On May 10, 1857, three regiments of sepoys in the Meerut garrison of the British-India Army mutinied against their British officers. Before day’s end, the sepoys were joined by civilians, who together broke open the jail, burned or plundered tax offices and money-lenders’ homes, and marched to Delhi forty miles away to demand that the Mughal emperor lead their resistance. ((May 10 1857 is generally cited as the start the Indian Uprising, although soldiers in a number of units had rebelled since the start of the year. Unlike the others rebellions, the Meerut mutiny ignited a civilian uprising, as well. See Priti Joshi, “1857; or, Can the Indian ‘Mutiny’ Be Fixed?” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. http://www.branchcollective.org/?ps_articles=priti-joshi-1857-or-can-the-indian-mutiny-be-fixed.)) The ensuing turmoil inflamed an often-bellicose Anglo-Indian press, and prompted the Government of India to pass a Press Act on June 13. ((“Anglo-Indian” is used here in its historical sense to refer to Britons who resided in India.)) Dubbed the “Gagging Act,” the law required all printing presses to obtain a license that could be revoked if material published was deemed incendiary. Much to the outrage of Anglo-Indian editors, the law was applied equally to the Anglo-Indian and Indian press. The government began by charging three indigenous newspapers for publishing “seditious libel”; it next “warned” the respected Friend of India for publishing a controversial editorial, and subsequently revoked the license of the Bengal Hurkaru, Calcutta’s Anglo-Indian daily, for five days. ((The newspapers were the Doorbeen, the Sultan-ul-Akbari, and the Samachar Sudhabarsan [Smarajit Chakraborti, The Bengali Press (1818-1868): A Study in the Growth of Public Opinion. (Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1976), 128]; S.C. Sanial, “History of Journalism in India, IV,” Calcutta Review (April 1909) 195-247; 202.))
This governmental muscle-flexing proved effective: in May 1858, not far from Meerut, the editor of the Agra-based, English-language newspaper, the Mofussilite, received a letter critical of the governance of India. It was, he suspected, too “dangerous” to print for its denunciations “contained too much truth.” ((“Shady Memories of a Barbarous Period,” Mofussilite, September 7, 1858, no. 1326, 569. Though the Uprising was effectively squelched by the end of 1857, the Press Act remained in effect until the transfer of power from the East India Company to the British Crown in August 1858.)) Unwilling to test the Gagging Act, the editor dropped the letter in the mail to Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, a radical London publication with a wide circulation. Lloyd’s published the letter on June 27, 1858 under the heading “A Letter From the North-West.” ((“A Letter From the North-West,” Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, June 27, 1858.)) Not long thereafter, copies of Lloyd’s arrived, as was customary for most British newspapers, in India on one of the many steamships plying between England and her star colony. A month later, on 26 August 1858, the Friend of India, a staunchly pro-government newspaper with the highest circulation in India, reprinted the letter that had appeared in Lloyd’s. ((The Friend also had more Indian subscribers than its rival Anglo-Indian newspapers [Mrinal Kanti Chanda, History of the English Press in Bengal, 1780-1857 (Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi & Co., 1987), 46-50]; “A Letter From the North West,” The Friend of India, August 26, 1858, 805.)) The letter’s publication in the Friend ensured its dissemination throughout India and its reappearance in many further outlets, including…the Mofussilite. Reprinting the letter – citing “Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper” as its source – the Mofussilite’s editor gloated about the success of his scheme and admitted: “When we write an article ourselves which is too strong for our own columns, we usually send it to the Times or some other English journal of the ‘don’t care’ school of politics.” ((Mofussilite, Tues, Sept 7, 1858, no. 1326, 569.)) Appearing in a British journal, the controversial letter evaded the Government of India’s censoring ax, resurfaced in India, and was printed and disseminated throughout the subcontinent.
This tale of global circulation and circumvention, of laundering and reprinting captures several key themes of this paper. The journey of the letter from Agra to London, its eventual publication in Calcutta, and its dissemination throughout India was made possible by nineteenth-century newspapers’ reliance on reprinting items culled from other newspapers. The practice of scissors-and-paste was born of the exigency of small staffs, tight budgets, and the requirement of currency – the very stuff of ephemerality. Yet, scissors-and-paste effectively served to stanch the transience of newspapers. Reprints, in effect, extended the shelf-life of a newspaper; in doing so, they created a living memorial, canon, or – to borrow Sean Latham’s and Robert Scholes’s description – a “first rough draft of history.” ((Sean Latham and Robert Scholes, “The Rise of Periodical Studies,” PMLA 121.2 (2006): 517-31; 520.)) Nineteenth-century newspapers’ practice of reprinting illuminates one of the period’s modes of memorializing and recuperating; it also heightens scrutiny of our methodologies as we navigate the archive of newspapers.
The growing digitization of the newspaper archive has transformed the study of nineteenth-century newspapers. It promises to reverse the deterioration and inaccessibility of newspapers that have historically been marked as ephemera. Yet, while digitization has made newspapers more accessible and opened new avenues of research, it has also exacerbated old problems: the prevalence and ubiquity that made newsprint ephemeral in the first place is multiplied several-fold by their digitization. Faced with an avalanche of material, the nineteenth-century practice of scissors-and-paste, a form of in-the-moment archiving, can help us harness and manage the volume of data that digitization has newly made available. Drawing on a number of nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian newspapers as my case, I attend to historical modes of recalling and recuperating history and to the effects both such modes and digitization has on our research methods. This paper will unfold on two registers and geographic locations: the nineteenth century in India and Britain and the 21st century in a deterritorialized cyberspace anchored in the Anglo-American marketplace.
In the age of Snapchat, to call newspapers “ephemeral” seems almost quaint. The shelf-life of newspapers – a day, a week – in contrast to the fleeting existence of so much on the Internet makes newspapers look like some ancient species that bears little resemblance to today’s new media and shares none of its DNA. Yet, as almost every theorist of ephemera insists, the ephemeral is not a fixed category, but always historically defined. Alan Farmer advises that “ephemerality should be thought of not as a strict binary between lasting and short-lived publications but as a continuum, with publications exhibiting varying degrees of ephemerality for a variety of reasons.” ((Alan Farmer, “Playbooks and the Question of Ephemerality,” The Book in History, The Book as History: New Intersections of the Material Text, eds. Heidi Brayman, Jesse M. Lander, and Zachary Lesser (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2016; 87-125; 89).)) Paula MacDowell historicizes the category of ephemera as she patiently teases the ideological contestations in eighteenth-century London print culture that resulted in some materials being labeled as ephemeral and others as literary. She argues that “‘Ephemera’ is not a thing but a classification. The category ‘ephemera,’ like the category ‘Literature,’ is not transparent, timeless, or universal, but a classification, existing in history.” ((Paula MacDowell, “Of Grubs and Other Insects: Constructing the Categories of ‘Ephemera’ and ‘Literature’ in Eighteenth-Century British Writing,” Book History, Volume 15, 2012, 48-70. (48-9).)) In short, the boundaries of the ephemeral are always porous and it is marked in relation to artefacts around it that are deemed enduring. Thus, the entry on “Printed Ephemera” in the Oxford Companion to the Book notes that newspapers (along with ballads, chapbooks, and almanacs) are Exhibit A of printed ephemera, less enduring than the “respectable book trade,” but with a higher survival rate than the “free and instantly disposable” handbills that have flooded city streets since the 17th century. ((Michael Harris, “Printed Ephemera,” The Oxford Companion to the Book, ed. by Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H. R. Woudhuysen. Oxford University Press 2010; Current Online Version: 2010; eISBN: 9780199570140.))
Newspapers’ in-betweenness – considered less enduring than books but more so than, say, ticket stubs – not only underscores the relationality of the category of the ephemeral, but also hints at the ways newspapers toggled back and forth between more and less ephemeral, a point Laurel Brake stresses in “The Longevity of Ephemera.” When are newspapers more ephemeral, when less? For nineteenth-century editors, the transience of “news” was the bedrock of their business model; Brake writes: “editors had an interest in purveying the impression of the alleged ‘ephemerality’” of their product in order “to ensure that the last issue was abandoned when its more topical and news-rich successor was ‘ready’ for purchase.” ((Laurel Brake, “The Longevity of ‘Ephemera’: Library Editions of Nineteenth-century Periodicals and Newspapers.” Media History, 18 (1), 2012, 7-20; 7.)) If the content of news was “always provisional, relevant only to the period before the next number,” their materiality added to their disposability. ((James Mussell, “Beyond the ‘Great Index’: Digital Resources and Actual Copies,” Journalism and the Periodical Press in Nineteenth-Century Britain, ed. Joanne Shattock, Cambridge University Press 2017; 17-30; 19.)) Rapid and frequent print cycles, as well as high production costs including “taxes on knowledge,” meant that news was printed on relatively cheap paper that bled ink [Fig. 1] and disintegrated quickly. ((The taxes on printed materials in Britain dated to 1712; by the 19th century newspapers were required to pay a tax on paper as well as on advertisements. These taxes were collectively known as “taxes on knowledge,” and only lifted in 1855. See Martin Hewitt, The Dawn of the Cheap Press in Victorian Britain: The End of the “Taxes on Knowledge,” 1849-1869. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.)) In sum, their ubiquity, content, materiality, and business model all contributed to make newspapers a category identified with the ephemeral in the nineteenth century. ((James Mussell notes that yesterday’s ephemera is today’s resource: “For the historian, the value of all types of ephemera lies in the properties that once made it valueless. The connection of ephemera to the prosaic, transitory and mundane is both the reason that it should not have survived and the reason that it is so valuable for us today.” [“The Passing of Print: Digitising Ephemera and the Ephemerality of the Digital,” Media History, 18(1), 2012; 77-92; 83].))
Brake has cautioned us to approach this classification with a grain of salt; despite editors’ interest in heightening the impression of newspapers as ephemeral, they also, she reminds us, did much to preserve those very “disposable” artefacts by producing bound, Library Editions of newspapers. ((Brake, “The Longevity of ‘Ephemera’,” 8-10.)) These volumes, put out annually or semi-annually, were sold to libraries – private and institutional – clubs, even individuals, and were central in countering the dispersal of newspapers as waste. ((The path to waste was not direct as thousands of issues got a second lease on life. The use of newspapers in the lavatory is well documented, but is only the most conspicuous of many “downstream” functions that included lining shelves and trunks, wrapping foods, or cleaning boots and grates. Leah Price neatly captures the multiplicity of print in the phrase “the few who read books and the many who use them.” (Leah Price, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain. Princeton UP, 2012; 9).)) Library Editions ensured that many nineteenth-century newspapers survived, even if in dispersed locations. But if a surprisingly large number of newspapers have survived, the effort to preserve them has never been simple, always complicated by their prevalence as well as the size of the nineteenth century press. John North, the tireless editor of the Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, estimates that the number of newspapers and periodicals published in England between 1800 and 1900 was approximately 73,000 individual titles. ((See Waterloo Directory, Series 3. http://www.victorianperiodicals.com/series3/index.asp [June 8, 2017].)) This vast scope meant that for institutional repositories, newspapers were a nightmare to collect and preserve. In his rich account on the “Archeology of Victorian Newspapers,” Paul Fyfe notes that the British Museum did not begin accessioning newsprint until 1822, a date that “marks the first systematic and institutional attempt to collect British newspapers as such.” ((Paul Fyfe, “An Archaeology of Victorian Newspapers” Victorian Periodicals Review, 49(4), Winter 2016, 546-577; 553.)) And it was not until 1869 that the legal deposit of newsprint was enforced at the British Museum. ((Fyfe, “Archeology,” 554.)) Fyfe’s granular account of the archiving and preservation of nineteenth-century newspapers suggests that the origins of some institutional collections lay in the state’s need to control or manage information: the Inland Revenue Office, charged with levying the “taxes on knowledge,” kept copies of all newspapers for evidentiary purposes, after which it “would ‘gift’ these copies to the [British] museum, a practice that continued until 1869.” ((Fyfe, “Archeology,” 554.)) In short, the pathway to preservation was not infrequently through the surveillance mechanisms of the state.
Fyfe’s purview does not extend to British colonial newspapers; though the story of their collection and preservation is not the primary focus of this paper, it does offers some preliminary notes on surveillance and preservation in colonial India. Any account of the archiving of Indian newspapers must attend to the long history of press and licensing acts and their role in the gathering and preserving of newspapers, both English-language and vernacular. The first newspaper in India appeared in 1780; it lasted but two years, and during its last ten months was printed from a prison cell. James Hicky, the editor and proprietor of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, was charged with libel by Warren Hastings, the Governor General, and Sir Elijah Impey, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Calcutta. The charge led to Hicky’s imprisonment and the eventual demise of his newspaper. ((P. Thankappan Nair. A History of the Calcutta Press, the Beginnings. Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1987; 56-60.)) But the genie could not be thrust back into the bottle: between 1780 and 1800, twenty-seven newspapers appeared in Calcutta, the capital of British India. ((Nair, History, 214.)) The regulation of this embryonic press followed quickly: the Press Regulation Act of 1799 sanctioned pre-publication censorship by the government, and the 1818 Press Regulation Act required editors to lodge one copy of every paper in the Secretary’s office. Though the most draconian censorship was lifted in 1835, the Indian press was continually monitored until 1857 when restrictions were renewed. ((Chanda, 415-16 and Nadir Ali Khan, A History of Urdu Journalism (1822-1857). Delhi, India: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, 2009 ; 10-11, 14, 24.))
In India, the content of newspapers, their attacks and challenges on authority led to their regulation. Whether a Hicky or Raja Rammohan Roy, a William Duane or James Silk Buckingham, successive Governments of India bristled against press coverage, charging editors or printers with libel or sedition for their critiques of government policy or actions. (Duane and Buckingham were deported from India, an option not available for Indians. ((Duane edited The World and was deported in 1794 (Chanda, 363). Buckingham started the Calcutta Journal in 1818 and was deported in 1823 for his criticisms of the government (Nair, 15-17; Chanda 421-36).)) ) Ironically, what made newspapers disposable from the perspective of preservationists – their content which was perceived to be transitory in nature – is precisely what made them threatening to colonial authorities. That threat led to their being monitored, collected, and preserved. Though the precise mechanism via which Indian newspapers have come to be lodged in the British Library today remains unclear, the “India Office Library” stamp at the start of the microfilms of a sample Indian newspaper [Fig. 2] reminds us of the symbiotic relation between state surveillance and archival preservation.
Those archives, however, have not always been accessible: the multiple relocation of the newspaper and periodical archives of the British Library, for instance, has meant hardship, particularly for scholars not London-based. ((Indian newspapers, I have been informed, were moved from the India Office Library to the British Library in 1982, and housed in Bush House where they were accessible two-days-a-week. Print copies were next moved to Woolwich, then Boston Spa, and then some to the basement of St. Pancras. (Private email from Margaret Makepeace, Jan 26, 2017). My own efforts to track down print copies of Indian newspapers have not been successful. Though microforms provide one type of data, they lack physical bibliographic information.)) More dauntingly, the explosion of print in the twentieth century has further jeopardized the archives of nineteenth-century print ephemera, as the pressure of space has led libraries to deaccession material deemed disposable. In making choices, Jerome McGann remarks, “rare manuscripts and books before 1800 are understood to be really important. Then comes the bourgeois nineteenth century, with all its popular culture and middle-class materials that seem so fragile and transient, without substance. The trashing of nineteenth-century material [in libraries] is immense and it continues to go on. That does not happen to eighteenth-century materials or seventeenth-century materials.” ((Hilary Fraser & Jerome McGann, “Nineteenth-Century Digital Worlds: Hilary Fraser Interviews Jerome McGann.” 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. 2015 (21). DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/ntn.758.)) If deaccessioning appears as one frightening path taken, digitization appears as the salvation. The digitization of historical newspapers and serials offers the promise of cauterizing if not reversing the material fragility of newspapers and their disuse in dispersed archives. The Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition, offering limited runs of six periodicals and newspapers, was one of the earliest such projects. ((http://www.ncse.ac.uk/index.html.)) In the last decade, the digitization of nineteenth-century newspapers has accelerated at a tremendous pace with the British Library’s 19th-Century British Library Newspapers, Gale Cengage’s 19th Century UK Periodicals, ProQuest’s British Periodicals, and Brightsolid’s British Newspaper Archive the primary digital repositories of nineteenth-century newspapers and periodicals. Collections of single titles – the (London) Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian/Observer, and the Spectator – offer additional resources for nineteenth-century researchers.
The digitization of nineteenth-century newspapers and periodicals – which includes accessibility in searchable form and, for technologically adept end-users, the potential for computational and data-mining projects – has and will alter periodical studies scholarship in ways that we can only dimly discern and feel our way towards. ((The Viral Texts Project at Northeastern University (https://viraltexts.org/), focused on US newspapers, is one such large-scale example. Fyfe’s “Archeology” mentions Gale’s offer of source files to academic researchers (547).)) In the final section of this paper, I offer an avenue for moving through the vast data that digitization offers; at this juncture, I want to make a case for approaching the digital archive with caution. Though economic questions are often bracketed by supporters of technology, ignoring them is indefensible, particularly as the promise of digitization is often premised on the democratization of the archive. With the exception of the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition and the Spectator which are open-source, all the digital projects named above lie behind paywalls. ((The US Library of Congress’s Chronicling America project, by contrast, is open-source, as is Welsh Newspapers Online and Trove, the Australian Newspaper Digitisation Project.)) Though some – the Guardian and Brightsolid’s British Newspaper Archive – allow for individual subscriptions, most only license institutions. And the price of subscription is dear, not only beyond the means of small institutions such as mine, but also exceeding the budget of many research libraries. The University of Washington library, the largest research library in the state of Washington, for example, does not subscribe to any British newspaper digital archives. (Two years ago, the library had a license to Chadwyck’s C19: The Nineteenth Century Index, an archive that consolidates 14 collections including ProQuest’s British Periodicals, but the subscription was not renewed).
One can hardly blame institutions for allowing subscriptions to lapse. Expense aside, the ecosystem of British newspaper and periodicals digital projects is a particularly unruly thicket, with widely divergent gaps and inexplicable overlaps between databases. For instance, ProQuest’s British Periodicals appears, currently, to have digitized only a sampling of seven years of the Friend of India, India’s most widely circulated and respectable Anglo-Indian newspaper. For a complete run of Friend of India, one needs access to Gale’s 19th Century UK Periodicals, a subscription that will not help if one wishes to consult Allen’s India Mail. ((Puzzling differences obtain in digital archives’ coverage: ProQuest’s Historical Newspaper Archives for the Times of India/Bombay Times is missing the July 1-December 31 numbers of 1857; those numbers, however, are readily available at the open-source Center for Research Libraries site (see https://dds.crl.edu/crldelivery/29718 ). Though digitized, the roughly fourteen months (February 1857 to April 1858) available on this site are not searchable.)) In short, a subscription to one archive is often more tantalizing than satisfying. This, of course, is hardly unique to the digital archive: like any print archive or library, each digital archive makes choices. The trouble – aside from the fact that to subscribe to all four of these archives would be exorbitant and outside the means of any but the richest institutions – is that learning the precise contents of each digital archive is no simple matter. Faced with this bewildering terrain, one might be forgiven for calculating that it is simpler to travel to London, check in at the Indian YMCA, walk to the British Library, obtain a reader’s pass, and use the resources available there – which, of course, include print, microfilm, and digital versions. ((Andrew Prescott notes that the British Library’s response to those who criticize the outsourcing of digitization to commercial enterprises – the records, they say, can be accessed for free in the BL’s reading rooms – “seems to miss a lot of the point of digitisation.” http://digitalriffs.blogspot.com/2014/02/dennis-paywall-menace-stalks-archives.html Feb 2014. [June 8, 2017].)) In other words: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Compounding matters of access are broader questions about the range of the digital archive. Currently, only a small percentage of surviving nineteenth-century newspapers are digitally available. Laurel Brake, who has done more to ensure the careful digitization of nineteenth-century newspapers, estimates that a decade into the process, less than1% of surviving nineteenth-century newspapers – themselves a fraction of printed papers – have been digitized. ((Laurel Brake and James Mussell, J., (2015). “Digital Nineteenth-Century Serials for the Twenty-First Century: A Conversation.” 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. 2015(21). DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/ntn.761.)) In “Chronicling White America,” Benjamin Fagan addresses the “racial politics of periodical digitization,” which in the US context amounts to this sobering fact: of pre-1865 newspapers digitized by Chronicling America, not a single one is a black newspaper. ((Benjamin Fagan, “Chronicling White America,” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism 26.1 (2016): 10-13; 10-11.)) My own experience with colonial papers mirrors Fagan’s experience, though the archive is daily expanding. ((The Bengal Hurkaru, Calcutta’s flagship daily, appears to have been digitized in late 2014, although the British Library’s website did not indicate this for many months.)) Even under the aegis of the most aggressive and ambitious digitization schemes, however, the archive will necessarily remain partial. As both Brake and James Mussell, the visionaries behind some of the earliest digitization projects, warn: choices about what gets digitalized have their analog in the decisions previous archivists made about serials they saved and those that landed in the dust bin. Brake insists we not forget that “the digital format is [only] the latest reconstruction.” ((Brake & Mussell, “Digital Nineteenth-Century Serials for the Twenty-First Century.”)) Fyfe concretizes the issue the (re)remediation of newspapers into digital form raise by pointing out that the British Library’s digital newspaper records are created from microfilms which themselves represent a mere 5-30% of the library’s print collection, an archive already titled towards metropolitan print. ((Fyfe, “An Archaeology,” 554, 559.)) In short, any conclusions drawn from the digital archives of newspapers will continue to be contingent (as the archive expands and refreshes), but also always partial, as partial as the archive it draws on which can never capture the entirety of newspapers printed in the nineteenth century.
Wendy Chun, the new media theorist, offers additional cautions, this time about the platform itself. Though Chun’s seminal essay “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future is a Memory” is concerned with a platform – the Internet and its products such as email, blogs, social media – that seems removed from newspapers, a number of her correctives are pertinent to this study. Chun warns that champions of new media have an “overriding belief in digital media as memory;” for them, digital media, with “memory at its core, was supposed to solve, if not dissolve, archival problems such as degrading celluloid or scratched vinyl.” ((Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory” Critical Inquiry 35.1 (Autumn 2008): 148-171; 169; 153-4.)) Chun, by contrast, insists that the Internet – or more properly, computer ROM – is merely storage that, because it continually refreshes itself, appears as memory. ((Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral,” 167.)) For her, the danger of the “conflation of memory and storage” is that storage, a static function, is equated with “memory [which] is an active process.” Memory is degenerative. And human. The belief that a machine with permanent storage can halt or reverse degeneration is a fantasy for, as Chun eloquently puts it, “Memory is an act of commemoration – a process of recollecting or remembering.” ((Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral,” 165.)) Thus, rather than attempt to create and store “an ever-increasing archive in which no piece of data is lost,” Chun urges us to memorialize. ((Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral,” 164.)) Though she does not specify what such remembering might look like or how it might be achieved, her essay displaces the machine’s storage capacities for the active and human work of memory. “The machine alone,” she insists, “cannot turn ‘an information explosion into a knowledge explosion.’” ((Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral,” 165.))
Chun’s attention to the human, not machine, capacity for memory and particularly her distinction between an information vs. knowledge explosion is echoed in Jerome McGann’s A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction. Accepting, with tongue firmly in cheek, that “[i]t is a truth now universally acknowledged: that the whole of our cultural inheritance has to be recurated and reedited in digital forms and institutional structures,” ((Jerome McGann, A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), 1.)) McGann notes that today we face vast amounts of data and the ability to “quickly annotate just about anything we’ve never heard of.” In light of such overproduction of data, the task of humanists, McGann argues, is to aid in “knowing” our pasts rather than simply gazing helplessly upon a load of information that allows us only to “know about” those pasts. ((McGann, A New Republic of Letters, 14.)) Like Chun, McGann draws a “distinction between forms of memory – i.e., the stored data… – and the human persons who access and use it.” ((McGann, 15. In this deeply humanist book, McGann, one of the forefathers of digitization, writes: “only living things – perhaps even only people – have memories…[M]emory is how we take care of what we love and lose” (15). And Mussell, another champion of digitization, writes: “Ephemera, when it survives, allows us to glimpse the material that we have chosen to forget. It exposes the cultural practice of memory, marking the space between history as memorialised and the past as lived.” (Mussell, “Passing,” 78).)) In a world overflowing with digital and data-mining tools that threaten to drown us, these two advocates of digital media foreground human acts of memory and memorialization over storage-and-recall in order to preserve the past and secure the future. ((That the human and machine are not antagonists but must work in tandem is nowhere more evident than in the high error rate of digital searches. Amusing stories of false hits abound; in the Indian context, false positives rise due to the Anglo-American coded machine’s unfamiliarity with Indian words and variations in transcribing them into English. A search in Chronicling America for “Jotee” – itself but one variant spelling of the name of the Indian commissariat involved in the 1851 trial against the Government of India – brings up a promising 276 hits. But what the machine reader actually catches is: “jokes,” “jones,” “Joyce,” “Books,” “Posted,” “vote,” “United,” and “José” – in short, anything but “Jotee.” (Chronicling America search for “Jotee” between 1850-1858, conducted on Jan 14, 2017).))
What might such “human acts” of memorialization look like? Recently, Catherine Robson has recounted her hybrid searching experiences, a mashup of what she calls “newfangled and oldfangled ways” of negotiating print and digital archives. ((Catherine Robson, “How We Search Now: New and Old Ways of Digging Up Wolfe’s ‘Sir John Moore,’” Virtual Victorians: Networks, Connections, Technologies, eds. Veronica Alfano and Andrew Stauffer (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), 11-28. (13).)) Drawing on her mixed-media searching experience, she concludes that “our default methodology [is] not an either/or, but a continual switching between” new and oldfangled “techniques of detection,” each of which “require different reading and analytic practices, and produce markedly different results.” ((Robson, “How We Search Now,” 23 & 14.)) While many scholars, particularly those trained in literary studies, follow Robson’s strategy and toggle between print and digital archives and code-switch between analytic strategies, it is not unusual for newspaper and periodical studies scholars to increasingly work only in a digital environment. In the face of the avalanche of information that digitization makes available, what tools might we deploy to harness the volume of data? The keyword search is currently the method of choice to navigate digital archives, though many of us undertake it gingerly in order to avoid what Harry Cocks and Matthew Rubery call “the tyranny of the keyword search, which… means we parachute into the middle of a print jungle and ignore the nature of the ecosystem.” ((Cocks, Harry & Matthew Rubery, “Margins of Print: Ephemera, Print Culture and Lost Histories of the Newspaper.” Media History, 18:1 (2012); 2.)) Such searches ignore what Mussell identifies as a central feature of nineteenth-century newspapers and periodicals, their “miscellaneity and seriality” in which articles are part of a “composite…larger whole.” ((James Mussell, The Nineteenth-Century Press in the Digital Age (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 30.)) The keyword search, instead, hones in on the single “hit” at the expense of the whole, producing research outcomes that run the risk of over-determination.
As we move cautiously in developing methods to navigate the mass of material made suddenly available, I want to turn to a sorting mechanism that predates our moment and emerged as a precursor to the memorialization Chun and McGann urge in the face of an information tsunami. Before digitalization appeared to save newspapers from their transience, the medium had developed its own low-tech mode of survival: the editorial work of scissors-and-paste. This practice is worth attending to and following because it both offers insight into a nineteenth century method of memorializing and offers a way to navigate the staggering extent of the newspaper archive. Scissors-and-paste was a sourcing technique that pre-dated syndication and that consisted of newspapers’ culling and reprinting articles or excerpts of articles from other journals. (Today, the term is used interchangeably to refer to two distinct practices: reprinting-and-referencing pieces from other sources, as well as unacknowledged citation from another source. ((Bob Nicholson’s article on the circulation of transatlantic jokes relies on clippings from “unattributed sources” (“‘You Kick the Bucket; We Do the Rest!’: Jokes and the Culture of Reprinting in the Transatlantic Press.” Journal of Victorian Culture Vol. 17, No. 3, September 2012, 273-286; 275), as does M.H. Beal’s four-part blog “Musings on a Multimodal Analysis of Scissors-and-Paste Journalism” as well <http://mhbeals.com/multimodal/>. Catherine Freely notes that scissors-and-paste “actually covered a number of different editorial strategies, ranging from agreed syndication to unacknowledged piracy” [“‘Scissors-and-Paste’ Journalism,” Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ed. by Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (London; Academia Press, 2009), 561].)) I use scissors-and-paste here to refer only to cited reprints). The method was pervasive in the industry; by some accounts, the job of an editor consisted of little more than rapidly scanning dozens of other newspapers, marking sections, and handing them to the typesetter for resetting in new frames and one’s own columns. ((Lucy Brown, Victorian News and Newspapers. OUP, 1985; 85. On resetting, see Laurel Brake, “’Time’s Turbulence’: Mapping Journalism Networks.” Victorian Periodicals Review 44.2 (Summer 2011): 115-127; 119.))
Though a common practice in the trade, scissors-and-paste was often spoken of disparagingly. As early as 1825, a writer in the Gentleman’s Magazine complained that all it took to start a miscellany was “Two youngsters…out of employment. One…can use the scissars and paste; the other carry a board, and hawk about numbers. [Thus] a twopenny work is resolved on, which is to surpass all others for public utility and general information.” ((Jonathan R. Topham, “John Limbird, Thomas Byerley, and the Production of Cheap Periodicals in the 1820s,” Book History 8 (2005): 75–106; 77.)) Henry Vizetelly, the prolific printer, correspondent for the Illustrated London News, and editor of his own illustrated periodical, derided an editor whom he called a “crapulent hack compiler whose books [and periodicals] were prepared using scissors and paste.” ((Topham, “John Limbird,” 86.)) Scholars have been less acid, though they have tended to identify the practice with provincial newspapers. The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, Victorian Periodical Studies’ first encyclopedic collection, describes scissors-and-paste as “a staple newsgathering technique of provincial papers.” ((Freely, Dictionary, 561.)) And the historian Lucy Brown writes that provincial newspapers “could not hope to offer more than a few items of local news, a leading article, and a great deal of scissors and paste.” ((Brown, Victorian News, 83.))
Despite this perception, scissors-and-paste was widely deployed by newspapers of all sizes, stipes, and locales. Will Slauter, writing about eighteenth-century British newspapers, and Ryan Cordell on nineteenth-century U.S. newspapers note that neither was abashed about including copy from other newspapers. Eighteenth-century editors insisted that their reprintings served readers’ interests and purses because they selected from a wide range of sources, juxtaposed multiple versions of events, created debates with their juxtapositions, and enabled the spread of news. ((Will Slauter, “Upright Piracy: Understanding the Lack of Copyright for Journalism in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” Book History 16 (2013); 34-61 (40-54).)) And U.S. editors averred that their copy was “of higher and more consistent quality than newspapers written entirely by locals.” ((Ryan Cordell, “Viral Textuality in Nineteenth-Century US Newspaper Exchanges.” Virtual Victorians: Networks, Connections, Technologies, eds. Veronica Alfano and Andrew Stauffer. Palgrave MacMillan, 2015; 29-56 (39). Meredith McGill writes that editors of 19th-century US periodicals “repeatedly invoke[d] editing as a principle of refinement that sifts out essays of lesser worth and those that are too local in their field of reference.” American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003; 26.)) Rather than a piratical practice of the provinces, then, scissor-and-paste was wide-spread, propelled by small staffs and high costs, and functioned as a creative process of culling that editors, “provincial” and metropolitan, used to create a horizon of news relevant for their readers.
Scissors-and-paste is kin to another nineteenth-century editorial practice: anthologizing. Leah Price’s attention to literary anthologies that began to appear in large numbers in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries offers a useful parallel. Much like scissors-and-paste which extracted snippets from a variety of news sources, anthologies undertook to abridge, expurgate, and compile from numerous literary texts. And like the practice of news “poaching” that was both widely practiced and routinely disparaged, anthologies were simultaneously popular and assailed for their lack of originality. ((Leah Price, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 74-5.)) Price’s discussion of literary anthologies shifts attention from aesthetic categories to social ones, demonstrating that the market for anthologies had almost everything to do with copyright laws. The lapse of perpetual copyright in 1774, along with more stringent laws for reprinting recent publications created the anthology, a money-making endeavor for publishers and a favorite of readers. Referring to the editor as an “amanuensis [who] represented a community instead of expressing a self,” Price argues that editors imposed order on a burgeoning “information overload.” ((Price, Anthology, 67-8; 77.)) This order did more than abbreviate or limit what was available, and Price urges us to consider the “liberating potential of the combinatory structure” of anthologies. ((Price, Anthology, 3.)) Slauter’s work on “piracy” in eighteenth-century newspapers echoes Price’s insights. In the absence of clear copyright law for newsprint and prior to the emergence of news agencies such as the Press Association, ((See Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 450-1 and 503-5.)) newspapers existed in what Slauter calls “a fluid textual environment.”” ((Slauter, “Upright Piracy,” 37.))
In the landscape of Indian newspapers, scissors-and-paste functioned much as it did in Britain and the US, though as a colony India was doubly “provincialized.” Because Indian journalism was a fledgling enterprise and few newspapers had standing correspondents, culling and reprinting stories from other newspapers served as a form of intelligence gathering. Thus, the Calcutta-based Bengal Hurkaru “covered” the war in the Punjab or the dry season in Aligarh by reprinting reports from the Meerut-based Mofussilite, closer at hand to the events, and every Indian newspaper reported on the sensational 1851 trial of Joti Prasad vs. the East India Company by reproducing the Agra Messenger’s extensive transcripts and reports. Indeed, every Anglo-Indian newspaper, large or small, metropolitan or provincial, had both an “Epitome of News” and a “Spirit of the Press” section that consisted of clippings from news outlets from Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Agra, Karachi, Lahore, Benares, Ceylon, Egypt, London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Sydney, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and more. These sections not only occupied considerable real estate in each issue – easily out-numbering the newspaper’s own leaders and reports – but also kept papers from being too local or provincial.
A central feature of this culture of reprints, one shaped by transport and communication networks and the consequent “size” of the globe in the mid-nineteenth century, was a spatio-temporal factor that created what I will refer to as a news item’s tail. ((Writing of the US context in the 1840s, McGill refers to “the sense of up-to-dateness that is achieved by reperiodizing” previous pieces. (McGill, American Literature, 5; 26).)) Communication networks in mid-nineteenth century India were a patchwork of emergent and residual forms. The telegraph was fledgling, introduced in 1855, and for much of the mid-century secondary to the dâk or mail. ((C. A. Bayly, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 318.)) Moreover, while Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras each had a handful of dailies, many Anglo-Indian newspapers were bi-, tri-, or plain weeklies. Consequently, the lag between the gathering and reporting of news could be considerable; the distribution and circulation of newspapers, and the selection and reprinting of items from one newspaper to another added further time, anywhere from two to four weeks within India, longer when the news came from or travelled overseas. News and newspapers in the mid-nineteenth-century Indian landscape, then, were not quite ephemeral. They had an endurance, shelf-life, circulation, and reach – a tail or “staggered temporality” – that far exceeds our own news cycles or conception of news as quickly stale and transitory. ((McGill, American Literature, 5.))
My two cases of scissors-and-paste are emblematic of the customary ways the practice was deployed; they accentuate the endurance of newsprint as it was disseminated and circulated in nineteenth-century India and beyond. The first case illustrates one editor’s use of the practice to thwart the censor, broaden readers’ horizons, and create a “story” that would endure, while the second illuminates some of the ways we might use reprinting to trace nineteenth-century practices of history-making. Of these two cases, one relies exclusively on non-digital archives and sleuthing, the second on a combination of print and digital archives. Together they highlight issues of dissemination and memorialization, even as they illuminate methodological conundrums we face as we tack between digital and non-digital versions of the archive.
The globe-circulating letter I started with captures many of the features of scissors-and-paste, its evasion of censors adding a subversive flip to the Anglo-American culture of reprints. When Lloyd’s published “A Letter From the North-West,” it appeared in the paper’s news section – flanked by a report on the Queen’s weekly activities; an account of the resolution of an 1846 murder; a report on the “pestilential stench” wafting into the House of Commons from the Thames; and a short report of the Association for the Repeal of the Taxes on Knowledge’s latest meeting – with only the briefest introduction: “We have received the following letter from a distinguished gentleman, serving in India.” ((“A Letter From the North-West” Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, June 27, 1858, No. 814, 7.)) Two months later, on August 26, 1858, the identical letter appeared in the Serampore-based weekly Friend of India. ((Serampore (today Srirampur) is 45 miles north of Calcutta. It was the headquarters of the Baptist Mission Society and its press, which published the Friend of India. The paper’s editor and long-time proprietor was John Marshman, son of Joshua Marshman, a co-founder with William Carey of the Baptist Mission. Notwithstanding this lineage, Marshman Jr. insisted that his newspaper was “not an organ of the Missionary cause” (Chanda, 49).)) Identical, that is, but for the attribution:
“A Letter From the North West.” (from Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, June 27.) ((“A Letter From the North West,” The Friend of India, August 26, 1858, 805.))
The Mofussilite’s version appeared only a week later, on September 7, 1858 – and cited its source as Lloyds, as well! ((“A Letter From the North West,” The Mofussilite, September 7, 1858, 571.)) Thus, a letter the Mofussilite editor received in May 1858 developed, to the extent that I have been able to follow it in the non-digitized landscape of Indian newspapers, a shelf life or tail of at least five months. The ephemeral is indeed, in Chun’s evocative characterization, enduring. ((Chun writes that the endurance of “old email messages forever circulated and rediscovered as new” (148) is a matter of consternation equally to those who believed the Internet was ephemeral and now wish to expunge their records and to those who subscribe to a “blind belief in digital media as [non-degenerative] memory” (169).))
Chun argues that “Repetition is … not the evidence of thought wasted but of thought disseminated.” ((Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral,” 160.)) The Mofussilite editor’s canny manipulation of the editorial practice in order to create a series of reprints to advance a provocative political position illuminates the fine line between the tedium of repetition and its intensifying function. The editor acted on two intuitive understandings: (1) that each reprint stood on its own, separate from its immediate environment and thus detachable from it (the Friend’s politics were not Lloyd’s or the Mofussilite’s), and (2) that the density of the reprints gave the views in the letter legitimacy. Scissors-and-paste was here deployed to create an archive or canon of opinion; circulation was deployed in the service of circumvention. This is not memory-making in the sense McGann and Chun mean it when they write of the need to sort and create usable canons. But it is a mode of selecting and history-making used by nineteenth-century editors, and was the outcome of factors structural to the newspaper business. In the colonial Indian context, it was furthermore utilized to legitimately evade state surveillance. As we negotiate our own way through the growing information overload, we will inevitably lean on the available canons that coalesced and were created in newspapers. Learning how such canons emerged – in this case, the editor’s candid confession that appeared in a leader, a few pages distant from the paper’s “reprint” of the letter itself – provides a salutary lesson in navigating the density of reprints cautiously and attentively to the eco-systems they emerge from. Printing a strongly-worded letter criticizing Lord Canning’s government for “making-believe to govern” might indicate an endorsement of the opinion. Certainly the letter’s appearance in Lloyd’s and in the Mofussilite supports that reading; but the letter’s inclusion in the Friend of India was the result of the newspaper’s adherence to the principle of airing a variety of views from rival newspapers, even those it disagreed with. Only time in the eco-systems of these newspapers allows us to make such granular distinctions and assertions confidently.
My next case of scissors-and-paste also underscores the ephemerality and endurance of the archive, though this example speaks more directly to our moves as researchers through the archives. The case comes from the tumultuous days of the 1857 Uprising itself. During the siege of Agra, the self-same Mofussilite went silent for almost four months. Following the June 30, 1857 issue, the next number of the Mofussilite in the British Library microfilm is from Oct 27, 1857. The microfilm registers this absence, but offers no explanation, and Raju Gusain, a journalist, blogger, and Lang enthusiast, claims that the same numbers are also missing in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi. ((Raju Gusain, “John Lang Missed Chance to Cover 1857 Sepoy Mutiny,” http://writerjohnlang.blogspot.com/ [June 11, 2017].)) Given the political instability of the moment, one explanation for this gap is that the newspaper was simply unable to continue publication. Agra was under siege and in late June 1857 its European inhabitants retreated to the Fort. That the Mofussilite might have suffered the fate of its contemporary, the Delhi Gazette, whose equipment was impounded by insurgents, is conceivable. ((The Delhi Gazette’s presses were seized and its editor S. G. T. Heatley killed soon after insurgents marched into Delhi on May 11 (William Dalrymple, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 (New York: Vintage, 2008), 128).)) Alternatively, the government’s skittishness and the Mofussilite’s history of government-baiting make it plausible that the newspaper ran afoul of the Gagging Act. After all, the more mainstream and cautious Bengal Hurkaru, Calcutta’s largest daily, had its license revoked in September 1857; only the replacement of its editor led to its reopening five days later. ((S.C. Sanial, “History of Journalism in India, IV” in Calcutta Review, April 1909, 195-247; 202.)) The favored explanation for the four-month gap of the Mofussilite is that the newspaper published objectionable, likely pro-rebel material, and was shuttered. AustLit, a site created by Australian archivists and scholars, writes that “As [The Mofussilite] carried anti-government reports, its file copies were destroyed.” The claim of resistance to imperial authority and alignment with Indian rebels is tantalizing and has circulated among the small handful of Mofussilite-enthusiasts; it was offered to me by an archivist at the British Library as a potential explanation for the missing numbers. ((Personal communication with Patrick Casey, Serials Librarian, Asia Pacific & Africa Collections, The British Library, July 1, 2011.))
Though a narrative of political resistance appeals to our postcolonial sensibilities, the censorship argument does not hold up. The practice of scissors-and-paste and many hours in the microfilm archives of Anglo-Indian newspapers reveals that the Mofussilite never went dark during those four months. The Calcutta papers regularly reprinted reports from the Mofussilite’s pages between June 30 and October 27, the period of the archival gap. To wit: on August 4, the Bengal Hurkaru included a small notice that began “The Mofussilite of the 3rd ultimo [i.e. July 3], informs us….,” ((Bengal Hurkaru, 4 August, 1857; 118.)) and on August 10 the Hurkaru included a story from the Mofussilite’s July 15 number that reported that the Agra paper had been obliged to move into the Fort from where it now printed its copy. ((Bengal Hurkaru, 10 August, 1857; 140. See also: “Mr. Gibbons of the Moff. who brought in a portion of his Press materials with him publishes a paper now pretty regularly” (Bengal Hurkaru, 8 September 1857, 239). The Bombay Times’s correspondent more generally reports that the Mofussilite’s “Managers thereof managed to save materials but sufficient to go on with the printing of their paper” (Bombay Times, July 28, 1857, 1421).)) Moreover, excerpts from the Mofussilite that appear in this and other news outlets indicate that the Mofussilite’s reports were anything but “anti-government.” ((For instance, the Hurkaru writes that the Mofussilite reported on “the excellence of the arrangements of the authorities [in the Fort]” (Bengal Hurkaru, 19 August, 1857, 171); the Bombay Times’s correspondent in Agra, however, disagreed and referred to “the utter incompetency of our authorities, civil and military” (Bombay Times, July 28, 1857, 1421). ))
Why copies of the Mofussilite are missing in the official record is not entirely clear, but the likeliest explanation is related to obstructions in the postal service. Thus, on September 8 the Hurkaru notes that it received a letter from Agra whose “envelope bears a G.P.O. mark indicating its receipt by the Presidency Post Office,” an occurrence singular enough in those tumultuous days to draw attention. And the letter from Agra itself reports that while letters could leave the city, “newspapers cannot be sent just yet.” ((Bengal Hurkaru, 8 September, 1857; 239.)) That copies of the Mofussilite did leave Agra indicates the workings of alternative modes of transport outside the official postal service; these alternatives would explain why the missing numbers were never collected by the post office and deposited in the relevant government office.
As scissors-and-paste clears up one mystery, reprints and a broader digital archive point to a wider trans-national network of newspaper exchanges. Amongst the many stories and snippets of news from the Mofussilite that were reprinted in other newspapers was its account of the July 5 Battle of Agra, which appeared in its July 15 number. The Bombay Times reprinted this report on July 28 and the Hurkaru several weeks later. ((“Agra,” Bombay Times, July 28, 1857, 1422 and “(From the Mofussilite, July 15.)” Bengal Hurkaru, August 10, 1857: 140.)) This account of the battle went “viral” and reprints of either the entire report or excerpted versions of it appeared in dozens of British newspapers throughout the autumn of 1857. ((Cordell discusses the Viral Texts project and the group’s reasons for settling on this metaphor (“Viral Textuality,” 32-36).)) In the digital archives, I have traced reprints of the account in the Morning Post, the (London) Times, the Dublin Evening Mail, the Stirling Observer, and The Examiner. ((Morning Post, August 29, 1857: 5; The Times, August 29, 1857: 9; Dublin Evening Mail, August 31, 1857: n.p.; Stirling Observer, September 3, 1857: 4; and The Examiner, September 19, 1857: 597. )) The London Times and the Dublin Evening Mail published the full account as it appeared in the Bombay Times; the rest published excerpts. Every paper that reprinted the story cited the Mofussilite as its source, though it is unlikely that many of them subscribed to the Mofussilite and virtually impossible that during this period of instability they were able to procure a copy of that newspaper. Because newspapers’ custom was the cite the original source of a reprint, not the immediate source the editor culled a story from, it is not possible to trace the precise pathways of this busy network of exchanges and borrowings. The earliest UK accounts I have identified were the Morning Post and Times, and their source was likely the Bombay Times. ((During the Uprising, with roadways in the central plains blocked, mail from Agra headed west to Bombay from where it traveled on to Britain or around the peninsula via steamer to Calcutta. The Hurkaru notes this route as early as June 23, 1857 (591), and subsequently headlined this mode of transmission: “News From the North West Provinces via Bombay: Another Account of the Battle of Agra,” Bengal Hurkaru, 20 August, 1857, 176.)) The 32 days between the appearance of the account in the Bombay Times and the Morning Post/Times – July 28 and August 29 – is sufficient for the roughly 30 days it generally took for the mailbag to move in a combination of sea and land routes from India to London. ((Graham Dawson, Soldier Heroes: British Adventure, Empire, and the Imagining of Masculinities. (New York: Routledge, 1994); 84-5. The telegraph between Britain and India was introduced in 1847 but was used only for brief messages.))
For an archival researcher invested in memory and memorializing, the irony of this tracking is that in the face of the very material archival gap, I learned about the survival of the Mofussilite due of the practice of scissors-and-paste and about the dissemination of its Battle of Agra report because of an assortment of Irish newspapers available on a pay-per-view genealogy site. (My access to digitized newspapers behind paywalls came later). My (inadvertent) research strategy was hybrid, mixing old-fashioned sleuthing in a non-digitized archive with forays into a digital environment. In both archives, the nineteenth-century practice of scissors-and-paste was essential to excavating the story of state surveillance and efforts to circumvent it in colonial India. While print (or microfilm) and digital archives appear opposed, I want to close by suggesting less that they are antithetical as that they be deployed in careful conjunction with one another. A digital search that turns up copy after copy of copy of the same letter or leader or story – as happens all too often – is numbing and leads to the dismissal of this practice. Such repetition, as Chun warns, reads like “evidence of thought wasted,” and can blind us to the ways a letter or story is excerpted and placed in each newspaper. ((Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral,” 160.)) The digital archive, even as it brings up reprints, obscures the contours of the practice of scissors-and-paste and its functions. In the nineteenth century, reprinting and excerpting from other newspapers functioned to create a shared database of information and news. The circulation and recirculation of particular items or stories not only ensured an astonishing geographical outreach and endurance, but acted as a Greek chorus of sorts, a collective voice that filtered a plethora of sources to create a canon of historical memory. Editors who undertook the work of scissors-and-paste acted both as instruments and barometers of public memorializing. As we access an archive that has recently morphed from seemingly-ephemeral to enduring and overwhelming, we do well to remain alert to historical forms of memorialization that have shaped the archive we have inherited, even as we develop methods of sorting and sifting that are native to our hybrid archival moment. These methods must, particularly when navigating a colonial archive, remain alert to state surveillance and the politics of preservation that continue to shape what we can recuperate.