Centennial Watch: Arizona’s 100th year begins

Arizona Centennial logoArizona Statehood Day has arrived, and it’s a big one, kicking off a year-long series of events and commemorations that will lead up to the state’s centennial on Feb. 14, 2012.

Many of the dozens of events and projects that will mark the coming year are being tracked on the website of the Arizona Centennial Commission. The commission’s website also features a pre-statehood timeline of Arizona history, educational activities for teachers to employ with K-12 students, and a selection of oral histories and essays by Arizonans about the state.

The state’s largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, has dedicated a section of its own website to marking the centennial via Arizonans’ personal stories. The Arizona Storytellers project, produced with the Republic‘s sister outlet, 12 News, and in collaboration with South Mountain Community College and Arizona State University, features an expansive collection of videos–some professionally produced, others produced and submitted independently by residents.

Southern Arizona’s largest newspaper has also created a special centennial section on its website, but is taking a different approach. Over the coming year, the Arizona Daily Star‘s Arizona at 100 project is each day reprinting a story or story excerpt from the past century’s archives of the Daily Star and the Tucson Citizen. The articles vary broadly, from a short note about Tucson’s efforts in 1912 to control smallpox to a police-beat report on the capture of members of a notorious boxcar gang.

Meanwhile, the East Valley Tribune published several articles this weekend to mark the beginning of Arizona’s 100th year, including a set of thumbnail profiles of important figures in Arizona’s history, a history timeline, a catalog of distinctive Arizona historical trivia, and a narrative retrospective on the most important drivers of the state’s historical development.

As an accompanying news article in the Tribune notes, more elaborate plans to celebrate the centennial that had been in development for years by local governments and the state have been trimmed back because of continuing budget shortfalls. The Arizona Legislature, for example, was forced to sweep a $5 million allotment for centennial events to close the state deficit.

One signature project, the restoration of the Arizona State Capitol’s copper dome, has become an educational effort targeting K-8 students, with an accompanying fundraising component. The Arizona CENTennial Penny Drive is aiming to collect at least $45,000, one coin at a time, between now and April 11.

The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership will follow this initial glance at coverage of Arizona’s centennial commemorations with additional reports about our state’s first 100 years and what today’s civic leaders are doing to ensure a stronger Arizona in its second century.

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