Old USA (Unicycling Society of America) Newsletters now available online!

It’s a very rare occasion when I actually create a thread here, but this is definitely a worthy occasion! I was exchanging some history information with USA President Mark Atkinson and USA Historian Carol Brichford, where he had requested a timeline of all the past presidents of the organization. This lead to discussions of other historical stuff, and Carol and I digging out old copies of the USA Newsletter to look things up.

I told Mark of past efforts by people to scan and index the old USA publications, but to date, nobody had followed through on such a project so they were becoming lost to history. As a relative newcomer, he didn’t even know of their existence! Same is probably true for most of you that will read this.

The Unicycling Society of America was founded in 1973 by Bill Jenack of Westbury, New York, along with a group of correspondents and friends of his. They made the organization official after hosting the first “true” National Unicycle Meet in Pontiac, Michigan in 1973. USA Founder Bill Jenack produced a quarterly Newsletter for the first few years. Then it was taken over by Carol Brichford, of the family that created the Redford Township Unicycle Club. I was an editor from 1982-84, and also later on.

Anyway, there was a ton of great information in those old Newsletters, and you might really enjoy having a look at them. Also, the Unicycling Society is looking for someone who might want to run some OCR software on these PDFs to make them indexable and searchable. That would be a really great service to the organization if you know someone who has the time and the know-how.

Oh. Want a link?

They are presented in reverse order, so a purist might want to start at the bottom. Those were the issues Mark received in his first batch, and I expect he will soon post some more. This is the publication that was later called On One Wheel, and was an online magazine for a few years, before being basically replaced by “the Internet”.

Have a read, and try to get a feel for the unicycling world back before we had instant communications, actual unicycle stores, and more than one major unicycle event per year!

Let me know if you have any questions.

What a great archive.

However those scans aren’t as good as they could be because the operator made a very common mistake by the use of jpg image format to scan hard contrast images (eg text or line art).

The jpg format (Joint Photographic experts Group) is designed to store photographs with very efficient compression. Unfortunately using that compression for line art results in what looks like smudges in the white space between the characters.

Much better to use png (Portable Network Graphics) format. A high resolution two colour (B&W) or grey scale makes far better use of the bytes without the smudge.

Anyway its done now and doesn’t really matter because the resolution is very high. The originals are obviously quite sharp and OCR process will deal with the jpg smudges. The downside is transmitting the scans will require extra bandwidth.

Just worth remembering this tip for any future scanning.

I will definitely pass that along to Mark. At the same time, those scans look pretty faithful to the originals, smudges and all. 40+ year old pieces of paper and all…

But yes we should definitely capture with the best image format to match the content, especially as it gets into more photos and tighter dot patterns…

What a goldmine!

Did these ever get archived in a searchable index? Also, has anyone put together a companion timeline?

I’m fascinated by this… I started unicycling some time in 1973-75 ish. In all these years, was not aware there was an organization!

And … I actually do have both scanning and database skills.

What a great archive!

I clicked on the year I was born and found what happened in unicycling history- Wally Watts on his round the world trip. How amazing is that?

The couple I just looked at were OCR’d.

Not that I know of, and not that I know of.

The USA is an entirely volunteer-run organization, and if you’d like to get involved, that would be great! You should come out to Nationals next year (full name NAUCC; the ugliest name ever). It’s not too horribly far from Lancaster, being in Madison, WI. I hear the Madison group puts on an excellent convention, though I had to miss their first two…

Would somebody with the proper skills be able to work with those existing images, or would better scans be required? I have copies of all of them. I actually even have the original paste-ups of Bill Jenack’s early issues. I don’t know what kind of condition they’re in now, but they’ve been preserved. :slight_smile: