Library joins former Buies Creek HS grads to preserve, digitize yearbooks

An ad hoc committee of Buies Creek High School graduates, in collaboration with Wiggins Memorial Library at Campbell University, has launched a campaign to locate copies of the 28 yearbooks published at Buies Creek High School and make them available online. Harnett County educator Cecelia “Seeky” Wilkins Gregory is coordinator of the eight-person group.

The public school in Buies Creek is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It was a “union school” and contained all 12 grades from the 1948-49 school year to the 1977 school year when the county’s many small high schools were consolidated. A yearbook was published each year except one (1958).

“We called them ‘annuals’ then,” said Gregory. “Students produced them with the help of a faculty advisor, and it was a big deal when they arrived at the end of the school year. Today they are not only memorabilia with a lot of sentiment attached, but they are also valuable historical documents. We think it is important to locate copies that are scattered throughout the community, preserve them, and make them available online.”

Dorothea Stewart Gilbert of Buies Creek is serving as honorary chair of the committee. She taught English at Buies Creek High School the year it opened and for many years was on the faculty of Campbell University. She now lives on her family’s land just a few miles from the local school and the University campus.

Dean of the Library Sarah Steele and her staff are enthusiastic partners in the effort. Steele has reached out to the University of North Carolina Library, which has expertise in digitalization of yearbooks through DigitalNC and has enlisted their support. “Once we have located all the copies and digitized them,” said Steele, “they will be available on our Campbell library website, throughout the UNC library system and beyond.”

“There is a deep historical connection between Campbell and the local school system,” Steele added. “All twelve grades were once located right here on our campus in the Pearson Building and, a few steps away, in Kivett Hall. Buies Creek finally got its own facility 75 years ago. We at Campbell are so glad this group reached out and asked us to help. I see it a wonderful opportunity to strengthen ‘town and gown’ bonds and continue to demonstrate what we can accomplish working together, not only here in Buies Creek but throughout the region.”

Members of the Buies Creek High School Yearbook Project committee are Mark Johnson of Columbia, S.C.; Carroll Leggett of Winston-Salem; Mary Jo Gardner McLamb; Lillian Ennis Silverthorne; Joyce Stewart; Kenneth Upchurch and John Wilbourne. Persons who have copies of the yearbooks are urged to contact committee members and make them available for digitization.  They can be dropped off in the Administrative Office (Room 232) of Wiggins Memorial Library on the University campus in Buies Creek. Early copies of the yearbooks are fragile, and the committee hopes that they will be able to collect a complete set of 28 yearbooks for donation to a permanent archival collection.

Campbell University was established as Buies Creek Academy in 1887 by James A. and Cornelia Pearson Campbell. It eventually became Campbell Junior College and still offered junior and senior years of high school, as well as two years of college and Associate Degrees. Dropping the high school instruction, in 1963 it graduated its first four-year graduates as Campbell College and later became the Campbell University of today with law, medical, and pharmacy schools and an array of graduate degrees.