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Catholic press digital library highlighting Monitor during council era

11 8.17.17_monitor_19651014.cover PAGESecond Vatican Council news dominates in this image of the cover of the Oct. 14, 1965, Monitor, then the official newspaper of the San Francisco archdiocese and the Santa Rosa and Stockton dioceses. (Catholic News Archive)

August 17, 2017
Catholic San Francisco

More than 300 issues of The Monitor, which served as the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco for 125 years before closing in 1983, will be added to a growing digital library of the historic Catholic press in the United States and made available to researchers, teachers and anyone else interested in the first draft of history as seen from a Catholic perspective.

About 312 issues from 1958-63, representing 6,590 pages, will be scanned from microfilm and indexed for article-level searching, with an October target for public availability at thecatholicnewsarchive.org, said Todd Jensen, project manager for the Catholic News Archive.

The archive is a project of the Catholic Research Resources Alliance, a nonprofit alliance of archives and libraries collaborating in support of the mission to provide enduring global access to Catholic research resources. It is supported by member and partner contributions and by a grant from the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communications Campaign.

The digitization of The Monitor is made possible by the financial support of the Founders of the Archive, including the University of San Francisco, and continuing financial support from the alliance. The Archdiocese of San Francisco as owner of The Monitor records has given permission for the digitization effort, with archdiocesan archivist Chris Doan and USF digital collections librarian Jessica Lu helping to identify holdings and making arrangements to complete the project.

Focusing on a crucial period in modern church history, the expansion will dramatically expand The Monitor’s presence in the archive, which now features 13 issues from 1965.

“We chose the Second Vatican Council years leading up to, during and just after, roughly 1958-1972, when the anniversary celebration of the council start was much in the news,” Jennifer A. Younger, executive director of the alliance, said in an email. “Scholars, students, parishioners and readers in general were looking at the activities and impact of the council. The 1960s was also a time of great Catholic leadership and debate on civil rights, school desegregation, the war in Vietnam, peace movements and more.”

Since last September, more than 2,000 unique users have viewed more than 21,000 pages at the digital archive. Users include scholars and students in all disciplines, local communities, the church and lay Catholics, and non-Catholics.

This collection contains 4,341 issues comprising 144,992 pages, including newspapers of the Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia archdioceses as well as San Francisco. The digital library also includes Catholic News Service news feeds from 1920-66; National Catholic Reporter issues from Oct. 27-Dec. 1, 1965; and The Catholic World in Pictures from Jan. 1, 1962-Dec. 30, 1963.

“Newspapers provide insights into the life of Catholics in detailing the activities of episcopal figures, local parishes, societies, schools and organizations in attending to the spiritual life and welfare of their communities,” Younger said “They provide an often missing Catholic dimension to critical questions in American history. Catholic newspapers report on the news and activities of the Catholic Church as it occurs in the Vatican, archdioceses, parishes, schools, societies and other organizations.”

She noted that James P. McCartin, director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture, and his students “use Catholic newspapers to illuminate how Catholicism engages with the broader context in which it exists, to explore questions of how attitudes of Catholics toward family life were congruent with or different from the attitudes of others in the United States.”

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