Daily Pennsylvanian archives, as old as 1885, now online

If you've ever wondered what students at the University of Pennsylvania were buzzing about back in 1885 -- the answer is now just a few clicks away.

A long-in-the-works collaboration between The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn's independent student news organization, and Penn Libraries to digitize the DP's archives is now online.

The archives, available at dparchives.library.upenn.edu, let users view copies of the paper as far back as its inaugural Dec. 15, 1885, issue.

So far, about 49,000 pages from the newspaper's archives have been digitized, according to the DP. About 158,000 will ultimately be accessible.

The online archives mark the first time past issues of the paper are readily available off Penn's campus. People can search the collection by date or keyword.

That first issue begins with an explanation of the new venture: "Friends who are interested in the success of our enterprise, we salute you! The Pennsylvanian begins its career under the most favorable auspices, and we feel justified in predicting for it long life and prosperity." Its front page goes on to explain the structure of the publication and its editors.

Article topics covered include a glee club concert, the prestige of the law school and university courts.

The eight-page paper has brief notes on a wide range of campus happenings, including the cast of an upcoming Othello production, a dental operating room that was "very insufficiently heated," a review of the football team's season and a listing of thesis topics for the "Post-Seniors in the Mechanical Section."

The paper also includes pleas for booksellers, opticians, tobacco dealers and others to advertise.

(Disclosure: Emily Babay was a reporter and editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian and the editor who launched the archives project in 2008 is a friend of her's.)