An anniversary to remember

‘The Mini Page’ was introduced to readers in 1969.

On Aug. 31, 1969, the award-winning, weekly newspaper feature The Mini Page debuted, and this year marks its 50th anniversary. It is a valuable educational resource, read and adored by people of all ages — from students and teachers to parents and English language learners.

Creator and founding editor Betty Debnam was raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a lineage of newspaper editors in her family (father, grandmother and grandfather). It was during her 12-year career in elementary education that she discovered and developed the idea for The Mini Page. In the beginning, Debnam explored a different topic each week, in the form of curated articles, photographs, puzzles, jokes, facts, recipes and references.

At its height, The Mini Page was syndicated in more than 500 U.S. papers, including The Washington Post and The Raleigh News and Observer, which was the first paper to carry the feature. Today, it is a colorful, one-page broadsheet newspaper that educates, entertains and inspires readers to learn more about the topics that interest them — and some they’ve never before considered.

Debnam answered fan mail in 1970.

Since 1977, first Universal Press Syndicate, and now Andrews McMeel Syndication, has been proud to offer The Mini Page to newspapers. In 2007, Debnam entrusted AMS with her creation to carry on producing in-house. She implored us to uphold the high standards she had set, and we have worked hard to meet her expectations while recognizing the constraints of the modern newspaper industry and making appropriate adjustments.

“For me, The Mini Page has offered a creative outlet and the opportunity to learn along with readers,” said Lisa Tarry, senior editor of The Mini Page. “I’ve had the privilege of working with fascinating sources and invaluable contributors, along with all the folks at AMS who make The Mini Page a reality every week.”

Debnam conducted a 1986 interview with U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger.

An archive of Debnam’s issues as editor from 1969 to 2007 can be found online at her alma mater, the UNC Chapel Hill library. In honor of The Mini Page’s 50th anniversary, NC State University and Hiller Spires put together a commemorative video capturing Debnam’s vision of and reflections on the feature.

“I want to be remembered as an educator. One who helped bring powerful content to children. … And one who made a difference,” said Debnam in the close of the video.

Andrews McMeel thanks Debnam, newspaper editors and The Mini Page readers for their continued support, and looks forward to many years to come.