The Community Histories Workshop has recently created a new digital exhibit to explore the history of Rocky Mount Mills. Similar to the Digital Archive, this exhibit uses Prospect, a web-based plugin for WordPress. It is based on Prospect’s Pinboard visualization function and allows the user to explore spatial connections between historical sources relating to Rocky Mount Mills and the geography of the mill and surrounding mill village.

We began our construction of the Rocky Mount Mills Pinboard Visualization with an aerial shot of the mill taken by Rocky Mount Evening & Sunday Telegram photographer Charles Killebrew. Based on our research, we believe that the images dates from sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The photograph provides a detailed perspective on the Tar River in the foreground, the mill, and the streets of the mill village, and downtown Rocky Mount is even visible in the background. We chose this specific image because it displays important culture structures that were town down in subsequent years, such as the schoolhouse, the mill canteen, and the baseball field.

The most significant feature of the Pinboard visualization is its ability to locate records on images, so members of the Community Histories Workshop searched through our record of digitized sources for images and interviews that conveyed information about visible sites in the aerial photograph. We then located each of these sources on the aerial image itself, using color-coded dotes to categorize each source. Each dot represents one source, such as images of the interior and exterior of the mill, documents relating to the mill’s closure in the 1990s, and photographs of the mill village. Additionally, many of the dots display video snippets of interviews of former mill workers conducted by members of the Community Histories Workshops. This is the first time that these have been made available to the public, and it is our hope the they will provide a unique and powerful perspective on the history of Rocky Mount Mill that has not been previously available.


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