Oct. 7, 2011
Morningside College recently obtained funding to preserve and make available online its campus newspapers, which go back more than 100 years.
The project will allow the college to create preservation-quality microfilm, which will be used to create a digitized version of the Collegian Reporter (CR). The online newspapers will be keyword searchable and made available to the public through Morningside’s website. It also provides funding for the college to store the original campus newspapers in archival-quality folders and boxes.
It all started when Kent Watkins, who attended Morningside in the 1950s and served as managing editor of the CR, suggested that the college consider digitizing the campus newspaper and making it available on the Internet. He made a donation, and that support helped the college obtain a grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa Historical Resource Development Program.
“I wanted to help make the knowledge base that the CR represents more accessible to the rest of the world,” Watkins said. “I think it’s part of my small payback to Morningside College.”
The first campus newspaper at Morningside College was published in 1897. Famous student writers over the years have included Esther and Pauline Friedman, who were better known as advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, and W.L. Harding, who went on to serve as governor of Iowa.
“Campus newspapers tell us a lot about the history of an institution: they document the perspectives of the student body and the issues faced by students, faculty and staff, and reflect the topics being debated by the culture at large,” said Christie Vos, adjunct librarian at Morningside. “They also tell us about the activities and achievements of individual students - information that may not be available anywhere else.”
Vos said she hopes for the CRs to be available online in the fall of 2012. Right now she is doing an inventory of the college’s collection of campus newspapers. She is noting which issues are missing, as well as the condition of the newspapers that the college does have. Based on what she finds, she will be seeking specific issues to help complete Morningside’s collection. The results of the inventory will be published on the project blog at digitizethecr.wordpress.com.