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Arizona Memory Project Digitizes African American Newspaper From 1930s

The Arizona Memory Project is in the business of preserving the state’s history. In 2017, it received a grant to digitize 100,000 pages of historic Arizona newspapers, including a handful of newspaper titles from African American communities around the state.

The Phoenix Index was first published in 1937, just a couple of years before the start of World War II.  

"So at that time, you know, World War II was a huge was a huge catalyst for growth and expansion in all of Arizona, particularly Phoenix and it was no different for African American community that’s really a time of population growth," said Sativa Peterson with Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records.

"Black-owned businesses are growing, and cultural life is gaining momentum and all of that is getting recorded in community paper," she explains.

Peterson said that was the Phoenix Index. The other cool factor, in 1939, Alberta Gibson began editing and publishing the paper, though she was not the first African American woman to run a paper.

In 1929, Ayra Hackett founded the Arizona Gleam.  She was the only African American female newspaper owner in the state. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.