CR’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research will soon house 22 Southern California community newspapers — safeguarding 150 years of hyperlocal journalism. The center’s primary mission is to preserve California history via its newspapers, said Brian K. Geiger, the center director. Funded by a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, the project will make these publications digitally accessible to the public. “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,” Geiger said. “Now we get to share them with the world and learn more of California’s rich history.” Here’s a closer look at the project, expected to be completed by 2024:


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publications will be archived and preserved on microfilm, then digitized and made 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. Among the 22 newspapers included in the project are the Topanga Messenger, Whittier Reporter, Beaumont Gazette, Yucaipa Valley Mirror, and The Liberator, an early 20th-century paper documenting the African American community in Los Angeles.

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cities and census-designated places will see their newspapers archived through the project. These include Los Angeles, Topanga, and Whittier in Los Angeles County; Tustin in Orange County; Beaumont and Banning in Riverside County; Baker, Running Springs, and Yucaipa in San Bernardino County; and Salton Sea Beach in Imperial County.

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pages are being scanned and placed on microfilm by Backstage Library Works, a Pennsylvania-based company. The largest pages, measuring 18 by 24 inches, are often dubbed elephant-sized pages. Once the process is complete, the microfilm reels will be shipped back to UCR where they will be digitized and made available online. Digitizing the microfilm reels is expected to take nine months to a year, Geiger said.

Illustration of students sitting on top of a tablet that had news on the front screen

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from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation made this project possible. It will be part of the more than 25 million newspaper pages that have been archived and digitized with the support of other similar grants, Geiger said.

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of CDNC users are self-identified genealogists. The other 30% include amateur historians and academic researchers, among others. CDNC also regularly gets requests to use images of newspaper pages in documentaries, museum exhibits, books, and other media.


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