Tuesday, February 17, 2015

SCOSAA Visits the North Carolina Collection Gallery

This past week, SCOSAA visited the North Carolina Collection Gallery at UNC's Wilson Library for a private viewing of the current exhibit, Where is Tobe? Unfolding Stories of Childhood, Race, and Rural Life in North Carolina, led by Benjamin Filene, Associate Professor and Director of Public History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Linda Jacobson, Keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

Tobe by Stella Gentry Sharpe was published by UNC Press in 1939. Sharpe, a white schoolteacher in Orange County, was asked by Clay McCauley, Jr., why no children in storybooks looked like him, so she set out to create a children’s book that portrayed African-Americans in a positive light, a stark contrast to the caricatures that had been seen for decades, such as Black Sambo and the Inky Boys.

UNC maintains a wealth of information surrounding Tobe, including a large photography collection. For this exhibit, Dr. Filene wanted to find the people in the story and their descendants, and learn how this book affected them. Further, the exhibit looks at the historical impact this book had on children’s literature. Dr. Filene noted that any good exhibit has the ability to tell the story quickly – in about 35 seconds – but also could pull in the audience with items that have a tension or double meaning to them. It took about five months to choose the pieces for the exhibit and arrange them so that they tell the story effectively.

Where is Tobe? Unfolding Stories of Childhood, Race and Rural Life in North Carolina will be on display through March 1, 2015 at the Wilson Library's North Carolina Collection Gallery, and is free to the public.

This post was contributed by Holly Croft, an MSLS student pursuing the concentration in archives and records management and a certificate in nonprofit leadership. She is currently the Digitization Projects Intern at Campbell University, and is a member of SAA's Students and New Archiving Professionals Steering Committee. Find her on Twitter at @HollyCroft.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Meet the 2015 SCOSAA Officers!

The Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists is run by five students from SILS who are elected each November and are in office from January through December. Meet the 2015 officers below!

Anne Ligon Harding

My name is Anne Harding, and I am thrilled to be SCOSAA president for 2015. I’m a first-year MSLS student in the Archives & Records Management track. Before coming to UNC, I studied English/Film at Bryn Mawr College, where I also worked for several years in Special Collections, doing mostly digitization, exhibition research, web design, and some digital asset management work. I didn’t come straight to graduate school after college – instead, I stumbled into a job in the auction industry for a few years, which was busy, and stressful, and challenging, and fun. Here at UNC, I work in Photographic Archives in Wilson Library, which is a really fantastic position; I could definitely see myself working with visual materials in the long-run, but I am also really interested in film archives (film in general, really) and digital preservation work, particularly in cultural heritage institution settings.

I’m originally from Wilmington, Delaware (although I usually say I’m from “the greater Philadelphia area,” because people tend to have a pretty good sense of what Philly is like, and virtually no concept of what Delaware is like), but I’ve been here in North Carolina for about a year.

My least favorite thing about North Carolina is the weather, and my favorite thing about North Carolina is pimento cheese. 
Matthew Cresson
Vice President

I am a first year MSLS student doing the Archives and Records Management concentration. I'm from Northern Virginia, went to College at William and Mary, and then spent two years living with my brother in Richmond, Virginia. I have an interest in history, video games, and anime.
Elizabeth Shulman


I am originally from Rochester, New York. I received my BA in history from Rice University, and then spent a year and a half working in the Big Apple for New York Public Library and the New-York Historical Society. I am interested in Archives, but I also enjoy reference. I love sports, especially baseball (Let’s Go Mets!), music, books, food, and dogs.
Sara Thomas

I’ve been in Durham/Chapel Hill for about 10 years, so this is the place I feel most at home. I (hope) to complete my MSLS in May 2016. I’m interested in small/special libraries, archives/special collections, and helping humans find the cool things they want to find. Currently, I am Head Librarian at the Ullman Classics Library at UNC and Research & Information Services Intern at NCSU's D.H. Hill Library. I’m into bikes, books, and etymology (sorry, it’s not a ‘b’). You should read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Tinkers by Paul Harding, and Swamplandia by Karen Russell.
Amelia W. Holmes

I hope to earn my MSLS in May 2016 with a concentration in Archives and Records Management and a certificate in Digital Curation. My archival interests are varied, but (currently) tend to center around the relationships between preservation, privacy, and access issues as well as community archiving and advocacy. I currently work on campus as the graduate processor in Special Collections Technical Services and Digital Projects and Outreach Intern in the North Carolina Collections Gallery, both at Wilson Library. I earned my undergraduate degrees in English and Studio Art from Western Carolina University. I'm originally from Elon, NC, but have lived in five states on the east coast since graduating high school. I enjoy weird and speculative fiction, making ice cream, photography, and yoga.

We look forward to serving you in 2015!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Southern Food Memories

First, a disclaimer: As a Texan, I had never set foot in North Carolina or, for that matter, traveled east of the Mississippi River before I moved here for graduate school. While Texas may be geographically south, it is culturally foreign to “The South.” My first (and easiest) point of entry into Southern culture was its food - I have gradually started to replace breakfast tacos with biscuits, rice with grits, and beef brisket with pulled pork.

However, my grandparents are from Pearl, Mississippi and I eagerly look forward to any holiday or event that involves my grandmother’s cooking. I asked her to share a few of her memories:

“I suppose as in all regions of the country, southern cuisine originally was built using foods that were available… no Kroger.  Every southerner with even a small patch of land had a garden.  Vegetables were the basis of their menus and for the most part were plentiful.   The Mississippi County Cooperative Extension Service had agents available who met with church ladies and ladies clubs to teach safe methods of canning so summer vegetables were available all year round.  Of course, most women were taught this in the home growing up but just in case. Women took great pride in their canning as evidenced by the competition in all county fairs. In addition to canned vegetables, jams, jellies and preserves were also judged.  

Almost all early cookbooks were compiled by these ladies groups and were lovingly typed on an old typewriter and, of course, credit for the recipe was given to the one who submitted it.  These pages of recipes were held together with rings and obviously were a source of pride judging by the pen and ink drawings.  The first really big mass produced cookbook was the Betty Crocker Cookbook in the red and white checked cover.  If you couldn’t have Mama by your side to teach you to cook, you had Betty.  Many of my recipes are written on paper napkins and check book deposit slips as they were shared by friends around the table.

Delicious fruit and berry pies were also enjoyed by southern families.  Frugal homemakers saw that fruit trees were planted on the property and kids kept the blackberries picked. One of my favorite pies that called for purchased ingredients was a lemon icebox pie. I always felt very special when I was called in quietly to lick the condensed milk can and also the mixing bowl. When my mom made pie crust she always made a little extra, rolled it out, cut it in strips. Sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and cooked it on a cookie sheet.  A real treat.

Favorite foods that I remember and are now my “comfort” foods are oatmeal (no instant, please), chicken n dumplin’s, meat loaf and mashed potatoes, corn bread, and biscuits with gravy.”

Happy Archives Week!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

If it ain't North Carolina BBQ, it ain't BBQ!

Several years ago, I had a discussion with a friend originally from Florida. We were on our way to a convention, and I was raving about the meal for Sunday lunch -- Lexington-style BBQ.

"Barbecue?" she asked.

Confused, I replied in the affirmative.

"You mean that shredded, messy, vinegary stuff?"
Honeymonk's BBQ, also known as Lexington BBQ. This place is a tradition!
By now I was drooling.  Just the description tasted delicious in my mouth as I rolled the words around on my tongue.

"That stuff is disgusting! And it isn't barbecue!"

Hold the phone...I think our friendship might be over!  My mom was raised in Lexington, North Carolina, and as her daughter I am sworn to loyalty when it comes to Lexington Barbecue. (Yes, I capitalized Lexington Barbecue.)

Coarse Chopped with Slaw. YUM!
The truth that I learned from this conversation was that no one really understands barbecue the same way. In South Carolina it's a mustard base. In Texas, it's beef brisket.  In other places, barbecue is just an action. But in North Carolina, it's pulled pork in a vinegar sauce that goes beyond sublime...at least for me.

Now, you might wonder how this connects to archives. In many programs, public history and archives are linked because archival work is seen as applied history. We saw this at the recent Tri-State Archivists Conference where Katherine Thompson Allen, Evan Kutzler, and Amanda Noll presented on the South Caroliniana Library and the Public History Program's efforts to reveal archival resources related to the role of slavery on their campus. See the website here: http://library.sc.edu/digital/slaveryscc/.

Applied history can be important as a method of advocacy for the importance of archives. In the above case, applied history can help scholars re-imagine and re-interpret manuscripts and artifacts related to the history of the South Carolina College. Applied history may also act as an interactive tool.  Interactive tools do not only reach scholars and other archivists but also the general public.

It's only BBQ if it's over a pit!  The greats are called "Pit Masters."
One such interactive tool is the North Carolina Society's Historic Barbecue Trail. Most of the pictures used for this website stem from North Carolina newspapers. As far as the textual information for each stop on the map, most are from books written on North Carolina barbecue. While the Trail may not be the best example of applied history in action, but barbecue in North Carolina is a much loved, historic tradition. In fact, Lexington has a barbecue festival every year!  And if you search the Southern Historical Collection for "barbecue," "bbq," or "barbeque," there are plenty of hits!

Check out the North Carolina Barbecue Trail Map at: http://www.ncbbqsociety.com/bbqmap/trail_map.html

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mississippi pilgrimages for She-Crab Soup on the Outer Banks

Happy Archives Week, everyone!  

As a Mississippian living in North Carolina, while it is comforting to hear similarly southern accents, smell many of the same flowers and trees blooming in the spring, and taste familiar dishes and ingredients of southern cuisine, I am always curious to find the endless tiny (and not so tiny) distinctions that make these two corners of the South decidedly different from one another. 

Deviled eggs in Vicksburg, MS.

The accents are similar - but not that similar.  Our favorite foods are much alike - you say Bojangles, I say Church's Chicken.  I'm getting to know all the special qualities of landscape, history, and culture that make North Carolina so unique within the South, and reflect the diversity of this region.

My first introduction to North Carolina was through the Outer Banks.  My mother's parents met as performers in the outdoor drama "The Lost Colony," were married in the town of Manteo, NC, and made the trip from Oxford, MS, every summer with their three daughters for more than twenty years afterward.  To say my mother's family love Manteo, the Outer Banks, and generally everything about North Carolina is an understatement.  

My mother and her sisters warming up backstage at the Lost Colony, circa 1965.

My generation of cousins were introduced to the Outer Banks when we were in diapers, and while we were never stars of the stage in "The Lost Colony" like our mothers, we inherited a great fascination with and love of the area.  Throughout our lives we have returned for summer visits to see old family friends from my grandmother's and mother's generations, and one of the most highly anticipated elements of every trip is always She-Crab Soup.  

She-Crab Soup at Tale of the Whale, Nags Head, NC.

In my opinion, She-Crab Soup is the most delicious concoction of sweetness, tang, creaminess, a little spice, and a bite of she-crab (a female crab, simply put, but a mystical creature in my childhood mind), all thrown together in a beautiful steaming bowl.  This dish had been a favorite of my family's during their time in the Outer Banks every summer, and I have been raised with the special knowledge of this delicious and hard-to-find soup (typically savored at the Tale of the Whale Restaurant on Nags Head) that few Mississippians, or anyone outside of the Carolina coast, had ever heard of.   

This sumptuous cross between a bisque and a chowder originates from Charleston, SC.  I associate the taste so directly with North Carolina, but it can be found along the southeastern coast from Virginia through the Carolinas and down to Georgia.  It's a dish that connects me to my particular family history, and reminds me of the regional diversity of the South.  If you ever find yourself near the coast and see some She-Crab on the menu, do yourself a favor and start your own personal history with this coastal delicacy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Food heritage: Cheerwine

image from DigitalNC
When I was a kid I used to come to Charlotte every summer to visit my aunt for a few weeks. This was a big deal. My aunt was the coolest person in the world. She had her own apartment, she didn’t have any kids, she worked in a skyscraper, and she talked to me like an adult. Best of all, I got to go see her by myself. No sisters to tag along and suck up all the attention. Just me and her.

I’m from Memphis. We had - still have - all kinds of good regional foods to choose from. Dry-rub barbecue. Jerry’s Sno Cones. Dyer’s burgers. Charlotte doesn’t have these things. As a kid I didn’t care too much; mainly I wanted to know why my aunt insisted on eating out at weirdo restaurants every night when we could just have some nice Kraft Mac and Cheese at home. My concerns were pretty limited to basic eight-year-old things like when Duck Tales was coming on and why I couldn’t get more than one giant paper flower at Carowinds. But one thing Charlotte did have over Memphis that I was very, very concerned with was Cheerwine.
image from ideal-Living
The first time I had Cheerwine was at a Food Court in a Charlotte mall. Probably South Park, but it’s been a long time, so the details are fuzzy. I do remember going to one of the food kiosks, getting some fast food, and spotting a bright red soft drink dispenser among all the usual favorites. I picked it because red was my favorite color at the time. I drank it because I was thirsty and I never ate without a drink. I kept drinking it because WOW IT WAS DELICIOUS.
I drank Cheerwine almost exclusively for the remaining duration of my visit. If it wasn't on the menu of the restaurant of the day I had Coke instead and got a Cheerwine on the way home (and stayed up all night,  overly-hyped on caffeine and cherry syrup). I'm sure my aunt was relieved to put me on my flight home when the time came.
As for me, I was excited to share my incredible discovery with my family when I got back. That, and to make my parents buy Cheerwine instead of Coke. Nearly the second I saw my Mom I asked her if we could go to the grocery store on the way back from the airport and get some.
My Mom looked puzzled for a moment. Then, she said something incredibly devastating.
"What's Cheerwine?"
Now, I live in North Carolina. I can get Cheerwine any time I want (I swear I didn't do it for the Cheerwine) (Maybe). Cheerwine has been around for much longer than I have; since 1917, and it's still going strong. Did you know that you can make a cake out of it? I didn't, but I intend to find out exactly what that's like later this week at the SCOSAA potluck and recipe exchange. Come on down and enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

"The Queen of Puddings" and the Historical Record of Women

In honor of Archives Week, your SCOSAA board members will each be contributing a blog post this week on some topic related to NC food culture. If you're not familiar with archives week, want to know more about this year's theme, or want to check out all the cool events happening across the state, visit http://www.ncarchivists.org/archives_week/.

Because I work in Research and Instructional Services for Wilson Library here at UNC, I thought it would be fun to find a 19th-century recipe from the Southern Historical Collection and attempt to recreate it. I chose a recipe for "The Queen of Puddings" from the Montford McGehee Papers, #1125, folder 3. A (somewhat blurry, I apologize!) reproduction of the recipe follows.

In preparing to make this recipe, I found I was unable to recreate it, mainly because of the fact that so many measurements were missing. The recipe calls, for example, for "a quart of hot sweet milk, ________ of sugar" and "adding a _________ of powdered sugar." I thought about adding my own estimated measurements, but because I had no idea how sweet this pudding was meant to be and I wanted to recreate it accurately, I ended up not attempting the recipe.

This recipe made me think a lot about the gaps we're leaving behind in the historical record, particularly for women. I'm currently hard at work on the lit review for my master's paper on the importance of women's collections, and in conducting my research, I have learned that women tend to be woefully underrepresented in the historical record (and where they are represented, they tend to be very difficult to find in description), particularly because the kinds of records women have historically left behind (including recipe books like this one, diaries, scrapbooks, etc.) are deemed less important than business, political, financial, and institutional records (traditionally male-dominated record groups), and so they are not called out in description or worse, not collected at all. The tragic irony is that these kinds of materials are the most valuable in documenting the female experience, because they show what women's daily lives were like, the kinds of activities in which they were involved, and how intricately they were involved in creating history.

I couldn't tell you how many times I've pulled a family recipe from my collection, gotten ready to make it, and ended up having to call my mother to demystify some vague or blank element. Carson women (my mother's family) in particular are famous for including things like "bake not too long in a cold oven" or "bake until it's done" in their recipes. I always wonder what will happen to these recipes once my mother is no longer around to clarify them. In fact, already there are many in my collection that are basically not reproducible, because she doesn't remember the necessary information to fill in the holes. Because of this, I continually try to fill them in as I can, and I make sure to copy down new recipes as completely as possible.

I'm very curious why the woman who wrote this recipe left out so many measurements. I would guess that she was either writing the recipe from memory, planning to fill in the gaps later. Knowing how important records like this are, and the apparent tendency of the women who created them to leave out details, I have to confess to being somewhat concerned about the future of accurate records. We will never know if "The Queen of Puddings" required 3/4 cups of sugar, 1 cup of sugar, more, or less. Consequently, this recipe can never be accurately recreated with any degree of assurance. It is obvious that this woman, understandably, never considered the fact that her recipe book would end up in an archival repository over 100 years after she compiled it, but now it could be a vital resource for a scholar in women's history, culinary history, Southern history, etc. I imagine we probably aren't thinking of that eventuality either, but I would encourage everyone, particularly women, to try and keep as complete and accurate a body of records as possible. You never know who might find them useful!

Sam Crisp
SCOSAA President