Check out what’s new in the North Carolina Collection

Several new titles were just added to New in the North Carolina Collection. To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the New in the North Carolina Collection tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog, and all titles are available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

New in the collection: ‘Nifty gifty’ made in Hickory

Hyalin Dish shaped like North Carolina with Spruce Pines noted.

Verso of Hylan dish shaped like North Carolina, with "Emrich's State of the Union by Hyaln" stamped on it.

From 1946 to 1997, Hyalyn Porcelain was a prominent manufacturer in Hickory — well chronicled here by the

Catawba County historian and collector Barry Huffman suggests an answer:

“Hyalyn produced a series of these small pieces, apparently thinking of a series of states, although I have seen only North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. I believe it is likely Spruce Pine commissioned the application of the city name.

“Les Moody, founder of Hyalyn, chose Hickory in part because of its location near resources he would use to achieve the clay formula he wanted. Hyalyn purchased feldspar from [the Spruce Pine area] and surely had contacts there who were familiar with the kinds of things they made. [Georgia and Michigan have also been mentioned as sources.] This sort of object probably fell in the category of ‘nifty gifties,’ so named by employees.”

More here about Spruce Pine’s remarkable geology.


New in the collection: Badin tool room check

Tool room check medallion for ALCOA Badin plant

Verso of Tool Room check for ALCOA Badin plant
Alcoa came to Badin in 1915, purchasing the town, its aluminum smelting plant and the tracts of land surrounding the Yadkin River. To power its facility, Alcoa built four massive hydroelectric dams. But in 2010, the plant closed, and the industrial jobs evaporated….

“The dams have been sold, but Alcoa remains a major presence in the valley, where it owns more than 9,000 acres of undeveloped land….”

— From “NC conservationists get first dibs on Alcoa land” by Sam Killenberg in the News & Observer (June 5, 2017)

Before computers and bar codes, metal tags such as this were common for inventory control.


New in the collection: Montgomery Ward employee badge

Pin back badge for Montgomery Ward in Durham

South Square Mall in Durham was opened in August 1975 as a 790,000-square-foot regional shopping mall at a cost of about $25 million.

“The original anchors were Belk-Leggett (later renamed Hudson-Belk) and J.C. Penney.   Montgomery Ward was built as the middle anchor several years after opening — only its second location  in North Carolina.

“Montgomery Ward closed in 1985 as part of a corporate downsizing.  A year later that space would be filled by Ivey’s (later Dillard’s).  South Square closed in 2002 due to competition from the newly-opened Streets at Southpoint mall.”

— From

Montgomery Ward closed the last of its stores in 2001. This badge has a pre-’70s look, but I’m not finding evidence of an earlier presence of Montgomery Ward in Durham. 


New in the collection: key fob from Hotel Robert E. Lee

Key fob for Hotel Robert E. Lee in Winston-Salem

“The Robert E. Lee hotel was a gleaming 10-story symbol of Winston-Salem’s boom time when it opened its doors in 1921….

“The Robert E. Lee came as the city and the tobacco industry were growing rapidly. The U.S. Decennial Census listed Winston-Salem as the state’s largest city….

“The Robert E. Lee finally shut its doors in 1971. To many, its closure represented the changing pace of modern life. Longtime waiter Bernard Cardwell blamed ‘motels and hamburgers.’ ”

— From  “Stories of a lost landmark” by Paul Garber in the Winston-Salem Journal (March 25, 2012)