Reading Fillmore County newspapers from as far back as the 1870s on your electronic device may soon be a reality.
The library directors from the five Fillmore County libraries have embarked on a journey to digitize the county's newspapers. Upon the completion of this project, anyone with a computer and an internet connection will be able to access these accounts of life throughout Fillmore County's history.
The librarians have researched extensively to include as many Fillmore County newspapers as they can find. Through this research, they have discovered over 20 different newspapers based in communities across the county, including (but not limited to): Strang, Shickley, Ohiowa, Milligan, Grafton, Geneva, Fairmont, and Exeter.
Local print newspapers, including their microfilm counterparts, will be converted to digital format, then made available on a searchable website. Advantage Preservation, a document management and preservation company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been selected to execute the technical phase, which includes utilizing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to make the newspaper images full-text searchable.
This endeavor is estimated to cost upward of $36,000, and slated to be completed by the spring of 2021 -- in time for Fillmore County's 150th anniversary. The Earl and Jessie Wilkins Fund, a donor-advised fund that operates under the Fillmore County Foundation, believes digitizing the newspapers of Fillmore County will preserve historic artifacts that are central to the narrative of this area. To this end, they have awarded a two-to-one matching grant up to $24,000, to support the completion of this newspaper project. Other generous support to kickstart this campaign has come from the Shickley Community Foundation, who awarded $3,500 to the project, and from the Fillmore County Genealogical Society, who pledged $1,000.
All newsworthy events, whether they be civic, personal or professional will be retrievable in the digitized newspaper images. Anyone from around the world will be able to browse and search through advertisements, articles, obituaries, city and county events, sports and school announcements, club activities, political and court records, and much more. One roll of microfilm can be sponsored for $130, which typically includes at least one year of newspaper images.
Monetary donations in any amount are welcome, and are tax-deductible within the extent of prevailing laws. To make a donation, call or visit any Fillmore County library, where donation forms and brochures detailing the project are available. Checks should be made payable to the Geneva Public Library Foundation.