150 Years of Local News Recapped in A Page from the Past

a page from the past…, a 150-year look at Giles County’s history as presented on the pages of the PULASKI CITIZEN since 1854, became available to the public June 15, 2005. Reader requests solidified the decision to compile the year-long 2004 series, a page from the past…, into a book, according to Claudia Johnson, the PULASKI CITIZEN staff writer and Campbellsville native who spent 18 months on a special project to celebrate the newspaper’s 150th birthday.

Johnson has read hundreds of issues of the CITIZEN dating from the paper’s founding on Dec. 16, 1854, through modern times, all for the purpose of bringing CITIZEN readers a sense of how the paper covered the current events that have since become history.

“I didn’t want this to be just another history project,” Johnson said, recalling how publisher Steve Lake and editor Scott Stewart were in complete agreement with her angle. “When you write for a newspaper, it’s humbling to realize that you could be producing the only lasting account of day to day happenings.”

On her regular beat, to which she returned Jan. 3, Johnson covers county government, law enforcement, the judicial system, emergency services and other hard news.

“Certainly there are official records of these, but there’s more to a story than a document,” Johnson commented, admitting that reading the old papers have reinforced her commitment to accurate reporting. “What’s in the paper is what the public in general will know, now and especially in the future.”

The staff writer said it seems the public is interested in the news no matter when it happened judging from response to a page from the past…Johnson, Lake, Stewart and other staff members reported positive feedback from the weekly page, which featured clippings of CITIZEN stories on everything from horses, to education, to baseball, to industrial development, to an unsolved police slaying and visitors from outer space.

Stories of national interest like wars, reconstruction, prohibition and suffrage were explored from the local perspective using the CITIZEN archives. Dozens of illustrations, including maps, photographs and postcards, have accentuated the reprinted articles and advertisements.

“It was very challenging deciding what to use for each week’s page,” Johnson confessed. “I think I could have done this for the rest of my life and never exhausted the supply of interesting material. There are so many topics that were not touched just because there was not enough time.”

She borrowed and scanned dozens of photographs, postcards, maps and documents for possible inclusion in the book, burning them to disk to donate to local historic organizations for safekeeping. Johnson’s reading of the hundreds of microfilmed CITIZEN issues, scanned as .pdf files at the expense of the CITIZEN, produced thousands of clippings organized into research categories and saved to disk.

Additionally, she has printed and organized hundreds of copies from microfilm as well as the research materials she used to educate herself on many of the subjects of weekly installments.
Consistently, the most frequent question asked by readers was, “Are you going to put this in a book?” When Pulaski Publishing owner (the late) Hershel Lake continued to hear it, the commitment was made.

“People kept telling us that they were saving the weekly pages or sending them to friends or relatives out of town, but they’d like it in a more convenient format,” Stewart said, adding that the 250-page volume was printed by Holley’s Printing and bound by Sain Publications, both local companies.

All material that was printed in page from the past… for 52 weeks was reformatted into a 9 X 12 perfect-bound book printed on archival quality paper with a heavyweight, glossy cover. Johnson was intimately involved with every detail of the book’s layout just as she was with selection of every piece of material it contains.

Each week since Jan. 1, 2005, she has spent dozens of hours in addition to her full-time reporting job with the layout designer, (the late) Teresa Sibley of Holley’s Printing, determining placement of each story, advertisement or picture on every page, choosing fonts indicative of the era represented and proofreading and re-proofreading.

The final chapter is the 48-page souvenir edition with all material and photographs selected by Johnson from archived newspapers and other sources highlighting the history of the PULASKI CITIZEN, which everyone who bought the newspaper on Dec. 16, 2004, received as a gift.

The book is available at the Pulaski Citizen office in Pulaski or order by phone at 931-363-3544. A limited number was printed, so get them before they are gone forever.