Bay Area Reporter digital archive project reaches milestone

by Fred Kuhr
Readers of San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter (BAR) got an early holiday present this year when the digitization project to make archival issues of the newspaper available online was completed in October.
The goal is to make every issue published between April 1, 1971, and August 5, 2005, available via two internet databases.
The project was overseen by the GLBT Historical Society and funded by $68,000 in grants from the Bob Ross Foundation, named after BAR’s founding publisher who died in 2003, according to information from BAR.
“This project is extremely important as it will preserve the history of our movement,” former BAR publisher Thomas E. Horn, who is president of the Bob Ross Foundation, told the paper. “Journalists rightly say that newspapers are the first draft of history. And this project will preserve the first draft of the gay movement in San Francisco from 1971 for students, academics, historians or some young boy or girl in some rural area just trying to tap into our history.”

According to the newspaper, archivist Bill Levay worked with volunteers over two years to manually digitize more than 1,500 issues of BAR — more than 77,000 individual pages — and then make them searchable by keyword.

“Having the entire run of the newspaper available at one’s fingertips will open up new research opportunities for both casual readers and professional researchers,” noted Mark Sawchuk, a member of the nonprofit’s communications working group, in the society’s October newsletter.
Until recently, researchers and others who wanted to read old issues of BAR had to make an appointment to visit the GLBT Historical Society’s archives or visit the San Francisco Public Library’s microfilm collection at the main library.
But now, entire issues of the newspaper can be downloaded at It is sortable by date and can also be searched using keywords.
The other online repository is housed on the California Digital Newspaper Collection website, which is overseen by University of California Riverside. On the main page of the site — — type in “Bay Area Reporter” in the search prompt to pull up the archived issues. The digital collection can then be sorted by date as well as searched using keywords.
BAR is now working to make its issues from August 12, 2005, to the present available online via the two databases. According to the paper, those issues had been archived on BAR’s former website, but that was disabled this past spring when the newspaper switched website hosting companies.
For more information, go to

Volume 20
Issue 9

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