Mining Journal & Peter White Public Library seek funding to digitize archives

The Mining Journal of Marquette is a finalist in a statewide contest. As ABC 10 News Now senior reporter Mike Hoey shows us, the prize would be used to make part of the newspaper’s archives available free of charge on the Internet for the first time.

Central Michigan University is holding a contest for grant money to digitize some of the archives of a Michigan newspaper and make them searchable for free online. The Peter White Public Library’s entry on behalf of the Mining Journal is one of five finalists.

“It’s a competitive grant with the voting online, and we nominated the Mining Journal from 1868 to 1888,” Peter White Public Library assistant director Bruce MacDonald said.

In the late 19th century, the Mining Journal was one of the few news sources in the northern Great Lakes.

“It did have regional coverage of mining interests and the lumber industry as well as the stories of the people who came here to do these things, which is what makes it important to us,” MacDonald said.

Newspapers didn’t always look like how they appear now. A brief glimpse at the Mining Journal from nearly 150 years ago is very telling about how much print media have changed.

Some 1868 stories would be out of place now, like one on a sample basket of fruits and vegetables intended for exhibition at the Ontonagon County Fair, but some would still work today, like one on Great Lakes shipping and the iron industry. It was also interesting to read an advertisement for Peter White’s insurance business while sitting in a library named after him.

Digitization wouldn’t solve a preservation problem of the historic material, but it would solve an access problem.

“First of all, the Mining Journal doesn’t have copies available of the material,” Northern Michigan University archivist Marcus Robyns said. “We do; it’s mainly available now on microfilm. Another problem is, it’s not indexed so people can actually do a keyword search and try to find a particular individual or an event or whatever they need to look for.”

The Northern Michigan University Archives and the Peter White Public Library hope the contest leads to digitizing all of the Mining Journal’s back issues.

“The project is an excellent start to an overall project that should be designed to digitally convert the entire run of the Mining Journal from its first publication in 1846 to the present,” Robyns said.

“The U.P. story is not one that’s always told, and from our perspective, that’s what we want to have — our story, told by us,” MacDonald said.

Voting in the contest is open at–for–your–library–to–win/  through April 15th.

You can vote more than once. The Peter White Public Library also has the poll available on its own website,  .