IUPUI University Library honored for digital archiving of 120-year-old African-American newspaper

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis University Library was among the honorees as the nation's fourth-oldest surviving African-American newspaper celebrated its 120th anniversary.

The Indianapolis Recorder, a weekly newspaper, marked 12 decades of publication with an awards ceremony and a reception Oct. 15 at the Indiana State Museum. More than 200 people attended the public event, "The Art of Storytelling."

The newspaper presented 20 awards honoring "the legacy of those individuals who have played a monumental role in the continuing mission and vision of the paper to educate and inform generations of readers to come." Honorees included the paper's creators, columnists and staffers, and longtime community supporters.

Dean David W. Lewis accepted the Indianapolis Recorder award.

Dean David W. Lewis accepted the Indianapolis Recorder award.

University Library's award recognized its service in digitizing the archives of the Indianapolis newspaper. The Indianapolis Recorder Digital Collection provides access to the paper's 1899-2003 editions. The Recorder is the longest-published African-American paper in Indiana.

"We believe we are one of the first African-American papers in the nation to be digitized," said Victoria Davis, the Recorder's newsroom manager.

Newspapers and print publications in general, especially black publications, have faced challenges with digitalization, Davis said. Having the University Library collection has been invaluable to the Recorder's readers, who have been able to look up family history, research community events and reflect on historical events through the collection, she said.

"A lot of people use it, and they are really excited that they can do that from the comfort of their own home using the computer," said Davis, who anticipates the library-newspaper collaboration producing a second project.

"We hope to have our sister publication, The Indiana Minority Business Magazine, digitized as well," Davis said.

The Indianapolis Recorder Digital Collection currently is the library's most popular digital collection, averaging about 50 visits and 1,000 pages downloaded each day, according to a library audit. The Recorder collection is one of more than 80 digitized cultural-heritage collections available online through the University Library Center for Digital Scholarship.

The Recorder was founded in 1899 by George P. Stewart and William H. Porter as a two-page church bulletin.

University Library Dean David W. Lewis and Jenny Johnson, digital scholarship outreach librarian, attended the event and accepted the award for the library.  

"We are really honored to be a part of such an important community resource. The Indianapolis Recorder is the most significant resource that documents the African-American community in Indiana," Lewis said. "The award is a recognition of a really good partnership. They trusted us with their content in a way that is not typical. The award shows that we earned the trust they put in us. "

The library's award is a framed collage including the cover of the Recorder's commemorative book, the ceremony invitation and a replica of the paper's front page with a story thanking the library for its contribution.

Other Recorder anniversary honorees included Amos Brown, award-winning radio host and columnist; Arthur Carter, Tuskegee airman; Mari Evans, poet and author; Wilma Moore, archivist with the Indiana Historical Society; and Barbara Turner, descendant of founder George Stewart.