The Savannah Tribune, Historic African- American Newspaper, Digitized

L-R: Tanya Milton, Vice President and Advertising Director, and Shirley B. James, Publisher, The Savannah Tribune; David Singleton, Executive Director, Live Oak Public Libraries
L-R: Tanya Milton, Vice President and Advertising Director, and Shirley B. James, Publisher, The Savannah Tribune; David Singleton, Executive Director, Live Oak Public Libraries

Live Oak Public Lib raries (LOPL) announces the completion of the digitization of more than 7,500 pages of the oldest issues of The Savannah Tribune, the historic African-American publication.

The Library worked with the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), which digitized six reels of microfilm, including issues from October 1943 to September 1960, which covered the developing Civil Rights Movement in Georgia and beyond.

The Savannah Tribune is featured in the DLG’s Georgia Historic Newspapers (GHN) Archive online and can be viewed here. The collection holds issues from 1876-1960, and gives digital access to one of Savannah’s most important African-American histori- cal sources. The content is also featured in the Library of Congress’ newspaper site, Chronicling America.

Free access is available to anyone with or without a library card. “We appreciate the Live Oak Public Libraries through its partnership with the Digital Library of Georgia for the magnanimous efforts put into digitizing the legacy and history of The Savannah Tribune, originally established as The Colored Tribune in 1875,” stated Shirley B. James, Publisher of The Savannah Tribune.

“The Tribune recorded some of the most important and critical eras in African American history since Reconstruction. To have this history digitally accessible to the general public, locally and worldwide, validates the journeys, experiences and contributions made by our people in helping to build this country, some of which has not been recorded in American history,” Ms. James continued. “We at The Savannah Tribune are committed to honor, maintain and stand upon our founding principles, and we pledge to continue a strong community partnership with the Live Oak Public Libraries.”

The project was made possible through a Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) grant. In addition, the DLG also received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ National Digital Newspaper Program (NDBP).

In advance of the digitization, Live Oak Public Libraries’ Collection Management Team performed a copyright investigation to determine if the Savannah Tribune was in the public domain. Following the Cornell University Public Domain chart as a guide, content from six microfilm reels was analyzed for copyright considerations, such as advertisements and syndicated cartoons.

“The digitization of The Savannah Tribune is significant not only because it preserves these important documents but also because it makes this valuable resource available to library users and to researchers throughout the world,” said David Singleton, Library Executive Director. “It provides a way to both sustain and access the rich history of the African-American community in our area.”

In addition to digital resources, Live Oak Public Libraries has physical collections available to customers. The Carnegie Library, established for and by African-Americans during segregation, houses a substantial collection dedicated to African-American history. A dedicated Genealogy Room, sponsored by La- Fayne May in honor of Wyman May, at the Hinesville Library in Liberty County, includes resources on the Gullah Geechee community. Additionally, the Kaye Kole Genealogy & Local History Room (also known as the Georgia Room) located at the Bull Street Library serves as an essential resource for the history of Savannah and the surrounding area.

During the past year, additional grant funding from other sources enabled several upgrades to the Genealogy Room at Bull Street Library. The library installed an archive-grade KIC Bookeye 4 overhead scanner that allows for the digitization, archiving, and digital access of rare materials. New microfilm readers were also added to provide updated scanning and printing capabilities along with 27-inch viewing screens.

The Savannah Tribune

The Savannah Tribune, a pioneer among weekly newspapers, is one of the oldest African-American owned and operated publications in America. Originally founded in 1875 as The Colored Tribune by Louis B. Toomer, Sr., Louis M. Pleasant and Managing Editor, John H. DeVeaux, The Savannah Tribune was in continuous publication until 1960 under subsequent owners, Sol C. Johnson followed by Wila Ayers Johnson.

This Savannah icon was revived in 1973 by Robert E. James, husband of the current publisher, Shirley Barber James. True to its legacy, The Savannah Tribune, through quality news coverage and state-of-theart production, continues to serve as the medium of communication and instruction, as well as the journal which primarily chronicles the contemporary and historical life and activities of African-Americans in Savannah, Coastal Georgia and throughout the United States.

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