Preserving the History of WSMR’s First Newspaper, Wind and Sand

by | Published on Jun 10, 2014 | Document Conversion / Scanning Services

Newspapers are loaded with a lot of information. However, searching for the desired information from a batch of newspapers (in paper format) can be tiresome. Digitizing newspapers has become a necessity, as these contain a vast amount of hard-to-access information. Digitization is the first step towards creating an efficient document management system, as it makes information searchable and accessible for all with internet access.

Today, Internet and digital technology has reached such a height that we can access even historical newspapers at the click of a single button. The largest military installation in the United States, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is towards such a move to preserve the history of their first newspaper, Wind and Sand. It began its publication on March 16, 1950. The initiative is set forth by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division’s Cultural Resource Program to scan, digitize and preserve 40 years of the range’s historic newspaper issues and make them available online.

Why WSMR Decided on Newspaper Digitization

The old newspaper issues dating back to the 1950s were stored locally at the Public Affairs Office. These newspapers made of low quality wood pulp are not durable and are easily susceptible to damage. This made WSMR think about the digitization process. They have outsourced the task to a professional document imaging company, as they found it tedious to handle the bulk volume of documents in-house.

Advantages of Digitizing Wind and Sand

  • Digitized newspapers can provide a great deal of information about past projects and how the range operated.
  • Helps researchers search the database of digital records with keywords and key dates to access the information they want.
  • Former employees and their relatives can recollect their past through the digitized archives of old range newspapers.
  • Other than obtaining historical knowledge, people can also get a glimpse into what life was like through the advertisements of local businesses that existed at the time.
  • The WSMR museum, yet another beneficiary, can use electronic images and articles to describe the story of the exhibits.

Digitization of newspapers is quite different from other digitization projects, as it demands specific technological capabilities and knowledgeable operators. The dimensions of the original newspaper documents are often unsuitable for presenting online. The number of words or the volume of text in the typical newspaper page is greater than that of a book page. Managing the equipment and resources assigned for the digitization process is yet another challenge. Associating with a professional outsourcing partner is the practical solution to address these issues.

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