In the Dec. 9, 2016 edition of the Daily Times, it was announced that, despite the foreboding ‘for sale’ sign, the company would not be going out of business but will be leaving its location at 637 Sixth St., and moving into a new office space within 2017.
Since its time at the Sixth Street location, the Daily Times has kept record of nearly every edition published in bound volumes, the earliest dating back to 1848. Over the years, the volumes have been stored in the basement of the building and had subsequently been left to collect dust.
Finding a space large enough to store over 120 years of history proved to be a problem when seeking a new office location. The decision was made by publisher Hope Comer to donate the collection to a venue capable of housing and preserving such a large collection.
Staff journalist Ciara Conley made a suggestion to donate the collection to Shawnee State University and contacted Dr. Andrew Feight, a professor within the history department, to see if they would be interested in accepting the donation. Feight eagerly took on the project.
“I’m in my last semester at SSU now and I’ve worked with Dr. Feight in the past to gain a historical perspective on stories I’ve written for the Times,” said Conley. “I’ve seen his dedication, not only to preserving Portsmouth’s past, but its future as well. He and his students put in a tremendous amount of work and effort into creating accessible historical content through their Scioto Historical app and website, but there are still missing pieces of the puzzle. I hope that the bound volumes can fill in the gaps and provide more insight for their work and for the public as well.”
After a few meetings to catalog, count and plan, the volumes were transferred to a temporary storage unit on Jan. 20 from there, Feight hopes to preserve and ultimately digitize the collection.
“This has been a team effort on both sides – the faculty senate’s research and scholarly affairs committee awarded a grant from their faculty development fund that has paid for the move and the temporary storage. The Provost, Jeff Bauer, and his executive secretary, Pam Otworth, have been critical in supporting the project and administering these funds to support our work. The Clark Memorial Library and its Acting Dean, Janet Stewart, is submitting an application to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), for a grant that would provide the needed materials and supplies to properly preserve and archive the papers for future digitization. Chris Shaffer, the Director of Institutional Research and Sponsored Programs will be assisting us in our grant writing efforts,” said Feight, ”Additionally, Dr. George White, a member of the Shawnee State Board of Trustees, has pledged $3,000 in matching funds to the Shawnee Development Foundation so that we can apply for additional grant moneys from other state and federal agencies that will fund the digitization of the newspapers.”
The digitization will be a joint project among the Social Science Department’s Digital History Lab and the “Scioto Historical” mobile app and website, and the Clark Memorial Library, which will ultimately make the papers available to the public online. The collection also plays a large role in recovering photos, since they do not translate onto microfilm.
“The Daily Times donation of the historic newspapers will no-doubt advance the Digital History and the larger Digital Arts and Humanities programs at Shawnee. Ultimately, it will enrich our student’s educational experience, all the while, helping preserve the history of Portsmouth and the lager Tri-State region,” Feight stated, “It is an invaluable resource that will now be preserved for future generations, generations that will no doubt be interested in the city’s nineteenth and twentieth century history.”
Combing through the collection will take some time and further funding, a fund has been set up through the University for those who would like to contribute to the cause. Please direct all inquiries to Dr. Andrew Feight at [email protected] or 740-351-3143 and all tax-deductible donations to Eric Braun, SSU Development Foundation, 940 Second St., Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.