State Historical Society of Iowa to Digitally Preserve more than 12 Million Pages of Newspapers, Some as Old as the 1830s

The following announcement was written by the Advantage Companies, a Cedar Rapids business with a division dedicated to the preservation and digital access of historical newspapers:

DES MOINES – The process to save the first draft of Iowa history just got a lot smoother.

The State Historical Society of Iowa today unveiled a sweeping new plan to preserve more than 12 million pages of newspapers in its collection, giving Iowans greater access to more than 300 titles dating to the state’s pioneer days in the 1830s.

Under the authority of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the State Historical Society has signed a 5-year contract to loan the newspapers to the Advantage Companies, a Cedar Rapids business with a division dedicated to the preservation and digital access of historical newspapers. Advantage will take on the ambitious new project at no cost to the state, and ownership of the physical newspapers will remain with the State Historical Society.

Advantage and the State Historical Society have already partnered on several preservation projects since 2011. But the new agreement clears the way for Advantage technicians to increase and accelerate the preservation of newspapers dating back to 1837, all of which have been gathered from communities and publishers statewide.

Starting this spring, the newspapers stored at the State Historical Building in Des Moines will be transported to Advantage’s secure 80,000-square-foot records-management facility in Cedar Rapids. Technicians will first photograph the pages onto microfilm (which remains the gold standard for newspaper preservation) and then digitally scan the microfilm to provide wider access to the public. Advantage will take similar steps in the future with newspapers at the State Historical Society’s Centennial Building in Iowa City.

“Continuing to preserve Iowa’s fragile historical newspapers and increasing public access to the collection in a sustainable way have always been high priorities for the State Historical Society,” State Archivist Anthony Jahn said. “In our exhaustive efforts to develop the best solution, the importance of newspapers to every community statewide was top of mind and drove our work to position 180 years of historical newspapers for the benefit of all Iowans.”

Advantage Preservation, the division of the company that focuses on microfilming and digitizing newspapers, will continue to work with local publishers to negotiate copyrights. Content printed before 1924 is considered fair use; content published since then belongs to the publisher.

“As an Iowa company, Advantage is excited to take an even more active role in preserving Iowa newspapers,” Advantage Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Kiley said. “We believe the preservation of our collective history is a shared responsibility, and we’re proud to continue our work with the state of Iowa to ensure that our ‘first draft of history’ is available for current and future generations.”

Advantage also plans to explore ways to make Iowa’s historical newspapers more accessible to Iowa students as a classroom resource.

The soon-to-be microfilmed and digitized newspapers will enhance the State Historical Society’s vast collection of previously microfilmed content, which currently comprises more than 24 million pages from more than 650 statewide titles on more than 44,000 rolls of microfilm.

Anyone can access the state’s newspaper collection, free of charge, by visiting the State Historical Society of Iowa Research Centers during the recently expanded hours of 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust St. in Des Moines, and the Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Ave. in Iowa City.

Bundled newspapers fill floor-to-rafter shelves in storage at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

Rolls of microfilmed newspapers fill a drawer at the State Historical Society’s branch in Iowa City.

Digitized versions of historic newspapers make research easier than ever.

###

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the State Office of Media Production – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowans to foster creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations. www.iowaculture.gov

The Advantage Companies, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, consist of three divisions that share in the mission of preserving, protecting and providing digital access to printed documents. Advantage offers secure document storage, document conversion services, and historical document preservation solutions to organizations across the United States. Advantage Preservation is a division of Advantage Companies and focuses exclusively on newspaper collections. Newspapers are microfilmed and stored in accordance to ANSI/AIIM standards for long-term preservation. Digitization of newspaper microfilm is an enhancement to the preservation process and a means to unlock content that would otherwise be impractical to access. www.advantage-companies.com

5 Comments

Will these filmed papers also find their way into the Cronicling America archives files?

Like

I am surprised that they can still buy the raw microfilm.

I note the press release states that Iowa will still own the ‘physical’ newspapers. Does that mean the electronic versions will be owned by Advantage and that there will be a charge for access?

Like

Are the newspapers indexed? I have lost these two Sherman sisters in Iowa after the 1870 census in which it seems Eunice was possibly enumerated 3 times and her sister Mary twice.

1870 Census: Ward 3, P.O. Dubuque, Dubuque Co., IA, 12 JUL 1870
775/742 Donoghue, Eunice 28 WI, keeping house
Watkins, Mary 40 WI, seamstress
Frank 1 IA

1870 Census: Ward 4, P.O. Dubuque, Dubuque Co., IA, 25 JUL 1870
619/600 J. M. Rice family
Sherman, Eunice 28 NY, domestic servant
626/607 Dunn, Michael 49 Ireland, stone mason
Margaret 35 Ireland, keeping house
Watkins, Mary 39 NY, keeping house
Franklin 4mos. IA
Donahoe, Eunice 28 NY, laundress

Like

Don’t hold your breath waiting for this project to begin or end. Iowa is afraid of the internet and anything connected to it. I know. I live there.

Like

My library has also just contracted with Advantage Microfilm to film and digitize some of our papers. As like our contract (I’m assuming) Iowa will still own the rights, they should be receiving the scans on external drives for storage. Advantage builds a fully searchable website for access to the records (at a really modest cost to the customer). In our library’s case, the largest cost is the price for the microfilm, the digitization is relatively inexpensive.

Like

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

%d bloggers like this: