WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP)—Two Wilmington writers, working with students from two area middle schools, spent a semester preserving a lost part of the Port City’s past.
In January, John Jeremiah Sullivan and Joel Finsel, with support from the creative writing department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, started working with students from Williston Middle School and the Friends School of Wilmington to find and save copies of the Wilmington Daily Record, a Black-owned newspaper.
“Going through the pieces of it was like going through the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Sullivan said.
Their project had its climax on July 11 when Sullivan, Finsel, six of the students and two teachers traveled to the N.C. Digital Heritage Center at the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, their work was photographed by high-resolution cameras for archival preservation.
The pages will eventually be available through the Library of Congress’ “Chronicling America” digital series, and through the Digital Heritage Center’s public website, http://www.digitalnc.org.
Launched by brothers Alex and Frank Manly in the 1890s, the Record angered White supremacists for its forthright editorials during the racially charged 1898 election. On Nov. 10, 1898, as part of the so-called “Wilmington race riot,” the Record’s offices were burned and its printing press destroyed by a White mob. The Manlys, warned of trouble, had escaped town the night before.
Copies and clippings of the Record are very rare, said Sullivan, an essayist and winner of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize and the Whiting Award.