South Milwaukee Wants to Digitize Its Newspapers to Preserve the City’s History. But It Needs $15,000 to Do It

Hopefully, some genealogical or historical societies n the area can launch a fund drive or a GoFundMe campaign to help preserve old newspapers by digitizing them. According to an article by Erik S. Hamley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The South Milwaukee Library has three drawers of microfilm but none if it can be read because the reader and printer are broken. An effort is underway to digitize the microfilm which includes newspapers from 1892 to 2006 along with some census information. (Photo: Submitted)

“An effort is underway to save the first draft of South Milwaukee’s history.

“More than 100 rolls of 35mm microfilm containing South Milwaukee newspapers from 1892 to 2006 are currently not readable.

Historic Archives of Collapsed Thomas Cook Have Been Sold to the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland

This could be a great resource for genealogists researching employees of Thomas Cook Travel. It also contains some passenger lists but certainly not all of them. Quoting from an article by Paul Grinnell in the Peterborough Telegraph web site:

The archives that were for years stored in the Thomas Cook offices in Bretton and more recently at Lynch Wood have been sold to the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.

The record office, which is run by Leicestershire County Council with Leicester City Council and Rutland County Council, secured the right to house the internationally significant collection following a bidding process following the holiday giant’s collapse last year with the loss of at least 1,000 jobs in Peterborough.

The entire Thomas Cook archive, which encompasses records from the earliest days of package travel right up to the modern day, is now being transferred to the record office in Wigston, Leicester.

Museum Of Chinese In America Archives “Very Much Salvageable” After Fire

The archives of the Museum of Chinese in America may be in better shape than feared, after a five-alarm fire destroyed part of the Chinatown building where they were kept.

City workers began the process of recovering the museum’s boxes from the building at 70 Mulberry Street, New York City, on Wednesday. The archives, which boast 85,000 items of historical and cultural significance, were stored on the second floor of the five-story building, where a fire on January 24th destroyed the top floors and roof. Nine firefighters and one civilian suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The NYPD said the cause of the fire was not “criminal” and the investigation is ongoing.

(+) How to Rescue Old Photos and Documents: Make a Humidification Chamber

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Old documents, newspapers, and photographs are often improperly stored. They may have been rolled or folded for years. By the time that you, the family historian, find these items and wish to view them, the documents may be damaged if forced open. Old paper, especially that manufactured after 1885, becomes brittle with age. This will be doubly true if the document has been stored in a very low-humidity environment, such as an attic. Old or fragile items may even crack and crumble if not handled properly.

Try to avoid this result! Use controlled humidification BEFORE uncurling a photograph or document.

How You can Help the City of Seattle Document and Decode History

I suspect many genealogists will be interested in helping with this project. From the King5 News web site:

“The Seattle Municipal Archives department works to transcribe documents that tell Seattle’s story- and now, they’re asking for your help.

“Seattle is rich with history- and the archivists at the Seattle Municipal Archives keep it all safe and accounted for. But as dedicated as they are, this time, they need some help.

Get Those Records, Tapes and CDs Onto Your Smartphone

Want to preserve family photographs, videos, and audio recordings? I wouldn’t use a smartphone for the purpose of archiving things for years. However, having those items conveniently saved on a phone is a great method for sharing them with relatives at reunions, holiday events, and other family get-togethers.

J. D. Biersdorfer has published an article in the New York Times that should interest many genealogists:

Old Manchester, Connecticut Newspapers are being Digitized

Wouldn’t it be nice if ALL old newspapers were digitized and made available online? One genealogist is doing just that. According to an article by Jesse Leavenworth in The Hartford Courant web site at:

Scrolling through newspaper microfilm last year with little sense of how long the search would take, Noreen Cullen remembered mumbling in frustration and “probably saying some bad words along the way.”

“I thought to myself, ‘This is 2018. Why am I still using microfilm?’” the Manchester native and genealogist said.

Front page of the Manchester Evening Herald, which was published for a little over a century before shutting down in 1991. (Manchester Historical Society)

(+) Digital Preservation for Genealogists

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

One of the more common arguments against saving things digitally is, “The required equipment to read it probably won’t be available in 25 years. I am going to save everything on paper because I know paper will still be readable forever.” Perhaps the time is 50 years or 100 years, but I hear similar comments frequently. Indeed, there is some truth to that argument but it is somewhat misleading. Still, there is a simple solution.

Experience over the years has proven that paper is not a good preservation mechanism, and microfilm isn’t much better. The news reports frequently mention earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, building collapses, fires, and other disasters that have destroyed thousands of paper and microfilm documents within seconds. While not mentioned as often in the national news, burst water pipes will do the same.

For the past sixty years or so, microfilm was the storage mechanism of choice because it took up so little space, compared to paper. However, microfilm is almost as fragile as paper. Microfilm is only slightly more impervious to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, and burst water pipes. To be sure, water-soaked microfilm probably can be washed and then dried for preservation purposes, but the other disasters will destroy microfilm as quickly as paper or anything else.

Retrieval of Irish Archive Lost in 1922 Fire ‘Astounding’, Historian Says

Two days into the Civil War, a massive explosion destroyed the Public Records Office attached to Dublin’s Four Courts and with it hundreds of years of documented history, resulting in a huge loss for genealogists, historians, and many others who depend upon such records.

The census records for the whole of the 19th century going back to the first in 1821 were incinerated. Chancery records, detailing British rule in Ireland going back to the 14th century and grants of land by the crown, were also destroyed along with thousands of wills and title deeds. The records of various chief secretaries to Ireland and centuries of Church of Ireland parish registers vanished in the fire.

Greek-Americans look to Preserve Historic Archive

From an article by Mary Markos in the Boston Herald (newspaper’s) web site:

The remaining copies of newspapers documenting 50 years of the Greek American community are falling apart at the seams, threatening the loss of the history ingrained in the contents of its pages.

“They are literally crumbling like filo dough left on the kitchen counter,” former editor-in-chief Nancy Agris Savage said of the The Hellenic Chronicle archive. “The Greek-American community has just exploded in the United States and the history of it is about to disappear if we don’t do something about it.”

The Wikipedia Of Graves: Israeli App CemoMemo Brings Cemeteries Into The Digital World

CemoMemo, a collaborative documentation platform for gravestones, is undertaking the digitization of headstones to turn cemetery visitations into unique historical explorations.

The project started as a collaboration between the Software Engineering and the Land of Israel Studies departments at Kinneret Academic College. “The idea was to develop an online searchable database of cemetery headstones,” according to Dr. Michael J. May.

Forget Paper. Forget Hard Drives. Forget CD and DVD Disks. Forget Most Everything Else. For Long-Term preservation, Use a Piece of Glass.

Genealogists frequently discuss the best ways to preserve family tree information so that it can be read and perhaps updated by future generations. Some people plan to save everything on paper so that “it won’t become obsolete.” Of course, they forget that paper is probably the most fragile storage medium of all, easily destroyed by water, humidity, acids in the paper, fire, insects, and a variety of other dangers.

Probably the greatest threat to data storage on paper is simply fading ink. Most paper prepared with today’s paper and today’s inks will be unreadable within a century, perhaps much less time than that.

Floppy disks were the storage medium of choice for some number of years ago but have since fallen into disfavor. The magnetic information of floppy disks doesn’t last forever. Even worse, floppy disk drives are rapidly disappearing. Most of us doubt that there will be any floppy disk drives available to read the disks within the next decade or two.

A better(?) solution is to record the information on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disks but that has similar problems. These plastic disks also do not last forever, especially those that are recorded individually on today’s computers.

How to Digitize and Archive Your Entire Family Photo Collection

From an article in the reddit web site:

“Four years ago I decided that I should try and digitally archive my family’s photo collection dating from mid-nineteenth century up to today. It was a painstaking process but I learnt a lot doing it which may be useful for anyone else looking to attempt something similar. I used an iMac for this process and IMO it is the best tool for the job, but I am sure something similar could be done on another system.

“The vast majority of photos between 1850 and 2000 were still in a physical format, either prints or slides. And the photos since 2000 are largely digital already. I decided to start with the digital photos as I could make a big impact relatively quickly. My original photos were in folders like “Helen wedding”, “Scotland Holiday 2010”. I thought long and hard about how to organise them coming up with all sorts of incredibly specific ways of doing it before hitting on the solution; put them all in one folder. All 26,000 of them. So I went from having photos in a couple of hundred different folders to just one.”

Another quote from later in the article:

RPAC at FGS 2019 in DC — Is This A Breakthrough?

The Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference was held recently at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, DC. One of the many sessions at the conference may produce results that will impact today’s and future genealogists researching records in the United States.

The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) included the Executive Director of NAPHSIS, the organization of Vital Records Officers; and Jeremy Grant from the local Venable Law Firm presenting a new Blueprint for a Better Identity, a solution to the identity theft crisis. The genealogy community was represented by Jan Meisels Allen and Fred Moss, both representing the RPAC committee.

DigitalNC adds 700+ Issues of Raleigh’s Carolinian Newspaper

From the DigitalNC web site:

“Issues of The Carolinian from 1945 to 1959 are now available on DigitalNC, after recently being transferred from a microfilm format to a digital one. This newspaper is still in print and based in Raleigh, North Carolina, where it shares news among its predominantly African American audience. The paper circulated in major cities throughout the state, and later issues were divided to showcase news from each locale, including Fayetteville, Charlotte, High Point, Goldsboro, Greenville, Rocky Mount and others. This paper is available thanks to our partner Olivia Raney Local History Library.

Saanich (British Columbia) Archives Flooded

Paper documents at another archive have been damaged by unforeseen problems. The Saanich (British Columbia) Archives web site at states:

“Saanich Archives is currently closed due to a recent flood in our facility. At this time we are unable to provide access to our collections as they are being stored offsite until restoration work is complete. Updates will be provided as information becomes available.”

The Saanich web site at states:

The National Endowment for the Humanities Announces 2019 Awards for the National Digital Newspaper Program, adding partners in Rhode Island, Virgin Islands and Wyoming

Old newspapers often are valuable tools for genealogists and historians. Not only will you find birth announcements, marriage announcements, and obituaries, but you will occasionally find information about the activities and interests of ancestors. This normally is information not found in public vital records. You also will always learn about the world in which these ancestors lived and the events that shaped their lives. With that in mind, here is an announcement from the National Endowment for the Humanities:

Washington State Archives and Library Awarded for Saving Artifacts from Aberdeen Armory Fire

When the Aberdeen (Washington) Museum of History burned down in June 2018, a team from the Washington State Archives and the Washington State Library played a crucial role in rushing to rescue and restore thousands of historic artifacts, historical documents and photographs from the basement archives before water and soot damage destroyed them. For several weeks, staff from the Archives and State Library, as well as volunteers, cleaned and dried each and every photo and artifact from the basement, and State Archivist Steve Excell estimated 98 or 99 percent of all the items they recovered were saved.

Leaking Dome at National Records of Scotland Causes Massive Damage to Precious Historical Documents

National Records of Scotland (NRS) on Princes Street

Here is another case where digitizing copies of important documents and storing the digital images in multiple “off site” locations is always a good idea. Some of Scotland’s precious and irreplaceable historical records have been damaged after torrents of rain leaked in through a dome which has needed repair work for a number of years.

The damage to a host of documents, including marriage and death certificates dating from 1800, occurred last Tuesday night at the National Records of Scotland (NRS), following hours of torrential rain and thunder storms swept large parts of Scotland.

Former employees said the dome, at the back of the building, had been leaking for many years but that despite it being reported on many occasions by a large number of staff it was not given priority for repair.


Florida Holocaust Museum working to Digitize Entire Museum Collection of over 20,000 Items

The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg has over 20,000 items, including objects, artifacts, photos and documents in its collection. The Museum is working hard at digitizing all the items and making them available online.

“It’s one of our really critical purposes, is to take the documents and the artifacts and the objects we’ve been lucky to be given by survivors or family of survivors or liberators and to not only to make sure that they’re preserved for the future but look for ways to share them,” said Elizabeth Gelman, executive director of the museum. “So what we’re doing is we are digitizing the museum’s complete collection. So at a certain point, we’ll be able to have it so that everyone will be able to find a way into our collection and be able to do research.”