[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny
96°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 23
1982 - Vic Morrow & two child actors killed in helicopter crash at Indian Dunes during filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
Twilight Zone Movie


| Tuesday, Apr 2, 2019
Richard Budman, co-owner-publisher of The Signal, has donated an estimated 1 million negative, print and digital images from the newspaper's archives dating back to the 1970s to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.
Richard Budman, owner and publisher of The Signal, points out boxes of photo negatives in his storage unit as he prepares to transfer them to the SCV Historical Society. Photos: Leon Worden.

 

The owner of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper has donated the entire Signal Photo Archive – an estimated 1 million individual negatives, prints and digital images documenting the goings-on in the SCV from at least the 1960s to the early 2000s – to the nonprofit Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.

“On behalf of The Signal newspaper, I am very happy to donate our photo and negative archives to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society,” Signal Publisher Richard Budman said.

“The Signal has chronicled the rich history of the SCV for the past 100 years, and with this donation, these images will be made available to the citizens of the SCV for all to see and enjoy,” said Budman, who along with his wife, Chris, purchased the century-old newspaper last June.

The transfer took place Friday.

“We are very grateful to The Signal for giving us this opportunity to be the custodian of this amazing, massive archive of photographs,” said Alan Pollack, president of the Historical Society, which in 1975 embarked on a mission “to preserve the best of the past for the good of the future.”

“It’s a huge increase in the documentation of our valley’s history for the last half-century that we’ll be able to explore and preserve for the future,” Pollack said. “We intend to preserve the images and eventually get them digitized so they will be available to the public.”

Under the terms of The Signal’s donation letter, the images are to be accessible for any noncommercial use.

“Through this donation, it is my intention that the images be made available for the education and enjoyment of the Santa Clarita Valley community and its public, nonprofit, educational and governmental institutions,” Budman wrote.

Some of the nearly 100 boxes containing an estimated 1 million negative and digital images from The Signal newspaper's archives dating back to the 1970s.

Boxes containing an estimated 1 million negative and digital images from The Signal newspaper’s archives are packed up for transport Friday.

Budman’s gift to the Historical Society came about as an unexpected result of a video documentary that the local community television station SCVTV produced for the paper’s 100th anniversary in February 2019.

Longtime Signal Photo Department chief Dan Watson, one of the key Signal staffers who was interviewed, mentioned the existence of the photo archive to SCVTV President Leon Worden while the documentary was in production late last year.

“I was floored when Dan told me the photos still exist,” said Worden, who is also vice president of the Historical Society and a former Signal editor from 1998-2007. “Those of us who worked at The Signal had always been told that prior publishers threw things away. But Dan diligently preserved all of the negatives going back at least to the mid-1960s.”

Watson, a fourth-generation community news photographer, is last in a line of 10 Watson photographers. (His two daughters have successfully pursued other professional careers, he said.) He is  co-curator of the Watson family photo archive, whose first glass-plate negatives were made in 1888. Watson family news photos were published in the L.A. papers for decades; one of them is the most famous same-day aerial view of the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster.

Dan Watson, Signal photographer, describes some of the camera gear he has used over the years to document events in the Santa Clarita Valley. | Screen cap from February 2019 SCVTV "Signal 100" video documentary.

Signal photographer Dan Watson shows the camera gear he used over the years to document events in the Santa Clarita Valley. Screenshot from the SCVTV documentary, “The Mighty Signal: The First 100 Years.”

“I took the Signal job in 1998 because I always liked small community news and wanted to learn the computers,” Watson said. “The daily (photo) shooting – I like finding the features around the valley, meeting interesting people, the veterans, the older people, and the daily sports. I like to shoot all that stuff.”

Upon Watson’s arrival, The Signal’s photo archive mainly consisted of prints and negatives dating back only about 50 years, even though the paper was established in 1919. “There was nothing earlier,” he said. He reorganized the archive and began keeping the negatives in an ever-expanding collection of large three-ring binders.

“In 2000 we went digital, so there are also a lot of discs in the archive,” Watson said. “I was very meticulous about archiving those discs with names and dates. I put the published photos on a disc for each month, and then all the raw stuff, too, from each photographer. I kept beating guys over the head to do it.”

Watson left The Signal in 2003 and rejoined in 2009, when the paper was still owned by Savannah, Georgia-based Morris Multimedia Inc. Budman published the paper for Morris from 2004-2007 and held a minority interest in it at that time.

Effective January 1, 2016, Southland newspaper veteran Chuck Champion and partners bought The Signal from Morris Multimedia. The paper’s building on Creekside Road in Valencia was sold, and the operation moved to Diamond Place in the Centre Pointe business park in the middle of town.

“When (The Signal) moved, I packed up about 90 large boxes of photos,” Watson said. Champion had them moved to an off-site storage unit for safekeeping.

Watson and Champion parted company in March 2017, but Watson returned to the paper after Richard and Chris Budman took over in June 2018.

“There’s a lot of Signal ink in my blood, definitely,” the photographer said of his relationship with the paper. “And there’s a lot of my blood on the streets of Santa Clarita.”

Dial up the clock a few months, and Watson’s chance revelation of the huge cache of priceless SCV history stashed in a Signal storage unit spurred Worden to contact Budman.

The two news men visited the storage unit Budman inherited when he bought the paper and found the boxes stacked against the back wall. Someone other than Watson had mislabeled them.

City of Santa Clarita staffers pack up some of the nearly 100 boxes containing an estimated 1 million negative and digital images from The Signal newspaper's archives dating back to the 1970s.

City of Santa Clarita staffers pack up nearly 100 boxes containing an estimated 1 million negative and digital images from The Signal newspaper’s archives.

“It’s more than 50 years of SCV history,” Worden said. “It’s everything. It’s everything that happened in this valley, professionally photographed, in real time – from the establishment of our institutions like COC and the hospital and Magic Mountain to our tragedies, like the Newhall Incident, to our triumphs, like the creation of the City of Santa Clarita, and on and on.”

Now the question was: Where would the Historical Society safely store the boxes as it began to organize and catalog a million images?

City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who is also a member of the SCV Historical Society board of directors, stepped up.

“I was asked if there was a place where the Historical Society could store these photos as we were getting them organized and copied because that’s a very time-consuming, long-range undertaking,” she said.

Weste and City Manager Ken Striplin arranged to have the Signal Photo Archive stored in a secure city facility, at least temporarily, where it is also storing The Signal’s historic linotype machine.

“I really appreciate that The Signal has kept all this and that now the SCV Historical Society and SCVTV are getting it taken care of, with a little help from the city,” Weste said. (SCVTV, also a 501c3 nonprofit organization, maintains the SCVHistory.com digital archive.)

“It’s really a collaborative effort and means so much to all of us,” Weste said. “It means our community will be able to look at the images and enjoy them, to study and learn about the area, see the way we lived through the years. And they’ll be there forever. If we didn’t do this now, they could have been lost forever.”

Weste said she’s especially grateful to Budman for making the donation before that could happen.

“I think Richard, God bless him, just really cares about capturing and keeping the history of the valley alive,” she said. “He knows that the time is now and the opportunity is here, and if we do this now, there’s something to pay forward and give to future generations. So his donation is just an amazing, miraculous opportunity and a wonderful gift to the community. I’m thrilled.”

A City of Santa Clarita staffer packs up some of the nearly 100 boxes containing an estimated 1 million negative and digital images from The Signal newspaper's archives dating back to the 1970s.

Boxes containing a half-century of Signal images are loaded for transport to a secure city facility.

The Signal Photo Archive is now safely stored and under the watchful eye of Shannon Vonnegut, who became Santa Clarita Librarian on July 1 when the city took over direct management of its library system. The city previously contracted with an independent library operator.

“The city has identified the need to preserve Santa Clarita’s history, so we’re in the process of hiring a Local History Librarian who will be based at the Newhall Library,” said Vonnegut, who has a personal passion for history and studied archiving in library school. “We have completed interviews and now we’re in the process of background checks and tentative offers to possible candidates.

“We’ve been working with Leon and soon will be working with the SCV Historical Society,” she said. “I’m really excited to be able to help the library with the preservation and cataloging of all of these artifacts.”

“Nobody should expect access right away,” Worden cautioned. “It will take an army of people years to scan and archive a million images.

“Even if we weed out the Pet of the Week from 1972,” he said, “it’s still a half-million historically important photos. And yes, we’re always looking for more volunteers. Who knows what’s in there, waiting to be rediscovered after all these years?”

To inquire about volunteering, email Worden at Lworden@scvtv.com.

Reflecting on the SCV Historical Society’s own history, Worden said what started as a trickle has become a flood.

“Twenty-five or 30 years ago the Society would get one new historical photo every six months or so, and we’d be really excited about it,” said Worden, who along with The Signal’s IT manager put the newspaper online in 1998. “Then with the Internet, it was one a month, one a week, one a day. Last year, annualized, we were taking in more than a dozen new images or documents every day.

“And now, here are 1 million individual images in a single day. It’s a huge deal.”

 

Reporter Stephen K. Peeples was a Signal features writer from 2004-2006 and the paper’s award-winning online editor from 2007-2011.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. jim says:

    Way to go, all y’all!

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019
Heat Advisory Issued for SCV Wednesday
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Advisory for Wednesday, July 24, as high temperatures (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) have been forecast for the following areas: - Santa Clarita Valley - San Fernando Valley - San Gabriel Valley
Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019
HazMat Crews Respond to Possible Corrosive Material in Castaic
HazMat crews were called to the suspected illegal dumping of a corrosive material in Castaic on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019
Air Pollution Linked to LA County’s Largest Drop in Life Expectancy
(CN) – Concentrations of fine particulate matter in U.S. skies lead to thousands of deaths annually and have shortened life expectancy despite efforts to curb pollution, a study found Tuesday.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
You’re invited to attend the Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library “Half-Price Huge Book Sale” event at the Valencia Library on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a chance to discover some great summer reads at a bargain price.
Aug. 17: Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library Book Sale
Get ready for Queen Nation to rock your world on Saturday, July 27. The Queen tribute band will perform during this year’s Concerts in the Park series, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union.
Queen Tribute Band to Rock You at Concerts in the Park
College of the Canyons is the only community college selected to participate in the Bringing Theory to Practice’s (BTtoP) Partnerships for Listening and Action by Communities and Educators (PLACE) initiative, a collaborative network of academic-community partnerships focused on civic-engagement and public-humanities work.
COC Only Community College Selected to Participate in PLACE Initiative
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Advisory for Wednesday, July 24, as high temperatures (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) have been forecast for the following areas: - Santa Clarita Valley - San Fernando Valley - San Gabriel Valley
Heat Advisory Issued for SCV Wednesday
HazMat crews were called to the suspected illegal dumping of a corrosive material in Castaic on Tuesday morning.
HazMat Crews Respond to Possible Corrosive Material in Castaic
The SCV Chamber is proud to announce it will host a Current Affairs Forum with special guest, U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce.
July 30: Current Affairs Forum with U.S. Rep. Katie Hill
The California Enterprise Development Authority will hold a teleconference meeting Thursday, July 25, at 10:30 a.m.
July 25: California Enterprise Development Authority Teleconference Meeting
(CN) – Concentrations of fine particulate matter in U.S. skies lead to thousands of deaths annually and have shortened life expectancy despite efforts to curb pollution, a study found Tuesday.
Air Pollution Linked to LA County’s Largest Drop in Life Expectancy
Downtown Newhall’s brightest new star, the Newhall Press Room wine bar and restaurant, was recently presented with a very enviable honor: Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence.
Newhall Press Room Honored with Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence
U.S. Air Force Airman Lean Lukas G. Aguilar graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.
Saugus High Alumnus Graduates from Basic Military Training
Palmdale Sheriff’s Station deputies patrolling Monday night responded quickly to sounds of gunshots in an Acton neighborhood and discovered a resident shooting at a snake.
Deputies Respond to Rattlesnake-Related Gunshots in Acton
1982 - Vic Morrow & two child actors killed in helicopter crash at Indian Dunes during filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
Twilight Zone Movie
Veronica Alvarez, Ed.D., began her tenure last week as CalArts' new director of the Community Arts Partnership Program, or CAP, which offers free after-school and school-based arts programs for youth ages 4-18.
Alvarez Brings Arts Education, Commitment to Social Justice to CAP
The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation is offering a new jobs resource for SCV companies -- LiveWorkSCV.com, a comprehensive, highly visible job board that matches SCV career opportunities with SCV residents who want a job closer to home.
LiveWorkSCV – New Jobs Resource for Local Employers
FBI agents searched the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Monday morning as part of an ongoing investigation.
FBI Raids Los Angeles DWP, City Attorney Offices
Tickets are on sale and sponsorships are still available for the nonprofit WiSH Foundation's fifth annual "Cocktails on the Roof" fundraiser for Hart District schools at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall on Friday, Sept. 6.
Sept. 6: ‘Cocktails on the Roof’ Fundraiser
Taylor Snyder (pictured above) blasted a three-run home run in the fifth inning to help the JetHawks to a 7-2 win over the San Jose Giants on Monday afternoon at Excite Ballpark.
Snyder Homers, JetHawks Topple Giants Monday
Amar A. Singh, a Los Angeles man, was arrested Friday on suspicion of child cruelty for allegedly kicking the 2-year-old son of his friends while attending a party at the couple's Canyon Country residence.
Family Friend Accused of Kicking Couple’s Toddler
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center opened its doors to Nikki Dail on Sunday to talk about her travels through Belize.
NCA Board Member Talks About Her Journey Through Belize
A shoplifting suspect was also arrested on a felony drug possession charge after deputies allegedly discovered narcotics on him at the Sheriff’s Station.
Shoplifting Suspect Charged with Felony Drug Possession
The city of Santa Clarita and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will co-host a pair of advanced Smart Gardening Workshops at two local Santa Clarita Library branches in August and September.
City Libraries to Host Smart Gardening Workshops
Taylor Snyder went deep in his second straight game, and Lucas Gilbreath set a season-high for strikeouts, but the JetHawks fell to the San Jose Giants, 4-3, on Sunday evening in San Jose.
Gilbreath Strikeouts Hit Season High in JetHawks Loss
TV series, reality shows and music videos are among the productions now filming in the Santa Clarita Valley aka “Hollywood North” the week of July 22-28.
Now Filming in SCV: TV Series, Reality Shows, Music Videos
The First Peoples Fund and the Pukúu Cultural Community Services coordinated to bring the two-day Native Artist Professional Development Training course for indigenous artists to California Institute of the Arts on Friday and Saturday.
Indigenous Artists Receive Professional Training at CalArts
%d bloggers like this: