Mapping the Mill Village

Loray SanbornOur interactive map documents the 2000+ residents of the Loray Mill Village in 1920, using data drawn from census records, city directories, and other sources. Information on each resident is mapped onto a series of historic Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of the neighborhood, which have been digitized and stitched together by GIS librarians at UNC-Chapel Hill. This visualization provides a snapshot of who lived where in the village, who they lived with, where they came from, what job they did in the mill, and where they fit in the community.

Explore the Interactive Map 

As you zoom in closer on the map you will see a marker for every resident of the mill village in 1920.  Click on the circle to reveal the person’s name and basic information, then “read more about this person” for an in-depth profile. Use the drop down menu at the top left of the page to sort by categories like sex, race, birthplace, or literacy status. Visit the Household Spotlights for narratives about selected households within the village.

More About the Project

The Mill Village in 1920 exhibit began as an independent research project by Karen Sieber. Led by Karen, it has expanded into a collaborative effort between staff and students in UNC’s Digital Innovation Lab and members of the Loray/Firestone community.

The project is designed to be dynamic and expandable, with the capability of adding links to newspaper articles, photographs, oral histories, or other sources related to particular families. We also might compile additional census data to reconstruct life in the mill village across different decades. Scholars, students, local historians, or cultural heritage organizations might develop similar projects for other mill villages, “lost neighborhoods,” or historic downtown areas.