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.

Apache_Sentinel-1

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.)

Apache_Sentinel-6

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
602-926-3856
asweet@azlibrary.gov

Sativa Peterson, News Content Program Manager
State of Arizona Research Library
602-926-3662
speterson@azlibrary.gov

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

 

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