Newspapers contain a wealth of history — chronicling war, tragedy and triumph. They capture a page of time, frozen for all to see.
Lamar’s University Press and previous publications such as the Redbird, the Cardinal and the S’Park Plug have their own wealth to share and have great informational, historical and sentimental value, according to Penny Clark, archivist at Lamar.
“The university’s school newspaper provides a wealth of information regarding student organizations, professors’ scholarships, innovative teaching techniques, campus activities, sports, special events and speakers and performers,” Clark said.
The S’Park Plug was Lamar’s (then known as South Park College) first publication. The staff published four issues in 1923 and 1924. The S’Park Plug became the Redbird when South Park College became Lamar College in 1932. In 1971, the student body voted to change the name of the newspaper to the University Press. This was the same year that Lamar gained university status.
Clark is asking owners of old Lamar University newspapers to donate them to Archive and Special Collections.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a complete run of the school newspapers,” she said. “We know that the school began in 1923 and began publishing a newspaper — cleverly named The S’park Plug. But we have no newspapers before 1933, and I am asking readers to donate newspapers to fill the gaps in our holdings.”
Lamar University’s newspapers have reported on several milestones in history including the role of women during World War II.
“The newspaper’s historical value is especially significant during the 1940s, when Lamar served not only as a college but also as a war training center, instructing over 15,000 people to work in war-time industries,” she said. “Roles for women were rapidly changing during the war years, and Lamar was no exception. Women in increasing numbers were entering Lamar College and the workforce, taking new jobs such as welding ships at the Pennsylvania Shipyards (in Beaumont).”
Another period of historical importance for the Lamar newspapers was during the Vietnam War, Clark said.
“Like campuses around the country, Lamar had Vietnam War protests and student activism,” she said. “My goal is to have the newspapers digitized and place them on the Web and make the newspapers fully searchable,” she said.
“I think it is a great idea,” said Andy Coughlan, director of student publications at Lamar. “I hope that it works out.”
Clark said her goal is to write grants to fund the project.
If you are interested in donating a missing newspaper edition or if you have further questions, contact Penny Clark at (409) 880-7787 or e-mail her at Penny [dot] Clark [at] lamar [dot] edu.