Story and OU story scans by Darl DeVault, Contributing Editor
Remembering is a common theme among seniors, which comes with being retirement privileged and the contemplation of a full life rich in accomplishment. This gift of remembering was recently brought home by the power of technology and the Internet when Oklahomans made the 120 years of the University of Oklahoma’s student newspaper available to read online.
For many who wrote for the paper or attended OU, the linkage of personal memory to the passage of time in their lives becomes more precious as they age.
Oklahomans and interested people worldwide can explore and search OU’s history from their computers, one article or photograph at a time. This opportunity puts our state and our state’s most prominent research university in a new light in the age of the Internet, now 30 years on. (story continues below)
The Oklahoma Historical Society recently partnered with the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center (CACRSC) to digitize the OU’s student newspapers, including all issues from 1897 to 2017.
“The Oklahoma Historical Society is excited to make the OU’s Student Newspapers Collection available on the Gateway to Oklahoma History (https://gateway.okhistory.org/explore/partners/CACR/),” said Chad Williams, Oklahoma Historical Society director of research. “Through this partnership with OU and the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, along with the University Library and Journalism School, we have made the entire history of OU available with a click of your mouse.”
9,557 OU student newspapers are now available to research, read, and revisit. As the senior archivist at the Carl Albert Center’s Congressional Archives, JA Pryse, an OU graduate, supervised the digital scanning and indexing.
The OU Student Newspapers Collection comprises work produced across various publications chronicling the evolution of OU since its earliest days.
“Just as town newspapers are a snapshot of every community in Oklahoma, the student newspaper is a daily snapshot of the history of OU and their students and faculty throughout the years,” Williams said in an interview. “Inclusion of these newspaper issues on the free online Gateway to Oklahoma History allows that history to come alive for generations to come as they share these word-searchable digital files on social media or download them to their computer.”
From its 1897 beginning as a student-run semiweekly, the newspaper’s name has evolved. The collection includes the “Sooner State Press,” founded by H. H. Herbert as a School of Journalism teaching tool from 1920—75.
By the mid-1970s, the pre-computer newsroom printed it as “the Oklahoma Daily.” By the time the newsroom was powered by CompuScan VDTs and an electronic back shop, it was slugged as “The Oklahoma Daily.” Going online, the print edition now known as “OU Daily” became weekly while the “OU Daily.com” is updated daily, complete with videos.
For more than 120 years, the paper has been OU’s public forum in all its forms. It has been the only independent, entirely student-run media outlet dedicated to serving OU’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni on campus, in the state, and worldwide. The paper has won 47 major national organization awards, making it one of America’s leading university newspapers.
Former OUDaily staffers are now foreign correspondents, editors, and reporters for The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, and many others. The paper has also educated a Pulitzer Prize winner, its current staff advisor, Seth Prince.
As with every collection on the Gateway to Oklahoma History, these newspapers can be explored by resource type, decade, and title. In addition, each issue can be searched for specific wording, while individual pages can be enlarged and downloaded.
This collection of 200,000 pages was digitized with the generous support of the Inasmuch Foundation in 2020. The grant allowed the CACRSC, OU, and the OHS the opportunity to make these indispensable community resources available online, free of charge. This electronic evolution of the student paper is in keeping with its long tradition of keeping up with technology. The paper was one of the first six university newspapers in America to go digital. In 1976, it purchased a CompuScan system for its students and editors to enter the desktop publishing world.
The CACRSC is a unique and nonpartisan institution striving to strengthen representative democracy through scholarship, learning, and service. It was established in 1979 by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the OU Board of Regents. The center is a tribute to the ideals and leadership of the Honorable Carl Albert, native Oklahoman, OU graduate, Rhodes Scholar, and the 46th speaker of the US House of Representatives.
“This project has placed nearly 10,000 newspaper issues online and will only grow as current issues are published and placed on the Gateway in the future,” Williams said. “This partnership reflects the Oklahoma Historical Society’s mission to collect, preserve and share the history of the state. I invite all history lovers and specifically all Oklahomans to go online and explore the Gateway to Oklahoma History. You will find millions of pages of Oklahoma newspapers, photographs, books, documents, maps, audio, and videos telling the story of our diverse and unique state.”