Editorial: Our Archives - history now on-line
Editorial - The Clinton Chronicle is pleased and honored to be part of a nationwide digital project to protect the history of newspapering, one of the nation’s oldest professions.
Our “mission statement,” appearing in the upper corner of our former issues - once, yellowing pages in a book; now, preserved forever on the internet - remains intact yesterday, today and tomorrow. It says, “The Chronicle strives to be a Clean Newspaper, Complete, Newsy, and Reliable.”
This digital project, explained in our June 14 issue, would not have been possible without the diligence of the Presbyterian College Library, the Thomas Cooper Library of the University of South Carolina, and the National Digital Newspaper Program. Through their efforts, interested readers and historians can go back in time, in Clinton and many other communities, and feel what life was like. Many of the ugliest incidents, perhaps, are glossed over. Some times in our nation’s history were ugly, and since community newspapers were businesses relying on “good will” to survive, their outspokenness on some social issues may have been muted. But there are many progressive leaders among the editors and publishers of South Carolina’s outstanding newspaper heritage. Now, digitally, those voices can be see first-hand, reflected in the times in which they lived and wrote.
Through digital archives, now it is obvious. When African-Americans were portrayed poorly in the white press, they started their own. Just as when African-Americans needed protection of the law, they became lawyers; when they needed better schools, they became teachers.
We see that now, first-hand, through the digital archives. We see what it was like to live in a nation consumed by war - first, The War to End All Wars, and then the Greatest Generation War. We see the glory of the textile days, and its disappearance.
Digital archives will become more and more important to historians. This will be the way college students will do their research, sometimes on their mobile devices. Combined with the oral history project undertaken by Presbyterian College in recent years, this will become history unfiltered by books and authors’ bias. Real people speak in newspapers. Last Tuesday, we celebrated the founding of our nation - newspapers and pamphlets were there at the beginning. Other media came later, and newspapers have adapted. You can access The Clinton Chronicle now from anywhere in the world - present and past - and we intend to be doing our jobs far, far into the future.
The digitizing of American newspapers is described this way, “a national effort to preserve America's historical newspapers, made possible by generous grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and with support of the Library of Congress (LC). As part of this program, USC Libraries has digitized more than 100 historic SC newspaper titles and contributed over 300,000 newspaper pages now freely available and full text searchable,” including a list of ten rare digitized African-American newspapers published in South Carolina between 1865 and 1922.
Our newspapers from the lead-up to World War II are now in an on-line archive. Soon, our issues from the Vietnam War are going to be there. Our issues covering the civil rights struggle and school desegregation are going to be there. There is going to be a lynching written about in our pages. There is going to be the murder of at least one police officer written about in our pages. Soldiers are going to die, and come home for burial - in our pages. Industries are going to open, then close, then new technology is going to come in - in our pages. Neville Hall is going to be built, then expanded - in our pages.
Ours is just one small, fly-speck in the vastness of American journalism, now preserved forever through technology. For this, we the journalists past, present and future of Clinton are profoundly grateful. Our work lives and, who knows, it might find a whole new audience.
Thank you, librarians and others, for caring so deeply about the preservation of the written word, and the images of ordinary, daily life in the vastness of the United States of America.