From Amelia Earhart visiting campus, an abundance of beards grown among students during finals and even the arrival of foreign students on campus, The Daily Toreador has covered a wide variety of topics throughout the history of Texas Tech.
Now students can review these articles online through the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library’s digital collections. So far, online editions from The DT date from the first issue Oct. 3, 1925 to editions in 1952. During that time, the newspaper was named The Toreador.
Lynn Whitfield, the university archivist, said the project first began in the summer and is still ongoing.
“The earliest newspapers were pretty fragile,” she said, “so we’ve gotten different types of scanners over the years and have worked on digitizing them to put them online for people to use the digital copy. That way, (alumni) all over the nation can look at the papers from the time they went to school and see what was going on back then.”
Whitfield said this collection will provide easier research capabilities for people all over the nation interested in Tech and Southwest history.
“The great thing about the digital collection is it’s keyword searchable, and there’s a zoom feature, so if anyone has vision problems, they can read it better,” she said. “It’s just much easier to search than with a hard copy. Mainly, we just wanted to make sure these materials were available for people to use.”
Whitfield said there are more than 1,200 issues included in the collection so far.
“The Daily Toreador is a really important part of Texas Tech history,” she said. “It’s the longest running newspaper we have that documents the social, economic and political history at Texas Tech.”
Whitfield said one article in an issue of The DT from 1948 helped identify the origins of a promotional Tech film narrated by Tech graduate Clint Formby. The video, which the article describes as costing $5,000, an expense financed by the Tech Chamber of Commerce and the Student Council, can now be found on YouTube.
In that same issue, Whitfield found an editorial that was of particular interest to her.
“It was written about how Texas Tech needed a chapel,” she said. “That ties to history now because we actually got around to having a chapel.”
Other underground newspapers throughout the course of Tech’s history are included in the collection as well, such as The Catalyst. Whitfield said this was a controversial newspaper during a time of political, social and academic upheaval, which discussed topics such as the Vietnam War, politics, protests, racial discord and drug use. She said numerous attempts were made by the university and the City of Lubbock to shut down the paper.
“In 1970, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of The Catalyst by The Channing Club, a Texas Tech student youth group organized by the Unitarian Church,” she said. “The ruling in favor of The Catalyst is one of the most notable court cases in the area of freedom of the press for school newspapers. It is often cited in cases of censorship of student presses.”
Rob King, a cataloger within the special processing unit at the library, said each week he tries to add 50 to 75 issues to the collection, and also has developed 567 subject headings to simplify research.
“You really wish you could do a subject heading per article,” he said, “but there’s just no way to do that with every page, so I try to take out the headline subjects I think people would access for history reasons, school or campus research. I do the best I can.”
King said some of the topics he has found interesting in the newspapers include foreign students arriving to Tech, oil in Iraq, Lyndon B. Johnson visiting campus, students taking classes from their homes via the radio and an April Fool’s Day edition.
“I saw that Al Capone had contributed to the La Ventana, and they were going to dedicate a book to him for his money services, and I got really interested,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, I noticed another article was about how 14 students had gotten run over on Broadway, and I was like, ‘What is going on with this paper?’ Then I finally noticed it was the April Fool’s edition.”
Monte Monroe, the Southwest Collection archivist, said the library is preserving these newspapers for future generations.
“We think (in) terms of a hundred years from now, will these materials be available for research purposes?” he said. “Newspapers are important to a lot of people, so we’re trying to put those online.”
King encourages students to utilize the new digital collections by visiting the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library website.
“I’ve really gotten to learn history on my own coming to this,” he said. “I’m getting to learn background history and especially Southwest history. Students should familiarize themselves with what is in the Special Collections now that they are online.”