09/08/10 — Student gives bit of history back to WCC

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Student gives bit of history back to WCC

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 8, 2010 2:24 PM
Last update on: September 8, 2010 2:36 PM

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Student Jennifer King donates several historical editions of newspapers, including a complete edition of the Atlanta Journal announcing Kennedy\'s death, to Charlotte Brow, history instructor at Wayne Community College.

When Jennifer King was a young girl, Saturdays were devoted to scouting out yard sales with her family.

Many treasures could be unearthed from within boxes that had been thrown out, she said.

Like the stack of newspapers tossed into a produce box.

"Kennedy Killed" read the headline on the Nov. 22, 1963, edition of the Atlanta Journal, while even older editions of other papers also made the cut. Among those in the pile was a 1907 edition of Progressive Thinker and an 1899 issue of The Chicago Lever.

"When I pulled everything out, my uncle said, 'Hold onto it, it will be of value some day,'" she recalls now. "At 6 or 7 years old, I didn't realize what I had."

It would be years later before the newspapers surfaced again.

Now the mother of six, Mrs. King is attending Wayne Community College, working toward a nursing degree.

Among her initial prerequisites was a history class, taught by Charlotte Brow.

"In 27 years, she's my only history teacher," Mrs. King said. "I never took history in high school.

"Then one night, me and my husband were watching 'American Pickers' (a History Channel TV show which scours the country for hidden treasures in junkyards, basements and barns) and my husband said, 'Jennifer, don't you have some of those around the house?' I hopped out of bed at 11 o'clock at night and found (the newspapers)."

Admittedly, with the passage of time, Mrs. King had forgotten all about the papers her uncle encouraged her to save.

Remarkably, they were in pretty good condition. But between caring for her family and pursuing her education, Mrs. King knew she was unable to give the materials the attention they deserved.

So she set out to contact her beloved history professor.

"I told Mrs. Brow, 'I got these for a couple dollars 15 years ago,'" she said. "I wanted to give them to the faculty and staff so they can look at them, research them for history purposes, journalism purposes, just about anybody who's a political fanatic.

"They're not getting the care they need and here they are going to get some use and value and they're going to be more appreciated than they will at my house."

Handling the yellowing newspapers gingerly in the college library as they seek advice on the proper ways to preserve them, the women marveled at the era represented on the pages.

The 1963 newspaper was a "second edition" published on the day then-President John F. Kennedy was shot, meaning that an extra copy was produced announcing an update on the incident. A single copy then sold for 5 cents.

A subscription to The Chicago Lever, which appeared to be a weekly publication, could be purchased for $1 for one year.

Mrs. Brow, who also teaches a history course that covers the Kennedy administration, said she looks forward to bringing them out for her students as a visual.

Provided, of course, students wear the recommended white cotton gloves so as to avoid getting fingerprints or oils on the pages.

"They can get that little snapshot of that era, and then the older papers, also, especially in the smaller classes. They could actually go through the newspapers and see a time capsule," Mrs. Brow said.

"These are going to serve as a reminder to children and grandchildren and probably even adults," Mrs. King added.

Mrs. Brow said she was delighted that her former student grasped the importance of history and preserving its message for posterity, and was touched by Mrs. King's donation to the college.

"It's a wonderful story of someone hanging on to something and seeing the value of it as time goes on and then being generous and thinking of her school," she said. "I doubt they'd go for a lot of money on the Antiques Roadshow but there's a value in them."