This week’s primary research was spent in the microfilm lab where I was looking through The Virginia Tech, the student newspaper at VPI. I have made it through about 8 years of newspaper, scanning and saving to a flash drive the pages that are important. I usually skim through a few years of microfilm at a time and then read more in-depth the pages that I scan to keep.
This week I have found that the paper is expanding its topics significantly after its first couple years of existence. When the first issue came out, in 1901, the paper was largely about the football game that occurred the preceding Saturday, giving an in depth analysis of the game, individual players for both sides, and how the students reacted to the game usually with a dance or some other kind of get together. The first issue was 3 pages long. By 1906 The Virginia Tech was 8 pages long for most issues and still analyzed the sporting events of the previous week, but also paid much more attention to the student body instead of solely athletics. There was usually a section on various club activities on campus, social events in the town like dances or get-togethers, a “knowledge wanted” section in which students could write in to the paper with questions that were then printed in the paper, there were some of the first pictures, more advertisements that even before on the paper including ads for the new gun shop in town, the dry cleaners that could keep your uniform in top shape, sporting goods stores in the area, etc.
The most interesting and probably useful article not directly concerning the football team was about the VPI student body raising money to keep the local YMCA open, which I learned from my secondary sources of the last couple of weeks was a problem in cities all over the country, but here I learn that it was not just in cities, but in rural villages like Blacksburg as well. I read the papers searching for certain words that promote either Progressive or Victorian ideals of gender specificity, and I try to use those to show how the VPI students understood their football team. Usually they describe games and both teams in hyper-masculine terms, drawing comparisons to war times, fighting, and intense violence, but there is also a certain level of camaraderie and honor that has to be developed on the football field, so the terms used are not always concerning violence, but also leadership, courage, and the like.
I still have about 12 years of newspapers from this title that I want to make it through in the next week or so, as well as many other local newspapers and larger papers concerning the entire state of Virginia. I also have another lead in VT Special collections for a newly processed collection of Colonel Temple’s records from K. Staub, but I have not been to look through the collection yet, and there is no finding aid up yet for the collection.