The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday February 2nd

UNC yearbooks from 1890 to 1966 now available online

CBS newsman Charles Kuralt in 1955
Buy Photos CBS newsman Charles Kuralt in 1955

Students can now access the hairstyles and favorite quotations of the students who preceded them with the click of a mouse.

University Libraries posted yearbooks from 1890 to 1966 online in February, offering the UNC community a resource to reflect on student life from more than a century ago.

The digitization of  the Hellenian and Yackety Yack yearbooks kicked off a string of projects conducted by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center to provide online access to photographic collections, scrapbooks and pictures of museum artifacts.

“We started with yearbooks because they are very popular and there has not been an effort to digitize yearbooks,” said Nicholas Graham, program coordinator of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

“Yearbooks are an important part of telling the story of our state’s history. It’s a wonderful look at the changing student life and culture over the years.”

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, which is housed at the Wilson Special Collections Library, digitized the yearbooks as part of a statewide effort that includes universities such as Appalachian State University and Elon University along with museums and public libraries.

“Our goal is to help places, especially smaller places that don’t have the resources that a large research library like UNC’s, might have,” Graham said.

UNC Libraries has worked with digitizing materials since 1996, when it launched a pilot project called Documenting the American South. The project included a Web site where six slave narratives were published.

In December 2007, the Carolina Digital Library and Archives was established with the purpose of building digital collections that would be available to everybody. Rita Van Duinen, project management librarian for the Carolina Digital Library and Archives, said the program started with one Scribe scanner and now has three.

A Scribe scanner can digitize 3,000 pages per day, and materials are available 48 hours later on the Internet Archive, an online library that compiles information from around the world, to download for free.

So far, 5,000 volumes from University libraries have been scanned with the Scribe scanners.

Graham said copyright law is frequently the main challenge in the digitization process. Anything published before 1923 can be digitized because the copyright has expired. But permission from the copyright holder is required to digitize materials from after that year.

Graham said copyright law, along with the sheer amount of materials, have prevented the library from digitizing all its books.

“I think it is unlikely because of copyright,” he said, regarding the possibility of digitizing all materials in UNC Libraries. “But again, the work we are doing now would have seemed impossible 10 years ago.”

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