Old news equals digitization projects in Special Collections – for newspapers, that is! These past two weeks I have been assisting our awesome archivist with groundwork for the potential digitization of deteriorating newspapers held at the library. Mind you, this is before acid free paper, so the need for preservation is a pressing issue at this time. My duties included going through various collections and identifying different elements from the papers found, such as the name of the paper, date, publisher, number of pages and issues held, amongst other criteria. The newspapers have been primarily from the Southwest region, including northern Mexico. This project has been as close to time travel as it gets for this Nogalian. With local issues ranging from the late 1800’s-the 1900’s I have been able to experience our history through the eyes of Arizonans and northern Mexicans. In between counting pages I have glimpsed at our past…from the Mexican Revolution to WWII.
While handling brittle newspapers was nervewrecking, learning how to use microfilm machine was enlightening. I had never utilized it before, and although it was not difficult to do so, it was a good learning experience since I have a feeling it will not be the last time I either use it or show someone else how to.
There were a couple of issues that I especially liked. A June 1922 issue of El Fronterizo from Tucson, AZ
had a picture of the publishing company’s printing press which was very neat. The headline was equally as interesting, reading that a man would be hung in Nogales, AZ. I guess I didn’t realize when public hangings stopped in the Old West. The 16 de Septiembre issues, which marked Mexican Independence Day, were beautiful. They had pictures of Hidalgo, the national anthem and winning candidates crowned queen of the festivities, for example. The Oasis from Nogales, Arizona, my hometown, had a great border story that depicts the relationship the two neighboring cities have. A particular paper that caught my eye was El Fronterizo from Tucson, AZ that was published in Spanish, but had an English section. It also contained an interesting story about fossils form an unknown giantesque animal found in Sonora that would be turned over to the University of Arizona for further study. From world news to local prominent families in the socials and local business advertisements, this project has been a tour of my community’s past!