Alumni, history buffs and others curious about life at Kenyon now have the archive of the nearly 160-year-old student newspaper, the Collegian, at their fingertips.
Almost every issue dating to the paper’s founding in 1856 has been digitized, and editions showing full pages as printed can be found through simple Internet searches or the Collegian collection that is part of Digital Kenyon, the College’s online archive.
Previously, people had to go to Olin Library to view paper copies at the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives, or the staff would scan requested pages and mail or email them.
“Now it doesn’t matter where you are, you can just view it yourself. In general, it’s made it from campus-only availability to world availability,” College and Digital Collections Archivist Abigail Miller said.
Search the collection for Paul Newman ’49, and you can read about his raucous student musical and other performances. The collection is broken into decades for browsing. Go to the late 1960s to read about Kenyon admitting women. Or check out the first issue featuring poetry, musings about the new publication and a description of a party that “eclipsed all others.”
The Collegian didn’t forget the fun even in that first issue, including a remembrance to a dog familiar around campus with this stanza:
“A faithful Dog thou wert,
Ever ready at duty's call;
But now you lie beneath the dirt,
Not to be heard in parlor and hall.”
However, alumni mostly seek out issues from their years on the Hill to reminisce, or their families read old stories to try to learn about their ancestors, Miller said.
The Collegian is one of the most in-demand items archived by the College, accounting for seven of Digital Kenyon’s top 10 downloads.
“When we have reference requests about alumni, or about faculty and staff, one of the first places we start is the Collegian,” Miller said. “People like to see what was happening on campus.”
Archives still will have two paper copies of each issue for review, stored in a room kept at 65 degrees and about 50 percent humidity, Miller said.
The newspaper, published weekly during the academic year, almost always without review beforehand by its faculty advisor, preserves the history of the college, Collegian co-editor Henri Gendreau ’16 said. “It is the best day-to-day historical record keeping of Gambier.”
The digitization project, which began with grants from the Mellon Foundation, took about two and a half years, with staff mailing the paper issues to a Utah company for scanning. In 2006, the paper and Archives started saving digital versions as issues are published.
The online collection is a useful resource for the paper’s staff members, Gendreau, from Bainbridge Island, Washington, said. “People like potential employers or friends or family or whomever can just go and see your work like that. It’s really a great thing the Archives has done.”
Now Miller hopes to create an electronic record of Kenyon’s yearbook, Reveille. “It’s going to be my next big push for a digitization project, because that’s probably one of the other things I get the most requests for.”
– Rachel Downey