Posts from the Past: The internet of our ancestors


By Don Pendergraft
Museum of the Albemarle

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Today our main mode of communications is the internet.

The museum uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website to promote our programs, exhibits and social gatherings. We are accustomed to blogs and posting photos of daily routines, extraordinary observances, replying to news and posts pro or con as we state our opinions. Will this form of communications be preserved, or will it fade away as technology progresses? We will give you the answer in about 100 years as historians search for the materials left behind by millennials of today.

This summer as temperatures soar, humidity increases and idle minds are becoming, well, you know the cliché…. The museum has several thought-provoking exhibits in air-conditioned splendor. These exhibits are “Look Again: Discovering Historical Photographs and Treasures of Carolina-Stories from the State Archives.” They can help parents, children and visitors connect and share the photographs and documents of long ago. These exhibits examine the lives of people who lived and left materials for us to relate to their experiences. The tangible evidence produced as letters, drawings, legal documents and photographs are displayed and captioned for easy viewing as well as discussion between visitors. In the “Our Story” exhibit, the Story of the Albemarle, we have a typical typewriter from 1930 and a printing press used by W.O. Saunders. He was owner, editor of the Independent newspaper and famously covered news stories as a progressive reporter, who wrote on many controversial subjects and topics. He reported on political corruption, on local boss rule, civil rights and freedom. Saunders was a contributing writer for several national magazines including the Saturday Evening Post. He spearheaded a national effort to build the Wright Memorial, produce the Lost Colony Outdoor Drama and the designation of parts of the Outer Banks as a national seashore.

Historians research newspapers and other printed materials as primary evidence to help record and write history. Freedom of the press is one of America’s most important rights and is valued and respected by historians for truth in reporting.

A reporter once asked Abraham Lincoln which invention he thought was most important to mankind. His answer was writing, in doing so, we record our ideas, thoughts and events that will speak to future generations.

We have several programs in July for those who’d like to participate in song and learn more about landing on the moon and North Carolina’s contributions to the space race: History for Lunch: “Singing America’s Songs” on Wednesday from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. Come learn the history behind some of the greatest patriot American songs ever written! Join Sandra Krueger of Music Off Main, and Dr. Rachel Gragson, as they host a singalong and lecture celebrating America’s greatest patriotic music.

On Wednesday, July 24, beginning at 12:15 pm, join us for History for Lunch: “One Giant Leap: North Carolina and the Space Race.” Jessica A. Bandel, digital editor, N.C. Office of Archives and History, will shed light on North Carolina’s role during each phase of the race to the moon, from the formation of NASA through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects.

As August rolls around, join us for History for Lunch: “Look Again 2.0: More Photos” (and some stories) from the N.C. Museum of History on Wednesday, Aug. 7 from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. See and hear about color and black-and-white images from the museum’s collection that did not make the “cut” for the exhibit “Look Again” by Eric N. Blevins, photographer for the North Carolina Museum of History.

Recent studies show that parents, who took regular trips with children to visit cultural institutions, such as museums, art centers and science discovery places were better students and more likely to attend colleges and institutes of higher learning. We welcome all to visit us this summer to enjoy the exhibits and learn more about the place, we call home.

Don Pendergraft is interim executive director of Museum of the Albemarle.