Waco’s renaissance as a national name – due largely thanks to our resident “Fixer Uppers” Chip and Joanna Gaines – has done much to elevate the city’s name and reputation in the eyes of a national audience. But for the local audience of the late 1800s and early 1900s, if you wanted to read about the goings-on in “Six Shooter Junction,” (or “Athens on the Brazos” or the “Hub City,” take your choice) you could do so in any one of dozens of different local newspapers.
In today’s one-paper-per-market media climate, it can be hard to believe that there was a time when a city of Waco’s size could support not only multiple titles but multiple daily editions along with a smattering of weekly, monthly and irregularly published titles. The large number of media outlets at the turn of the last century was a significant indicator of Waco’s growing importance to the state and regional economy. For today’s researcher, they present an invaluable resource for daily news, commentary, rumor, social commentary and advertising.
The archival holdings of Baylor’s Texas Collection – a special library dedicated to state, local and Baylor history – include the largest known assemblage of historic Waco newspapers available today. Numbering approximately 21,000 total issues, the collection had previously been accessible to on-site researchers and spans dozens of titles and decades from roughly the Reconstruction Era (1870s) to the end of the “public domain” period (1923).
Now, the Digital Preservation Services team, in partnership with The Texas Collection, is proud to announce the availability of 5,375 issues of this important collection in the new Historic Waco Newspapers digital collection. Currently, there are eight titles available in their entirety:
- The Artesia
- The Waco Daily Advance
- The Day
- Waco Daily Day Globe
- Waco Daily Examiner
- Waco Daily News
- Waco Evening News
- Waco Evening Tribune
The digitization process for these materials involves a multi-step procedure starting with a careful organization and inventory of the physical issues; generation of cataloging metadata in a shared spreadsheet; digitization of the materials on one of two large-format friendly scanners (a Cruse CS-285ST large format scanner and a Zeutschel OS14000 A0 format scanner, if you’re curious); and, finally, ingestion of the images and metadata into our digital collections content management system (CONTENTdm).
The total amount of time needed to get all 21,000 issues online depends on a number of factors including availability of student and staff labor and the time-intensive nature of handling the fragile physical materials, but we hope to have every issue of The Texas Collection’s holdings from 1875-1923 online and publicly accessible within the next two years.
For now, we encourage you to head to the collection’s homepage and start your deep dive into this treasure trove of local Waco history. Here’s a fun one to get you started: try searching for the word “shiplap.” Yes, turns out JoJo’s favorite wall covering shows up at least six times in the collection, including this ad from the October 28, 1927 Waco Evening Tribune.
Sadly, the house at 916 Mary Avenue was demolished long ago, but fear not! You can visit the Magnolia Market, just a stone’s throw away, next time you’re in town. Be sure to pick up a t-shirt before you head home.
Special thanks to the staff at The Texas Collection for their care and maintenance of these archival treasures for more than 90 years.