NC State University  | campus directory  |  libraries  |  mypack portal  |  campus map  |  search

Category: Uncategorized

Jun 27 2016

Making Archival Collections User-Friendly

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.

May 27 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

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

Nov 04 2015

Special Collections celebrates Homecoming 2015 with NCSU alumni

Eli Brown and Todd Kosmerick getting in the Wolfpack spirit at NCSU Alumni Homecoming Tailgate 2015.

The Special Collections Research Center joined several events hosted by the NCSU Alumni Association this past weekend, where we brought our materials out to help celebrate Homecoming 2015.

On Friday October 30, the Wake County Alumni Network hosted “A Last Look at Harrelson,” inviting alumni to return to Harrelson Hall for a final farewell before its demolition over the coming year.  Floor plans, architectural drawings, promotional brochures, and photographs from various collections in the University Archives and records of the Holloway-Reeves architecture firm brought alumni back to the years when the building was first opened.  Libraries staff in the D.H. Hill Makerspace created laser-cut key chains and bookmarks using sketches and floor plans from the archives to give away to alumni, while the Wolf Tales oral history station recorded former students’ memories of the building in short video interviews.

Sketches and models of Harrelson hall laser-cut into key chains and bookmarks in the D.H. Hill Makerspace using SCRC materials.

For the Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Saturday October 31, Special Collections staff brought copies of football programs and Agromeck yearbooks dating back to 1960, displayed facsimiles of archival photographs showing homecoming celebrations over the years, and gave away buttons printed with images from the archives.  Alumni of all ages enjoyed finding pictures of themselves – and often of their parents and grandparents – in the Agromecks, sparking lots of memories and stories, and left decked out in buttons to cheer on the Wolfpack.

SCRC tent and display at NCSU Alumni Homecoming Tailgate.

1980s alumni reunite for Homecoming 2015.

Alumni recalling their student days over Agromeck yearbooks.

Recent graduate Christopher Lawing ('15) greets Eli Brown and Todd Kosmerick.

NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson, Susan Woodson, Kathy Wilson-Sischo, and Vice Chancellor for Development Brian Sischo pick up Homecoming buttons from Special Collections.

Alumni browse and snap photos of 1980s Agromecks.

Three generations of NC State students: current student, with her mother, an alum, finds her grandfather's photo in a 1960 Agromeck.

College of Engineering graduate Eugene Strupe shows his yearbook photo in a 1967 Agromeck.

May 08 2014

Celebrating the Smith-Lever Act Anniversary

NC Agricultural Extension Organization Chart, ca. 1935

NC Agricultural Extension Organization Chart, ca. 1935

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the federal legislation that created extension services at the land-grant universities throughout the United States. Its purpose was to provide agricultural information in order to improve the lives and conditions of farm families and boost the agricultural sector of the economy. The North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service was created later in 1914. In 1991 it changed its name to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. For the last 100 years it has disseminated scientific information through a variety of resources that include periodicals, pamphlets, photographs, films, audio recordings, and video. NC State’s University Archives has been acquiring historical examples of these, some of which are accessible online. Numerous examples are shown below.

Video on blueberry mechanization, late 1960s

Pamphlet on factors affecting the quality of flue-cured tobacco, 1936

The Extension Service has encouraged production of a number of crops during the last 100 years. North Carolina is the leading producer of sweet potatoes and a major producer of peanuts. Other important food commodities include apples, blueberries, corn, peaches, and strawberries. Tobacco was already a major commodity in North Carolina in 1914, but throughout the twentieth century Cooperative Extension fostered growth of this crop. Historically, North Carolina has been a leader in flue-cured tobacco production.

Transporting chickens by railroad, ca. 1925

Transporting chickens by railroad in North Carolina, ca. 1925

Turkeys on a North Carolina farm, ca. 1950

Turkeys on a North Carolina farm, ca. 1950

Poultry production became an important part of North Carolina’s agricultural economy during the twentieth century, in no small part through promotion by the Cooperative Extension Service. The state has been one of the leading producers of turkeys and broiler chickens.  Eggs have been another area that saw growth.   4-H participation in the Sears Poultry program just after World War II was important in the industry’s development.  The North Carolina Layer Performance and Management Test has been gauging production since 1958.

Flyer on Plant Disease Clinic, ca. 1954

Weed Management in Soybeans, Dial-a-Weed, 1981

Through such services at the Plant Disease Clinic (later called the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic) and the Dial-a-Weed program, farmers, gardeners, and homeowners have been able to tap into expert advice on a wide range of plant issues.

Digitized images, documents, videos, and other resources on the history of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service are available at the NCSU Libraries Rare and Unique Digital Collections site. Descriptive guides to archival collections that have not yet been digitized are also available online.

Feb 03 2014

New Year, New Processing Space

This post is contributed by Ashley Williams, Project Archivist, Animal Rights and Animal Welfare Collections.

Our processing area at Satellite has had a makeover!  If you’re like most people at NCSU, you’re probably asking yourself –“what’s a Satellite?” and “what kind of processing?”

Satellite, or the NCSU Libraries’ Satellite Shelving Facility, is the building where some of the Special Collections Research Center’s materials are stored, and is also where many of these materials are arranged and described, or processed. Processing archival collections involves sorting and organizing them, moving papers into acid-free folders and boxes for long-term preservation, and creating written guides that will be published on the web to enable researchers to find and use the materials.

When our project to process collections relating to animal rights and animal welfare began in August 2012, a processing work space was created in the back of the building, where supplies and some large drawings were being stored. As is often the case with grant-funded projects, we were adapting a space that was not designed for us. Setting up an office partition to differentiate our processing area from the storage space and bookshelves to store the collection as we worked on it gave us space in which to work, but we were in a different part of the building from other staff and around the corner from our computers.

previous processing space

processing in previous space

In 2013, we were able to move our processing space to the front of Satellite and move the map cases located there to the back. The move happened on December 18, and the first week in January, I got to see it for myself. As a processing archivist, I was thrilled.

So what does this new processing space mean? Processors working in the space appreciate its spaciousness and the natural lighting, but most importantly, the improved space means more processing can take place. Four people are now able to work comfortably at the tables, each with plenty of space to spread out their work.  For example, there are three project archivists who are working on related collections.  Because we are now physically close to one another it becomes easier to ask a question or take a quick look at a document or file folder without having to go to a separate area in the building or take a project archivist away from her work. The space now has an organic feel where people are not sectioned off in individual bubbles, but rather work in a collaborative environment. Everyone has space, but that space is not rigid. Some days, your materials may take up more space, and other days less.

new processing space

The new space also means we are located only a rolling-chair-push away from the computer.  Now we can work on finding aids more easily, or, as has been the case with animal rights, look up a definition to a word associated with the collection that is being processed. Archival supplies and collection materials are easily accessible, but more importantly, the new processing space allows us easy access to other staff members who we can bounce ideas off of or consult with on an issue as it arises. Natural lighting, more space, and a collaborative work environment make the new processing area at Satellite a welcoming space for staff and visitors alike.

Jan 13 2014

Arranging, Describing and Preserving Photographic Slides

This post was contributed by Meaghan Lanier, Library Associate, Special Collections Research Center.

My coworker, Sarah Breen, and I recently finished arranging and describing the Mitchell Bush Papers (MC 00467). Sarah posted a brief description of the collection on December 2 (, soon after we published the collection guide on the web (

Dr. Mitchell Bush is a leader in the field of modern zoological medicine focused on pioneering studies and clinical practice in zoological and comparative medicine. His collection is a large one (105 boxes occupying 55.25 linear feet of shelf space), and there are many slides included, some of them accompanied by lecture notes. Many of these slides were used in Bush’s pathology as well as to show a record of his procedures and how they were performed. Now slides are being replaced with digital files, but the work of the past still matters for the present and the future, so these slides need to be preserved for future students of zoology and related fields.

When the collection arrived at NCSU, there were about 35 binders filled with slides and some additional slides in individual sheets and boxes. As you can see in the picture below, many of the binders were old, dusty and falling apart.

Binder pages were cloudy and sticky.

Slides were removed from these binders.

Inside the binders the slides were sheets with pockets holding slides. Many of the sheets were sticky and cloudy.

Pages after slides were removed.

In order to preserve the slides, we needed to remove them from these sheets and these binders. With cotton gloves on my hands, I removed the slides, one by one, keeping them in order and facing the correct way. I placed them in slide boxes with tabs separating the slides that came from each binder. Everywhere that slides or groups of slides could be identified they were separated with a tab. These slide boxes as well as the tabs are made with archival material, which means they will not cause the slides to deteriorate, especially when they are also housed in a climate controlled environment, such as the NCSU Libraries’ Satellite Shelving Facility.

Below you can see that six slide boxes fit into a flat box.

Slides filed in order in acid-free boxes.

Six slideboxes stored in each flat box.

In the end, the slides occupied seven flat boxes, each with six slide boxes in it. I estimated that there are now 6,000 slides rehoused, safely stored and available to researchers interested in zoological medicine.

Dec 20 2013

Winter Simulation Conference 2013: A Successful Launch for

The Winter Simulation Conference in Washington, D.C., which was held from December 7-11, was the ideal venue to showcase the new NCSU Libraries’ website that features video oral histories of computer simulation pioneers as well as other collections about computer simulation. Six more video oral history interviews took place during the conference: Russell C. H. Cheng, Ray J. Paul, Peter D. Welch, Lee W. Schruben, Bruce W. Schmeiser, and Averill M. Law. The video oral history project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a collaborative project with NCSU’s Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Pictured above are:

Top Left: Richard E. Nance, delivering his “Titans of Simulation” talk at the Winter Simulation Conference

Top Right: Peter D. Welch, on left, after his oral history interview with NCSU Professor (and project P.I.) James R. Wilson

Middle Left: Lee W. Schruben, preparing for his oral history interview

Middle Right: Ingolf Stahl, donating books on simulation to the Simulation Archive at NCSU Libraries

Lower Left: Robert G. Sargent, on left, with Averill M. Law, after Law’s oral history interview

Lower Right: Ray J. Paul, at the conference reception after his oral history interview, with his book about living with Parkinson’s

To learn more about the Computer Simulation Archive, go to:

Nov 25 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

A&M Football Team

This year, two days after we’ve enjoyed food, family, and NFL football, we’ll take to our chairs to watch NC State take on Maryland. In 1910, the squad, then representing North Carolina College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts, played Virginia Polytechnic Institute, now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, on Thanksgiving Day, in the “biggest football game ever played in the South for championship of the South and Middle West”. The game determined the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion, and, according to what was written on the back of the poster, State appears to have won 5-3 (a touchdown versus a field goal).

See the above and other historic images at NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections.

Nov 04 2013

University Archives on the Road

Special Collections displayed photos and artifacts at the Black Alumni Society Legacy Dinner.

Attendees looked at historic photographs and memorabilia from the University Archives.

Special Collections took the University Archives on the road this past week and showed treasures from NC State’s history at two separate events.  On Saturday, November 2, the Archives was at the Black Alumni Society’s Legacy Dinner, where we displayed historic photos of African American fraternities, sororities, and other students groups from the 1970s and 1980s, and the first constitution (1968) of the Society of Afro-American Culture.  Also on view were flyers and posters from early NC State Pan-African Festivals from the 1970s and Martin Luther King Day celebrations from the 1980s.  Other items available were proceedings from the first Brotherhood Dinner in 1982, which is now an annual event to recognize important contributions being made by African Americans and to enhance an environment that brings together people of diverse backgrounds to study and work together.  Because dinner was held after the homecoming football game, we showed a selection of historical sports materials too.  Based on input from several people attending the dinner, we have been able to identify a number of people depicted in the photos.

Special Collections showed a selection of historic photos, yearbooks, and memorabilia from NC State's 1983 and 1974 basketball championships at the screening of "30 for 30: Survive and Advance."

Last Monday, October 28, Special Collections also displayed sports memorabilia at a Hunt Library screening of the ESPN film “30 for 30:  Survive and Advance” about NC State’s 1983 national champion basketball team.  People coming to see the film were first able to browse through historic images, memorabilia, and yearbooks from the 1983 and 1974 championship seasons.  Memorabilia from the 1983 championship was presented, including clothing and a commemorative shoe.   Also shown were trading cards depicting famous NC State players, as well as a selection of athletics programs from through NC State’s history.

Oct 11 2013

Design Library Fall Special!

It’s time for the “Fall Special” at the Harrye B. Lyons Design Library!

A “Show and Tell” event featuring highlights from Special Collections

When:  October 16, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Where: The Harrye B. Lyons Design Library, 209 Brooks Hall, Raleigh, NC 27695

The Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries will continue its biannual tradition of a “Show-and-Tell” event at the Design Library with its “Fall Special” on Wednesday, October 16. This is an exciting opportunity to see a sampling of Special Collections materials of special interest to those at the College of Design. The items on display will include rare books, architectural drawings, and other materials from our collections in Art and Design, Architecture, Graphic Design, and Landscape Architecture. Please come by during our open hours to enjoy light refreshments and an opportunity to examine these unique items from the Special Collections Research Center.

For questions about this year’s event, please contact Gwynn Thayer at