In 1999, author Nicholson Baker founded the American Newspaper Repository. The collection contains the only surviving long runs of the
and other newspapers. When Duke acquired this collection from author Baker a few years ago, Baker continued to maintain a website with full-color images from newspapers in the collection. I suddenly found a dead link to that site. Hence, this post.
The video above tours the huge facility needed to store the collection and also shows bound volumes opened on pages of illustrations and comics (
). Since neither site had the images Baker originally displayed, I made some of them available here.
came about after Baker was contacted by comics historian Bill Blackbeard. In the introduction to Double Fold
, he explains how Blackbeard tipped him off to how libraries began to destroy books and newspapers after they were microfilmed:
A man named Blackbeard told a reporter that he had a story for me... Blackbeard had a formal, slightly breathless way of talking; he was obviously intelligent, perhaps a little Ancient Marinerian in the way that lifelong collectors can be... Some of what Blackbeard told me I couldn't quite comprehend: that the Library of Congress, the purported library of last resort, had replaced most of its enormous collection of late-nineteenth and twentieth-century newspapers with microfilm, and that research libraries were relying on what he called "fraudulent" scientific studies when they justified the discarding of books and newspapers on the basis of diagnosed states of acidity and embrittlement... In 1967, filled with an ambition to write a history of the American comic strip, he'd discovered that libraries were getting rid of their newspaper collections... Unfortunately he was a private citizen--the library's charter permitted the transfer of material only to a non-profit organization. "I became a non-profit organization so fast you couldn't believe it," Blackbeard told me... He went around the country picking up newspaper volumes.
Blackbeard's collection of newspaper comic strips went to the Cartoon Library & Museum
at Ohio State, while Baker's collection went to Duke. The following is excerpted from Duke's "descriptive summary" of that collection:
The American Newspaper Repository was founded in 1999 as a non-profit corporation in order to save a unique collection of original newspapers that would otherwise have been destroyed or dispersed, and to preserve and make available these landmarks of American publishing. Nicholson Baker, author of numerous fiction and nonfiction works, including writings on libraries, founded and served as director of the Repository in conjunction with research for his 2001 release, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper.
The American Newspaper Repository Collection dates from 1852 through 2004 and consists of approximately six thousand bound newspaper volumes and more than 11,000 unbound newspaper items, most of which came, directly or indirectly, from the British Library. Notable long runs include the World, the New York Herald Tribune, The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune. There are also runs of foreign language and immigrant papers, such as the Yiddish Forward, the Irish World, the Greek Atlantis, trade journals, Communist papers such as the Daily Worker, and other political papers. Many of these runs apparently exist nowhere else in the original format...
The Gumps, Chicago Tribune, September 30, 1923
American newspapers published some of the great writers and historical figures of the late nineteenth and twentieth century. The Repository's collection contains "first editions" and original copies of work by H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, E.B. White, Joseph Mitchell, James M. Cain, Zona Gale, Israel Zangwill, Alexander Woollcott, Deems Taylor, Leo Tolstoy, Walter Lippman, P.G. Wodehouse, Frances Hodgsen Burnett, Joel Chandler Harris, Ida Tarbell, Grover Cleveland, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, Gertrude Atherton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.G. Wells, E.F. Benson, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Alexander Graham Bell, William Jennings Bryan, Heywood Broun, Rebecca West, Don Marquis, and Robert Frost. O. Henry was a staff writer for the World; almost all of his stories were first published there, often with illustrations. Hugh Lofting's Dr. Dolittle was published in the Magazine and Story Section of the New York Tribune with Lofting's illustrations. Stephen Crane was a crime reporter for the New York Tribune; Ring Lardner was a columnist and sports reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Theodore Dreiser wrote a column called "Heard in the Corridors" for the St. Louis Globe Democrat...
The Repository is also in effect an archive of rotogravure printing. There are thousands upon thousands of photographs of minor and major historical figures--scenes of war, childhood, architecture, celebration, crime, and fashion--printed with a tonal depth that modern printing methods seldom equal. The Yiddish Forward, The New York Times, and the New York Herald Tribune are particularly rich sources of rotogravure images.
The Repository collection is also rich in other formats. The World published the first crossword puzzles, in a little insert called "Fun." There are needlepoint patterns, Easter egg transfers, a profusion of children's games and activities, and sheet music by composers such as George M. Cohan. The newspaper hired illustrators from around the world to draw scenes of New York life. At the turn of the century the paper regularly published the work of cartoonists such as Richard Felton Outcault, creator of "The Yellow Kid" , Charles Green Bush, George Herriman, and Fanny Cory; the twenties caricatures of Al Frueh exist here in their original published form. The full color reproductions of paintings that appeared in the New York Tribune provide a visual history of the artistic taste of the early twentieth century.
Fanny Cory drew "No Trust" for the New York World (April 16, 1899)
September 30, 1923
July 23, 1901