The Texas Observer is a 60-year-old progressive magazine. We need to move our archives from our asbestos basement to the Internet.
We made it!
Thanks to each of you who donated to help fund our archives! With nine days yet to go in our campaign, we've decided to reach for our STRETCH GOAL!
For our next act, we're shooting to raise another $2,000 on Kickstarter so that we can - DRUMROLL - create a Best of the Observer book!
The book will be a collection of the Observer’s most compelling, outrageous, hilarious, evocative, and impactful stories from the past 10 years. There’s no shortage of material. Separated into broad categories such as politics, crazy small-town Texas tales, crime and punishment, and health care, this book will include stories with a mix of styles: investigative, narrative, essay, quirky, funny - you get the idea. Most importantly, the book will give readers a vision of Texas as seen through the Observer’s work—a view of Texas found nowhere else.
Help us reach this new goal with a generous donation TODAY!
Pledges over $50 will receive a copy of the new book when it comes out - in addition to the other rewards.
The Texas Observer has provided the best investigative reporting in Texas since 1954. With writing by Jim Hightower, Molly Ivins, Roy Bedichek, Ronnie Dugger, J. Frank Dobie, Billy Lee Brammer, Robert Sherrill, Nate Blakeslee, Lou Dubose, Bob Eckhardt, Larry McMurtry, Kaye Northcott, and Willie Morris, the magazine has the distinction of having published the majority of Texas’ most prominent writers.
That said, while we have been careful to maintain our history in some ways (including paper archives at the University of Texas and at Texas State University), the bulk of our magazine archives sits unutilized in the basement of the Masons building where we currently have our office. The goal of this project is to enhance access and improve preservation of our vast archives. We will then utilize our magazine and our website, as well as those of partner organizations, to advertise these unique resources and their free availability to the public.
To that end, we will digitize our archives and put them on our website so that they may be utilized by anyone, free of charge. With nearly 60 years of history, we have over 75,000 pages of the magazine. Digitizing our archives will allow our website visitors to access these archives and learn the history of Texas through the eyes and words of the state's best writers and reporters.
So, we will pack up 1 of each issue printed over the last 60 years, send them to an expert scanning company who will turn them into searchable OCR PDFs. We will then work with a local company to put these PDFs on our current website in a user-friendly format. And then you can search to find how many times the Observer has written about elephants over the last 60 years!
While we have already received a very generous grant for the bulk of the project costs (nearly $38,000 in total), this kickstarter campaign will give us the final funding we need to complete the project.
We thank you in advance for your support!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Although the risks are minimal, there are some things that could affect our project. If each specific goal is not met within our timeline, it has the potential to push back our the completion of our project.
Yes, although we are packing up 1 of each issue to send to the scanner - who will cut the binding and will not return the issues - we will keep copies of the magazine here. We have additional copies for 99% of the issues. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the Witliff Galleries also have full sets of the Observer.
The scans/PDFs will not just be text but full images of the magazine pages. We chose this route because it made more sense to historians who would want the context of the articles - the ads, the paper color, the font, the surrounding stories, etc.
Yes, the whole project budget is around $38,000. We have a generous grant from the Beaumont Foundation and have created a financial and structural partnership with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT. This kickstarter campaign will just put us over the top and allow us to cover the full project!