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Library Receives Grant to Digitize Early Issues of the Megaphone

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    Junior communication studies and art history major Maryhelen Murray looks at an issue of the Megaphone from 1913 in Special Collections. Southwestern has received a grant that will enable it to digitize all the issues of the Megaphone that were published between 1907 and 1924.

Grant will enable it to put all issues from 1907-1924 online

Southwestern has received a grant to help digitize some of the earliest issues of its student newspaper, The Megaphone.

Southwestern received the grant through the Rescuing Texas History Mini-Grant program, which is run by the University of North Texas. UNT started the project in 2006 with funding from the Summerlee Foundation, which is headquartered in Dallas. The purpose of the project is to get new material for the Portal to Texas History, which was created in 2002 to provide online access to books, photographs, artifacts, maps, newspapers, letters and other historic materials from across Texas. The portal currently includes more than 4 million pages of materials.

This is the first year that Rescuing Texas History mini-grants were available for newspaper digitizing projects.

Kathryn Stallard, director of special collections and archives, said she decided to apply for a grant to help make The Megaphone more accessible to researchers. The digital Megaphone will be searchable, meaning that users can enter a name or event and quickly find relevant articles.

“While all the back issues of The Megaphone are available on microfilm, the film is very tedious to use,” Stallard said. “Digitizing The Megaphone will significantly increase its value as a primary resource for both Southwestern University and the community − and more than a few genealogists.” 

Stallard said early issues of The Megaphone are particularly interesting because they devoted considerable ink to the activities of the literary and debate societies, which dominated campus social and cultural life in the decades preceding World War I. “The topics that students addressed reflected the social and political controversies of the era,” Stallard said.

Stallard said even advertisements and photos in early issues of The Megaphone offer insights into town life, businesses, buildings and more. For example, a 1913 ad for men’s suits at Gray’s Department Store promotes “All $15 suits now $12.50.”

Over the years, Megaphone reporters also covered visits to campus by distinguished speakers such as Helen Keller, Jacob Riis and Carl Sandberg. Stallard said she has had inquiries from people who want to know when celebrities such as these were on campus. More recently, she has had considerable interest in the history of Southwestern football.

“I wish we’d had these issues online for those researchers!” she said.

Stallard said the grant will enable Southwestern to have all the issues of The Megaphone that were published between 1907 and 1924 digitized by staff members in the UNT Library’s Digital Projects Unit. Stallard sent the microfilm rolls up to Denton Oct. 7.

After the newspapers have been scanned, they will be added to the Texas Digital Newspaper Program, which is also based at the UNT Libraries. The program is part of a larger project called the National Digital Newspaper Program, which is trying to create a digital resource of historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922.

Tara Carlisle, project development librarian for the UNT Libraries, said one advantage of having materials on the Portal to Texas History is that they will be indexed by search engines such as Google. This opens collections up to people around the world who might not otherwise have access to them.

Stallard said she hopes to use other funds to digitize the remaining issues of The Megaphone.