Luther College and the Winneshiek County Historical Society work together to preserve written history
DECORAH, Iowa – Community members, students and anyone interested in researching the history of Winneshiek County are now able to access the Winneshiek County Newspaper Archives online. Presented by the Luther College Preus Library and Winneshiek County Historical Society, the Winneshiek County Newspaper Archives includes the digitization of more than 150 years of local newspapers.
The archive can be accessed by visiting winneshiekcounty.advantage-preservation.com/.
“This archive will benefit anyone interested in the history of Luther College and the communities in Winneshiek County, whether they are conducting research for a class, working on family genealogy or have a general interest in local history,” said Ryan Gjerde, director of Preus Library. “We see this project as a kick-start for future collaboration. The library and historical society look forward to working with new partners in order to add other county publications to the archive.”
Currently, the archive includes newspapers such as the Decorah Public Opinion, Decorah Journal, Decorah Republican and The Calmar Courier all beginning in the mid-1890s. In addition, the collection includes a number of smaller runs of papers published in Winneshiek County, with the oldest being the Decorah Weekly Journal from December 1857. This project was made possible after the Luther College Preus Library and the Winneshiek County Historical Society were jointly awarded more than $30,000 by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs in 2018.
“The grant funded the digitization of microfilm copies of the papers held by the Luther College Preus Library. While microfilm is a great format for long-term preservation, unless you know the publication date of the article you are interested in, it can be pretty time consuming to hunt through reels of film to find what you are looking for,” explains Gjerde.
Now everyone has the ability to leisurely browse the site by looking at individual newspapers or there is a search function that allows users to quickly search the archives by using keywords, dates, names or places.
“Both the library and historical society have benefited from having easier access to newspapers, and are now able to direct users to the collection no matter where they are in the world,” said Gjerde.
The Winneshiek County Historical Society is a county organization with a mission to protect, collect, preserve, and promote the written, oral, and tangible items of historical importance to Winneshiek County and to cooperate with other organizations to accomplish common goals.
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