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UNC makes old yearbooks available online

Fans of Andy Griffith now have a chance to see his college yearbook picture — as well as photos of other North Carolina natives dating back to 1890 — thanks to a University effort to digitize old archives from across the state.

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is gathering those archives into an online collection as part of a project UNC launched in late 2009.

Institutions from across the state are working with UNC Libraries by submitting their old yearbooks, newspapers and photos to be scanned into the system, said Nick Graham, program coordinator of the center.

“We want the people of North Carolina to realize the rich cultural heritage we have here,” he said.

DigitalNC, the website which houses the center’s archives, was created by UNC and is supported by the State Library of North Carolina.

More than 100 different organizations, largely universities and libraries, are involved with DigitalNC, Graham said.

He said the program was created to give institutions the opportunity to share their collections online for free, which is especially helpful for small organizations that lack the needed resources to create their own online archives.

It also creates a more efficient way of preserving these archives by combining and consolidating them all into one database, he said, adding that the program speaks to the statewide mission of connecting institutions.

“We are really excited to promote the discovery of this irreplaceable historic material,” Graham said.

The program is funded by annual grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services per provisions of the Library and Services and Technology Act, Graham said.

According to the center’s website, it also receives funds from UNC Libraries.

Graham said grants are sometimes as large as several hundred thousand dollars.

Maggie Dickson, digital projects librarian, manages the workflow of DigitalNC out of Wilson Library.

She said she is beginning to expand the archives by collecting high-school yearbooks 50 years or older to add into the system.

Jacqueline Chapman, a graduate student in the School of Information and Library Science, works on the digitization of primary-source materials.

Chapman makes the archives searchable by inserting titles, dates and keywords to the submissions.

“(DigitalNC) will be around for a while. We’ll be here as long as there is a need, and I think there will always be a need,” she said.

Chapman said that people using the program enjoy the personalized experience — some users have been able to find documentation of relatives.

She said that her favorite part of the archives is the old scrapbooks, which contain minutes from old meetings, as well as photographs and commentary.

Chapman added that DigitalNC has an important role in connecting people.

“We are fortunate to have this center at UNC to digitize materials from across the state at a high level of quality, with precision and care,” she said.

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