2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Randolph-Macon College’s presence in Ashland, a happy occasion. On a sad note, 2018 also marks the end of the publication of the local newspaper, the Herald-Progress, which documented important community and college news. Throughout its history, R-MC students and alumni have edited or worked on the newspaper and this archive continues that close link between Town and Gown. Throughout its history, the paper has covered R-MC events, activities, and people, and is a valuable source for researchers on the College’s role in the community.
In the spring of 2008, the McGraw-Page Library acquired the historic photograph collection of the Herald-Progress, a newspaper that had been locally owned and published until 2004, when the paper was purchased by an out-of-state publishing conglomerate. The newspaper’s local offices were moved to smaller quarters, and with space pressures in the office, the historic photograph collection was in danger of being thrown away. The newspaper’s editor provided an estimate of about 10,000 items, a number that would prove later to be underestimated by over 30,000. After the collection had been processed, the final tally was over 40,000 items including 23,000 photographs, 2000 negatives, and 8000 pieces of text, as well as other materials.
Although the majority of the collection is photographs and negatives, there are also copies of the Herald-Progress and other newspapers, periodicals and magazines, several unpublished manuscripts by local historians, maps, blueprints, cartoons, letters, political campaign artifacts, and one glass plate negative, nicknamed “Miss Klunk” based on the noise made when she dropped out of an envelope during processing. The earliest identified date for an item is 1810, and the latest photographic prints date to 1999.
Materials in the Herald-Progress Collection can be viewed by making an appointment with library staff. Learn more about our Special Collections and Archives on the new library website.