Three dozen students, faculty and staff divided into teams, donned their thinking caps and converged in the Faculty Club on September 21 for a Trivia Night launching the Library’s digitization of approximately 10,000 past editions of McGill’s student newspapers.
“These student newspapers have been a constant and integral part of student life here on campus for over a century. It’s even more important because there aren’t many universities on this continent as old as McGill and our student media goes back to the very beginning. It’s a record, not only of the students of McGill but of McGill itself,” said Trenholme Dean of Libraries Colleen Cook.
With images culled from over a century’s worth of publications flashing overhead, the trivia teams tackled a range of questions on the newspapers’ history and general McGill campus life, emceed by noted trivia guru Professor David Harpp. When the results were tabulated, the team of Valerie Mayman, Cheryl Smeall and Doug Sweet emerged victorious.
The evening celebrated a summer’s worth of work by the Library’s Archives and Digitial Initiatives departments. With a generous donation from the Harold Crabtree Foundation and assistance from the Daily Publications Services and the newspapers’ staffs, the Project Team managed to assemble and digitize over a century’s worth of publication runs of The Fortnightly, The McGill Outlook, Le Délit, The McGill Daily, the Law student journal Quid Novi, The Dram and the Failt-Ye Times, among others.
Among the newly digitized publications is the first-ever edition The Fortnightly, dated October 27, 1882, which featured articles, editorials, poems and sonnets, as well as advertisements for drain pipes, malt extract digestives and law firms.
“Digitization is important for the preservation of these records. By having them digitized, there is now greater access and discoverability while ensuring that the originals are maintained, limiting the risk of further deterioration,” said Lori Podolsky, Acting University Archivist, who helped spearhead the project.
The fully-searchable database has been uploaded not only to the McGill Library catalogue, but to the free Internet Archive, as well, at https://archive.org/details/mcgilluniversitystudentpublications (downtown publications) and https://archive.org/details/mcgilluniversitymacdonaldcampushistory (Macdonald campus publications).
Placing the digitized publications online will open them to anybody who wants to explore McGill’s evolving history over the last century, according to Jenn Riley, Associate Dean, Digital Initiatives.
“Alumni are interested in reviewing news from their time at McGill. Prospective students can see how the campus has changed over time. Scholars can dive into issues of student life, activism, political influence both on and off campus, evolution of college education, cultural movements and many other things,” she said.
“I think we’ve come up with something really exciting.”