WSU archiving project saves history for generations to come

PULLMAN, WA - The Washington State University Libraries are creating an expansive database containing hundreds-of-thousands of old newspaper articles.

Palouse Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains how the libraries are digitizing the articles, and why they're helpful to researchers and historians.

A small team of students at Washington State University is working its way through history by way of newspaper articles.

"World War I, the second World War, the diplomacy," said WSU Libraries and Archives Paraprofessional Lipi Turner-Rahman.

"This is really short, but sometimes the article can go through three or four pages," said WSU student assistant Ying-Hsuan Lee.

They're filing all the articles into an online database for anyone to access.

"It just provides primary source materials for historians to actually go back and look at things that may have been lost," said Turner-Rahman.

They get the articles from the basement of the library. About 400,000 of them were stored down here in the 1930's.

Years worth of clippings from American and Canadian papers were stored in these black boxes.

"Over 250 newspapers, many of them are no longer in existence," said Turner-Rahman.

Within the last couple years, the university received money to hire student workers to sort through it all.

"We are averaging about a thousand clippings a month," said Turner-Rahman.

"At first we have to scan them, and then we have to put them on the database," said Lee.

The students read through each article, select key words, and write up descriptions. It's a slow process, and there's no end in sight.

"I think after I've left the university," said Turner-Rahman. "It's going to take a long time."

But the people who are working on it said they're getting a new perspective on history.

"Now I got the chance to read the actual text, like from the authentic newspapers," said Lee.

"They are a gold mine for information," said Turner-Rahman.

Thousands of articles are already available in the online database, and anyone can access it for free.
Find it here.