Something quietly disappeared with the launch of the Record’s new Web site. I think it deserves a few words.I’m talking about the Record’s online archives. When we transferred to the WordPress software – which now provides the foundation of our Web site – we retired the old site, including – for now – all the archives of past issues it had accumulated.
Those archives were far from perfect. They were poorly organized and impossible to navigate. The search function was just short of useless. But, with the right terms, a desired article was usually a Google search away.
I don’t expect anyone to be shedding any tears for the archive. In fact, unless (like me) you’re a senior communication major looking for writing examples to send to employers, you probably didn’t even realize it’s gone.
That said, I think that there is a loss here. Dustin George-Miller’s poignant and comical perspective on football and family life is no longer a few clicks away. Neither is Sarah Chamber’s evocative reflection on last year’s sexual assault, or Whitney Philipps’ 2008 article about President Brenneman’s trip to Egypt (which has since led to a new S.S.T. location).
To me, the loss raises an important question: is an issue of the Record of any use beyond the week it is published?
The answer, I believe, is a resounding yes.
Each issue of the Record is, well, a record. Each issue is a small piece of the mood and mindset on campus.
The perspectives page tells what issues students found important enough to write about. The features introduce the people and places that add color to campus life. The front page not only shows what events occurred but also those we considered the most significant.
For this reason, newspapers are sometimes called “the rough draft of history.” The Record is no different. In fact, when Susan Miller was writing “Culture for Service,” the official history of Goshen College, she used past Record issues as sources.
Fortunately, our rough draft is not lost. The Mennonite Historical Archive, the library and the communication department keep hard copies of back issues, and there are plans underway to do some online archiving this summer.
Until then, here’s to the old online archive, and here’s to the new archive we’re creating now on the new site.