Archives and Special Collections Department receives $16,000 grant to digitize university newspapers


Nina Martinez/ Hilltop Views

The Tocker Reading Room is located inside the Munday Library. Students can tour the room by appointment.

Walking into the Munday Library, past the chess boards and rows of desktops, sits a windowed room on the left. The lights gently illuminate the space, drawing eyes toward the Heritage  Edition of The Saint John’s Bible and the cases of nostalgic Hilltopper memorabilia. This is the Tocker Reading Room. 

The Munday Library does more than provide a space for students to study, learn and create; it’s also home to the extensive Archives and Special Collections of St. Edward’s University. The University Archives go further than the founding of the school in 1885. There are even medieval manuscripts that date as far back as the 1500s.

On March 22, The Archives and Special Collections Department of Munday Library was awarded a grant valued at $16,000 through the Tocker Foundation for the digitization of all of St. Edward’s University’s newspapers. The Tocker Foundation distributes funds to uplift small, rural libraries. Although the Munday Library is not a small, rural library, the Archives and Special Collections Department received their grant through the foundation’s Newspaper Digitization Grant

The grant is in partnership with the University of North Texas’ Texas Digital Newspaper Program via UNT’s Portal to Texas History. The Munday Library has been partnered with UNT for the ongoing digitization since 2017 and is one of the portal’s 463 partners across the state, contributing to the 1,767,963 digitized archives on the portal. 

“The newspapers are a definitive source of information about SEU history,” Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Travis Williams said. “Sometimes they are the only source on a given topic, so to have them available online and fully searchable opens a world of research possibilities for students and faculty. It would be difficult to overstate how lucky we are to have the support of the Tocker Foundation in making these items available to our community.”

In August 2016, the Munday Library applied for, and was later awarded, a $1,000 grant to digitize the newspapers. The university began digitizing the oldest newspapers and working their way toward 2004. On the St. Edward’s archives digital exhibition page, five of the college newspapers are partially digitized. According to Williams, the initial grant was limited and eventually ran out, whereas this new award allows the department to digitize every newspaper.

The current digital archives begin with the very first issue from 1888, when the paper was known as The College Echo. The university newspaper was known by five titles: The College Echo (1888-1903), The Echo (1919-1943), The Hilltopper (1947-1984), The Edwardian (1985-1987) and, currently, Hilltop Views (1987-present). The College Echo has been 90% digitized, The Echo is 80% digitized and The Hilltopper, The Edwardian and Hilltop Views are still in the process of being digitized. This grant will help fill in those gaps. 

The grant also includes the digitization of other additional print collections. The project will digitize the high school newspaper, St. Edward’s High School Echo (1946-1961) and The Cadet (1943-1946), which was the newspaper when the school was a military academy. which was the military academy newspaper. The St. Edward’s Alumni Newsletter (1955-1999) and Lonestar Catholic issues from 1957-1960, which includes a column written by Holy Cross Brothers from SEU, will also be digitized. The project aims to complete the digitization in one year. After two years of organizing towering stacks of newspapers, with help from Library Student Ambassadors, the department can now add remaining archives to the portal. 

Whether students want to enjoy a sneak peak into the past or delve into the hilltop’s history for research, the Munday Library welcomes everyone. 

“Students are always welcome to tour the Archives Reading Room [by appointment] and are encouraged to speak with library staff about ways to incorporate archival resources into their work while on the hilltop,” Williams said. “Visit and take a look around!”