Iredell County Historic Photographs
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Local History Happenings Fall 2013

NC ECHO

The people of North Carolina have always had a strong interest in history and preserving our historical heritage. All across the state you will find museums, libraries, historical societies, arts councils, genealogical societies, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution and the Confederacy, American Legions, craft centers, and historical preservation committees. Local citizens realizing the value of historical items often donate photographs, documents, and artifacts to these groups in hopes of sharing them with others and preserving them for future generations.

NC ECHO

In 1999 the North Carolina Library Commission published a report based on a survey of the historical and cultural needs of the state’s libraries, museums, and historical organizations. The survey found that a wide range of important historical documents were scattered and housed across the state of North Carolina at various organizations. The problem was that these items and their locations were often only known to the individual organizations themselves and only to a handful of people. The feeling was that instead of being made more available, these materials were in fact being buried and lost to researchers.

In response the Commission issued a report entitled, "Building Libraries: A Plan for Library Cooperation." The plan called for the use of the newly emerging Internet technology to help promote and connect the various historical organizations and their collections and make them known world wide. The Commission created the Access to Special Collections Working Group (ASCWG), later known as the NC ECHO Advisory Committee. The State Library of North Carolina secured support for ASCWG’s activities with a grant from federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. ASCWG members included librarians, archivists, educators, and museum professionals from public and private institutions throughout the state.

NC ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online website was created and NC ECHO staff members visited groups and institutions around North Carolina surveying their collections and creating a description on the NC ECHO website for each collection. State grant funds were made available from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the federal Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. These starter grants allowed groups to purchase computers, scanners, printers, and software needed to inventory, index, and scan their institutions’ holdings in order to preserve them digitally and to make them available online through the Internet.

Cook Booklet Cover

In 2002 the Iredell County Public Library received an NC ECHO Digitization Starter Grant. The money was used to buy equipment needed to begin digitizing the library’s rare and original source materials. Since that time the Local History Department has created over 60,000 scanned images of photographs, documents, and items held in our collection. Often institutions like libraries hold rare materials that are not available anywhere else in the world. In some cases these materials may not even have anything to do with the local people or geographic area where they are being held.

An example of this is a rare document in the Iredell County Public Library Local History Department from the Adam Cook family. It is a fragile 12 page booklet titled “The Family Record for Adam Cook and Delpha Cook.” The booklet is dated December 5, 1827. The booklet records the births and deaths of the Adam Cook family such as you would see in the front of a family bible. The Adam Cook family was from Watauga County, North Carolina and we do not know how it ended up in the Iredell County Public Library. Its value, though, is immense for those interested in Watauga County or Cook family history.

Cook Booklet Pages

The Iredell County Public Library has now scanned the Cook booklet in order to preserve it digitally in case anything should ever happen to the original. We have also placed the images online on the Iredell County Public Library's Flickr page. In the 1850 census for Watauga County the Cook family household lists the following:

  • Adam Cook 48
  • Dilpa Cook 42
  • John Cook 22
  • Nancy C. Cook 21
  • Sarah Cook 19
  • Thomas P. Cook 12
  • Alfred B. Cook 9
  • Dilpa L. Cook 8
  • Eliza J. Cook 5
  • Cyntha E. Cook 3
  • Adam H. Cook 0

Adam Cook is listed as a farmer. The booklet lists Adam Cook’s birth as June 10, 1802 and Delpha’s as April 22, 1809. They were married on January 4, 1827. Daughter Eliza Jane was born February 27, 1845 and is listed as five years old in the 1850 census. The booklet records her death on December 6, 1852.

By placing the Cook booklet and other documents and photos online the Iredell County Public Library will help fulfill the NC ECHO mission of making available rare historical materials now hidden in boxes and cabinets. NC ECHO allows researchers to be more fully aware of what resources are available in North Carolina.