Crimson To Launch 128 Year Archive

Online collection of newspapers will contain every issue since 1873

A new archiving project by The Harvard Crimson is drawing controversy for its employment of Cambodian typists.

The Crimson, the nation’s second oldest college daily, plans to invest almost $500,000 dollars to digitize all 128 years of the newspaper.

For the project, The Crimson has worked with companies in Virginia and Massachusetts who in turn employ workers in India and Cambodia to type articles from every issue of the paper since it began as The Harvard Magenta in 1873.

The Project

Crimson President C. Matthew MacInnis ’02 says that he believes the resulting database will be the largest archive of free newspaper material on the Internet.

“This is a very exciting project not only for us, but for the entire Harvard community. This is going to be a indispensable tool for historians and journalists alike,” MacInnis says.

When the project launches at the end of the summer it will include 30 years of Crimson issues, and the number of issues will quickly increase to include all 128 years of The Crimson by year’s end.

The Crimson has not yet decided how to restrict access to the archives or whether users will be charged a fee. However, MacInnis says he hopes The Crimson will be able to provide free unrestricted access to at least University affiliates.

The Crimson is designing a new website to place about 150,000 articles online in such a way that they are easily searchable by keyword, author or issue date.

In addition, users will be able to access a high-resolution image of every newspaper published between 1873 and 1955. Imaging of the computer pages are being completed by an Oklahoma company.

The Controversy

The project, which had been scheduled to be announced in August when it went online, began to draw controversy following an Associated Press story on Monday.

The AP article touted the benefits of the project for the Cambodian workers and the exciting prospects of Digital Data Divide, the non-profit company overseeing it.

The following day, however, the Boston Globe ran an article charging The Crimson with hypocrisy because it advocated a “living wage” for Harvard workers while outsourcing work to Cambodia.

Both MacInnis and the owner of Digital Data Divide, Jeremy Hockenstein, deny any hypocrisy and say that the working conditions offered in Cambodia would meet any American worker’s expectations.