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Thursday, December 1, 2022

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An in memoriam for President George Washington is featured in the collection.

Treasure Trove from America's Past

A gift from alumni George and Dorothy Codling sheds light on life in the late 18th century.
By Coleen L. Geraghty, video by Jeneene Chatowsky

“I’m told there are voids in the historical knowledge of our country during that era. This collection will fill in some of the voids.”

A veritable time capsule from the years following the American Revolution is now part of San Diego State University’s Special Collections and University Archives.

Alumni George (’67) and Dorothy (’66) Codling have donated the Codling Newspaper Collection, two bound volumes of late 18th century American newspapers valued at $80,000.

Published in the years from 1792 to 1800, the newspapers include articles about the death of George Washington and details of his will; the trial and execution of Louis XVI of France; and interviews with America’s second president, John Adams.

“I’m told there are voids in the historical knowledge of our country during that era,” George Codling said. “This collection will fill in some of the voids.”

Vivid descriptions

Codling’s great grandfather, an Albany bookseller, collected and bound 28 issues of the Albany (New York) Register and 62 issues of The Bee (New London, Connecticut). His collection became a prized family possession.

“The newspapers contain vivid descriptions of life at that time,” Codling said. “Dorothy and I wanted it to be in a place where scholars could appreciate the historical value and use the information.”

Not only is the collection an historical gold mine, it is also a national treasure, according to Gale Etschmaier, dean of the SDSU Library and Information Access, and Robert Ray, director of Special Collections.

“These newspapers reflect an ongoing fascination by the American people with developments in France, especially the French Revolution,” Ray said. “At the time, France was the United States’ closest ally in Europe.”

Aztecs for Life

The Codlings have been generous donors to The Campaign for SDSU, supporting Aztec Athletics, the College of Business Administration and veterans programs. Dorothy is also a former board member of the Campanile Foundation, the university’s philanthropic foundation.

"We, along with many family members, are graduates of SDSU," Codling said. "It has always been a good university, and now it's getting stronger. We are pleased to add to the resources there, and we look forward to the university's continued growth as a nationally recognized educational institution."