I wrote in 2009 (at http://goo.gl/nu6W8x) about the Fulton History web site, a great FREE collection of old newspapers, photographs, and post cards. Tom Tryniski, the site's owner, continues to add many more newspapers every week. When I wrote about the web site four and a half years ago, the collection included 10,258,000 newspaper pages. That has since grown to 26,108,000 pages at last count. Not bad for the work of one retired person! Actually, "retired" is probably the wrong word to describe how Tom Tryniski spends his days.
Since 1999, Tryniski has devoted his own time and money to digitizing and uploading records of the past using scanners, several PCs, and word recognition software that makes the newspapers searchable. This one person, with little funding, has digitized more newspapers than most of the well-funded efforts created by larger organizations, each with a staff of professionals.
For instance, in March 2013, online news outlet ReasonTV released a video comparing Tryniski’s work to the Library of Congress’ “Chronicling America” collection. Using $22 million in grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chronicling America has digitized nearly seven million pages. That’s about $3 per newspaper page in costs to taxpayers. In contrast, Tom Tryniski's Fulton History web site has placed almost four times as many newspaper pages online, all at zero cost to the taxpayers and zero cost to users. He does accept donations, however.
In 1999, Tryniski invested in a microfilm scanner for $3,500. “I produced over four million images with that scanner,” he said. He has since purchased more hardware, including scanners, PCs, web servers, and more.
At http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html, Tryniski states:
This website is a searchable repository of many of the old Newspapers published in New York State. The old Newspapers found on this site has have been scanned by production grade Wicks and Wilson Microfilm scanners which, in the author's opinion, are the finest available. The microfilm for this site was obtained from the State of New York Newspaper Project (1970s early 1980’s) and/or from libraries, historical societies, or private individuals who wanted to share what they had.
A number of microfilm companies filmed the old newspapers for the Newspaper Project. Some of the filming was of very poor quality newsprint (faded, torn, creased, excessive ink bleed) so that an acceptable image (for OCR) was next to impossible to obtain. The results are a perfect example of WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get.
Tom Tryniski originally focused on newspapers from Fulton County, New York, and the surrounding area. However, he has since added newspapers from New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Tryniski has created multiple backup copies of his archive just in case. “I’m not going to let it drop off the internet if something happens to me,” he said.
The index of all available newspapers may be found at http://fultonhistory.com/my%20photo%20albums/All%20Newspapers/index.html. That is the address of the first page of the index; you can click on links there to look at the following five pages of the index.
The entire Fulton History web site is available at http://www.fultonhistory.com/. I found the site a bit confusing to navigate for the first-time visitor. You might start by clicking through the first page, then clicking on FAQ_HELP_INDEX.