Back to our (green) roots

The Denver Catholic is marking 117 years of serving northern Colorado this week by publishing our original masthead, just as it was originally15 published on the first edition of The Denver Catholic, March 17, 1900, and inviting its readers to look back through its rich history.

The Denver Catholic, renamed in 1905 as the Denver Catholic Register, was in trouble by 1913—it was $4,000 in debt with a circulation of just 2,800. In stepped Matthew Smith, a 22-year-old lay journalist who became editor in October 1913.

Smith, who eventually became a priest, and then a monsignor, not only increased circulation and revenues within a year, but went on to found the National Catholic Register and the Register Systems of Newspapers that published some 35 diocesan newspapers and the national edition, boasting a combined weekly circulation of 850,000.

And the rest, as they say, is history … with a robust archive to match.

100+ years

This month, the Office of Archives of the Archdiocese of Denver launched the Archdiocese of Denver Digital Repository, which features a new, searchable database that offers avid readers of the Denver Catholic unprecedented access to its archives.

The new format gives readers the opportunity to browse the archives by date, as well as the ability to see thumbnails of each and every edition of the Denver Catholic available.

New scans, which at the present are only complete through 1920, mean that the digital archives are easier to read, and easier to search. Advanced search options, such as the ability to search by keywords, and to prioritize searches according to relevance or date, are also available.

History buffs also have a chance to deep dive into the archives of not only the Denver Catholic, but also the National Catholic Register (only 1945-57), The Colorado Catholic (1884-1899) and The Southern Catholic Register. The complete archives of El Pueblo Católico, our Spanish-language newspaper, which turns 20 this year, is also available.

Also available is a small collection of donated high schools newspapers from our closed high schools, as well as some yearbooks and scrapbooks.

We haven’t forgotten print

We know not everyone likes a good digital search. Some still prefer to hold a newspaper in their hands.

While we limit access to the original editions of our newspaper, an ongoing project of the Office of Communications is to make all new scans of the Denver Catholic throughout its history available to the public in bound hard copies.

The red volumes, which are currently available from 1900 through 1920, are housed in the Cardinal Stafford Library, located on the St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization. A second collection of volumes is housed in the Office of Communications. If your eyes aren’t as sharp as they once were, bring a magnifying glass.

More info:

COMING UP: A few tips on managing your digital archives

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According to a study done in 2015, 68 percent of Americans have a smartphone. If you count yourself among this number, there’s a very good chance you have some pictures stored on it. Birthday parties, spouses, kids, Christmas, selfies…just think of all the file space your pictures take up!

On a somber but related note, have you heard of the coming “Digital Dark Age?” Computer scientist Vint Cerf, widely recognized as one of the founders of the modern Internet, coined this expression, which is based on the idea that if we do not take active steps to preserve our digital information, it may disappear forever, thus rendering any records we’re keeping for future generations lost.

“But wait,” you say. “I have all of my pictures saved on a disk/external hard drive/the cloud, so I’m safe, right?” Not necessarily. Take a look at the lifespan of media formats through history (below).

Do you have files or photos that are more than 10 years old? Digital files more than 10 years old are at substantial risk for loss or degradation, such that you might not be able to access them.

Think about it: if you had all of your pictures stored on your phone and you misplaced it, it got stolen, or perhaps it burst into flames, what would happen? Those pictures would be gone forever! So what should you do with those pictures?

Did you know that in its current form, Google Photos is only a year old? In just that one year, Google has collected almost 2,000,000,000 (that’s Billion!) animations, collages, movies, and other digital objects. Taking up 13.7 petabytes of space (1 petabyte is 1,000 terabytes, and consider that 1 terabyte is a standard hard drive on a laptop you can buy in the store today) and 24 billion selfies, it would take you 424 years to swipe through that many photos, according to Google’s blog page.

Now, before you get too depressed by all this news, there’s still time to take proactive measures to ensure all of your digital treasures are not lost. Here are some ideas on storing your digital archive, with an eye specifically toward photos.

1. Set up a folder on your computer to begin the process. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

2. Identify where all of your pictures “live.” Where are all of my pictures? I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Shutterfly, and many other photo storing apps.

3. Identify the important moments: do you really need 39 pictures of your 18-month old eating one dinner with her grandma? Perhaps you could pick the best 5.

4. Aim to have at least three copies of everything. I know how redundant this sounds, but if you don’t back it up, you run the risk of losing it. How you choose to do this is up to you, but you can use SD cards, a USB drive, DVD or Blu-Ray discs, external hard drives, or a cloud service.

5. Actively manage your archive. Now that you have a handle on your information, keep it that way. Post new pictures to your backup locations, make sure their date and geotag locations (if they’re turned on) are correct, and most importantly, keep up!

6. Lastly, if it’s feasible, print out the important moments and set a date to scrapbook. Think back to the photo albums you have or that you remember looking at as a child; maybe a picture or three per month that are important enough to want to pick up off your bookshelf.

We aren’t talking necessarily about preserving our cultural heritage by saving all the selfies you’ve taken; but we can begin to think about how to tame/manage our digital photo presence.

Denver Catholic archives

The communications office of the Archdiocese of Denver is taking steps to ensure that the Church’s rich history here in northern Colorado is preserved appropriately. We are working diligently to update our archives, and very soon, the Stafford Library will have on its shelves bound volumes of the first 20 years of the Denver Catholic Register. The rest will be added as they are completed in the coming years, with a fully digital archive to become available online shortly thereafter.

Stephen Sweeney is the director of the Cardinal J. Francis Stafford Library.