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As the world prepares for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to come out on December 18th, we in the Digital Newspaper Unit are hopping into our newspaper time machine to check into the first Star Wars movie reviews and news.  The movie was initially distributed in limited release in May 1977.  As the article appearing in the Rio Grande Herald, titled, “‘Star Wars’ Raking in Millions” summarizes, Star Wars first opened to 45 theaters, and in 12 days brought in $5.2 million in sales, sweeping the world and almost doubling Fox Studio’s stock at the time of the movie’s release.

From UNT’s own NT Daily, we have a terrific review that includes the sketch in this blog post, on the left.  Star Wars sketch, NT Daily, June 30, 1977According to the review, “‘Star Wars’ features the most cosmic special effects in memory.” Unrelated but also interesting: on the same page of the review is a photo, “Dueling Banjo?” which displays a young David Iles with a terrific ’70s hairdo, wielding what appears to be a shovel-shaped sword.  (David Iles also happens to be the sculptor of the wildlife statues outside the Environmental Education, Science, and Technology Building on the UNT Denton Campus.)

Of course, “Star Wars” came out before most of its top-billed cast were famous–except for Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing, and newspapers made certain to help movie-goers answer questions like, who was that tough guy from American Graffiti?

The Rice Thresher, out of Rice University, gives us an admiring and thoughtful review that especially praises the richness of the special effects.  This review also notes newcomers Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford.

As we move toward the end of the year in our time machine, it appears that “Star Wars” gifts were at the top of most children’s wish lists by the end of 1977, from Bellaire, to Cedar Hill, to Crosbyton.

Not everyone was sad to change out movies at the theater. According to the September 16, 1977, NT Daily article, the Campus Theater projectionists were happy to see something new arrive after playing “Star Wars” for a total of 10 weeks–and after watching it over and over again.  And if you’re curious about “so-called science fiction fizzlers” that “raked a coat-tail profit in the wake of ‘Star Wars,'” you need look no further than the November 17, 1977, issue of the Fort Hood Sentinel.  From this, you’ll get reviews of such stunning classics as “Starship Invasions” and “The Fantastic Invasion of the Planet Earth.”  (Before adding this paragraph, I checked the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” episode list to make sure neither of these movies had become an MST3k episode.)




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10 Million Page Poster, celebrating 10 million pages in Chronicling America

On October 7th, Chronicling America, the website through which the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) content is hosted, reached a huge milestone in its history.  “The site now features more than 10 million pages – 74 terabytes of total data – from more than 1,900 newspapers in 38 states and territories and the District of Columbia,” according to the 10-millionth page press release. Through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which is celebrating its 50 year anniversary as an independent federal agency, Chronicling America serves as a free and open hub for newspaper preservation for participating institutions.

The University of North Texas Libraries, in partnership with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, has added 300,000 pages of Texas newspaper content to Chronicling America, and UNT Libraries and the Texas Digital Newspaper Program are proud to have participated.  UNT Libraries also previously partnered with the Oklahoma Historical Society to complete 300,000 pages of Oklahoma newspapers for Chronicling America, and is currently partnering with University of New Mexico Libraries to add 300,000 pages of New Mexico newspapers.

Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is part of the NDNP, a joint effort between the two agencies and partners in 40 states and territories.

The NDNP awards grants to entities in each state and territory to identify and digitize historic newspaper content. Awardees receive NEH funding to select and digitize 100,000 pages of historic newspapers published in their states between 1836 and 1922. Uniform technical specifications are provided to ensure consistency of all content, and digital files are transferred to the Library of Congress for long-term management and access. The first awards were made in 2005. Since then, NEH has awarded more than $30 million in support of the project.

If you’re interested in learning more about the National Endowment for the Humanities, NDNP, or the Library of Congress, visit their social media pages:


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In Fall 2015 multiple new partner institutions have received digitization grants to preserve their area newspapers by making them available in the Texas Digital Newspaper Program. We are very excited for these libraries, and we look forward to digitizing and uploading their newspapers. Here is a sneak peek so you can keep your eyes peeled for new research vistas in the near future.

  • Silsbee Public Library: Received a Tocker Foundation grant to digitize its Silsbee Bee.
  • Wharton County Library: Received a Tocker Foundation grant to digitize Wharton County area newspapers, representing the communities of El Campo and Wharton.
  • Nellie Pederson Library: Received a Tocker Foundation grant to digitize the Clifton Record and Clifton Enterprise, in collaboration with the Cleng Peerson Research Genealogy Library.
  • Jackson County Memorial Library: Received a Tocker Foundation grant to digitize Edna and Jackson County area newspapers.
  • Ennis Public Library: Received a Hancher Foundation grant to digitize the Ennis area newspapers, including the Ennis News.
  • Burleson Public Library: Received a Hancher Foundation grant to digitize south Tarrant County area newspapers, representing the communities of Burleson, Alvarado, Keene, and Everman.
  • Taylor Public Library: Received a Hancher Foundation grant to digitize selected years of its community and county newspapers.
  • The Tarrant County Archives: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected newspapers from the early years of Tarrant County.
  • Texas Lutheran University: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of its student newspaper, Lone Star Lutheran.
  • Crockett County Public Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of its area newspaper collection.
  • San Jacinto Community College-South Campus Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of the South Belt/Ellington Leader newspapers.
  • The Humble Museum: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of the Humble Echo.
  • St. Mary’s University Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of its student newspaper, The Rattler.
  • Mesquite Public Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of the Texas Mesquiter.
  • Texas State University: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of its student newspaper, The College Star.
  • Friench Simpson Memorial Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of The Hallettsville Herald and The New Era.
  • Lamar University Mary & John Gray Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize The Pine Needle.
  • McKinney Public Library: Received a Rescuing Texas History 2015 Newspaper grant to digitize selected years of the McKinney Courier-Gazette.

The dedication of the groups who have applied for and received these grants shows the importance of newspaper preservation and access to Texas communities. The preservation infrastructure of The Portal to Texas History ensures that partners’ newspapers will be available for research for generations to come. Texas communities are spread across a huge geographical area and are situated in climates that can cause severe deterioration to newspaper pages, making standards-based digital preservation a critical necessity. We congratulate all of our new partner institutions, and we would like to thank the publishers who have worked with these libraries on making their newspapers accessible for researchers worldwide. Finally, we would like to give our special thanks to the Tocker Foundation and the Ladd and Katherine Hancher Foundation, who have made access to these rich newspaper histories possible.


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Tim Gieringer just can’t stop himself from historical tourism, and I caught him looking at El Paso, Borger, and Dallas this month.  He offered to write the August post, and when I saw what he came up with, I thought everyone would enjoy it.  Happy August, everyone!

Part II, continued from May’s “Shopping for Houses in Newspapers”

We look at lots of newspaper pages here at the Texas Digital Newspaper Program. Lots. In the course of our work, we can’t help ourselves from stopping to read some of the articles or to admire the old advertisements and graphics. Often, when reading a story about a particular person or event, I’m driven to investigate further to find out how the story ends. And as someone with an affinity for old buildings (see previous post), I’m often finding myself doing some “Google Tripping” to find out the fate of these buildings I see in the newspapers.

Google Tripping for me is simply the act of looking up a location on Google Maps Street View to see what it looks like today. Newspapers of the past are filled with announcements of new constructions, advertisements for real estate, event listings, etc., that offer a glimpse into the history of our built environment. As you will see in this post, there are some happy endings, some hopeful stories, and inevitably some losses.

First up, we take a trip to El Paso. While working on the metadata for our El Paso Times and El Paso Herald newspaper collections, I quickly realized that there was a goldmine of real estate advertisements in these papers, many of which included photographs and detailed information. I got caught up in one issue in particular, from August 25, 1917, of the El Paso Herald. In fact, I was so enmeshed, I had to stop myself from making this entire post about the buildings found in this issue.

From El Paso, I was finally able to select two buildings for this post. The amount of attention devoted to these homes shows that they were clearly significant structures at the time. First up is a home that is still going strong with beautiful landscaping and even some classy topiary, seen below.

From 1917: The Wheeling House From 2015, the Wheeling House

The former residence of H. J. Ponsford on Wheeling Street, seen in the picture above left, was noted in the 1917 issue for its well maintained landscaping. As you can see in the above right picture, almost 100 years later, the house looks virtually the same.




Now for something that has changed roles a bit, we look at the former R. P. Mosson home located at Mesa Avenue and Blacker Street.  At first glance, a passerby may not associate the former single-family home on the left with the business location below, but a closer look reveals that the roof-line matches and that it even retains its two original chimneys.

R.P. Mosson Home, 2015




The side porch and the front porch with a conservatory have been altered, but their outline is still recognizable. I’ve quickly learned that a paper with extensive real estate advertising makes it easy to get carried away Google Tripping. But sometimes you come across things serendipitously that need to be looked into.


While looking for a different building (that no longer exists) while Google Tripping in Borger, Texas I stumbled on a huge theater that piqued my interest. A quick search through the Borger Daily Herald resulted in this advertisement for a new Morley Theater in 2015fireproof theater opening in Borger. Amazingly, The Morley Theatre (seen left) is still showing movies today! I wonder if they still have the “ladies’ cry room” or “smoker?” While these articles made the Google Tripping easy by providing addresses or cross streets, occasionally some digging is required to find the current location. PraetorianBuildingBryanEagleSept221909

Recently, I also learned about The Praetorian Building, the first skyscraper, not just in Dallas, but in the entire Southwestern United States. There are many mentions of this famous building on The Portal to Texas History, including these advertisements. Reading about the history of the building was rather sad and too complicated to dive into here. Unfortunately, the building was razed a few years ago, which is too often the outcome for many buildings I search for, but what replaced The Praetorian Building surprised me, and I’d like to think that the ghost of The Praetorian Building is still keeping an eye on things in Dallas. I would love to keep Google Tripping today, but more newspaper metadata awaits. Now it’s your turn. Armed with the information provided by the Texas Digital Newspaper Program you can now take your own Google Trip!

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The Texas Digital Newspaper Program is excited to announce the availability of The Dallas Voice, comprising over 79,000 pages, and representing the Dallas LGBT community since 1984. Many people have dedicated hard work to creating and digitally preserving the Dallas Voice, and we are very happy to celebrate its addition to TDNP.

Many hands worked together to move this project forward. First of course are the men and women who wrote the newspaper, starting in 1984. The Dallas Voice began as a joint investment of $250 between three people: Don Ritz, Robert Moore, and William Marberry. At that time, Marberry served as the publisher, with Ritz standing in as editor and Moore as advertising director. From this small but dedicated group came a 24-page, first issue on May 11, 1984, with a headline of, “Dallas Gay Community Pulls Together for Election.” In a few short years, by 1988, the Dallas Voice became an important resource about significant issues of the day. The July 8, 1988, issue spotlighted the Dallas County AIDS Planning Commission report, with excerpts from the report, particularly focused on “Community resources, Education, Health care, Hospitals, Insurance, Legal/ethical issues, and Public information” (July 8, 1988, p. 4).   True to its name, the newspaper became a steady voice for the LGBT community of Dallas. Astute political commentary, such as the “Gossip” column about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from July 30, 1993, plays a significant role in informing and representing an important community in Dallas, in Dallas County, and in Texas on national issues.

In early 2012, Dreanna Belden and Ana Krahmer of the UNT Libraries reached out to Robert Moore to explore the possibility of digitally preserving his newspaper collection and donating the entire physical archive to the UNT Libraries’ Special Collections. Through this work, the UNT Libraries’ Special Collections, headed by Morgan Davis Gieringer, brought the physical newspapers to be added to UNT’s LGBT Collection, and the Digital Newspaper Unit added existing PDF editions of recent issues for digital preservation via the UNT Digital Library and The Portal to Texas History.

The Dallas Voice Collection represents the first run of an LGBT newspaper to be made freely available and digitally preserved in the United States in its entirety. Digitization of this collection was made possible through support from a 2014-2015 TexTreasures grant: “Let It Be Heard!” through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. In addition, funding has been provided by Robert Moore, former publisher and continuing friend of the Dallas Voice. This project represents a true and successful collaboration between many groups in the UNT Libraries, that we are all proud to have worked on.This important collection is a highlight among the many treasures in the UNT Libraries’ LGBT Archive. These materials are significant in documenting the history and culture of LGBT communities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and they will serve as a valuable resource for generations to come.

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Burleson Ledger, Planry Home Ad, May 16, 1919.

This week, we have an invited guest blogger, Tim Gieringer. Here on the Digital Newspaper Team, Tim creates all the metadata for the newspapers we upload.  He’s been doing a lot of research for this guest post, so I hope you enjoy!


Thank you for inviting me to do this post! I’ve always had an interest in history, research, and architecture. Since moving to Denton, I have been involved in providing research for historical markers for the county’s Historic Iron Bridges project and researching dozens of homes for City of Denton Historic Landmark designation applications (including my own). This research often involves using historic newspapers on The Portal to Texas History.

Some of the more fascinating and popular items found in historic newspaper collections are the advertisements. Whether for unfamiliar products of the past or for early versions of products that remain household names today, the ads seem to still catch your eye. Of course, that’s what they were designed to do. I have long had an interest in historic homes, so my eyes are naturally drawn to advertisements for houses. When looking through these old house advertisements, some of you may be surprised to learn that buying a house in the early part of the 20th-century often meant first picking up a newspaper. From there, you may have been swayed to send off for a mail-order house catalog or visit a local business to see their house plan catalogs and displays. Indeed, unless you were wealthy enough to hire an architect to design your home, chances are you were building your new home entirely through mail-order or hiring someone to build it based off a set of plans you had purchased.

Mail-Order Homes

4-6-1919 At one point in time, you could pick a house out of a catalog and literally have it shipped in its entirety to you with instructions on how to build it. By “entirety,” I mean from the wood, right down to the sinks and door hinges on the inside. The houses usually came by railroad and could be constructed by a contractor or sometimes even by a handy homeowner. Sears is by far the most famous company to widely offer these mail-order homes. (It’s a fun trivia fact that people like to throw around, and there are a lot of people devoted to identifying Sears homes.) However, Sears had several competitors, one of the largest being a Michigan-based company called Aladdin. As you can see from this 1919 San Antonio Express Aladdin ad, two of their main selling points were the many designs available and monetary savings from cutting lumber and labor cost, with the idea being that the lumber came to you already cut to specifications and thus requiring less time to prepare.

Plan Book Homes

Another popular method for new home owners was picking out a house plan from a catalog and hiring a local company or contractor to build your home based on those plans.  These plans could be ordered through the mail, or you could visit a local company, usually a lumber company, that would also sell you the materials and help you consult their catalogs and displays. SouthwesternHomebuildersHoustonPost1-16-1910

As with mail-order homes, there were several companies of varying sizes offering plans. Perhaps the best-known of these plan book companies was Ye Planry which was founded in California but eventually moved to Dallas, and was a company known for its bungalow plans.

This 1920 Brownwood Bulletin ad shows a typical ad from a lumber company.

Brownwood Bulletin, 1920


As I was putting images together for this article, I was surprised to find that there may have been some contempt between the mail-order and plan book home companies. The 1919 ad from the Burleson County Ledger, the title image for this post, states, “Our lumber worked by Ye Planry plans will build a home with an air of individuality and not have that ready-cut look.” I am still watching my mailbox for a reply from the mail-order companies.

This is just a quick look at a couple ways many of the older homes in our communities may have been built. I hope this encourages you to look closer next time you see an old home and try to figure out if it was mail-order, plan book based, or custom built. The fascinating thing about old homes is they all have a story to tell. There’s a chance that you might walk past a Ye Planry Home every day without even knowing it!  For the next time Ana asks me to be a guest blogger, we’ll take some Google Map trips and tour the past as it exists in the present!

Home for Sale, Brownwood, Texas, September 21, 1920. Ye Planry Home, Modern-Day View, from Google Maps.



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Let’s throw a ball for Texas Independence Day, and let’s also do a barbecue, just like the citizens of Rusk County did in 1845, on the ninth anniversary of the celebration.  Samuel Monroe Hyde gave the address, and he also gave permission for the address to be printed in The Texas National Register, where it arrived for publication a month after it had been spoken.  Hyde proclaimed that the Texians of ’36, “a Milam, a Bowie, a Crocket, a Travis, and a Fannin” made Texas “free, sovereign, and independent.”

Hyde served as an agent for another early Texas newspaper, The Red-Lander, published in San Augustine.  The Red-Lander first began publication in 1838 as a Whig party vehicle, showcasing national and international gossip in its first few pages with local news appearing in the last 1-2 pages of the paper (See “San Augustine Red-Lander” at  Interestingly, the roots of later 19th-century Reconstruction and state politics dominated Whig Party ideology, which relates to why the Red-Lander newspaper covered so much “international” news of the day–with “international” referring to what was then the U.S. according to the Republic of Texas.  The Whig Party itself divided over the issue of slavery and eventually died off, but its ideas remained influential in politics for another half century.

Samuel Monroe Hyde was an early Dallas settler and among the first owners of what is now the northern side of White Rock Lake in Dallas, which adjoined land owned by his father, John H. Hyde.  This land was parceled out to the Hydes in the 1840s by the Texas president Anson Jones, whom S. Monroe Hyde toasts in the independence day speech as, “An accomplished gentleman, an able politician and independent citizen; our foreign relations are safe in his hands, even at this present critical juncture.”

In short, it’s time for some good barbecue and a nice ball.  Just make sure to wear a napkin around your neck to keep your ball gowns and tuxes tidy!

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Have you ever thought to buy a pack of Valentine’s cards to give out to your friends and loved ones?  If you hop into your time machine and set it for January 22, 1866, E. H. Cushing might help you out.  Cushing published the Tri-Weekly Telegraph in Houston for a little over a decade, while on the side he ran a wholesale stationery business.  Cushing, in this 1866 advertisement, offers Valentine cards sold in lots of $5, $10, or $15.  Before you hop in your time machine, be sure you get the correct form of currency, and remember the following conversions:

Currency in 1866* Equivalent Value in 2015
$5.00 $72.45
$10.00 $144.90
$15.00 $217.35

(*These calculations are based on the Dave Manual 2015 Inflation Calculator, which states $1 in 1866 is equivalent to $14.49 now.)

Unfortunately, E. H. Cushing didn’t specify how many Valentines you’d end up with once you paid $72, $144, or $217, but because his stationery business was wholesale, you’d probably wind up with enough to give to your friends and some left over to sell on EBay as time-travel Valentine cards.  (This would help fund the uranium fuel for your time machine.)

As you’re time traveling, it might behoove you to stop next door to visit Galveston, on February 24, 1857, where you will get to observe the peach trees blooming in the approaching spring warmth after a brutal winter.  Valentine’s Day for this newspaper editor represented a return to clement weather and easier agriculture.  Galveston was booming by 1857, with two weekly and one daily newspaper, and plans for another weekly newspaper, to serve the city.

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s this year, time time out to research how it’s been celebrated in history!

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The Digital Newspaper Team is pleased to say farewell to 2014 and welcome 2015 by wishing all our readers a Happy New Year!

For a great article about New Year’s food traditions, see this issue of the Texas Jewish Post, from September 9, 2010.  To see some fun photographs and read about New Year’s traditions from across the world, take a peek at The Denison Press issue from December 14, 1945.  If you could hop into your time machine, you might want to visit Austin for December 31st, 1852, where the South-Western American announced a concert on New Year’s Eve.  But if you’re going to fire up the old time machine, you couldjoin the Bastrop mule race, which got publicity from as far away as Houston, from The Houston Advertiser, on Decmber 31st, 1856.

Mule races, good food, concerts–however you choose to celebrate, we hope you enjoy a great New Year!

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As the Texas Digital Newspaper Program prepares to celebrate 2.5 million pages on November 6, 2014, we welcome multiple new grant awardees and newspaper titles!

  • The Polk County Enterprise: The county seat, Livingston, Texas, has received a grant to digitize its newspaper, beginning in 1892 and moving up to 1965.  This span of years will represent such famous historic figures from Polk County, including former governor of Texas, William P. Hobby, after whom the Houston Hobby International Airport was named. 
  • The Carl and Mary Welhausen Public Library has received a grant to digitize multiple newspaper titles representing Yoakum, Texas, and DeWitt and Lavaca Counties.  Yoakum is also known as the Leather Capital of Texas and the Hub City of South Texas!
  • The Cleveland Journal & Illustrated Paper Boy emerge from Cleveland, Texas, and are being digitized by the Austin Memorial Library.  Cleveland’s first structure was a church built in 1854, around which later settlement began in the 1870s.  In addition, the Illustrated Paper Boy is one of the more unique titles we’ve run across in Texas newspapers.
  • Refugio, Texas, is the home of the Dennis M. O’Connor Public Library, which has received a grant to digitize many of its county newspaper titles.  Refugio, Texas, is near the coast, and it is the birthplace of famed Texas Rangers pitcher, Nolan Ryan. 
  • The Mercedes New Tribune and the Mercedes Enterprise will be digitized through a grant received by the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library.  Located in the Rio Grande Valley, Mercedes is the home town of Tejano music singer Elida Reyna, whose family moved to the community when she was eight years old, and who won the Latin Grammy Award in 2010. 

We wish to thank all of the libraries who have contributed to historical preservation in Texas through their hard work in preserving and making these newspapers accessible to the public via the Texas Digital Newspaper Program.