All Past Horizon Issues Archived and Accessible To Sidwell Community


Patton and Partridge worked to archive all of Sidwell’s Horizon issues. Photo: Ava Partridge ’22 and Julia Patton ’22.

The first issue of Horizon was published in 1974. Since then, hundreds of issues have been published, but a lack of accessibility to past issues has prevented anyone from reading these articles that provide a look into Sidwell’s history.

Every May, seniors are let out of classes and allowed to embark on a project of their choice, which they will eventually present to their teachers and peers in other grades. For our Senior Project, we wanted to make Horizons easily accessible to the Sidwell Friends community.

For the past month, we worked to digitize each past issue of Horizon and create an online archive in which these documents can be accessed by the Sidwell community. We wanted to create a resource for current and future students and staff to access the history of the school, as well as decades of documented moments in history through the lens of past Sidwell students.

We first got the idea for this project in October when we went to the archives, located in the basement of the library, to look for past Homecoming Horizon issues for our Homecoming table display. While skimming through the past papers, we were fascinated by the former styles of the newspaper and the various article topics, ranging from intense, hard-hitting editorials to fun columns such as “Bachelors of the Month.” We left this visit to the archives thinking about how this informative and intriguing component of school history was so hidden from public view. Soon after, we came up with the idea of digitizing the issues for our Senior Project.

When we began the project, under the guidance of Director of Special Projects AHOS/HOS Loren Hardenbergh, we, fortunately, discovered that the issues from 1974 to 2006 had been stored on microfiche film. After being processed by a professional, this discovery meant that those issues did not have to be scanned, as they were imported into four long PDF documents. We worked to separate the long PDFs into individual documents for each issue. We scanned the issues following 2006 and saved these as individual PDFs as well. This entire process took us three weeks, or about 60 hours, to complete.

After we had each issue saved as a PDF, we organized them within a Google Drive we created. We then realized that the Google Drive did not OCR the documents as well as we had hoped, meaning that when we searched a word in the Drive, such as “Garman,” not all the articles mentioning Bryan Garman appeared. To remedy this issue, we put each PDF back into Adobe Acrobat, the program we had used to save the issues as PDFs, ran the OCR scanner on the issue and saved each issue back into the Drive. This process was tedious and took us almost a week to complete; however the work was worthwhile, and community members can now easily search keywords and names and discover all articles associated with that topic, making the Drive a more valuable and helpful resource.

Now, not only is each issue categorized by year and decade but there are folders for special editions of Horizon, such as Homecoming and April Fool’s editions. One of our favorite discoveries when archiving was seeing the reporting on past senior pranks, so there is also a folder holding each issue that mentions a senior prank to a significant extent.

Any student or faculty member can access the archive by clicking the link on Horizon’s website under “Archives.” In the archives, students can search and find articles on everything from Upper School Math Teacher Dominic Lee’s senior prank in 2000 to student perspectives on the Reagan Administration. We have worked with next year’s Horizon staff to ensure that each new issue is uploaded as it is published, allowing the archive to exist as a continuous testament to Sidwell’s Quaker values and high-quality student journalism.