OurDigitalWorld Newsletter September 2023

On the importance of our community newspapers

Over the years, ODW has been motivated to support grassroots organizations preserve and share their community history and local newspapers. Why? Because these are the stories of our neighbours, near and far; because they help us understand our own and each other’s communities and bind us as a society; because they build a valuable web of information about our past and our present. We are therefore disheartened at the announcement of severe cuts to community newspaper paper publications across Ontario, some that have been running for nearly 200 years (Small-town community papers take big hit after Metroland files for bankruptcy), and for the staff and journalists behind those publications who are affected by the changes. This is a tremendous blow, isolating individuals without access to the internet and further distancing people from their community through homogenized “news” reported from centralized, mainly urban, sources.

Reflecting on these recent developments, ODW wants to thank the organizations who steward their local newspaper collections and provide access to the stories, personalities and issues that reflect the fabric of our communities. The Ontario LAM Newspapers Working Group is also be convening about this announcement. Please get in touch about their work, and/or to share any news or concerns you may have about your community newspaper by writing to: CommunityNewspapersON@gmail.com

ODW Projects

New life for old database records

13,000 index records have been meticulously cleaned up and migrated to be included in the collections from Waterloo Public Library. These index records highlight contents from magazines, newspapers, city directories and vertical files in the physical Local History collection, allowing users to identify which items to access and review. The initial labour involved in creating this depth of indexing is substantial, so making them available online honours that work and provides enhanced access for the public. Explore the collection

Hyper-local news has historical clout

The South Marysburgh Mirror is an independent newsletter that began publishing in 1990 in the southernmost part of Loyalist-settled Prince Edward County, Ontario. The Mirror covers annual events like the still-running agricultural Milford Fall Fair and the New Year’s Levee, and includes monthly updates from the local Women’s Institute, churches, and transcriptions of local rural diaries. These hyper-local stories fill many gaps in the larger publications in the area like the Picton Gazette and Belleville Intelligencer, offering decades of insight into a tightly knit, rural community. Explore the collection

Historical Society achieves long-term goal

The Lake Scugog Historical Society, a volunteer-run, not for profit organization, achieved a significant milestone by finishing their newspaper digitization project. The result is more than 150 years of coverage from local newspaper collections that were preserved on paper, microfilm, microfiche and born-digital PDF. The collection includes early dailies like the Ontario Observer and Port Perry Star and the more recent Scugog Citizen weekly and Focus on Scugog monthly magazine. Thanks to their perseverance, this adds breadth to the online and historical coverage available for the central Durham, Ontario region. (Photo from The History of Port Perry’s Newspapers). Explore the collection

New VITA Digital Collections

Archived Oxford: A view into Oxford County’s past

A new project from Oxford County Archives, described as starting with “260 individual postcards [that] feature images of local streets, scenery, and buildings in Oxford County, along with some promotional material from historical businesses. We will be expanding to include … just over 3,000 photographs … which again, include locations and buildings throughout Oxford County, events, people, businesses, etc.” Explore the collection

Great Lakes Vessels database sails again

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum has migrated the Gerald C. Metzler Great Lakes Vessel Database into ODW’s unique Vessels metadata templates. These historical records detail vessel dimensions, classification, builder and shipmaster names, as well as changes over time. Much like other vital statistics, the vessel records capture the places of a ship’s birth, travel, and, if sunk, final location – a real boon for wreck divers. This collection can be searched independently but will also add more than 13,000 detailed vessel records to the fast growing Great Lakes History search site. Explore the collection

Coming Soon

Oshawa Newspapers

Oshawa Public Library is adding later years of the Oshawa Times and Daily Times-Gazette to their already extensive newspaper collection. The newspapers will be scanned from microfilm and made full text searchable, enhancing access to the Oshawa collection as well as the Durham Newspapers regional site. Explore the collection

Dryden Observer

Covering life in Northern Ontario for more than a century, the Dryden Observer includes “significant moments in Dryden’s development such as the building of the Dryden Public High School, advertisements from local businesses, and records of life from citizens, from obituaries to personal letters to the editor.” Dryden Museum

Join us at the 2024 Ontario Library Association annual Super Conference in Toronto, Ontario, January 24-27, 2024. Visit our booth to meet the team, catch up on our latest projects, learn more about us and find out how we can help with your digitization projects.

Header photo credit: Rosseau Historical Society “Highway 632, Bridge over Shadow River – 2 – RV0041