Move over microfilm, historical issues of the Stillwater Gazette and Stillwater Messenger are now going digital! More than 85,000 pages will be available online by the beginning of 2024. The first pages were recently added to the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub, with approximately 8,500 more pages to be added each month through January 2024.
The project will result in internet access to the Stillwater Gazette and Stillwater Messenger newspapers from the publications’ founding through 1926. Using text recognition technology, the newspapers will be searchable for any name or phrase with results highlighted in yellow on the papers’ pages for easy skimming. The newspapers will be free to view and download in the Minnesota Historical Society’s Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub, a service supported by the Legacy Amendment to preserve Minnesota history and cultural heritage and share Minnesota’s stories.
“Stillwater is fortunate to have widespread community interest in preserving and celebrating local history. But today, it’s often difficult to find detailed information about specific people and buildings. These searchable newspapers will be a tremendous resource for people who are seeking the history of their own home or business,” said Matt Thueson, chair of the Stillwater Heritage Preservation Commission.
The project is the first phase of the Stillwater Area Historic Newspaper Initiative, a collaboration between the Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater Public Library Foundation, Washington County Historical Society, and the Stillwater Heritage Preservation Commission through funding from the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation and the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation.
“We’re pleased that our community’s historic newspapers will now be much easier to access, whether here at the library or anywhere else with an internet connection. In recent years, we have seen a great increase of interest in family and local history research. Digitization will make it vastly easier to discover these personal and community stories,” said Mark Troendle, director of the Stillwater Public Library.
Donations and grants will enable future phases of the project, resulting in the digitization of other newspapers from Stillwater and other Washington County communities. Interested donors should contact the Stillwater Public Library Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org.