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Decade of Urbana Daily Courier to be available online

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 7/25/2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois Library has digitally opened yet another window to the past.

It has produced a digitized version of the Urbana Daily Courier for the years 1916 to 1925, “offering extensive documentation of the development of commerce and industry, the course of local and regional politics and the history of cultural and social life in our community, as well as the local experience of global events,” said Mary Stuart, head of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library, the departmental library that has undertaken the project.

The Digital Courier will be launched during a free public presentation from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday (July 28) in the auditorium of the Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., Urbana.

Stuart and her colleagues will demonstrate the use of the database, discuss their ongoing work and future digitization plans and share information about other historic newspaper digitization projects.

“Perhaps more than any other original source document, historic newspapers provide a window onto our past,” Stuart said. “No other primary source conveys as readily and vividly the sensibility of an era and the feel of a place.”

Stuart said that the potential uses of the digital Courier are numerous, and that she hopes that the new digital Courier “will serve as a catalyst for the study of local history.”

According to Stuart, the decade that was digitized spans many pivotal events in world history – the entry of the U.S. into World War I, the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the flu pandemic – as well as key developments in local and regional history – the Black Sox scandal, the development of hybrid seed corn, the college career of Red Grange and the opening of Chanute Aviation Field in Rantoul.

The rich primary source material also reflects on the Scopes trial, the East St. Louis riots of 1917, the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, prohibition, female suffrage, postwar recovery, and the rapid rise of science and technology.

The Urbana Free Library and the Champaign County Historical Archives sponsor the event.

The project was funded by a grant from the Illinois State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, with additional support from the Clifford Family Endowment.