Working on a research project?
Thanks to a new resource at Samford University’s Special Collection, you can now view whole pages of every existing issue of The Alabama Baptist published from Feb. 4, 1843, through 1902.
“We are so excited to have these historical papers accessible online,” said Jennifer Taylor, chair of Special Collection and the university archivist at the Samford University Library.
The 1,463 available issues can be browsed by date or by a keyword search. Because the search reads images, it isn’t always perfect, but it can be very helpful, Taylor said. “Some of the images are old, and the paper was old. So the keyword doesn’t get everything, but it’s still a useful tool to help people find the info they’re looking for.”
There’s also a partial index available to help with locating specific topics.
Taylor worked with Lonette Berg of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and TAB’s Jennifer Davis Rash to determine the scope of the project to digitize the microfilm reels.
TAB and ABHC helped fund the work, which began in 2021 and was completed by Creekside Digital, a Maryland-based company specializing in still-image digitization.
When Taylor’s team got the images back from Creekside, they edited each page, cleaning up the image and cropping it if needed.
“We have touched every page at least twice,” she said.
Taylor and her team initially thought the funds given would cover the paper’s early issues through 1902, but after the digitization was complete, they realized they still had funds left.
“So we’re working on a project from 1903 to 1914 now and hope to have that up by next summer,” she said.
As a whole, the digitization project “is a big project, but it’s a great project,” Taylor said. “I think it will be super useful for researchers.”
She said she often tells Samford students that even if they aren’t researching a topic specific to Alabama Baptists, TAB often has a wealth of helpful information on topics such as child labor or immigration from a certain time period.
“It’s such a great resource, and we are glad to have it freely available online,” Taylor said.
To access the digital library of historical TAB issues, visit library.samford.edu/digitallibrary/tab.
In addition to the digitized archives of historical issues, current TAB content is also searchable at Samford’s library at library3.samford.edu:447.
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