Digitized newspaper archives offer a record of UCR history

The UCR Library has made a complete record of the Highlander available

April 25, 2022
Author: Imran Ghori
April 25, 2022

Taking a trip through UC Riverside’s history has become easier with a new online resource that features the complete archives of the Highlander.

The publicly accessible site includes scanned copies of the student-run weekly newspaper going back to its February 1954 start, when it was known as the UCR Cub for its first two years. The archives are available here.

A look at Highlander issues over the decades. (Graphic by Victor Perry/UCR)

The UCR Library commissioned the project digitizing over 2,000 issues of the Highlander last year. The library sent 79 bound volumes to a vendor in Indiana that scanned the documents and added them to the Calisphere database.

Calisphere includes digital records from all 10 University of California campuses along with a variety of historical records from libraries, archives, and museums throughout California.

For issues after 2021, the newspaper has provided its digital files to the library so that it will continue to have a complete record.

The platform allows users to search by decade and find individual issues. Once an individual issue is downloaded, users can do a keyword search if they’re looking for a particular topic.

Andrea Hoff, university archivist for the library, said digitizing the newspaper records was a priority of hers when she joined the library staff in 2019. For most campuses, the student newspaper is considered a foundational resource that provides an important record of its history, she said.

“It’s a continuous record of student voices from the inception of the university in 1954 to the present, which makes it unique and valuable,” Hoff said.

The archives of the Highlander provide a history of important events at UCR: dignitaries visiting campus, the dates when different schools and colleges came into being, and the appointments and departures of campus leaders.

The front page of an October 1984 issue of the Highlander.

A September 1957 issue of the Highlander.

For example, an April 1, 1960 article announces a visit from Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, described as a nuclear arms expert in the headline. An Oct. 4, 1984 article covers a visit by Cesar Chavez, the farmworkers’ rights leader.

The archives also offer a view of student life and changing culture from the 1950s to the present, reflected in the types of articles the newspaper focused on and editorials by newspaper staff. 

In the mid-1960s, the Highlander wrote regularly about the Civil Rights and Free Speech movements, including covering protests at UC Berkeley. Later on, the Vietnam War became a prominent topic of coverage.

The archives also offer snapshots of important milestones. For instance, a Sept. 26, 1966 article describes the construction of the bell tower.

Some topics remain constant. A Sept. 16, 1957 front page headline announced “Big ‘C’ Now in Concrete,” describing a trip by freshmen to paint the “C” on Box Springs Mountain.

Hoff said the library plans to spotlight pages from the newspaper archive in regular social media posts on its UCR Archives twitter account and Instagram account as a part of a Highlander history feature.

She also expects the archive to be a valuable tool for researchers on a variety of topics, whether it’s gender studies, civil rights, or local history. 

“Not as much has been written about the history of UCR as you would think,” Hoff said. “That’s why I felt it was important to make this resource available digitally. Now people can research campus history from home. I hope the UCR community will be excited about this resource and use it to explore how the past has shaped the present, ways in which campus has changed, and how it’s stayed the same.”