Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Did Your Ancestors Make The Cut?

For about fifty years the Kalamazoo Gazette employed its own librarian who reviewed the paper every day and clipped articles for later reference. [1] From the mid-1940s to the mid-1990s these clippings were put in labeled envelopes and filed away in a series of cabinets in the “Scraparium” where many a reporter went digging for information on a variety of local topics. [1, 2] Now this resource is open to the public for perusal. 

Before their removal to the Western Michigan University Archives, the clippings file was a resource available only to the Kalamazoo Gazette staff, most often to research a person before writing an obituary. [1] According to Lynn Houghton, the Regional History Collection Curator at the WMU Archives, there are no written accounts to explain why some articles were selected over others. It may just come down to the whim of the librarian. If so, the librarian must not have been a sports fan because few sports articles are found in the collection. [2]

While you can look for your family in the clippings file, there is a slight catch, you can't just rifle through the cabinets to your heart's content. You will need to fill out a form at the reference desk and wait while a staff member searches the envelopes for the topics you requested. You can also call ahead at (269) 387-8490 to see if any files of interest to you are in the collection before you make a trip to the Archives' new home in the Zhang Legacy Collections Center. If you find something noteworthy staff will make copies for 20 cents per page.

1. Mickey Cilkajlo, “Kalamazoo Gazette archives now publicly available at Western Michigan University,” MLive.com December 06, 2013, [http://www.mlive.com/opinion/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2013/12/kalamazoo_gazette_clips_now_pu.html]

2. Lynn Houghton, email communication.

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