March 30, 2015

IowaWatch Connection: Newspapers, Past and Present

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Bundles of newspapers are in the state historical archives, waiting to be preserved…but there’s disagreement over how to do it. One state agency refused a quarter million dollars to do the work. We’ll tell you why, and also look to the future of the industry.

Newspaper preservation at the State Historical Society of Iowa has been put on hold since budget cuts in 2009. Now, roughly 1,600 and 1,700 bundles of newspapers, each representing 550 frames of microfilm, have stacked up and some are worried about delays in preserving the papers and what the future might hold if the papers are not saved.

Jennifer Ewing, executive director of the Iowa State Genealogical Society, said the historical society’s newspaper archives are a vital resource for people tracking down their family histories, providing stories and context.

“Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but 20 or 30 years from now when people go back and try to do their family history and fill in those stories I think a lot of those things, especially from small town newspapers, would be missing. And then you just end up with cold names and dates and you lose a lot of the big picture of what makes people themselves and where they came from and where they are going,” she said.

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