• Tricks of the Trade, Page 2

    Tulare County, California. FSA (Farm Security Administration) farm workers' camp. Mimeographing the camp paper. Russell Lee, 1942. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
    All three newspapers depended on a machine called the mimeograph to produce the newspapers. Although mimeograph technology improved during the years in between The Thornapple Street News and The Shepherd Street and The Leland Street Sunday News, the printing process remained essentially the same.
    "The LSSN is proud to announce that it now has its own spirit duplicator. we hope that some of our Leland Street friends will want to use it (for a fee) now and then."
    The Leland Street Sunday News, May 12, 1974. CCHS 2010.1015.01.

    A typewriter is used to strike the words into a wax sheet (called a "master"), creating a stencil. The stencil is placed around an ink-filled drum and sheets of paper are fed in between the drum and the base of the mimeograph. Using a hand-crank (later done electronically), the drum is rotated, forcing the ink through the stencil and onto the paper.

    The hand-crank model was the one used by The Thornapple Street News in the basement of the Williams home. According to a 1973 article on The Shepherd Street News, that newspaper was printed on a mimeograph at Jim Johnson's office, though the editors were saving to buy their own machine. The Leland Street Sunday News was printed on Jonas Kolker's (father of Claudia Kolker) office mimeograph until the purchase of a spirit duplicator in 1974.

    The spirit duplicator differs somewhat from the mimeograph in that the ink, instead of being pressed through a stencil, is placed on the master copy itself and a solvent is used to transfer the image onto each sheet of paper which is passed through.

    All three newspapers sought to participate in the process of producing the newspaper from start to finish. However, the technology involved in producing the paper often required the assistance of the parents and their office mimeographs to produce the needed number of copies on time. The parents of the young reporters recognized the educational value of the newspaper and in some cases went above and beyond to ensure the success of their children's newspapers…

    "THE NEWSPAPER THAT ALMOST WASN'T: We're very fortunate to be able to to give you the paper this week, and here's why: First of all, the paper wasn't ready by the time Mr. Patch had to leave for work, so Mrs. Kolker was going to take it to the University of Maryland, where they had a good machine, unlike the Library's which gave you gray copies. But, the University of Maryland and the Library closed before we expected, so the only thing we could do to get the paper out was to have Mr. Patch take the paper back to his office after he got home, which he did. And that's how it got to you."
    The Leland Street Sunday News, February 24, 1974. CCHS 2010.1015.01

    Scroll to the bottom of this page to see a mimeograph machine and a spirit duplicator in action.


    Image of Thornapple Street News Delivery boy cartoon
    The Thornapple Street News, April 2, 1932. CCHS 1989.27.01

    While each newspaper contained the comings and goings of a specific street, the stories and updates attracted a far wider audience than any of the editors could have imagined.

    "Mark Turner is in college in the Univ. of Chicago. He likes the Shepherd St. News so much and he wants it sent to him at school."
    The Shepherd Street News, October 10, 1972. CCHS 1989.27.01.
    "WE ARE EXPANDING: We have passed out our papers to Taylor, Thornapple, Delfield and Chestnut Streets. We also have a new person on our staff, Karen Barr. She will be collecting the news on some of the new streets. She lives at 3411 Thornapple St. and she is doing a good job."
    The Shepherd Street News, September 9, 1972. CCHS 1989.27.01.

    The young reporters had to get up early (6 AM in the case of The Leland Street Sunday News) to deliver the newspaper before the readers woke up. For elementary and middle school age children to wake up in the early morning, on a weekend, and deliver the newspaper says much about the sense of responsibility these children felt towards their readers. In addition to hand-delivering copies of the newspaper to the local community, all three newspapers sent copies to subscribers throughout the country (The Shepherd Street News charged extra for postage).

    How the Shepherd Street News Began by Jimmy and Julie Johnson, original editors of The Shepherd Street News. August 4, 1973. CCHS 1989.27.01.
    Producing a paper meant communicating with adults, managing the flow of interviews, making content decisions, mimeographing and getting up early to make sure all the eager readers had their newspapers hot off the press. Despite the amount of work involved, the young reporters grasped the importance of the work they were doing, benefiting not only themselves but their community as well.
    “We think it’s great the way people like our paper which is the main reason we continue each week.” Readership of The Shepherd Street News increased from thirty copies to over 800 copies each week, a task which required over thirty children to write, produce and distribute on a weekly basis.



    • Watch a Mimeograph machine in action
    • Watch a Spirit Duplicator in action


    In the next section read about how the young reporters supported the community and how the community supported the young reporters…



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