Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at The Museum is the grand opening of an exhibit about this newspaper — the Index-Journal — which is celebrating its centennial this year. The Index-Journal’s first edition was published Feb. 6, 1919.
As one of the last family-owned newspapers in South Carolina, “A Family Affair — A Century of Publishing a Daily Newspaper” looks at the origins and evolution of the Lakelands’ number one source for local news and information.
Marion Smith, The Museum’s exhibits coordinator, said for him, putting together this exhibit has been an interesting look into “how we as human beings receive information.”
Three different components make up the exhibit, Smith said, noting it looks at the Index-Journal’s history, evolution of the printed word from ancient times to present and an exhibit on The Museum’s vintage typewriters.
“We actually have a typewriter in our collection that is more than 100 years old,” Smith said. “Some of those things are heavy.”
The Index-Journal was founded in 1919, with the merger of two earlier papers, the Greenwood Evening Index and the Greenwood Daily Journal.
Its first owner and editor was Harry Legare Watson, who continued in that capacity for the rest of his life, until 1956. Watson’s daughters inherited the paper and then it was sold to three longtime executives: circulation manager Frank Mundy, advertising manager Bill Wilson and editor Ed Chaffin. The three agreed that survivors would have opportunity to purchase shares of any partner who died.
Under that agreement, control of the paper first devolved to Chaffin and Mundy and then to Mundy alone. Mundy’s widow, Eleanor, took over the paper in 1982 and left it to her daughter, Judith Mundy Burns, in 1998. Burns is the current owner and publisher.
This daily paper has weathered tremendous change in the newspaper industry as well as changes in its community and the world, chronicling more than 25 United States presidents, the civil rights movement, natural disasters and historic events at home and abroad, giving special focus to local news, sports and features.
While its current press, installed in 2003, can produce an impressive 35,000 papers in an hour, the Index-Journal had state-of-the-art technology even in its early days. It was one of the first papers in South Carolina to purchase a typesetting machine known as a Linotype, which at the time of its heyday revolutionized publishing.
“The most fascinating thing to me is the Linotype machine,” Smith said, noting The Museum has one from the Index-Journal, located on its lower level, to be part of a permanent Index-Journal exhibit in 2020, along with a typeset chest.
Both items were too heavy to move upstairs, Smith said.
“People will be able to watch a film of a Linotype in motion,” Smith said. “It’s incredible that the thing works. It must have a thousand moving parts in it and dipping pieces in lead.”
Next year will also usher in permanent exhibits downstairs at The Museum on other longtime businesses still in operation in Greenwood — including Blyth Funeral Home and Countybank, Smith said, as well as “A Carolina Kitchen” highlighting vintage kitchens.
“A Family Affair” also includes a film about a teletype machine, used by news outlets such as The Associated Press to print out news updates — long before the advent of social media or Twitter. One of these machines, used by the AP, is also in The Museum’s collection.
Another film, one produced this year about the Index-Journal, will be on view in The Museum’s cinema.
“It’s a unique thing in this day and age for a paper to be family-owned,” Smith said. “This newspaper’s commitment to local news is impressive. People make it happen every day.”
Vintage photographs, old newspaper articles and advertisements, with department stores promoting bed sheets for as little as dollar, are part of the exhibit.
“The push to buy local is not a new thing,” Smith said. “The Index-Journal had an ad in 1939 encouraging people to ‘buy at home.’”
Now, a seven-morning daily, the Index-Journal’s publications also include special editions, the weekly Lakelands Connector, So Lakelands magazine and its digital formats, including the e-edition and website, indexjournal.com.