The Triangle, the high school student newspaper, was first published in 1950 under the sponsorship of Edith Markham of the English faculty. Many of its issues present a student-eye view of each other, faculty, classes, parties, outings, sports, and on occasion world events. It contains admonitions to school spirit as well as spiritual challenges.
It is a rich source of Academy history not seen in class catalogs or student academic records.
As a new faculty member in 1970, my office was next to Edith Markham’s. I recall a cardboard box in which she kept back issues of the Triangle.
In 1999 principal Dave Fisher asked me to research and produce the BJA Heritage Display for the lobby of the Academy Auditorium. One of my first thoughts was: locate that box of Triangles.
By that time, several faculty members had served as Triangle sponsor. Although a couple of them remembered the box, no one knew its location. After searching the nooks and crannies of the Quadrangle, I decided the box was gone.
I knew a copy of each issue was sent to the BJU Mack Library, and I recalled seeing back issues on their shelves. They had Triangle issues on their records, but the library had just been remodeled, and no one could put their finger on the back issues. Assuming they would eventually turn up, I was told to check back. I did. Repeatedly. In 2020 Mack librarians had still not found their collection of early Triangles.
In desperation a plea went to Academy grads and faculty to donate issues they may have kept.
Through the generosity of several BJA packrats we were able to amass a collection of most of the issues from the late 1960s through 1992, the year the Triangle went digital. Copies of 1990s–2020 issues were in the available in the Mack Library, BJA files, or “the cloud.”
No one sent Triangles from the first 20 years of the newspaper. The Academy’s files and a couple of retired teacher’s records held a few random issues. These were assembled in 2019 as the Academy Archives was established. Between 1950 and 1970 we had some years with three of four issues, but for many years we had none.
I was discouraged with the vast amount of lost Academy history.
Then we found them—sort of.
In 1996 someone had microfilmed back issues of the Triangle. Could that be what happened to the box? Did the Mack Library have their collection microfilmed? No one knew.
In fact, no one knew these microfilms existed. But they turned up in a box on a high shelf in the back of a closet.
Finding a working microfilm reader in 2020 was difficult. But after confirming the microfilms were Triangles (I used a microscope), we had them digitized.
Thirty-five years of Triangles is about 4000 pages.
When microfilmed, a frame with the volume, issue number, and the date (when the Triangle included that information) was inserted between issues.
But the Triangle staff had made errors in numbering and dating. The microfilmer also made errors. Some issues are out of order and others appear to be missing. When digitized an issue was often split into different files. Separating the issues into files and organizing them by yearly volumes has proven to be daunting.
The microfilm was black-and-white, and the colorful Triangle covers were not microfilmed. The Academy Archives, however, had many of the later issues with covers. Scanning the covers and getting the right one on its digital issue is also a significant task.
A few weeks ago, the Academy had a half-day of service. While many labored off-campus, outside, or in Quadrangle buildings, three students manned computers in today’s Triangle office and used a program which permitted them to juggle and edit pdfs of early Triangles. Two other students manned a scanner. That afternoon they sorted about ten years of Triangles and scanned about 50 covers.
Great start—but there is still much to do. (Any more workdays coming?)
At this point I am the only one who has scan-read these early issues—and excerpts are being incorporated into the history of the Academy I am preparing.
The Triangles are, however, in “the cloud” and will, in the future, be available for others to read.
That is what archivists do and what archives are for—the future.