When I was a teen-aged copy boy for the Jacksonville Journal, I often was called upon to go to the morgue – a large room filled with file cabinets containing clippings of all stories published in the Journal.
I liked my job and was quite distressed when, while on a visit to Tampa, I picked up a paper in 1959 and read that the Journal had just been sold to the morning Florida Times-Union, our longtime rival.
Fortunately, I kept my job, but the Times-Union did not keep the Journal’s morgue. The Journal donated the clippings to the Florida State Library. (I did not know that at the time but was told that later by Allen Morris, clerk of the Florida House for many years.)
Now the Times-Union has been sold and the new owners don’t want to keep their own morgue.
They have offered it to the Jacksonville Historical society.
Alan Bliss, executive director of the society, said an editor of the T-U called him with the offer and that a cooperative alliance between the society, Jacksonville Public Library and University of Florida Library is preparing legal documents for the exchange.
“No money is changing hands,” Bliss told Eye on Jacksonville.
The society has room for the collection, which will require about 3,000 square feet, making it too large for the 27,000 square feet in the offices soon to be occupied by what is left of the Times-Union.
In addition to the thousands of clippings, the collection will include microfilm and film negatives.
Bliss said the society hopes to make digital copies of the film negatives, although it will be expensive and time-consuming.
“We will be applying for grants,” he said.
As a reporter, columnist and editor at the Journal and Times-Union, I used the morgue almost daily throughout my career. Computer search capabilities have made the material less important but unless the clippings are scanned and made searchable, there is no substitute for them.
The daily history of Jacksonville over a period of decades is embedded in those clips and photos. It will be invaluable in the future to historians, researchers and genealogists.