Decades ago, newspapers were printed in lowest quality papers and with low quality inks, which made them brittle and fragile. People never thought the text-rich and dense newspapers, mostly with little or no photographs will once become history. This calls for an effort to digitize them and make them available to those interested around the world. To preserve the contents and the history within these paper resources, digitization services such as document scanning solutions, microfilm scanning or microfiche scanning have come in handy.
Daily there are many who go to the Rosenbaum Archive and History building and other archive centres in Arizona to look at microfilms of newspapers,
- either to satisfy their interest in history, or
- for research purposes.
Newspapers are pretty much the only thing that links the past and present when it comes to local news. Digitizing them all and making it public will do only good to people – because these can be accessed at anytime and from anywhere around the world.
The National Endowment for the Humanities of the US government granted the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records the authority to further digitize the historic newspapers in Arizona and update them to the already established database. Using photo digitization services and scanning and imaging techniques, they will be seen working along with the University of Arizona Library and are planning to expand the titles of their collection, including some in Spanish. There are many notable newspapers that are already digitized, one being the first newspaper published (first, according to Sativa Peterson, the news content program manager at the State Archives) in Arizona – the Weekly Arizonian, published in 1859.
The already digitized newspapers include those published from 1859 to 1922, covering Arizona’s early history – including the 1912 event of transforming itself to a state from a US territory. Already a substantial amount of historical Arizonian newspapers exist in digital form, there are some yet to be added, and the archives department in UA library wants to add more to the existing database.
- There are at least 25 more newspapers published between 1859 and 1922 to be added to the digital archive – most of them Spanish, according to Sativa Peterson.
- Some of them are Native American, African American and those newspapers detailing Arizona’s WWII Internment camp.
It is interesting to go through some of the news and articles in the already-digitized 380,000 Arizonian pages now available in The Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records. From stories like women being able to drive to discussing whether they should drive alone at night or drive across the desert, it’s very curious to see how people were perceived in a society.
Also, the news about important people in Arizona was covered like how we cover people now and call it ‘yellow journalism’. Some newspapers covered former Governor of Arizona, Richard McCormick when the state was a territory. The Governor was a journalist himself, and started two newspapers: Arizona Miner and Arizona Citizen. He left the city of Prescott and was unpopular during his time, and the competing newspaper made scathing comments about him. Reading such comments from back then makes us realize that ‘yellow journalism’ has been in existence for a long time now!
Though there’s been a drastic change in how we get updated news in this digital era, the way people used to perceive others and receive news seems to have changed only a bit!
These 380,000 archived pages can be accessed on the Arizona Historical Digital Newspaper Program website and the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website.