Historical Voices from North Carolina

Visitors to the Emerging Issues Commons may be drawn in by large-scale displays visualizing data, interactive tables enabling them to add their own suggestions for how to improve North Carolina’s future, or the voice of Governor Hunt greeting them from the Overture film. The Commons’ components are many, and they are impressive in size and in ambition. But anchoring the data and ideas of today are stories from the state’s past, looks at historical challenges faced by North Carolina ranging from eradicating infectious disease to ensuring equal access to education, from the development of graded schools and higher educational systems to funding and building infrastructure. These stories are captured in the Voices area of the space and also appear on the Commons website. I was involved with the production of these stories and would like to share a little bit about their creation.

Wake County Training School, Playing games at recess, 1916 Jackson Davis, Papers, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library http://search.lib.virginia.edu/catalog/uva-lib:329892

Wake County Training School, Playing games at recess, 1916
Jackson Davis, Papers, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library
http://search.lib.virginia.edu/catalog/uva-lib:329892

Second Story produced 18 historical videos for the Voices Area, each about 2 minutes long. The stories were carefully chosen by our client, Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), to address one or more of the “challenge statements” they identified as organizing principles for the content of the Commons. Using these challenge statements throughout the Commons allowed for each historical story to be tied to contemporary efforts to address the same issue, data about the challenge, and ideas for the future. The challenge to improve the quality of health care in North Carolina is one that has had evolving manifestations and responses throughout the state’s history. In the 1910s, the NC Public Health System was formed to ensure that citizens throughout the state had access to health care through local health departments. Today, the state faces an uneven distribution of access to dental care; as late as 2011, there were still three counties with no dentists at all. Eastern Carolina University’s new dental school is training new dentists to work in rural areas.

Women assembled at Wheeley's Church near Gordonton, North Carolina, to clean up church and grounds on annual cleaning up day. 1939 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction # LC-USF34-020020-C  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000003551/PP/

Women assembled at Wheeley’s Church near Gordonton, North Carolina, to clean up church and grounds on annual cleaning up day. 1939
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction # LC-USF34-020020-C
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000003551/PP/

IEI worked with historians and experts in each field to create the scripts for the historical stories. The scripts went through many rounds of review and revision on IEI’s side, and then a content strategist at Second Story reviewed them to ensure consistency of voice and narrative flow when read aloud. As the scripts were coming together, image research was already underway on our end. I was lucky enough to do the majority of the image research for the stories. Along the way, I had help from many generous and knowledgeable North Carolinians including archivists and librarians of university and state collections, librarians of small local collections, photographers, holders of private collections, business historians, administrators of non-profits, and bloggers. Second Story put together storyboards for each video, allowing IEI to view and approve image selections. A series of rough video cuts was produced with scratch voiceover recordings to work out the image transitions and final image selections, after which image permissions were obtained and documented. Second Story recorded the narration with voice talent, and the final video cuts were made. Supporting images were selected for each story; in the exhibit space these play on either side of the videos. Start to finish, the production of these historical stories spanned two years and incorporated over 650 photographs and film clips.

Shopping and visiting on main street of Pittsboro, North Carolina. 1939 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction # LC-DIG-fsa-8b33858 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000003378/PP/

Shopping and visiting on main street of Pittsboro, North Carolina. 1939
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction # LC-DIG-fsa-8b33858
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000003378/PP/

The final videos are full of amazing imagery of the state and its people, and exploring the many collections from which the materials were drawn has been a highlight of my time at Second Story. Depending on the story to be told, the image research felt like a smorgasbord or a treasure hunt. Along the way, I set aside photographs that captured my thoughts but did not fit into the stories we created. Here are a few of those inscrutable, joyous, mysterious, or introspective scenes and faces.

—Jen Dolan, Content Strategist

Images, clockwise from top left:

Man diving into pool at YMCA student conference center, Blue Ridge Assembly, near Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1921. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/0004836

Exercises in Kenan Stadium, Navy Pre-Flight School. North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/vir_museum/id/648

Jones County 4-H king and queen of health and their court, 1929. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/0014887

Stage at a Home Demonstration clubhouse, 1920s. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/0000595

Greensboro, NC, ca. 1933. From the Farrell Photo Collection, PhC.9, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC http://www.flickr.com/photos/north-carolina-state-archives/3008268898/in/set-72157607491996712

Raleigh Times News Carriers August 31, 1915. Raleigh News & Observer and the State Archives of North Carolina. http://www.flickr.com/photos/north-carolina-state-archives/3525864429/in/set-72157617965298949/

Two people standing in a tobacco field. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/ua023_031-008-cb0011-062-001

In modern egg production, one man can care for thousands of layers, 1972. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/ua023_007-003-bx0007-013-026

Students, 1870-1990s. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wilson Library, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. http://dc.lib.unc.edu/u?/dig_nccpa,3237

Onslow County, NC, ca.1939. New River Club House: between parties the keepers fish and mend nets. From the Charles A. Farrell Photograph Collection, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC. http://www.flickr.com/photos/north-carolina-state-archives/3002923812/in/set-72157607491996712

4-H king and queen of health, crowned at North Carolina State 4-H Short Course held at North Carolina State College in Raleigh, 1938. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/0016359

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