For 50 years, The Hellenic Chronicle served as a primary source of information about happenings in the Greek-American community.
Through its weekly coverage, the Chronicle covered topics from the expansion of the Archdiocese to cultural organizations — as well as professional success and personal celebrations of individuals and families alike.
The paper has been closed for nearly 20 years and, up until now, its historic contents have been scarcely accessible to the public. The only ways to access the contents are either manually scouring microfiche at the Boston Public Library — or sifting through deteriorating archival pages in bound volumes at The Archbishop Iakovos Library on the Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology campus in Brookline, MA.
But these materials have rapidly deteriorated over time, and as they fall apart — so does the important cultural history contained within their 54,000 cumulative pages documenting decades of an immigrant community’s journey in America.
“They are literally crumbling like filo dough left on the kitchen counter,” former editor-in-chief Nancy Agris Savage told The Boston Herald in an interview. “The Greek-American community has just exploded in the United States and the history of it is about to disappear if we don’t do something about it.”
Savage, who is the daughter of Hellenic Chronicle founder Peter Agris, is leading a fundraising campaign to raise $50,000 in order to fully digitize all of the newspaper’s 50-year archives. She said these funds will cover all digitization expenses — and amount to less than half of what it would cost to hire a data preservation company.
Savage is leading the effort in collaboration with the Boston-based Alpha Omega Council and together their aim is to preserve the Chronicle’s contents and make them easily available for future generations.
If they meet the fundraising goal, the duo plans to create a searchable database which would offer high-speed search, retrieval and manipulation of all Hellenic Chronicle articles and photographs in JPG and PDF formats.
The contents at stake? An upwards of 54,000 pages — all of which will be lost if not digitized and housed online.
The video below outlines the campaign details.
More than 25% of The Hellenic Chronicle’s issues from 1950-1960 remain missing and various articles have been removed over the years. Savage encourages anyone who owns any such copies to email her directly.
“It was the first weekly journalistic vehicle that was American in form, but Greek in substance,” she said. “It is a rich archive of the coming of age of Greeks in America.”
Savage said that past supporters of the paper include public figures such as former U.S. Representative Paul Tsongas, former White House spokesman and ABC TV host George Stephanopoulos and former governor and 1988 presidential candidate Mike Dukakis.
People who wish to support the fundraising effort can make tax-deductible donations payable to: “The Alpha Omega Council” (with memo line Hellenic Chronicle Digitization Project) and mail to: Alpha Omega Council, PO Box 752, Foxboro, MA 02035.