State project seeks to preserve newspapers

In the words of Jaynell Chambers, director of the Mohave Museum of History and Art, "Newspapers are our history."

And with that in mind, a statewide microfilm project is making sure that newspaper accounts of early Mohave County are not lost.

"Most historic events are in newspapers," Chambers said.

"They are our history."

The quality of paper on which newspapers are printed is generally poor and not intended to be long-lived, Chambers said.

Even under the best of conditions and stored in archival boxes, some of the earliest newspapers are disintegrating.

Luckily, much of the collection of the museum has been put on microfilm.

A representative of the Arizona Newspaper Project and the Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records has been going through the local collections page-by-page to inventory the papers and match them with what is now on microfilm.

Those papers needing to be microfilmed will be hand-carried to Phoenix and microfilmed.

In time, all the newspapers in Arizona from territorial days to the present that can be located will be preserved on microfilm.

Mohave Museum of History and Art Librarian Linda Terrin said the local museum library has several early newspapers, some on microfilm.

The Mohave Daily Miner is in the collection from 1916.

She said the newspapers from the World War II era were printed on especially poor quality paper and are falling apart.

The museum library has old copies of "Our Mineral Wealth" that was merged with the Miner in 1918.

One copy of the "Arizona Arrow," out of the one-year it was published, is available.

The Walapai Tribune was established in 1885 and the library has the copies from 1886 for this early Kingman publication.

A Chloride paper said it was from Kingman but the only issue of the paper in the library collection came out of Chloride.

The Oatman News staff wrote much of the early Mohave County news that is now history.

That paper changed names several times over the years.

Some of the earliest history was written in the Yuma Sentinel, Terrin said.

New Mohave Museum Librarian Rosanne Rosenberg said the Daily Miner is available on microfilm for all but one year.

The last few months are awaiting microfilming by the Miner.

A statewide survey conducted in 1991 identified 1,520 newspaper titles and existing issues of all but 136 have been found.

The Arizona Newspaper Project reports 1,400 titles representing 175 cities and towns have been catalogued.

The project has converted 308,000 pages of newsprint to preservation-quality microfilm.

The film is available in the state library or on interlibrary loan locally.

The museum library hopes to get the missing year of the Miner for the local collection.

Historians, lawyers, journalists, genealogists, teachers and students use the newspapers.

The papers have been used for research to support arguments, write books, follow economic trends, and trace family members.

The Arizona Newspaper Project is being funded by a $40,000 state allocation with a cost estimate of $125,000 for the two-year project.

The remaining $85,000 is being raised from interested parties.

Without the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper accounts the "Shootout at the OK Corral" could be just a local legend rather than an event known worldwide, according to the project.

Especially in Arizona, contemporary newspapers are an indispensable source because pioneers and the territorial legislature kept few records.

In Arizona it is often necessary to turn to old newspapers to find out about the origin of such important items as many early laws, the project reports.

Chambers said it is a massive and time-consuming task that would not likely be done without the help of the Arizona Newspaper Project.

The newspapers are getting fragile and the microfilm will both preserve records and keep them in a form where they can be used for research.