Introducing 'Yesteryear,' a column about Kingman's history

The staff of the Mohave County Miner in 1941, pictured in front of the original building located on Beale Street. (Courtesy)

The staff of the Mohave County Miner in 1941, pictured in front of the original building located on Beale Street. (Courtesy)

One of my go-to resources for archived information on Kingman and Mohave County has been the Mohave Museum of History and Arts' Library Department. If you've never been to it before, it's the large room in the back of the museum, past all of the exhibits.

You walk in and it doesn't look like anything special. It's smaller than an elementary school library, and instead of colorful books lining the walls there are binders with serial numbers and an old machine with spools that spin (some kind of tape player I'm too young to recognize).

I've come in there with half a dozen stories now that required some special research, and each time I've gone to Jackie, one of the people manning the library desk, for help. Her enthusiasm for history is only matched by my love for storytelling.

In one of the back rooms of the library is perhaps my favorite resource of all: the archived Daily Miners. Our newspaper, formerly known as the Mohave County Miner and printed on a weekly basis, dates back to 1882. The library has papers dating back to the 1890s, and they have bound them by year.

Each time I come in to look at the papers, Jackie has set aside a year for me and a pair of white gloves I have to wear before handling them. While the words of the past have stood the test of time, the paper that it is printed on is brittle and delicate.

In the few short months I've been working here, I've never learned more about my community than in the hours looking through those papers.

It's not just the articles that tell Kingman's story. It's the photos. It's the advertisements and the hand-drawn classifieds for businesses long gone. It's the weekly feature that detailed when people came into town and went away on business, from a time when Kingman was small enough that business trips were newsworthy.

History and news supplement one another. We constantly want to know what's happening now so that we can make informed decisions in the future. Those informed decisions are based on our personal histories fueled by our choices and our cultural and societal narratives.

That's always been the case, and looking back at years past reminds me that so little has changed. We have the same goals and the same fears. We still cheer and root for the home team. Our community organizations still lead the way in bettering our community.

Our history is vivid and more relevant than ever, and that's why we're bringing back one of The Miner's long-lost series.

It was originally called Ol' Diggins', and while the name is a bit dated, the concept was gold. Back when the Miner was a weekly publication, the editors would pull up old archives from that date 10 years ago, 20 years ago and 50 years ago. Some of it was trivial, especially the farther back you went. It was an interesting concept and worked well for its readers.

We want to bring that back on a weekly basis again in a column we're calling "Yesteryear." Each week we will dive into the archives and find articles, photos, and snapshots from that week in Kingman history: local takes on national news, local sports scores, letters to the editor, even the ads when we can find them.

Hopefully it will capture short glimpses of what Kingman was like back then, giving us a chance to look at the news with the benefit of hindsight. For us to find out where we're going, looking at where we've been is a good place to start.