Digging for answers in dusty archives

Published 9:48 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

A recent story had me digging for answers in our old archives here at The Daily Leader. Old papers are like a treasure chest filled with gems, gold and the occasional shiny diamond. 

Archived copies of the paper have a certain smell to them too. Maybe it’s the general smell of dust, paper and nostalgia rolled into one. I enjoyed finding a picture of former District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown, with hair, in a story published in the 2000s. District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey looked pretty young too. 

It’s cool looking back on the stories, photographs and writers who documented the community’s history. I always enjoy stumbling across Joe McDonald’s work. For example, a column he wrote about practicing turkey calling for the spring season in 1994 had me chuckling. His wife thought he was coughing and the column documents the interaction. 

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Old newspapers hold little diamonds of information like a lifestyle story McDonald wrote which helped answer some questions I had for a story. Facts and tidbits of life you could not find anywhere else. Our archives have issues of the paper dating back to 1948 and I would imagine if I read through them I could gain an understanding of the day to day happenings of Brookhaven over the last 76 years. 

One columnist wrote in The Daily Leader in 1994 that she didn’t understand why her husband saved copies of newspapers and read yesterday’s news. I might be an oddball but I enjoy reading news from yesteryear and have gotten sidetracked plenty of times in the archives reading a good story but I digress. 

In 2024, we live in a world where stories are routinely being written and published online. As much as I hate the diminishing presence of print papers it doesn’t mean the local news is going anywhere. We still need the support of our readers online though. Digital subscriptions are less than what I pay for Peacock or ESPN+. 

Hopefully in 50 years, some young man will be tasked with finding stories written during COVID and the 2020’s as The Daily Leader continues to tell the stories of the community. I’ll be sure to tell him about how we had to look for old stories in the old days.