Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Newspapers as a History Source

There’s an AP article out of London explaining the daunting task of digitalizing 40 million pages of newspapers going back three and a half centuries.

“Newspapers are designed to be read once and thrown away, so they’re very fragile,” said library spokesman Ben Sanderson. “This will be the largest mass digitization of historic newspapers the U.K. has ever seen.”

I have a wonderful old desk; my folks gave it to us when they moved from Houston to Florida, not having a place for it in their new home. One of the drawers contained old newspapers going back to WWII, V-E Day, V-J Day, Man Lands on Moon and JFK’s Assassination were among the front sections turning yellow from age. We’ve added to that collection; NASA’s Challenger disaster, Terrorists Attack World Trade Center Buildings and Houston’s Flood.

The pages on some are so fragile as to make them very difficult to turn without flakes of dried paper cracking off. One of them had stories about the end of the war which continued further inside; spreading the huge pages onto the dining room table to accommodate the task and carefully unfolding the pressed pages to read the rest of the article.

There was a short piece about four SS war criminals going on trial dated August 14, 1945 which caught my eye. You might recall I wrote a piece this last week, Progressive Tolerance , which mentioned how some folks would deny the Holocaust ever took place if a definitive record wasn’t kept; nothing like an old newspaper article to sharpen your memory.

“The prosecution charged that the victims were in a group of 1600 Jewish prisoners who were being moved from the Engerau camp when the Russian army neared the Danube.”

“Unable to keep up with the marching column, the 102 Jews were said to have been shot, clubbed and stabbed to death by the four guards.” (click on image to enlarge)

I’m grateful for old newspapers, a chance to hold their crumbling pages in my hands and be reminded of important events in history, events which should horrify and shock us into sober reflection. We can never let these atrocities happen again on our watch. Reporters and journalists have been given the responsibility of documenting history one day at a time; may they do a proper and accurate job without distorting facts merely to satisfy a given agenda and be deserving of 1st Amendment rights which protect their time honored position in society.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


MK said...

If you can spare the money, maybe you can laminate them, keep em' and pass em' along to the next generation.

T. F. Stern said...

MK, While contemplating the expense of laminating, something which just isn't going to happen; the idea hit me to use my digital camera to digitize them. These are far too large to lay atop my scanner's platen so I could lay them flat and snap pictures that could be stored in a file of my computer as well as off site. Thanks for getting my brain in gear.