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Santa Monica College Newspaper Archive Now Online

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By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

January 27, 2015--A drive is underway at Santa Monica College to collect scrap metal for the war effort, student body elections have been scrapped, and services are being held for students serving overseas. Those were among the stories that made headlines in The Corsair on May 27, 1942.

Such telling chapters in SMC’s history can now be accessed with a mouse click at, a searchable database, college officials announced Monday.

Culminating a three-year project, thousands of editions of The Corsair from 1929 through 2011-- representing some 14,000 pages in 98 bound volumes --  have been digitally preserved and now are online at the California Digital Newspaper Collection.

“The Corsair archives document the college’s transformation from an institution with 153 students in 1929 to its current status as the number one transfer institution in California with more than 30,000 students and 80 fields of study,” college officials said in a statement.

Joining about 9,000 California newspapers available for viewing on the database, The Corsair is the first college newspaper in the state to be included in the collection, said Brian Geiger, director of research at the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Bibliographical Studies & Research, which oversees the site.
“We’re actually hoping to have more partnerships with other colleges in the future,” said Geiger. “Researchers looking into campus unrest in the 60s, for example, could look across multiple college newspapers for information.”

SMC journalism professor Saul Rubin spearheaded the project three years ago, using a three-year $15,000 Chair of Excellence Award from the Santa Monica College Foundation. Working with SMC Dean of Learning Resources Mona Martin and college librarian Steve Hunt, the trio sorted through thousands of back issues of The Corsair.

“We were lucky,” Rubin said. “At the end of each semester the library staff would bundle up and store away three copies of each edition for that semester.”

After discarding dozens of torn and faded pages, the trio was able to compile a complete set of editions of the newspaper spanning some 82 years, Rubin said.

The archives were then shipped to Backstage Library Works in Bethlehem, PA., where each page was scanned to create archival formats in microfilm and pdfs. Using pdfs, preservationists were able to create high-quality images that were then used to generate searchable digital files, Rubin said.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “You can go in, search any topic you want and it will display it for you. You can download the pdf, digitally clip it, copy the text, or read it online.

“It’s a great resource not just for people on campus, but for anyone who wants to know what the college was like in, say, the 1940s.”

One headline in the Corsair archives, from Sept. 4, 1930, trumpets a new enrollment record at SMC — 300 students. 

“Years later, a Corsair story details how the campus planted victory gardens in 1943 in support of the war effort,” Rubin said. “Yet another Corsair edition highlights how the college band marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 1970s.”

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