If you have ever tried to research your heritage or any newsworthy event, each of you know the importance of documents that back up your claim. The old newspapers are a great resource to confirm your findings.
In October 2019, The Herald Record’s ownership changed, and new owners, Robert and Tammy Beamer found a collection of 50 old books of newspapers during the reorganization of the business.
At this time, the Beamers contacted the DC Historic Society and the WV Archives concerning this collection to find that several of the books were the only copies that still existed. Knowing if they were placed for public review, the wear and tear would destroy them, they knew the only way to make them available to the public and still preserve the physical books was to digitize them.
After conversations with Joe Geiger and Matthew Dailey at the WV State Archives, the DC Historical Society learned the funds available from their department to digitize records was only available for governmental use.
They went on to indicate their offices mostly used microfilm to copy the old newspapers, which as most know would limit access to the records to those who only have a microfilm machine instead of being able to review the papers on a computer, which many have access to.
Patricia Harris (President of the DC Historical Society) and Tammy Beamer decided to attempt to scan the documents themselves. Mrs. Harris, purchased an extra-large digital scanner with her own money, only to find that the fold in the book would distort the image.
Knowing the County Clerk and Circuit Clerk were considering the completion of digitalizing the remaining documents in their records room, Harris and Beamer contacted the same company that had been used by the County, whose representative came down, reviewed the books, and gave the estimate of $10,000 to digitize the collection.
For those who are not aware, digitizing the collection in a PDF format will allow for any PC to access the records and with the added OCR technology, researchers do not have to read every page for the subject they are researching, but can type in the subject they are searching and the computer will find the words, saving the wear and tear on these books and saving many hours for researchers.
After considering all options, the DC Historical Society decided to move forward with the digitizing of this collection using the same company being used by the County.
Currently, Ms. Harris is cataloguing all of the Newspapers in this collection, along with the those which had previously been donated to the DC Historic Society, to confirm the books that have already been scanned so as not to duplicate digital copies.
It is planned that the original copies of these books will be sealed (covered in the cost of digitizing), permanently retired and stored upon completion of this project at the DC Historical Society’s Archives with digital copies of the collection being presented to the WV Archives, DC Library, the DC Historical Society and WV & Regional History Center at WVU.
Fund raising by the Historical Society, a 501-C-3, to digitize the copies has been very well received by the community. As of August 7, the total raised is $4,645. The DC Historical Society would like to express their great appreciation to the generous responses large and small to this digitization project to include: In Memory of Nancy Barton, Lee Brice, Steven Butcher, Chris Butera, Jan Chapman, D.C. Historical Society, Richard Haney, Patricia Harris, Janet Hawes, Ann Stout Newman, and others who wish to remain anonymous.
For those who might be interested in assisting with this project, donations can be made to the Doddridge County Historical Society at PO Box 444, West Union, WV 26456. Please make the notation of “Newspapers” in the note box on your check. Those donating $1,000 or more will receive their own digital copy.