More than 100 years of the College’s student newspaper, The Bachelor, are now available online in a searchable digital archive available to alumni, students, faculty, and staff. The digital archiving project was spearheaded by Archivist Beth Swift and was funded by a generous gift from Jon and Andrea Pactor ’71.
“While at a conference of the Society of American Archivists I saw a company that was doing just what we needed done, digitizing and serving over the Internet large runs of student newspapers,” wrote Swift in her blog, Dear Old Wabash. “Of course, a project like this would be costly so for the next several years I spoke with everyone I could about how wonderful it would be to have this for the Wabash family. Although it has been a long time coming, I am so pleased to announce the most incredible project of my career at Wabash (so far) and my delight at its debut.”
The company that hosts the archive — and that digitized Bachelors going back to 1908 — is ArcaSearch, which specializes in work with newspapers, libraries, and museum collections.
The online Bachelor archive is accessible from the Alumni and Parents page of the Wabash website and is password protected. The Wabash community can access the site using normal usernames and passwords, and alumni who wish to browse the archive use their Alumni eServices accounts. All alumni were sent a mailing announcing the new archive this week.
“Andrea and I believe in print, and we want The Bachelor always to be printed,” said Jon Pactor. “It is not just a newspaper, but it is a tangible symbol of our Wabash family. It makes us a stronger, more vibrant community. But, not everyone can have a printed copy of years gone by. We are pleased that through a digitized Bachelor, all of us can have access to a good part of the Wabash life of the last 102 years so that we better can know our history, repeat it, and sustain it.”
Swift, who loves all things old in any format, said the genesis of the project came several years ago during Big Bash Reunion Weekend.
“Some years ago for the first Big Bash, I pulled the bound issues of The Bachelor in case anyone was interested,” said Swift. “A group of three alums walked in, just for a look around, and I offered them The Bachelors from their years here. They started looking through them and suddenly they were 20 again, laughing and sharing reminiscences from 50 years ago.
“[Later] a professor brought his freshman tutorial class in to work with The Bachelors for a writing assignment. We spoke about being exceedingly careful with these old papers and for the most part, the students were very careful. Yet when they left the floor was simply covered with little shreds of paper. At that point, I limited broad access to our rolls of microfilm. It was clear that a sound preservation and a reliable access strategy were needed.”
Enter Wabash history buff Jon Pactor and his wife, Andrea.
“This project also has personal significance for us,” said Pactor. “Dr. Ted Bedrick, professor of Latin and mathematics and my adviser, headed the board of publications. He was a kind man, loved and respected by students and fellow faculty members at a level probably unsurpassed in my lifetime... This gift gratefully honors Ted’s character and friendship.
“Our son Jacob ’04 worked on The Bachelor for eight semesters, six of which he served as editor-in-chief,” added Pactor. “His fellow journalists and he elevated The Bachelor to new heights on campus and throughout the state. This gift honors the editors and other students who have labored on The Bachelor.”
Swift provides a sample search tutorial for utilizing the archive on her blog. But she recommends going to The Bachelor digital archive for a more detailed online tutorial for advanced use of the site.