|The Dallas Voice’s first front page
by Chuck Colbert
The University of North Texas (UNT) has digitized and put online all 32 years of the Dallas Voice.
Funding for the project came in part from a $20,000 grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Additional funds were also raised to complete the project, said David Taffet, a Dallas Voice staff writer closely associate with the effort. In all, the total cost was at least $30,000, he said.
“In 2013, across the entire newspaper collection, issues on the portal averaged 15.54 uses for every single issue,” said Dreanna Belden, UNT assistant dean for external relations, according to a posting by Taffet on the publication’s website. “In 2013, the Dallas Voice experienced an average use per issue of 58.22 uses per issue, which is much higher than statistics for the rest of the collection.”
In other words, Dallas Voice issues were used four times as often as the entire historic newspaper collection for the portion of Dallas Voice the university already had — from 2004 through 2013.
Belden also said the paper would be digitized from original paper copies to create high-quality, searchable PDF documents online.
During a telephone interview, Taffet explained the origins of the project to digitize. “I was interviewing a couple who was celebrating their 50th anniversary,” he said. “And as we were talking, I said, ‘Their stories need to be preserved. They need to be written down in more than just this article. We need to keep this history.’ So they started contacting people and formed a new group, The Dallas Way, which is preserving LGBT history in a number of ways.”
The Dallas Way folks helped connect UNT with Dallas Voice to undertake the project, Taffet said.
Asked what the digitizing means for LGBT publications, he said, “Now I can look things up online. About a year ago, I needed something from one of the early issues. I had to run down to the Dallas Public Library and go to the seventh floor, hand the librarian a list of the issues I needed. I got them out and flipped through the pages and took pictures. I did it the old way. If I am looking something up now I can get the info and search it all online.”
Taffet also said that at Dallas Voice, “We’ve been working hard to preserve gay history from the last 35 to 45 years. I think it is important for the community, to remain a vibrant community, you need to know where you came from.”
(To search the Dallas Voice database at UNT, connect to http://texashistory.unt.edu/explore/collections/DALVO/browse/.)
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