April 17, 2019 -- “We are bringing our history to everyone,” said Julianna Johnston Senturia of the joint effort between the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Libraries and the Heights Schools Foundation to upload old issues of the Black and Gold to both the CH-UH Public Library Digital Archives and the Ohio Memory Project site. “This is powerful for researchers, writers, family historians – but also for any of us who just want to look back and reminisce,” said Johnston Senturia, Executive Director of the Heights Schools Foundation and a class of 1987 alumna.
While powerful, the project has not been an easy one for Heights Library’s Local History Librarian Jessica Robinson, who’s been working for several months to digitize most of the student newspapers from 1935 to 1952. The first major hurdle was the fact that the newspapers had been bound in large hardcover books that made them impossible to fit into a traditional scanner. After a lot of research, the library purchased a highly specialized, oversized scanner that will allow them to scan all sorts of bound materials, including old yearbooks and research collections.
The condition of the newsprint is also an issue, as some are nearly one hundred years old. The oldest available issue is a loose-leaf copy from 1927, one year after the original building on the corner of Cedar and Lee opened its doors. Robinson has found the project fascinating and in keeping with the library’s interest in local history, which was piqued during their centennial celebration in 2016. The project has also been amusing. “Some of the articles are really surprising—and funny,” she said, admitting that she saves some articles to show to her friends and colleagues, such as one about a girl with a pet alligator.
“Some of the material is stuff we might consider inappropriate today,” she said, detailing an article from the ‘30s or ‘40s about student hobbies titled “Two New Babes A Month” after one of the young men interviewed bragged that his hobby was picking up girls. Robinson also reported that some of the articles and advertisements had racist, sexist and otherwise intolerant overtones, especially a May Company ad for Halloween costumes.
She has been most interested in student takes on major historic events, such as the back and forth debates about whether or not the United States should enter the fighting in Europe during World War II and the later coverage following the September 11th attacks.
Johnston Senturia is thrilled to have these issues online and available for public viewing, especially before they deteriorate any further. “Saving them now, digitally, ensures that our history will be preserved.”
Nearly 100 Black and Gold issues can be found on the Ohio Memory Project site
. More issues are being uploaded every week and if anyone is interested in assisting with the project or has old copies of the school newspaper in their home collections, they should reach out to the Heights Schools Foundation at [email protected]