The Appanoose County Historical Society has undertaken the task of having all of the Centerville newspapers digitized. This will include pre-Iowegian newspapers dating back as far 1857 and going all the way up to the present. This will include the Daily Citizen, the Centerville Journal, The Southern Iowa American (the Ku Klux Klan newspaper), the Semi-Weekly Iowegian and the Daily Ioweigan up through 2010.
You may have some questions, like, “What is digitization?” or “How does this differ from microfilm?” Digitization is a process that uses already microfilmed newspapers, scans them into a database, and makes them searchable with key search words, phrases, or dates. Where microfilm only allows you to scour the pages of the newspapers, digitization will allow intuitive searches for the information you are looking for and return it to you on screen. Digitization will allow a person to do research via a Web site on the Internet, never having to leave their home or office, and accomplish this type of search for information in a much more efficient way. The Web site would be available for use at the Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum, the Drake Library, or could be accessed from any home computer.
People who will benefit include genealogical researchers, historians and students looking for specific historical information about Appanoose County, family members looking for articles on their families, businesses, basically everyone who has ever been curious about something in Centerville. This searchable newspaper archive will be able to show you any articles, advertisements, photos, obituaries — virtually anything that was in the newspaper! Even the staff at the Daily Iowegian will have a great way to easily look up previously published material.
To see what the digitization will be like, you can look at the old copies of the Moravia Union and Moulton Tribune at the archive Web site at www.newspaperarchive.com. These papers have already been digitized and are useful tools to local genealogists.
The cost of the digitization of all of the newspapers is around $25,000, which may sound like a large expenditure, but when you take into consideration the volume of material that has to be done, it’s less than $200 per year. The Advantage Companies in Cedar Rapids has recently quoted the project to cost $24,300, and that is through the 2010 newspapers. Once completed, a much more affordable annual cost will be incurred to keep the archive current.
The potential for the digitization was originally suggested by Appanoose County Genealogy Society President Gary Craver. He has spent thousands of hours at the library, pouring over microfilm doing genealogical research. The possibility of doing the research from his home was really appealing, so he contacted Heritage Microfilm to get a quote. It was very expensive, and he didn’t know how the money could ever be raised to accomplish it.
But that’s where Connie Stater came in. Board member of the Appanoose County Historical Society, Connie had been using the hard-bound volumes of the old Iowegians at the museum to do research on the beginnings of the Majestic Theater now being restored by Morgan Cline. Those old newspapers are brittle and crumble easily, making them very difficult to use. She, Gary, and some other members of the Historical Society sprang into action, looking for grants and other ways to raise the needed funds for digitization.
To kick off the project, Kris Koestner of J&K Market made a $500 donation for the project. Connie has sent out letters to several local people and businesses that she thought would have a keen interest in the digitized newspapers. If you would like to help with this project, your donations will be gratefully accepted. If you want to help, just call Connie Stater at (641) 856-5426 or come to the museum any weekday between 1-5 p.m.