Into The Archives: Digitized Newspapers Provide Link To The Past
Although decades separate us from students of Furman’s past, the online records Furman keeps provide an incredible window into our school’s history.
The first issue of The Paladin, originally called The Hornet, features a story about Furman's sports rivalry with Wofford.
Furman University Student Newspaper Archives
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During this week in 1988, The Paladin ran a story celebrating Valentine's Day detailing how several members of the Furman faculty who were married to each other had met. The piece, by Elizabeth Ann Davis, was a sweet celebration of Valentine’s Day, and is the type of article that makes student newspapers interesting by finding a way to connect the school community to the news of the day. It is an interesting snapshot of campus three decades back and offers us a nice look at the Furman community from that time.
From the SOAR Offices to the Writing & Media Lab to the Physical Activities Center and beyond, our Furman tuition provides many helpful services that can be easily overlooked. But beyond these well-known and highly utilized examples, more resources that many students may never use or even know about are provided by the school. The most fascinating service that I have encountered has been the online catalogue of over one hundred years of Furman student publications. Hidden on the library’s website in the “Digital Collection,” this collection of nearly 2,500 newspaper issues stretches all the way back to 1916 when the first edition of our student newspaper — then called The Hornet — was published.
Ever since I stumbled across this resource, I have been enthralled by these old articles. Though the process to search the records can be somewhat frustrating, with searching and sorting functions working suboptimally, being able to read the papers more than makes up for it. At one point in my search, I came across a message to The Paladin’s old hotline where an anonymous student called in to rant that “The Paladin is supposed to represent Furman students, but it is a leftist propaganda rag.” The editor responded humorously, saying “this phone call was traced and the caller has been beaten into submission by one of the Paladin's KGB agents,” and then running a satirical story two months later claiming that “Gorbachev Names The Paladin Communist-Leftist-Rag of the Year.” Dozens of gems like these, inside jokes that play out through these pages of print, are hidden throughout the records; and finding them has been an absolute joy.
But even beyond the value of history or hilarity in these papers, I have discovered a more personal connection. The writer whose byline was on that Valentine’s Day story was my mother who wrote for The Paladin for several years when she was a student at Furman back in the late 1980s. Long have I heard stories from her and my father about their time working for their colleges’ newspapers. Now, thanks to these records that Furman has made so easily accessible, I have gotten to actually read the words she wrote as a student and see more about what life was like when she was a student here. Getting to see the stories she has written, ranging from exciting tales of Furman students traveling “behind the Iron Curtain,” to the initial plans and allocation of funds for a housing project, which appears to have evolved into North Village, to more mundane topics like play reviews, has brought me far closer to the world she occupied when she attended Furman three decades ago.
Reading these old newspaper issues has been fascinating; and I would highly recommend the experience to anyone with some free time. Search for a professor you like, a spot on campus you enjoy, a club you attend. There is surely something interesting to be found in the archives. Even though decades separate us from these students of Furman’s past, the online records Furman keeps provide an incredible window into our school’s history and the students who came before us. I have seen nothing that has connected me to the students of Furman’s past more than the first issue of Furman’s newspaper, which begins by detailing Furman’s loss to Wofford in basketball and ends with a list of New Year's resolutions that consist of commitments to “attend class regularly, and punctually,” “attend chapel,” “come to breakfast once per week” and “write all History assignments.” Some things seem to never change.