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This past weekend, I had the very great honor to travel to Paducah, Texas, and meet up with their newspaper publisher, Jimmye Taylor, and the Cottle County librarian, Becky Tucker.  Jimmye contacted me last week, out of the blue, asking if we could digitize her newspaper, The Paducah Post.  She was retiring and would soon have to shut down the office after over 100 years of publication–almost half of which she oversaw–and she knew that her newspapers needed to be preserved somehow.   When I arrived in Paducah, the first thing I planned to do was call Jimmye or Becky.  However, my phone didn’t work.  I stepped into a CPA office on the square, just down the corner from the publishing office and across the street from the library.  The very kind lady who loaned me her cell phone asked, hopeful, “Are you meeting with Jimmye to buy the newspaper?”  The other folks in her office nodded their heads, also optimistic.  Although I was disappointed to answer that no, I was only here to pick the newspapers up to archive and digitize them, I told them that we would do our best at UNT to preserve the community’s history by preserving the newspaper both physically and digitally, and by making it openly, freely available on The Portal to Texas History. We all agreed about the significant role of a newspaper in a community, particularly for a county seat.

Paducah is a town of 1,169 people and is the county seat for Cottle County.  The Paducah Post has represented the community’s history for over a century, depicting both daily life of its citizens and historic events of the county and region. 

Near my desk right now is the 1952 bound volume of issues. As I open up the May 22nd, 1952 issue, I see an announcement about evangelist Fred Ross visiting the town; an accolade about the high school’s newspaper, The West Wind, winning a prominent award; an article about 1952 elections being contested; and multiple entries about cattle, cotton, and the weather.  Although one newspaper issue taken out of context only contains so much information, the entire run of a newspaper, representing daily life of a town, just blows my mind.  Paducah’s population in 2000 was nearly 1500.  As of 2012, it was 1169.  This newspaper illustrates this population decline over the past decade.  Tom Abraham, a 1932 graduate of Texas Tech University, was later a philanthropist and civic leader in Canadian, and he found his first job in Paducah, after graduation.  Mr. Abraham was a prominent figure in Canadian civics, and he is an easily-locatable name on The Portal to Texas History.   William “Bill” Heatley, “The Duke of Paducah,” served in the Texas House of Representatives for 28 years, was born and raised in Cottle County. These people and more will be prominent figures in The Paducah Post, and it is due to the work of Jimmye Taylor and Becky Tucker, as well as other citizens of Paducah, that the newspaper will be preserved and easily searchable.  Because these materials will be available on The Portal to Texas History, the names of the prominent citizens and events fom Paducah’s history will be attached, through faceted navigation, to other primary sources objects on the Portal that discuss these same people and happenings.  

It is people like Jimmye and Becky who teach me about how important it is to save newspapers, and to create long-term access to towns’ histories. I am grateful to be able to do what I do–to work on a team of the wonderful people who build The Portal to Texas History.  I’m equally grateful to all the groups across Texas who recognize how important it is to work together, to collaborate toward building something larger than all of us, in a way that ensures long-term access and long-term preservation.  Thank you to the wonderful folks of Paducah, a beautiful community with a rich history! 

Image information: I took the photograph of the present-day courthouse on May 16, 2014.  The original Cottle County Courthouse photograph is available on the Portal:

[Courthouse and Cottle County Officials]. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth38469/. Accessed May 20, 2014.

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Now that warm weather is finally returning in the Northern hemisphere, we can spring into spring.  Here on the Digital Newspaper Team, we’ve been dusting off papers for upload.  Thanks to partners like University of Texas at San Antonio, Southwestern University, the Old Jail Art Center, and newspaper publishers themselves, new titles you’ll see preserved and freely available in the Texas Digital Newspaper Program include The Greensheet, The Albany News, The Hallettsville RebelThe Megaphoneearly Czech newspaper, Obzor, and The San Antonio Register.  

As we spring forward, we on the Newspaper Team especially enjoy the flowers, butterflies, bunny rabbits, and puns, and newspapers serve as windows to the season for us (since our offices don’t have windows).  We share pictures from collections like the beautiful full-color PDFs from the Canadian Record and witticisms about cleaning your spring–or at least your well if you have no spring–as recommended in the San Marcos Free Press.  Such hand-drawn artwork as that which appears in The Meridian Tribune, depicting springtime and life in the 1930s, gives us a window in time.  

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Yesterday, a person stopped by my office to ask if there are copies of the NT Daily at the Willis Library because she had a homework assignment to study information in newspapers.  She got very excited when I showed her the North Texas Daily/Campus Chat Newspaper Collection, which is freely available on The Portal to Texas History.  As with all newspapers on the Portal, the NT Daily/Campus Chat issues are fully text-searchable, with highlighting of search terms, and can be zoomed in for closer reading, which you can see in action on this December, 7, 1966, issue of The Campus Chat, which discusses the mascot name selection process for Scrappy. 

UNT’s student newspaper was first published on November 1, 1916, under the title The Campus Chat. The first editor-in-chief was Mary Watlington, and Ira S. Bradshaw was the assistant editor-in-chief. The paper was published once per month during semesters. By the late 1940s, the paper was distributed on a semi-weekly basis, on Wednesdays and Fridays. In 1970, the newspaper’s name was changed to The North Texas Daily, which is now printed four days a week in the Fall and Spring while classes are in session, and once a week during the Summer.

The NT Daily has had a long history of winning awards, starting in 1937-38, when The Campus Chat entered a competition sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press. In that year the paper received the second highest honor rating, First Class. In April of 1940, The Campus Chat was awarded its first All-American rating by the National Scholastic Press Association. The editor of the Chat at that time was Ray Edwards. By the time of the name change to The North Texas Daily, the paper had won 53 All-American ratings and five Pacemaker awards from the Associated Collegiate Press.

All issues of the NT Daily and Campus Chat are freely available for anyone–historians, genealogists, students, or anyone who loves reading newspapers!

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Newspapers provide windows into daily life throughout history.  Digital newspapers allow us to easily track how people celebrated the end of the year, across many years and many miles.

The Denison Press article, “Winter Solstice Period of Many Ancient Rituals,” explains, “The Winter Solstice, when the sun swings toward the earth once more, has been celebrated as a festival of some sort by the various peoples of the earth since, and even prior to, the recording of history.”  In Texas, these rituals range from stately and glamorous to community-building to just plain peculiar.

  • Early Texans celebrated Christmas while living in a warmer climate during the winter months. The November 24, 1838, issue of the Telegraph and Texas Register reveals that Velasco celebrated with daytime horse races that concluded with evening masked balls over a series of five days.
  • Soldiers stationed at Fort Hood mulled over their New Year’s resolutions in the December 21, 1973, issue of the Fort Hood Sentinel.  Quitting smoking seemed to be the most frequent resolution for folks that year.
  • Two decades later, from Houston, the Rice Thresher advertises the “Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa celebration for the Second Annual Holiday Festival,” which would be “celebrated with buffet dinner and dessert, along with photos with Santa.”
  • Children from the town of Canadian, in the Texas Panhandle, eagerly write to Santa with their wishes, one of whom  hopes for “a palm pilot and real beagle puppies” in the December 23, 2004 Canadian Reporter
  • And the University of North Texas’ Holidaily 2007 poses the timeless question: Who would win in a battle of the Santas? Santa Claus or Santa Anna?  (You’ll have to read the comic to find out!)

However you celebrate the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, the Digital Newspaper Team wishes you joy!

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“The Oldest and Best Read County Seat Weekly in the Panhandle,” the Claude News, is now accessible on The Portal to Texas History.  Through the hard work of the Richard S. and Leah Morris Memorial Library, and through the generous support of the Tocker Foundation, newspapers from Armstrong County’s seat, Claude, are available from across six decades.  Originally named Armstrong City, Claude was founded in 1887 by the Ft. Worth and Denver City Railway, and it was very shortly thereafter renamed for Claude Ayers, the engineer who brought the first train through the town.  With ties to Charles Goodnight and to Hollywood, Claude, Texas, has a big past for such an unassuming community!  Three films, The Sundowners, Hud, and Sunshine Christmas were filmed in Claude.  The Claude News was the weekly newspaper produced when the Claude Argus and the Goodnight News merged at the turn of the 20th-century. 

 

Thanks to The Handbook of Texas for its rich biography of Claude!