Photo Information

Editions of the Camp Pendleton Scout Newspaper are stored in the History and Museum Division archive at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, March 4, 2024. The scout ran from 1943 to 2009 informing MCB Camp Pendleton service members, families and local communities about Marine Corps and installation activities, updates, and news. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Adrian Estrada)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Adrian Estrada

Keeping the Scout’s History Alive

4 Mar 2024 | Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, CALIF. - The fate of the Camp Pendleton Scout Newspaper’s illustrious history hangs in the balance, teetering on the brink of obscurity, seeking to be seen. The vital documentation of past events and achievements the Scout once produced serves as a crucial link to our organization's legacy and overall identity. To keep this valuable piece of heritage alive, it must be properly archived.

The Scout ran from 1943 to 2009, reporting on the happenings of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, with everything from historical events of the first female sergeant major of the base to Marilyn Monroe visiting the troops and everything in between. Every edition of the Scout preserved the history of the base.

Records of historical significance should be safeguarded for future generations. History links us to our past, providing insight into the rich tapestry of human experience and achievements. Protecting and properly archiving these precious documents, photographs, and artifacts, ensuring they are accessible for research, education, and inspiration for years to come.

William Murtagh, the first Keeper of the Records for the National Register for Historic Places, once said, "It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future."

Over 66 years of stories, events, and history within the Scout sit locked in the History and Museum Division archive at MCB Camp Pendleton, without much attention or fanfare. These articles hold the stories of MCB Camp Pendleton and the Marines stationed there throughout the years, and now the Camp Pendleton Historical Society is working to preserve those articles through the digitizing process.

The CPHS’s goal is to have the Scout completely digitized and accessible online by 2025. Then, the public would be able to easily access the archives on the CPHS website.

Digitizing ensures physical content remains safe and easily accessible in case of any unforeseen circumstances, such as fire or flood. By using digital preservation methods, you are not only protecting valuable information from physical harm but also guaranteeing it will remain intact for future reference or retrieval purposes.

"For one, it would preserve [the Scout], if anything ever happened, we would have a digital copy of it," said Robert “Bo” Hellman, Secretary of the CPHS.

However, the process of digitizing years of information is more challenging than it might seem. One of the difficulties for the CPHS is storing some of the oldest products, which are extremely sensitive. The CPHS also stores microfilm, and if stored properly, it has a shelf life of about 500 years.

Microfilm is a highly reliable long-term storage solution, particularly when it comes to things like historical records, but there are precise storage requirements to achieve this. The storing of microfilm requires a climate-controlled area at all times and be inspected every 2 to 5 years, depending on the year produced, according to the National Archives.

"Another challenge that comes is the process of microfilm,” said Hellman. “Some of the films the Camp Pendleton History and Museum Division have are skewed because they did not come in flat film."

The preserving and digitizing of documents correctly can be tedious and meticulous.

“My wife Deb used to be a photojournalism instructor," said Hellman. “She had to cut the bindings, which makes it easier to lay it on the flatbed scanner, then scan to an optical character recognition, to become keyword searchable later.”

Digital scanning and document management solutions offer cutting-edge technology to help streamline and modernize workflow. By digitizing these documents, it can eliminate the need for physical storage space and reduce the risk of lost or misplaced files. Advanced scanning technology ensures high-quality digital copies with precise image capture and text recognition capabilities, allowing the document to be keyword-searchable.

Keywords or phrases play a crucial role in helping the public navigate the vast expanse of information available on the internet, to eventually include the nearly seven decades of the Scout.

“With this [CPHS] website, users can look up a keyword to easily find the article they are looking for. If Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe were in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton in 1963 and you were wondering if anyone ever wrote an article about them, you could quickly look this up,” said Hellman.

In the digital age, information is constantly at our fingertips. While we may no longer read print newspapers often, getting accurate news is still a necessity, and the digitized Scout publications will only aid in that necessity.

“Let's pull this great resource out of the dark and make it available to everybody,” said Hellman.

The Scout was crucial to not only MCB Camp Pendleton but also to the entire region. For decades, the Scout informed military members, surrounding communities, and their families about Marine Corps and installation activities, updates, and news. After the Scout archive becomes digitized, it will allow the public to access the vast history of the installation with more ease.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton