It’s that time again and I’ve just added over 200 titles to our What’s New in the North Carolina Collection page. This list is updated four times a year with our latest selections. Full citations can be found in the University Library catalog and these items are all available for use in the North Carolina Collection Reading Room. Check out the list under Pages in the right column.
Yesterday’s News & Observer had a long article about the auction of the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, once one of the premier stops on the NASCAR circuit. The article is a nice complement to the new book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas by Perry Allen Wood. Wood’s book offers extensive histories of twenty-nine former tracks in North and South Carolina. The book is thoroughly researched, and illustrated with black and white photographs. Just paging through the images, these former sites of racing glory all seem to look alike — to any but the most careful observer, they would appear as little more than overgrown vacant lots.
Two new features are now available on the North Carolina Postcards website, giving users a couple of different ways to browse through the cards. A list of colleges and universities shows the many schools that appear in postcards, from well-known universities like North Carolina State to little-known and nearly-forgotten institutions like the Joseph Keasbey Brick Agricultural, Industrial, and Normal School.
Another new feature incorporates Google Maps to show the locations of a handful of North Carolina textile mills, some of which are not even around anymore. With the Google Maps feature users can compare current maps with satellite views and zoom in to the exact location of the mills. This is pretty fun stuff.
Here at the North Carolina Collection we take pride in knowing all things “North Carolina.” You may be able to stump one of us, but when we put our collective heads together and do a little digging, we can generally find the answer to most North Carolina-related inquiries…that is, until we ran into the bug. One of our catalogers found a thoroughfare plan for Taylorsville (Alexander County), North Carolina, and we were stumped by the town’s seal. Normally, these emblems include items related to the town’s history, commerce, or location, but why (oh why) did Taylorsville have a bug in the middle of its seal?
After a thorough search of our collection, we finally gave up and called the Town of Taylorsville. After a brief chuckle, the person on the other end of the line explained that the insect commemorates the “June Bug Line,” a railroad to Taylorsville that was completed in 1887. During the debate over the railroad’s charter, an Alexander County legislator, arguing for its completion, supposedly said, “Gentleman, there’s a mine in Hiddenite with a mineral so precious that a June Bug could fly away with enough on its wings to pay for the whole railroad.” The gems may not have stuck to the bug’s wings, but the railroad’s name did.
Just as the nation was embarking on the the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, North Carolinians were reminded of the conflicts, hot and cold, of an earlier era. Charles Robert Jenkins, a soldier from Rich Square, North Carolina, disappeared while patrolling the DMZ in Korea in 1965. Nothing was heard of him again until 2002 when his Japanese wife and four other Japanese kidnapped by the North Koreans were allowed to visit their homeland. Jenkins did not accompany his wife, in part because the North Koreans were using him and their two daughters as hostages to force Mrs. Jenkins to return, but also because Jenkins feared extradition to the United States to face a court-martial.
The case of the Jenkins family became a cause célèbre in Japan, where there was much sympathy for Mrs. Jenkins. North Carolinians were not of one mind on Mr. Jenkins. Was he a deserter, or someone victimized by the North Koreans–or both? Two years of media attention and diplomatic activity produced a resolution. Mr. Jenkins went to an American base in Japan and admitted to a court-martial that he deserted because he feared being sent to Vietnam. The court showed mercy, giving Jenkins a short sentence. He and his family retired to his wife’s hometown in Japan where Jenkins wrote his autobiography, which was published in Japan in 2005. The North Carolina Collection now has a copy of that work, Kokuhaku=To Tell the Truth. If you can’t read Japanese, check back in 2008, when the University of California Press will be publishing an English language edition of the autobiography under the title The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea.
I’m proud to announce that the North Carolina Collection Gallery has been officially designated a Curiosity. The Gallery is featured in the new book North Carolina Curiosities, containing “quirky characters, roadside oddities and other offbeat stuff” from around the state. The entry on the Gallery mentions the permanent exhibit on Chang & Eng Bunker and, what must be the Gallery’s most unexpected holding, the Napoleon death mask.
North Carolina Curiosities is a fun book, covering many Tar Heel sites of historic and general interest. I was happy to see Dr. Brinkley‘s home in there, as well as some familiar sites like the mother vine in Manteo, the Thomas Wolfe angel in Hendersonville, and, a personal favorite, Weiner Dog Day in Carrboro.
In the “36 Hours in Budapest” article in the travel section of last Sunday’s New York Times (August 12, 2007), I found a surprise reference to a talented Tar Heel. It seems that one of the chic new hotels on the banks of the Danube contains the work of Donald Sultan, who is Asheville born and a UNC-Chapel Hill alum (Class of 1973). The Art’otel’s website touts not just the presence of Sultan’s artworks but also his contribution to the style of the hotel. The Art’otel is now on my list of places to visit when I am in Budapest next spring. Perhaps if the works of more Tar Heel artists pop up in this lovely old city, I can call my trip work-related!
This week, Kinston is celebrating its most famous resident, Richard Caswell (1729-1789). Caswell did it all: he was a delegate to the Continental Congress (although not a notable one), a leader of the General Assembly, a general, and, of course, the state’s first governor. When he wasn’t leading the government, he was out on the battlefield or writing to his oldest son, also a soldier, about the importance of carrying on the fight against British tyranny.
On Thursday, however, Caswell will get to do something he has never done before – play baseball. Caswell will be honored at the Kinston Indians game that night and a reenactor will throw out the first ball. It is fitting that he will be celebrated by the Indians because Caswell always had a cordial relationship with the state’s first inhabitants. A Cherokee leader once called him “the great beloved man of North Carolina,” but the team may be happy to celebrate his mock funeral on Friday if his presence doesn’t help bring them a win.
Having trouble remembering why you love the South so darn much? At 100+ degrees outside, we’re all desperately seeking ways to avoid those August summer blues. Well, Dr. Lionel Chalmers has some classic advice for us on keeping our health during these dog days of summer in his 1776 work, An Account of the Weather and Diseases of South Carolina, which is part of the Bruce Cotten Collection here at the NCC.
Chalmers explains why the heat affects us so: “As the air becomes more moist from heat, the watery particles that float therein, enter our bodies along with the fiery ones: and these rendering each other more active are quickly conveyed throughout the system, weakening the solids and resolving the fluids still more.”
There are apparently a whole mess of digestive issues which may arise during this kind of intense heat, most of which I am hesitant to mention. Dehydration becomes an issue, and if you don’t have that Gatorade handy then don’t fret; Dr. Chalmers has some advice on what you should be eating: “The diet in those who are strong, should be rather spare and not heating . . . On the other hand, valetudinarians [the weak], for the most part, require a more spicy spirituous and stimulating regimen.” And be warned; it takes a much greater amount of Peruvian bark to cure fevers in this weather.
We have just added a large group of postcards of Greensboro to the North Carolina Postcards project. Some of the new images include views of downtown from the early twentieth century, postcards of colleges including UNC-Greensboro and North Carolina A&T, and a variety of images of churches, businesses, and government buildings.
One of the most interesting finds was the postcard of Immanuel Lutheran College, shown here. This elaborate building housed a seminary for African American students. The school was founded in 1903 in Concord, moving to Greensboro in 1905 where it remained until closing in 1961. The building pictured on the postcard was torn down sometime after the Immanuel Lutheran buildings were acquired by North Carolina A & T in 1965.