“The first draft of history” is a well-worn slogan to describe newspapers. Today’s news becomes the basis for tomorrow’s history books.
A library with a microfilm machine and reels of old newspapers benefits scholars and nonscholars alike.
Years from now, when some up-and-coming screenwriter is looking to sell the underdog story of Augusta State’s back-to-back golf championships, his work will be filled with the emotion and drama gleaned from reading sports writer Chris Gay’s first-hand accounts of the Jaguars’ glory.
The Augusta Chronicle digitized its microfilm collection more than 10 years ago and it is available on the Internet or at our area’s public libraries.
And no one has taken more advantage of – or more delight from – that electronic archive than Bill Kirby.
Columnist. Editor. Humorist. Historian.
In addition to his jokes, postcards and tales of his family and their dogs, Bill has enlightened and entertained readers with Augusta lore.
Some may remember the ‘Today in Augusta History’ feature that ran in the Metro section, then on 2A for several years. Bill compiled those items from looking at augustaarchives.com, with papers dating back to 1792.
And his storytelling has evolved with the times. He was the driving force behind the paper’s 225th anniversary section – both in print and online.
Bill wrote a blog, Our Town, from 2008 to 2012, bringing new online life to stories about the heroism of Dennis Cahill or how an Augustan influenced Sgt. York.
As the online news director for the past three years, Bill’s love of Augusta history returned in the form of slideshows – as he would have an old file folder of photos scanned in and put on the Web to be enjoyed by the present. The one he did with the fire of 1916 was incredibly popular.
And now, Bill is telling the tales of our city’s history in a series of short videos. You can watch Kirby’s Augusta either on YouTube or our Web site. This week’s video is about the old Ensign Fountain that was a gift to the city.
Many of these stories are available at augustachronicle.com – which has free, unlimited access to subscribers of the paper once registered.
Bill’s stories – in any format – are worth another look as he unveils that second draft of history.