Historic issues of The Mini Page, the weekly newspaper feature beloved of young readers, parents, and teachers, are new again. The UNC Library has released The Mini Page online digital archive featuring nearly 2,000 Mini Page issues, from the inaugural publication of Aug. 29, 1969, through April 21, 2007.
Debnam, a member of the UNC class of 1952, created The Mini Page for The News & Observer of Raleigh. For many years, she was The Mini Page’s sole reporter, editor, and layout artist, and even developed and sold advertising to sustain the supplement after its launch.
From its beginning, The Mini Page has used easy-to-understand text, images, games, puzzles, and recipes to teach elementary readers about newsworthy topics in such fields as government, science, history, holidays, and world cultures. Debnam also originated a cast of memorable characters that continue to appear: Alpha Betty, Rookie Cookie, Mighty Funny, Peter Penguin, Mini Spy, and other favorites.
In 1972, MSC Features, Inc., syndicated the feature, followed in 1977 by Universal Press Syndicate. In 2007, Debnam sold The Mini Page to Universal (now Universal Uclick), which continues to publish it.
In 2009, Debnam donated her collection of back issues, along with Mini Page activity books, greeting cards, teaching guides, and related items to the UNC Library.
It was clear that the Library had received a collection of interest to educators, parents, nostalgic adults, and young Mini Page fans, and that it ought to be placed online, said Biff Hollingsworth, archivist in the Southern Historical Collection.
“People who learned about the archive would tell us how they used to love The Mini Page when they were kids, or how their own children read it now,” said Hollingsworth. He said the Library also heard about teachers and homeschoolers who incorporate The Mini Page in lesson plans because it presents accurate information in a way that engages young readers.
The online archive, part of UNC’s Carolina Digital Library and Archives, uses pdf files that capture each issue as it appeared in papers. Visitors can browse through the entire collection chronologically or by title, or can search for issues about specific people, places, or topics. Additional features, such as new search options and highlights, will be coming soon.
- The Mini Page online archive
- The Mini Page Collection at the UNC Library (finding aid to the collection)
- Southern Historical Collection
- Carolina Digital Library and Archives
- “The Mini Page is digitized, archived and online for all” (News & Observer, Feb. 12, 2011)