by Ted Hale, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records a grant to digitize historic Arizona newspapers. The project, titled Arizona Newspapers, 1880-1912, allowed Arizona to become one of only six states and one of only two State Libraries in 2008 to be successfully awarded a grant through the NEH nationwide program.

The digitized newspapers will eventually be posted on the Arizona Memory Project website at which is hosted by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, and also posted on the National Digital Newspapers Project website at hosted by the Library of Congress. Both websites are free and publicly available. A few newspapers included in the digitization project include:

  • the Arizonian of Tubac, the first newspaper published in Arizona in 1859. The four-sheet newspaper led the editor, Sylvester Mowry, to a duel after only twenty issues.
  • the Tombstone Epitaph. Begun in 1880 in a tent, this publication is one of the most recognized newspapers in American history.
  • the Sentinel (1878) in Yuma
  • the Arizona Citizen (1870) in Tucson
  • the Arizona Gazette (1880) in Phoenix
  • the Arizona Enterprise (1881) in Florence
  • the Arizona Champion (1882) in Flagstaff
  • the Prescott Morning Courier (1882), and
  • the St. Johns Herald (1885) at the Mormon colony in eastern Arizona.

Topics and historical periods covered by the to-be-digitized newspapers include:

  • the Indian wars, leading to relocation and today’s reservation system
  • the development of education and social institutions, such as the University of Arizona in Tucson and normal schools in Tempe and Flagstaff
  • border issues with Mexico
  • mining and its related labor, ethnic, economic and land-use issues
  • the early years of the state’s tourism industry, with the first federal protection for the Grand Canyon beginning in 1893, and the work of entrepreneurs like Fred Harvey
  • federal presence, such as military camps for the Indian wars, reclamation money for dams, irrigation and agricultural subsidies and;
  • the beginnings of Phoenix, incorporated in 1881 with about 1,700 residents and today, the nation’s fifth largest city.

The years in question are central to the development and identity of Arizona. Many significant historical events will be highlighted that will demonstrate the enormous impact the years 1880-1912 have on the state of Arizona as well as the rest of the nation.