By Claus Martel, AMCOM History OfficeApril 2, 2010
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- For the first time, classic issues of the Redstone Rocket are now available online, thanks in part to the AMCOM Command Group's interest in preserving the history that's been captured in this award-winning publication.
The Redstone Rocket has been continuously published in some shape, form or fashion -- with the assistance of various public affairs/public information offices -- since Feb. 5, 1952. Though technically an "unofficial authorized" publication, it has been the newspaper of record for Redstone Arsenal since its first printing.
Up until 1998, the Redstone Rocket "morgue," or archive of old editions, was maintained by the AMCOM Public Affairs Office. Since that time, various public affairs chiefs have moved the Redstone Rocket archive to the Office of the Command Historian. In 2008, AMCOM's command historian Mike Baker secured funding for all volumes to be scanned into searchable PDF format.
Baker said that it's been a career-long goal to get these papers back to the public.
"When I first started working here in 1979, we would have to go to the public affairs office to research various topics. When we received the old issues here, it made it more convenient for us but we were handling the old newsprint too much," he said.
That's when Baker talked to the former secretary of the general staff Linda Readus.
"I convinced her that the technology was there and it was affordable to scan these in," Baker said.
Thanks to the efforts of AMCOM Command Group budget specialist Tammy Smith, Baker was able to secure the services of the Defense Logistics Agency's Document Automation & Production Service.
Baker said the first volumes to be scanned in presented some challenges.
"When we started this process, we had to travel to Montgomery, Ala., to DAPS' facility at Maxwell Air Force Base. We had to explain what we wanted, that readable and searchable text were more important than the imagery which was irretrievably faded, and that we had to preserve the newspapers for long-term storage," he said.
In early 2009, the scanning was moved to DAPS facility at Redstone Arsenal. Baker said he couldn't be happier about the move.
"We've been working with Clay Pierce from DAPS for over a year now and he's done an outstanding job. Plus, with the move to Redstone, it's been easier to drop off and pick up materials," he said.
All Redstone Rockets from 1952 to 2003 are now scanned. Issues after 2003 have been already archived by the AMCOM/Garrison Public and Congressional Affairs team into PDF.
"Putting the old issues online will be a phased approach," Baker said. "We got the 1950s and 1960s up now on our website. The address is www.redstone.army.mil/history/rockets. We'll try to get the 1970s and 1980s online in April, and the 1990s and 2000s on the server by May."
As stated on the website, Baker said people have to adhere to a few rules.
"Well as we state on the website, the original photos that appeared in the Rocket issues are not available. Second, there is language and imagery that might be offensive to some. Lastly, there may be side margin cuts, missing editions, or missing pages," he said.
The material is broken down by year and by month, versus by weekly issue. Baker noted that these are searchable PDFs, meaning that if you pull down a month and use Acrobat's search engine, you might find a name or whatever you're looking for.
Issues of the post's newspapers from the World War II era will also eventually make their debut on the website.
"I'm really excited about fulfilling a 30-year dream of bringing these documents back to the people," Baker said. "In today's archival world, there's preservation and then there's access. We've achieved both with this effort."