Check those attics: An archivist's plea for your old newspapers

 

Halloween night in the windy railroad town of Livingston, Mont.: a Burlington Northern train, consisting of just three locomotives, hisses from the yard and begins the long, slow climb toward Bozeman. Nobody is onboard but a hobo. The engines crest the pass, pick up speed on the downgrade, hit 80 mph and jump the tracks. Railroad officials arrive on the scene and offer the bruised hobo $100,000 for leads on what happened. They suspect sabotage by disgruntled workers; Burlington Northern had just handed over 900 miles of track to Montana Rail Link, owned by anti-union magnate Dennis Washington.

That was the cover story of the Dec. 7, 1987 issue of High Country News. It's just one of many news articles, essays and maps that you can find in the HCN archives, lined up in bound volumes on the shelves at HCN's Paonia, Colo. headquarters.

It was around this time last year, as cold morning breeze came off mountains yellow with aspen, that I first cracked open the bound volumes. With each turn of the pages – more yellowed and more tattered as I flipped back through the years – I felt my past becoming more whole. It was a wide view of the last 40 years in the West, like the view I get by climbing a certain mountain and looking across the valley where I live.

Part of the reason I couldn't stop flipping through the archives is that they're rare. I didn't know then that the university library here in Bozeman (and a few others in the region) also have bound volumes of HCN issues. But I knew I couldn't find them where I get most of my other information – on the internet.

But that's changing. I recently came across the railroad story, and countless other HCN gems, while digitally scanning every page of every issue that the magazine (then in a newspaper format) published between 1984 and 1994 – the year when issues started being posted routinely to this website. Now, I'm uploading the files to the "Past issues" section of the HCN website. Soon, we hope to have all of HCN history digitized and available there.

This is where you come in. To complete this project, we need many pre-1984 loose issues (which can lie flat on the scanner, unlike bound volumes), listed below. So please, dear old-time reader, do you have dusty piles of HCN issues lurking around the house? If you do, and can bear to part with them at least temporarily, please let me know: marshalls@hcn.org.

As I continue the mostly robotic work of uploading the scanned files, I'll post more archive samplers here on this blog, as well as an updated list of the missing issues. So check back in – and check those attics!

(Dates unknown for those issues listed here without an exact date.)

Missing issues:

  • 25.8  May 3, 1993
  • 15.3  Feb. 2, 1983
  • 15.5  March 18, 1983
  • 15.15  Aug. 5, 1983
  • 15.23  Dec 12, 1983
  • 14.1  Jan. 8, 1982
  • 14.2  Jan. 22, 1982
  • 14.3  Feb. 5, 1982
  • 14.4  Feb. 19, 1982 (Mislabeled Feb. 5 on front cover)
  • 14.5  Mar. 5, 1982
  • 14.6  Mar. 19, 1982
  • 14.22  Nov. 12, 1982
  • 14.25  Dec. 24, 1982
  • All issues in 1981 - (Nov. 27 issue is mislabeled No. 22)
  • 12.12  June 13, 1980

 

    • 6.1  1974
    • 6.2  Jan. 18, 1974
    • 6.3  Feb. 1, 1974
    • 6.4
    • 6.5  Mar. 1, 1974
    • 6.7
    • 6.8
    • 6.12  June 7, 1974
    • 5.1  Jan. 5, 1973
    • 5.2  Jan. 19, 1973
    • 5.3  Feb. 2, 1973
    • 5.4  Feb. 16, 1973
    • 5.5  Mar. 2, 1973
    • 5.6  Mar. 16, 1973
    • 5.7  Mar. 30, 1973
    • 5.8  Apr. 13, 1973
    • 5.9  Apr. 27, 1973
    • 5.10  May 11, 1973
    • 5.12  June 8, 1973
    • 5.13  June 22, 1973
    • 5.17  Aug. 31, 1973
    • 5.19  Sept. 28, 1973
    • 5.20
    • 5.22  Nov. 9, 1973
    • 5.23  Nov. 23, 1973
    • 5.24  Dec. 7, 1973
    • 4.1  Jan. 7, 1972
    • 4.3  Feb. 4, 1972
    • 4.5
    • 4.6  Mar. 17, 1972
    • 4.7  Mar. 31, 1972
    • 4.8  Apr. 14, 1972
    • 4.11  May 26, 1972
    • 4.20  Sept. 29, 1972
    • 4.25
    • 4.26  Dec. 22, 1972
    • All issues in 1971
    • 2.1  1970
    • 2.2
    • 2.7
    • 2.8
    • 2.11
    • 2.12
    • 2.13
    • 2.14
    • 2.19
    • 2.25
    • 2.28
    • 2.33
    • 2.34
    • 1.32  1969

    Marshall Swearingen is a former High Country News intern. He writes and archives from Bozeman, Montana.