Digitizing history: The Apache Sentinel

In 2017, the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records and University of Arizona Libraries received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize 100,000 pages of historic Arizona newspapers as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

The newspapers digitized through this grant will be available to the public on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website as well as the Arizona Memory Project website.

A particular focus of this grant stated that newspapers would be selected to include communities under-represented in previous grant cycles, such as Spanish language and Mexican American newspapers, Native American community newspapers, African American community newspapers, and more.

One notable newspaper is The Apache Sentinel which began publication at Fort Huachuca in July of 1943. At one point during the war effort approximately 25,000 people were living at the fort, making it the third largest city in Arizona at the time. A primary demographic was African American soldiers.  According to the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, 14,000 black soldiers and WACs lived at Fort Huachuca, and the Apache Sentinel was the newspaper that chronicled the social activities and training of those who lived at the fort.


The Apache Sentinel is an important historical record for researchers and genealogists alike, with compelling photojournalism and biographical information.

Here you can see an issue of The Apache Sentinel from August 6, 1943 featuring articles by Thelma Thurston Gorham and photographs of WAACS dressed up for events, African American nurses, The Service Command’s Band, Hollywood celebrities visiting, soldier training in an office with WAACS and artist Anna Russel who contributes cartoons to the issue.

The State of Arizona Research Library is excited to digitize (and preserve) this important piece of Arizona cultural heritage. As part of these efforts, we are producing a short documentary about the history of the Apache Sentinel newspaper and its role at Fort Huachuca.

Fort Huachuca housed the 92nd Division of the Army – an all-black division of men. It also housed two companies of WAACs, the 32nd and 33rd, becoming the first WAAC companies assigned to an army training post. (The acronym WAACs was used until September of 1943 when the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps became the Women’s Army Corps.)


African American soldiers and WACs at Fort Huachuca lived under segregated conditions. In fact, at Fort Huachuca two officers clubs were built – Lakeside for white officers and Mountain View for black officers. When the Army built the Mountain View Officers Club it was supposed to be temporary, but more than 70 years later the building still stands, albeit in need of preservation.

In March of 2018, came the announcement that state officials, historic preservationists, and community members had received a $500,000 grant to continue their efforts to restore the Mountain View Officers Club building, saving it from demolition.

Army garrison spokeswoman Tonja Linton said only two black officers clubs from World War II remain standing in the U.S.  – Mountain View and one in Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

This announcement adds further excitement and interest to the story of Fort Huachuca, which swelled to a population of over 25,000 at war time, and thereby introduced thousands of soldiers to the Arizona desert.  It is a great example of how a single historic newspaper contributed to the cultural identity of Arizona.

This the 4th NDNP grant received by the State of Arizona Library, Archives and Public Records.

For more information, contact:

Alison Sweet, NDNP Project Coordinator
State of Arizona Research Library

Sativa Peterson, News Content Program Manager
State of Arizona Research Library

The Apache Sentinel, Vol. 1 No. 4, August 6, 1943.



On this day in 1871…

The State Library has been finalizing moving our collections this month—but this is nothing new! This item from the LOCAL MATTERS section of the June 24, 1871 Tucson Weekly Citizen notes books coming to the Territorial Library courtesy of Governor R.C. McCormick. Tucson was the territorial capitol from 1867 to 1877.

Territorial library blurb
Tucson Weekly Citizen  

Due to the shifting nature of Arizona’s capitol—it was in Prescott before,  and then Tucson from 1877 to 1889, until finally settling in Phoenix—there were no buildings in Tucson built for that purpose. Contemporary newspapers mention the library, but not its location. Territorial business took place in buildings on the southeast corner of Ochoa and Convent, so the library may have been there.


Lon Megargee and Public Works of Art

Lon Megargee’s 1934 work The Farmer was part of the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the WPA. The Arizona Capitol Museum has a large collection of Megargee’s paintings.

Lon Megargee
The Farmer 1934  

“Lon Megargee was born in Philadelphia in 1883. He changed the spelling of his last name to Megargee and the story of his past while he made his way westward into the Arizona Territory around 1896. Megargee was one of the first cowboy artists. He studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design.

Although he was successful as an artist, Megargee’s wild cowboy lifestyle usually led him to financial instability. His success in art was almost always countered with bankruptcy and pleas to friends and supporters for more money. He was described as an “incurable romantic,” and married at least seven times. Although personal problems would always plague him, Lon Megargee was always a successful painter throughout his life. He is well-known for creating iconic images such as the Stetson logo and A-1 beer posters, as well as his collection of paintings commissioned by the State of Arizona.” – Lon Megargee Paintings at the Arizona Capitol Museum. 

megargee 2

Home on the Range

You can learn more about Megargee and other artists of the New Deal, from ASU Art History Professor Betsy Fahlman. She will be speaking about the process of writing her book New Deal Art in Arizona at 3 p.m.,  July 6 at the Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives Building, 1901 West Madison.


On this day in 1903

6_10_1903 Bisbee Daily Review FLOOD AND STRIKE ZOMG
Bisbee Daily Review 6/10/1903

Fourteen years after the famous flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and fourteen years before famous miners’ strike and deportation in Bisbee, both sorts of events combined in Clifton and Morenci. Even newspaper coverage had to devote two huge headlines to the troubles. The Bisbee Daily Review – using a wire story from the El Paso newspaper, as the wires were down in Clifton– reported “A Cloud burst sent a breast of water down Chase creek eight feet high, sweeping everything before it. It is known now that more than thirty people were drowned and property valued at $40,000 destroyed. Seven bodies had already been recovered.”

Yet immediately below that story, “Two Thousand Armed Strikers Parade the Streets of Morenci for One Hour In a Pouring Rain.”

The strike had begun about June 3 and did not end until almost a week after the storm, and ultimately required the presence of state and federal troops. Workers in Clifton and Morenci would strike again in 1915.


Cooking, Arizona style…

The State of Arizona Research Library’s Arizona Collection offers numerous paths into Arizona’s story, but like any journey, it’s probably best to plan a meal before you go.

The Collection can help with that, too!

Waiting in the stacks around 641.5, cookbooks focused on Arizona offer not just recipes but history too, putting us back where we started, though in a fashion far more flavorful.


People write cookbooks to make money or raise funds, and most of the ones in the collection are no different. Tastes & Treasures: A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizonas proceeds support the Arizona Historical Museum at Papago Park.  Arizona — hot & cold : Arizona Extension Homemakers Council Cookbook is a comb-bound, fundraising cookbook by a publisher that printed such in the late 1970s. Al and Mildred Fischer’s Citrus Recipes: A Collection of Favorites from the Citrus Belt, published in 1980, boosts one of Arizona’s five Cs.

 Arizona Highways showcased food and history in 1988 with their Heritage Cookbook by Louise DeWald. The library has copies n the Arizona Collection and  in State Publications.

Further into history is Arizona Territorial Cookbook: The Food and Lifestyles of a Frontier by Melissa Ruffner Weiner, which note the sources come from early cookbooks, early newspapers, personal diaries, letters, and menus of the time.  Scholey Beans were served at Scholey and Stephans Saloon in Tombstone as part of the free lunch and “Feeds at least a dozen hungry men.”

cookbooks tumbleweeds

The Rough Rock Demonstration School’s Navajo Curriculum Center printed a cookbook in 1986 with recipe titles and food names in both English and Navajo. Of particular interests to locavores is the 21-page-section on “Edible Wild Plants And Their Preparation,” which includes tumbleweeds. “And tumbleweed greens are good to eat, but they must be picked and eaten when the first shoots are only 2 to 3 inches tall. If the plants are any larger, they will have developed spines.”

Politics stirs the pot both figuratively and literally here as well: The DeConcini Family Cookbook by Ora Webster DeConcini showcases recipes from 1882 to 1982, when her son Dennis was running for his second term in the U.S. Senate. The 53-page pamphlet was paid for by the Senator Dennis DeConcini Reelection Committee and looks like a small campaign pamphlet. It offers a brief autobiographical sketch of the author’s family, and family recipes, usually with a story attached.

The First National Solar Cook-off cookbook by Pat Wing harnessed solar power even back in 1981. The Cook-Off was held September 19 of that year, proclaimed “Solar Cooking Day” by Governor Bruce Babbitt, at Phoenix Civic Center Plaza.

Some of these cookbooks are available on our Reading Arizona platform.

If the collection has a second copy of a cookbook, it may be available via interlibrary loan at your local library.