Now online: 80 years of "The Gamecock"
The first 80 years of The Gamecock student newspaper are now online and freely accessible, thanks to the University Libraries and the Office of Student Media.
Visitors to sc-newspapers.sc.edu can now find this spirited group of Carolina cheerleaders, photographed for the November 1, 1940 issue, as well as every other photograph, editorial, article or advertisement that appeared in The Gamecock from 1908 to 1988. And each issue is fully text searchable: site users can browse by date or by keyword.
“The Gamecock is used heavily by researchers and students alike because it is such a great resource on documenting what’s been going on at the University since 1908,” said Elizabeth Cassidy West, University Archivist. “The keyword search capability of the new digital archive is fantastic. I’ve already been using it. I regularly get calls from faculty, students and alumni who want to know about something that happened on campus at some point in history. Now I can have an answer for them very quickly.”
The Gamecock digital project began about three years ago when library employees West, Kate Foster Boyd, and others met with Scott Lindenberg from Student Media.
“Thanks to support from Student Media, we were able to scan all issues of The Gamecock from its beginning in 1908 to 1988,” said Boyd, Head of Digital Collections. “Student Media funded a lot of this project, including supplying a server, paying for student time to scan the microfilm and create metadata, and outsourcing a vendor. Now we are continuing the project by scanning the 16 bound volumes from 1989 to 2006.”
Before the new archive was created, anyone who wanted to look through past issues of the newspaper had to come to the library and scroll through microfilm. The process could take hours.
“The film was linear, which meant you had to roll and roll and roll through the film until you could get to the edition you needed, and you certainly couldn’t search for a specific word or subject,” West said. “So now by simply going online, researchers can type in, as an example, ‘desegregation,’ ‘integration,’ and other applicable search terms and, within seconds, they can find all the issues of The Gamecock that have the information they need.”
In testing the site, Boyd and her crew conducted numerous searches.
“We’ve done searches on the budget to see how much the state has funded the University over the years, and that was interesting,” Boyd said. “We’ve done searches on the football rivalry with Clemson University, student awards, old groups on campus like the Clariosophic Society. It’s interesting to see that, from the beginning through to the first few decades of its publication, The Gamecock completely focused on what was happening on campus. Then, particularly during the first and second World Wars, it started to expand to a world view.”
The project has also become something of a first for the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America project.
“We took advantage of freely available software that was specifically designed for newspapers by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America website,” Boyd said. “We are one of the few groups outside the Library of Congress to use that software. So now we are the only school using the software from the Library of Congress for online access to the school newspaper.”