It all started when Brenda Smith found her mother’s old files, full of documents from her time as an educator at Sampson Technical Institute—now Sampson Community College. Included in the files was an application for admission, and financial aid, residency, and tuition forms. There was also a list of courses offered in the spring of 1979. Smith shared the documents with her niece, SCC math instructor, Susan Jernigan.

When Library Director, Michelle Milliken received the documents from Jernigan, she realized that there were likely several other documents, photos and more scattered throughout Sampson County.

Milliken decided this would be the time to create an Institutional Repository of Sampson County’s history. She stated, “As we continue to grow, we need to document our history.”

Those who submit can allow the SCC Library to scan their photos, documents, and artifacts to be digitized and archived. SCC would then return these items. Once digitized, these documents would be available for viewing on the Sampson Community College website.

Sampson Community College (Sampson Technical Institute) application packet from before 1979, found by Brenda Smith. (Cheyenne McNeill)

Sampson Community College is exploding with a rich history. This project would help bring that history to a centralized location and make it accessible to all.

Dr. William Starling, President of Sampson Community College, believes that creating this Repository of Sampson County’s history would allow the College to create a pictorial archive of the history of the county—saying it goes beyond the college.

A list of courses offered the Spring of 1979. (Cheyenne McNeill)

Starling remarked, “So much of our county’s heritage is about to pass from us as we continue to lose those that can remember our small towns, our country stores, and our rich history of tobacco and cotton farming before the changes of the last few decades. I hope that many families have pictures of farming, school events, church gatherings, all of the events that characterized Sampson County before WWII and further back.”

For Milliken, preserving the history of the College began soon after she took over her role last summer when she found books in the stacks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was then that library staff created a special collection in the SCC Library.

Books in the Special Collection at the SCC Library, including The Divine Comedy of Dante Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, both dated in the late 19th century. (Cheyenne McNeill)

This special collection includes The Divine Comedy of Dante translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird from its original publishing cycle and Slave Narratives from Sampson County. Several of these books were donated to the College by local families.

Milliken stated, “We want to expand on that and accumulate things from the community.” For the Repository and the special collection, this can include books, or documents and photos displaying local history.

Starling says that collecting and digitizing these items to preserve the County’s history would be a great chance to highlight what makes Sampson County special. From church gatherings to agriculture to small towns and road crossings.

He shared, “I really would like for this to be an ongoing project that allows the collection to grow over time.  This is an opportunity for us to be a resource for all of Sampson County.”

Original blueprints of Sampson Community College located in the SCC Library’s archives. (Cheyenne McNeill)

Anyone with photos, documents, or artifacts that display the history of Sampson County should contact Michelle Milliken at or call at (910)592-8081 ext. 5002. Use the hashtag #SearchingSampsonHistory to share photos and more!

About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education, and workforce development options and early college education.