Since 2012, my alma mater, Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, has maintained a digital archive of The Collegian Reporter, the student newspaper, which was published from 1897 to 2009, when it became an online-only publication.
The digital archive was completed this past fall. According to the Hickman-Johnson-Furrow Learning Center, or, the Morningside library, which maintains the archive, it “is part of a larger project to preserve and promote access to the Collegian Reporter by microfilming, digitizing and properly storing print originals.”
The Collegian Reporter Newspaper Project originated with a gift from D. Kent Watkins, a former editor of the newspaper. This project is supported in part by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Historical Resource Development Program and a gift from the Kent Watkins Fund. Watkins, a 1958 Morningside graduate, is chairman at the National Academy of Housing and Sustainable Communities in Washington.
Before Monday night, I hadn’t heard of Watkins or the archive project he helped launch. But I’m excited to make the discovery because I was a member of the CR staff from the fall of 1985 until the spring of 1989 — mostly as an editorial cartoonist. But I also took photos, wrote stories and served as editor during the 1987-88 school year.
Editorial cartooning is the reason I wound up at Morningside. I had drawn cartoons in high school. Even had some published as letters to the editor in the Des Moines Register. And as a high school junior, I spent a day job shadowing Brian Duffy, who was editorial cartoonist at the Register from 1983 to 2008. He had worked as a graphic artist and drew editorial cartoons as a freelancer for a couple of smaller Wisconsin newspapers before he joined the Register. He told me I would have to find a job doing something else until I could maybe someday get lucky enough to be hired as a cartoonist.
So I set out to become a graphic artist and enrolled at Morningside because it was the only college I visited with a graphic-art studio that looked exactly like what I had pictured in my mind. It didn’t take me long to find the CR office and start drawing cartoons.
As time passed, I realized how much I liked taking photos and writing stories and I never became a graphic artist. Or an editorial cartoonist. Instead, I eventually worked my way to this blog.
At least for me, this digital archive is a very cool thing because I long ago tossed my college clips and the original cartoons from my Morningside days.
For anyone who is interested, the front page below is dated Nov. 3, 1987, which would have been my 21st birthday. It’s from the first sememster of the year I edited the newspaper. The opinion page below is from the same issue and includes a cartoon with my commentary on Black Monday.
I don’t remember drawing this cartoon, which is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to spending some time over the next few weeks to check out this archive.