports from the agricultural extension agent and the home demonstration agent in the area, and these were often divided between those serving the white and African American populations, meaning four agents could write separate reports for a single county. Furthermore, each report could contain a statistical section and a narrative section, making for a lot of reports and a lot of data.

1927 African American Home Demonstration Annual Report, Wake County

Here is the African American home demonstration statistical report from Wake County for 1927. These reports were standardized forms which the extension agents completed with information gathered during the year. In this report, we see that Wake County had two agents, Bertha Maye and Lucy James. The report also tells us that they believed there were 50 communities throughout the county in which extension work should be carried out, but only 16 communities where it actually was. Was this a funding issue, or was there trouble getting people to participate? These reports reveal how many home visits these agents made (114 visits to 62 homes) and how many phone calls they placed over the year (61 in total). Maye and James primarily led their communities through food, nutrition, and clothing demonstrations. For example, the report says that 89 women and 72 girls received instruction on preparing better school lunches and that 161 girls’ coats were made. This granular detail fills in for the researcher overlooked aspects of life at this time, providing a more holistic view.

1918 Agricultural Agent Report, Cherokee County

1918 Agricultural Agent Annual Report, Cherokee County

The 1918 white narrative report from J. H. Hampton, extension agent for Cherokee County, is similarly revealing. The narrative reports flesh out the story that the numbers only partially tell. On dairy farming, for example, Hampton writes: “One cheese factory was established in the county on the cooperative plan. In March, 100 cows were promised to furnish milk for the factory. Owing to the delay in securing equipment for the factory we did not get it started until July 29 and there was not as much milk furnished as was promised. There will be one or more carloads of high grade Holstein cows brought into this community next spring. A pure bred Holstein bull has alread[y] arrived there.” The explanation that the narrative reports provide gives context to the numbers, and the two are necessary to understand the impact cooperative extension had in any given area.

1934 Extension Entomologist Annual Report

1934 Extension Entomologist Annual Report

On top of all of these county reports, the microfilm also has state-wide extension reports which cover the program’s focus areas, like swine production, plant pathology, and home management. Altogether there is a vast amount of material in these records which document life in the aggregate in early twentieth-century North Carolina. Preventing insect damage to crop production was the responsibility of the extension entomologist, and in 1934 that was C. H. Brannon. According to him, “1934 was a season of almost unprecedented horn worm infestation on tobacco, the damage was widespread and heavy. Farmers purchased a large number of small dusters for the application of poison and excellent results were secured by those who followed recommendations. Most tobacco growers are beginning to realize that insects must be controlled if tobacco is to be grown at a profit. The excellent price for the 1934 crop will make farmers more solicitous than ever of insect infestations of the 1935 crop and we are expecting even better cooperation in the future.” To find out if Brannon’s predictions were correct, you will have to explore the 1935 entomology report yourself.

"Better Living" Microfilm Reels 132-261

Half of the "Better Living" Microfilm Reels

So far, the 177,076 pages online represents 1/4 of the “Better Living” microfilm, so there’s a lot that will be available in the coming weeks. All of the digitized microfilm from the “Better Living” project is available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. While you’re at it, check out the Historical State timeline on the Cooperative Extension Service.

Apr 26 2017

Images from the Archives: A view of ever-changing Hillsborough Street

All of the construction on Hillsborough Street may be turning the area into an unfamiliar place. However, while Hillsborough Street has been consistent in its importance to North Carolina State University and its neighborhood, it has gone through much change since it was lain in 1792.

Here are some images from the Rare and Unique Digital Collections featuring historic Hillsborough Street, including our collection’s oldest image taken in 1884, three years before the land grant college that would become NC State was chartered.

Dining hall for the Exposition of 1884, on Hillsborough Street

This dining hall was set up for the North Carolina Exposition of 1884, which highlighted the state's progress in agriculture and industry.

The location has changed greatly in the last 133 years. For instance the street once had trolley tracks for traveling towards downtown Raleigh. When the trolley was discontinued, the tracks were paved over, only to be uncovered during construction in 2010.

Trolley traveling on Hillsborough Street near the State Capitol

Trolley traveling on Hillsborough Street towards the State Capitol, 1910s

Trolley Track unearthed during Hillsborough Street roundabout construction

Trolley track unearthed during Hillsborough Street roundabout construction, 2010

From 1873-1925, the North Carolina State Fair took place across the other side of Hillsborough Street from campus, and the fair grounds today are located alongside the street, though now several miles west.

Historic Marker on Hillsborough Street about N. C. State Fair

Historic Marker on Hillsborough Street about N. C. State Fair

Fairgrounds across from Patterson Hall on Hillsborough Street

Fairgrounds across from Patterson Hall on Hillsborough Street, 1910s

Hillsborough Street has also been where NC State has held Homecoming Parades.

4-H Club float for the 1956 Homecoming Parade

4-H Club float for the Homecoming Parade, November 1956

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members in Homecoming Parade

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members in Homecoming Parade, circa 1980

During the Vietnam Era, NC State students would take Hillsborough Street to march from campus to the State Capitol building.

North Carolina college students march on the Capitol

NC State, Duke, and Carolina students marching on Capitol to protest the Kent State massacre and the US military expansion into Cambodia, May 8, 1970

While Hillsborough Street has changed so much, you can still find some familiarity in these historical images.

Aerial View of Hillsborough Street

Aerial View of Hillsborough Street, 1940s

Corner of Hillsborough Street and Horne Street

Corner of Hillsborough Street and Horne Street, circa 1980

Front view of Tompkins Hall, North Carolina State College, showing automobiles parked on Hillsborough Street

Front view of Tompkins Hall, with automobiles parked on Hillsborough Street, circa 1955

    Horse drawn carriages on Hillsborough Street, looking east toward Tompkins Hall

Horse drawn carriages on Hillsborough Street, looking east toward Tompkins Hall, circa 1921

Line in front of Brother's Pizza Palace on Hillsborough Street

Line in front of Brother's Pizza Palace on Hillsborough Street, 1975

What a history of a single street! If you enjoyed these images and want to learn more about the Special Collections Research Center and our digitized materials, please visit the Rare and Unique Digital Collections for access to thousands of images, video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting the history of NC State and other topics.

“Hillsborough St. Timeline of History.” History | Hillsborough St Project. 2016. Accessed April 26, 2017.
“Student Life Timeline.” Historical State Timelines. Accessed April 26, 2017.
Hill, Michael. “North Carolina Exposition of 1884.” North Carolina Exposition of 1884 | NCpedia. 2006. Accessed April 26, 2017.
Mims, Bryan. “When Streetcars Ruled the Roads of North Carolina.” Our State Magazine. October 5, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2017.

Hill, Michael. “North Carolina Exposition of 1884.” North Carolina Exposition of 1884. NCpedia, 2006. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. <>.

Apr 19 2017

Better Metadata…NOW!

In the past we’ve written about the “Now” feature in the Rare and Unique Digital Collections site. It’s a neat way to see what in the collection is catching our researchers’ eyes. What caught my eye today while browsing the “Now” content was some of the titles we’ve supplied to our digitized assets. For instance, before today, the title of this photograph was, simply, “4H.”

4-H members at engineering laboratory's control panel

The rest of the descriptive metadata in that record was really good, and the photograph would have been discoverable via a keyword search. Not only that, it was discovered: I found it on the “Now” page because someone else had found it.

I like to refer to metadata as “betadata”; like software, we release it, and improve it when we find a bug. Not only can our staff using “Now” content as an indication of what’s of current interest to researchers, we can use to find descriptive records that could use some additional attention. Combining the two, we’re enhancing records of resources we know researchers have found of value.

This photo and others being viewed right now 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. For another really great resource on university history, be sure to check out our Historical State timelines.

Apr 12 2017

Guides to Two New Veterinary Medicine Collections Published

Blog post contributed by Jessica Serrao and Taylor de Klerk, Library Associates

NC State University boasts a top ranked College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Special Collections Research Center is excited to improve access to two collections that highlight the university’s emphasis on veterinary education and research. The Gregory A. Lewbart Papers and the William Medway Papers now have new online finding aids to help you navigate the professional and research files of these two prominent veterinarians.

Gregory Lewbart is a veterinarian of aquatic animals and terrestrial invertebrates and reptiles. His research interests include zoological medicine, infectious diseases, and public health. Lewbart joined the faculty of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) as Professor of Aquatic Animal Medicine in 1993. In 2016, he became the Assistant Department Head for the CVM’s Department of Clinical Sciences.

In 2012, Lewbart received the “William Medway Award for Excellence in Teaching” from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM). Medway, a founding member and former president of IAAAM, was an influential researcher and instructor in veterinary clinical pathology and aquatic mammal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Throughout his career, Dr. Medway contributed influential veterinary research on dolphins, manatees, and whales. Lewbart studied under Medway while at Penn as a veterinary student of marine mammal medicine.

The Gregory A. Lewbart Papers is mostly comprised of materials from his time at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and his work and leadership in the national and international veterinary community. Some material pertains to his education at the University of Pennsylvania and prior work experience in Florida.

The William Medway Papers includes photographic slides, veterinary clinical reports, administrative documentation from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM), and publications by Medway (as an individual and as a collaborator with other veterinary professionals). Dr. Medway was a founding member of IAAAM and served as its president from 1974 until 1975. IAAAM is a society of professionals and students focusing on aquatic animal medicine. Dr. Lewbart is also actively involved in IAAAM, and he served as its president in the mid-1990s. His collection contains materials from sixteen of their annual conferences, administrative organizational papers, and newsletters.

A significant portion of Lewbart’s collection is clinical case files. These files are organized according to his original numbering scheme that is based on the year in which the case opened, and then numbered consecutively by occurrence (ex: 1999-005, 1999-006, 1999-007). There are records for hundreds of patients, most of which include diagnoses, reports, clinical instructions, and other documentation. One fun aspect of processing this collection was seeing the unique animal names in these files. For example, Dr. Lewbart treated a yellow-bellied slider named “Dragster,” a goldfish named “Tulip,” a loggerhead turtle named “Stumpy,” a salamander named “Doo Doo,” and an iguana named “Piggy.”

Many of the clinical case files have corresponding photographs as visual documentation of the medical procedures. These photos (in both Lewbart’s and Medway’s collections) are not for the squeamish, including a significant number of photos in both collections from their research activities. Among other things, Dr. Lewbart conducted research on algal infections in horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) and there is a large quantity of photos of microscope slides that show the evolution of different infections.

Additionally, Lewbart has a special interest in turtles, and is a faculty advisor for CVM’s Turtle Rescue Team. The team is part of the Wildlife, Avian, Aquatic, and Zoological Medicine student organization and it aims to release healthy and rehabilitated turtles into the wild after providing medical, surgical, and/or husbandry services. Education about wildlife and ecosystems is also one of the organization’s main goals. Their papers are housed in University Archives; more information can be found in the team’s finding aid.

For more information about the Gregory A. Lewbart Papers and the William Medway Papers, please consult the collection guides online. To learn more about finding and using archival collections at NCSU, please visit our website. You can also search directly within our collection guides or browse a list of our collections for more. If you have any questions about how to find or use the collections, as always, contact us! We are here to help you find what you need.


“Dr. William Medway Honored,” Bellwether Magazine 1, no. 31 (Summer/Fall 1991), Accessed 3 April 2017.

Sam H. Ridgway, “History of Veterinary Medicine and Marine Mammals: A Personal Perspective,” Aquatic Mammals 34, no. 3 (2008): 471-513, accessed 3 April 2017,

Apr 04 2017

Reginald D. Tillson Landscape Architecture Papers

Blog post written by Lindsey Naylor

An audience at the High Point Museum this week will learn about the Reginald D. Tillson Landscape Architecture Papers, one of the newest additions to the Landscape Architecture Archive in NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. Tillson practiced landscape architecture out of his High Point office from the 1920s to 1970s, completing projects that ranged in scale from home gardens to public parks to private subdivisions. His designs’ cumulative impact on the built environment of High Point — and other communities of the Piedmont Triad and beyond — was considerable.

Gwynn Thayer, Associate Head and Curator for Special Collections, and Lindsey Naylor, a Master of Landscape Architecture student and Research Assistant for the Landscape Architecture Archive, will share images and insights from first impressions of the Tillson collection, which is still being processed and which will be available soon to researchers. The full collection includes more than 250 tubes and flat folders that hold drawings spanning Tillson’s full career.

Tillson founded his firm in High Point in the 1920s, when the textile and manufacturing industries were fueling local wealth and population growth. His earliest designs were for the home landscapes of the High Point elite who were moving into the newly created Emerywood neighborhood, built just north of downtown and part of the Uptown Suburbs Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens Tillson designed for Emerywood varied in complexity and drew from the popular Colonial Revival, Picturesque, and Arts and Crafts styles of landscape architecture.

In the 1930s, Tillson designed parks and nature preserve amenities throughout the Southeast for the Civilian Conservation Corps. His work with the CCC included the design of the High Point City Lake Park, where many of the features designed by Tillson remain intact today.

As High Point’s population grew and as trends in planning and development evolved, Tillson’s work grew in scale and complexity. He designed dozens of subdivisions and the grounds and siting for schools, churches and hospitals. And he continued his work on residential designs, which his son, David Tillson, said he preferred because of their intimate scale and horticultural focus. The breadth of the Tillson collection allows a unique view into planning and landscape architecture practice in the Southeast during decades of immense technological and social change.

Tillson's 1927 design for a home garden in Emerywood.

Another 1920s design for a home in Emerywood.

Tillson designed the estate grounds of textile executive J. E. Millis in stages, in 1927 and 1929.

Tillson created the design, details and construction drawings for the federally funded City Lake Park.

Tillson completed grading, utilities and planting plans for this 1960s High Point public housing project.

Tillson's planting plan for the 1968 design of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in High Point.