About 150,000 pages of The Alligator will be accessible from any device with internet access by September 2019.
The George A. Smathers Libraries will make newspaper issues from 1917 to 2004 available online with a text searchable feature, where viewers can search keywords and find articles with that word, project manager Melissa Jerome said.
About 8,500 pages from 1912 through August 1957 will be made available in the next few weeks on the UF Digital Collections website. About 2,900 issues from 2005 to 2017 are already available online.
The goal of the project is to digitize the newspapers available through microfilm and preserved print copies, Jerome said.
“I think that the fact that it’s a student newspaper helps shed a different light on journalism,” she said. “We’re getting a different account from students in the university seeing the changes themselves and being the cause of the change.”
Patrick Reakes, the UF associate dean of scholarly resources and services, said the project is being funded by an endowment and will cost about $40,000. Reakes and his team have worked on the project for about a year.
The idea to digitize these pages was driven by a demand because it covers UF and community news, he said.
In past issues, the independent, student-run newspaper focused on some of the most historic moments at the university, such as the first class of admitted women and coverage of Virgil Hawkins, an African American applicant to the UF College of Law who was denied because of his race, Jerome said.
Melissa Gomez, the editor-in-chief of The Alligator, said she was speechless when she met up with the UF Libraries team working to digitize the newspapers April 4.
“Newspapers are often called the first draft of history, and The Alligator is no different,” the 21-year-old journalism senior said. “To digitize a student newspaper like The Alligator acknowledges an important role that student publications play as an important resource for the community.”
In a file photo shared by UF Libraries on Twitter, The Alligator named Margaret Anderson the Co-ed of the week. She was the President of Alpha Omega Pi Sorority.