Community-Based Archives & Projects

Update! NC Room Staff published an article about our community-based archiving efforts in the “Appalachian Curtator” this month. Go take a look to take a deep dive into our work with community archives over the past several years.

Here’s the article:

The North Carolina Collection at Pack Memorial Library is dedicated to actively collecting and preserving the history of Buncombe County and its people by arranging, describing, and protecting archival material related to the region. In recent years, North Carolina Room staff have worked with other branch libraries and community organizations to create community-based archives.

What is a Community-Based Archive?

A community-based archive is one that is (generally) intentionally crafted by a group of people who share some kind of identity and work together to accumulate documentation in an effort to preserve the history of their community. The archived material can come in the form of photos, documents, and in the case of most community archives, oral histories.

You can browse our community-based archives via our online special collections catalog. Click the links below to explore the community-based archives already in the North Carolina Collection.

Are you Interested in creating an archive or volunteering as an interviewer orf transcriber with the oral history collection? Perhaps you would like to be interviewed or know someone with a story to tell? Contact us!

Asheville Gay Community Project  MS326

The North Carolina Room staff joined with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College History instructor David Dry to begin a project for A-B Tech students to interview gay community members in Asheville. Mr. Dry included oral history projects in the curriculum, but the subjects were usually limited to family

MS363_001ATim Roth
Tim Roth was interviewed by A-B Tech student Chris Kapoh-Perez at Pack Memorial Library on April 7, 2016. Synopsis of interview: In looking back on his life, Tim thinks he first started to realize that he was gay “in early elementary school, an awareness, and it just progressed; it wasn’t that it was a sexual thought, it was a realization that I was different.”

members. Looking for a way to give back to the community through oral history interviewing, he chose this project as a collaboration between the NC Room and the A-B Tech History Department. Dry instructed students on the process of collecting oral histories and how to transcribe– students could choose to do one or the other. Pairing younger adults with people who had lived through historical transitions in the gay community proved to be mutually beneficial. The students had an opportunity to hear a personal perspective they might never have had the chance to hear, and those interviewed were able to share their stories with interested listeners.

David Dry moved to Chapel Hill to pursue a PhD, but the NC Room staff would love to continue this project as a community-driven project, or again, in cooperation with a high school or college faculty member. Please contact us if you’d like to help.

     –Southside Community Project MS362.001A

UNCA professor Dee James addresses guests at the Wesley Grant Center on April 23, 2017, where a roundtable discussion was held with area residents talking about what it was like to grow up at Southside. Lucy Crown, Asheville City Greenways Coordinator, organized the event, and staff of the North Carolina Room, along with Dee James interviewed and recorded the event.

 –Black Asheville Communities Project MS362.002

Following the North Carolina Room’s Roundtable Discussion on May 18, 2017 at the Wesley Grant Center (described below), oral interviews began taking place with various residents of Asheville’s black communities. The focus is on present or past

MS362_002E Photo

residents of Southside neighborhood, but also includes residents of other neighborhoods, such as Shiloh, Stumptown, Montford and Valley Street/East End.

Samuel Abdul-Allah (left) grew up in the Petersburg community off Sweeten Creek Road. His grandfather, Sam Barnes built the Biltmore Country Club Golf Course. “See, the golf course was built by all black men, back during that time. And my grandfather being the number one landscaper at the Biltmore Estate and all black men working out there, more or less, so my grandfather was given the blueprints from the Country Club to build that golf course.” Mr. Barnes trained under Chauncey Beadle, nationally known landscaper at Biltmore Estate.

–Stephens-Lee Alumni Project MS362.004

Zoe Rhine, North Carolina Room librarian, began researching the faculty of Stephens-Lee High School in 2017 with the goal of gathering more information about the faculty’s educational attainments, what and how they were able to continue master’s degree programs, what schools they attended, as well as what happened to the teachers after the integration of Asheville City Schools.

Her research initially was focused on the faculty of 1964, the year before the school closed. The Faculty of Stephens-Lee High School: A Tribute, a notebook containing biographical and educational information on all 34 teachers at Stephens-Lee in 1964 is available in the North Carolina Room and at the Stephens-Lee Archives.

Research has continued on earlier teachers, as well as on the school’s predecessor, Catholic Hill School. An indexed notebook, Public Education for Blacks in Asheville: Beaumont Academy, Beaumont School &  Catholic Hill Newspaper Scrapbook–1886-1922 and an indexed Stephens-Lee High School Newspaper Scrapbook–1924-1965 is also now available and when completed, copies will also be placed at the Stephens-Lee Alumni Center.

Starting in 2018, we took this research to the Stephens-Lee alumni, first as an exhibit during  reunions and then as an official program held April 9, 2019.

The North Carolina Room staff and volunteers began working with Sarah Hart, President of the Stephens-Lee Alumni Association and Kim Kennedy, director at the community center, to interview Stephens-Lee alumni. We met with alumni at several high school reunions in 2018 and took either brief sound recorded or video recorded interviews of their comments and memories of being a student at Stephens-Lee. These range from 10 to 30 minutes. We continue to meet alumni throughout the community and record their stories. 

Debra Collington, Stephens-Lee High School alumni, class of 1968 talking with North Carolina Room volunteer, Phoebe Holler, A.C. Reynolds graduating senior, during a alumni reunion at the Stephens-Lee Center September 1, 2018.

          –Highlights from “A Tribute to the Faculty of Stephens-Lee” April 9, 2019 at the stephens-Lee community center:

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Click Here to read the program text by NC Room Board Member Joe Newman

Say, what? You missed the program! Click here to see the video recording of the whole program given April 9, 2019. 

–North Asheville Community Archives Project MS338

The North Carolina Room staff joined with North Asheville Branch Library to begin our first community-drive history project based through a Buncombe County Library Branch. Classes were held at Pack Library to instruct interested volunteers on how to interview. To date, 43 oral interviews have been taken and all transcriptions of the interviews can be viewed as PDFs attached to each interviewee’s record.

Susan Jones Waldrup was interviewed by Pat Fitzpatrick on June 5, 2017 at the Log Cabin Motor Court at 330 Weaverville Road. Susan has managed the motor court for ten years. Her father was the manager of Babe Malloy’s Drive-In on Tunnel Road. Her uncle was Babe Malloy. She recalled the A&W Root Beer, the Curb, and Homer’s Gas Station on Merrimon Avenue, as well as the Arcadia Dairy on the corner of Maney and Merrimon.

Photos of Ray Hardee with his grandmother, Pearl Goode Chandley. Pearl Chandley was the sister of John Goode who owned Goode’s Pharmacy on Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. Photos were loaned to scan by Marla Milling.

During the first Scanning Day at North Branch Library, Cissy Dendy walked in with a bag full of family photographs. It took two more scanning sessions in the North Carolina Room for us to get everything scanned. Cissy lives in the same house where she grew up at 45 Madison Avenue between Charlotte, East Chestnut and Hillside Streets. This area was the home of many of Asheville’s prominent black residents. (See “The Heart of Chestnut Hill” by Cissy Dendy, MS363.001D.) Cissy’s collection is part of the North Asheville Community History Project but it was so large in volume that it was given its own special collection number, MS363.

A special part of the North Asheville Community Project was “Ask Your Elders Night.” 

North Asheville Roundtable “Ask Your Elders” program held at North Branch Library May 18, 2017 and led by Pat Fitzpatrick.
Pat Fitzpatrick, “Queen of Interviewing & Transcribing”.

Although the North Asheville Community History Project “officially” ended, we are still interested in interviewing residents. Many, many people who were interviewed mentioned having photos in their attics. PLEASE give us a chance to scan and preserve them, thereby adding to the pictorial history of a community full of rich details.

To tell the truth, Fairview residents beat North Asheville residents in getting the photos down out of the attics HANDS DOWN!

–Fairview Community Archives Project MS382

Fairview natives, sisters Emma Lou Gaddy Morrow and Doris “Dot” Gaddy, during an interview by Fairview volunteers, November 29, 2018.

Fairview resident volunteers have currently collected 46 interviews and an incredible amount of original 19th century photographs for scanning. We’re just beginning to transcribe the interviews but they will be added to the records as soon as we do so.

Paul Sales selling peanuts. He worked for Lance Cracker Company. Note the 1892-1925 City Hall in background. Sandra Jackson Collection.
#2: The family and home of William Deaver Galyean 
Image 4: Robert Thad Merrill (1883-1926) with his horse-drawn “West Brook Dairy” dairy truck. Loaned by Betty Cunningham for scanning.