Soon, the world will have access to more local California history.
UC Riverside’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research will house 22 Southern California community newspapers — preserving 150 years of local journalism that will be digitally accessible to the public by 2024.
The Topanga Journal, Topanga Messenger, Whittier Star Reporter, Beaumont Gazette, Baker Valley News, Yucaipa Valley Mirror, Alpenhorn News from Running Springs, Tustin News in Orange County, and The Liberator, an early 20th-century paper documenting the African American community in Los Angeles, are some of the publications included. Several papers are still running today, others were short-run publications; all will be archived and preserved on microfilm, then digitized and available via the center’s California Digital Newspaper Collection, or CDNC, website. The CDNC serves as the state’s primary online repository of digitized California newspapers.
The project was made possible with a $58,000 grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. The project is part of the more than 25 million newspaper pages that have been archived and digitized with the support of other similar grants, said Brian K. Geiger, director of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research.
“The center’s primary mission is to preserve California history via its newspapers,” Geiger said. “This project is unique in that these are family or community-owned newspapers that for decades, and centuries in some cases, have only been available in physical copy to residents and visitors of those communities. Nobody else. Now we get to share with the world and learn more of California’s rich history.”
More than 100,000 pages are being scanned and placed on microfilm by Backstage Library Works, a Pennsylvania-based company. Once this part of the process is complete, microfilm reels will be shipped back to UCR. The second part of the project is digitizing them in order to make them available online. This last leg is expected to take nine months to a year, Geiger said. The goal is to have all the newspapers online by 2024.
Once the project is completed, about 100,000-150,000 pages will be searchable online. The oldest newspaper copy is the Herald of Banning, from the 1880s.
Adding these publications will add to the already 140,000 unique monthly visitors the CDNC receives, Geiger said. The collection primarily includes English-language newspapers, but visitors can also find German, Spanish, and Swedish publications. About 70% of CDNC users are self-identified genealogists. The other 30% are researchers that include K-12 educators, academics, and amateur historians, Geiger said.
The newspapers included in this project are:
Baker Valley News
Herald of Banning
Banning Live Wire
Mountaineer (Running Springs, Calif.)
Messenger (Topanga, California)
Topanga Journal and Malibu Monitor (Topanga, Calif.: 1952)
Whittier Star Reporter
Yucaipa Valley Mirror