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UM opens digital newspaper archive, features local newspapers

MONTEVALLO—The W.M. “Mack” Wyatt Digital Archive has recently been added to the offerings of Carmichael Library at the University of Montevallo. A donor event was held at the library Oct. 17 to introduce this new addition and to recognize donor Clayton M. Nordan, a 1976 M.A. graduate of the university.

The W.M. “Mack” Wyatt Digital Archive will serve as a repository for archived newspapers printed in Montevallo and Shelby County, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The archive is named for Nordan’s grandfather, who was born near Clanton in Chilton County, Alabama, in 1892.

Beginning his newspaper career as a typesetter and printer in 1907 at the age of 15, Wyatt continued his work in the newspaper business, as an editor and an owner, including associations with the Union Banner newspaper in Clanton, the DeKalb Herald in Fort Payne, the Montevallo Times and the Calera Herald. The latter two publications were merged to become the Shelby County Times-Herald in 1954 and were published until 1959, when Wyatt sold the publication to the Shelby County Reporter.

“I decided to fund and support the creation of this special local newspaper archive as a way of preserving my grandfather’s life’s work,” stated Nordan. “In addition, to locate and read this invaluable record of life in Montevallo and Shelby County in the mid-20th century has been difficult at best for the general public until now.”

The intent of the archives is to preserve for posterity the news­papers published by Wyatt during his time in Montevallo and to make them available to the public. Any and all other newspapers that have been published in Shelby County will also be included in the digital archive.

“The newspapers from Montevallo and Shelby County that will be found in the W.M. ‘Mack’ Wyatt Digital Archive are a treasure trove of news, personal interest stories, ads and local goings-on from a bygone era,” said Nordan. “They are fascinating to look at today and offer us a sense of what life must have been like when the world was a smaller, simpler place. It is my hope that the W.M. ‘Mack’ Wyatt Digital Archive will grow and expand to include any and all newspapers and appropriate printed materials that tell the story of Montevallo and all of Shelby County.”

“The W.M. ‘Mack’ Wyatt Digital Archive is a part of Carmichael Library’s digital initiative program,” noted Kathy Lowe, director of the library. “The initiative seeks to provide students and scholars access to primary source material from local newspapers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In some cases, Carmichael Library held the only remaining print copy. The library’s first priority is to digitize these one-of-a-kind and rare newspapers.”

The archive can be viewed at http://www.montevallo.edu/academics/library/w-m-mack-wyatt-digital-archive/. As this archive expands, newsprints appearing in various formats will be added.

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