WSMR digitizes its history

Mar 9th, 2015

Old issues of Wind and Sand are still needed

By Adriana Salas

Missile Ranger Staff Writer

Nearly 40 years of White Sands Missile Range’s rich history is now encapsulated on a website for the public to view, free of charge.

The website, www.wsmrhistoric.com, holds newspaper issues of the Wind and Sand from 1950-90. The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division’s Cultural Resource Program spearheaded the project.

“It’s complete. We invite you to take some time and enjoy the rich past of White Sands Missile Range, found in this tremendous resource,” said Bill Godby, WSMR Stewardship archeologist and project lead.

The project took more than two years to complete. The digitization of the project included scanning of the old newspaper issues, developing key searches on the website, and continuously working on the site to make it as user friendly as possible.

Prior to the digitization project, old issues of the installation newspaper were stored in a back room at the public Affairs office. Now, users can browse through years of old newspaper issues through the convenience of their personal computer by visiting www.wsmrhistoric.com, which is hosted by Epsilon Systems Solutions Inc.

Although the website covers newspaper issues from 1950-90, there are some missing issues that Godby hopes he can get with the help of the community. Godby said there are still entire years missing from the collection. A list of the missing issues can be found on the right hand side of the website’s main page. There are currently no issues available from 1954 through 1955. Godby said he hopes whoever may have copies of the issues from the missing years will come forward and help complete the digitization.

“We’re trying to solicit anyone who is sitting on papers,” Godby said.

With the available historic issues that have now been digitized, users have a choice of accessing them in high resolution, low resolution, or in Flip format. The Flip format allows users to digitally flip through an issue with the same feel as a real newspaper, with just a click of a mouse. Users can also download whole issues and save them as a convenient PDF file. Godby is also sharing the database information with the WSMR Museum website and with New Mexico State University Library’s Archives and Special Collections. He said he hopes to ultimately create a kiosk that can be placed at the WSMR Museum where people can come in and search through old issues during their visit to the museum.

“My intention is to make this resource widely available to as many people as possible for the purpose of research and general searching,” Godby said. “I also feel the depth and breadth of this history will create new possibilities for students conducting research on topics such as the Cold War and military life at WSMR in the 1950s and ’60s.”

He said the digitization of the old issues will also be an exceptional tool for looking at old Las Cruces. Many businesses long gone from the area can be seen advertising in the paper, like the Organ Drive-In Theater, Baker Drug Store or Len’s Coffee House. Unlike most newspaper archiving systems, which charge in order to retrieve old issues, this archiving system is free of charge for the entire public.

The digitization project also serves to satisfy requirements identified in the National Historic Preservation Act. As WSMR moves into the future, old technology and buildings are continuously being demolished and scrapped to make room for new technology and infrastructure to support current missions, Godby said. To offset the loss, the Cultural Resources Program agrees to take on projects such as the digitization. Godby said his main role is to ensure the Garrison meets Federal Historic Preservation regulations.

Funding for projects like this and others, including oral histories, information brochures and displays are all provided by IMCOM.

If you have an old newspaper issue that fits the criteria of the missing issues on the website, contact Godby at 678-6003 or by email at william.c.godby.civ@mail.mil.