Munday Library to begin archiving 129 years of student publications

Soon every past student newspaper from St. Edward’s University will be online.

The Munday Library will digitize every newspaper from St. Edward’s since the original campus paper, The College Echo, published in 1888.

Converting 129 years of student-news history into digital format will be a long process, says Archivist and Public Services Librarian Megan Blair.

In 2002, the University of North Texas launched a program called The Portal to Texas History with the goal of providing an online gateway to historical items. 

In 2007, the portal established the Texas Digital Newspaper Program to digitize newspapers.

This project began after Blair contacted the program and applied for a grant in August 2016. 

The university received $1,000 from the grant to digitize the papers, and according to Blair, scanning each page costs a little over $1.

Blair says that the university will start with the oldest papers and work toward 2004. 

Hilltop Views has maintained digital copies of all print editions dating back to the fall of 2004 and has granted permission to use them for this project.

“Digital technology has gotten so much better now that we have the standards and stuff in place so that we can scan these items and create digital copies that will help us with preservation,” Blair said.

There is a large gap in papers from about 1892 to 1919. 

It is unknown whether there were any St. Edward’s newspapers published during this time, or if they were lost to history. 

When the website launches later this spring, users will be able to search from 2004-2016. The papers from 1888 to about 1920 will be added at a later date. Over time, additional issues of the paper will be added as more money becomes available.

“They have to unbind them, carefully scan them, then they will correct them, and every issue will be OCR readable,” Blair said.

OCR stands for optical character recognition, a software that allows users to type in a search term or keyword and see if it appears in the newspapers.

“There is a lot we can get from the newspaper,” Blair said. “It’s valuable for historians, it’s valuable for families.”

The papers will be accessible on The Portal to Texas History, a website hosted by UNT. 

The Munday Library will provide a link on their webpage for the St. Edward’s community. The library will also make announcements as new items are uploaded.

“We’ll eventually extend it out to the St. Edward’s University high school, the military academy and alumni newspapers,” said Blair.

By putting the papers in the portal, a larger audience is able to witness the history of the university.

“It will also be great for people who can’t get to our campus. They’ll be able to access it from anywhere that they have the internet,” Blair said.

The library asks anyone with copies or information about student publications before 1920 or during World War II to contact them.