Kathy Klump reads a lot of newspapers. In the spring of 2012 she began the project of reading the entire output of the Range News.
A Willcox newspaper began publishing in 1883 or 1884 with a weekly titled the Southwestern Stockman. The issues the Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center has date from 1885. The output of 1893 and 1894 are copied onto disks, and it has not been determined which issues may be missing. The museum has copies of some of those issues.
The Southwestern Stockman was not a continuous publication and by March 1894, it became the Sulphur Valley News, which published until the end of 1896. The only known extant copies of the Sulphur Valley News are at the museum and the collection is complete.
The Arizona Range News began in 1896.
Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center director Kathy Klump thoroughly reads, in chronological order, every issue. After a year, she has reached issues dating to 1909.
As she reads, Klump flags pages containing articles of particular interest. Peta-Anne Tenney photographs the flagged pages and loads the image to a computer file. Klump then places printed copies into relevant files.
The idea is to create an informational network of local information across the decades. This referencing gathers together available primary source information so that each future researcher need not search out each source.
Not a standard museum practice, Klump has undertaken this effort on her own initiative. As a result of this work, she is developing her own encyclopedic familiarity of years of Willcox history.
Reviewing newspaper stories chronologically allows her to have a new historical perspective. In addition, she is able to add to the accuracy of local history and augment historical research.
The Research Center received grants from the Arizona Historical Society to preserve the newspapers in dedicated binders. Each page is contained in a plastic folder that keeps the paper from deteriorating further. When the Center pointed out that much of the collection could not be found elsewhere, the State Archives wanted to microfilm the issues it did not have. As a result, further funding of the project to protect the originals was offered, but was contingent upon the center making those issues available to the state. Klump balked at the idea of shipping so precious a resource to Phoenix, so she carried them there herself and participated in the microfilming to the benefit of both parties.
Klump worked with the microfilming technicians for the entire week in Phoenix. She helped the micrographic technician, Kim Smith, prepare and photograph each page and organize the content of each roll of film. The initial photography was then forwarded to the developer and quality expert, Christy Tocik, who evaluated the exposure settings to balance the differences in color of the paper. Then a master was created for separate climate controlled storage, to be used only if the working copy is damaged. A silver duplicate was created to be kept in the State Archives and used as the source for Diazo copies made for researchers. Klump returned from Phoenix with a Diazo copy for the museum.
The microfilming is funded by The Arizona Digital Newspaper Project, administered by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. The Project, whose funding in turn derives from a joint effort by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, seeks to create a nationwide online digital database for newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. That the Research Center here in Willcox owned the only known copies of some early issues of the Arizona Range News secured approval of the funding.
The issues at the office of the Arizona Range News had been microfilmed in the 1980s, but there were substantial numbers of issues missing. The microfilm wound up at the Family History Center in Willcox until it closed and the film was donated to the Center.
Most of the missing issues were anonymously donated to the Center some 10 years ago. More were found later at the Range News office and added to the collection.
This is just one of many projects dedicated to preserving the history of the Sulphur Springs Valley.
EM Hendricks is a resident of Dragoon.