Issues of The Delaware Gazette from 1933 to 1936 are available to the public on microfilm at the Delaware County District Library for the first time.
The Delaware County Historical Society was in possession of the only original paper copies of the 1933-36 editions of The Gazette. They were shipped off to be filmed, resulting in 12 new rolls of microfilm at the library.
“It’s nice to know we have that history on hand to look at,” said library spokeswoman Nicole Fowles. “It’s a goldmine for people who do genealogical research. They can go back and see obituaries and birth records.”
Joe O’Rourke, adult services manager, demonstrated the microfilm at the library’s main branch in Delaware. He took a box of microfilm out of a file cabinet in the local history room, wound it on a spool, and scrolled to a page that he viewed on a monitor.
“The microfilm scanner is hooked up to a standard personal computer,” O’Rourke said. “Using software, we can display the contents of the film on the computer screen, save it, email it or send it to the printer. It’s all done with the mouse. There’s no index, but if you have a ballpark date. …”
“The librarians are always happy to come back and help people who aren’t familiar with the technology,” added spokeswoman Hannah Simpson.
“Our newest editions fill a three-year gap that had never been filmed before,” O’Rourke said. “You can imagine that those 1930-era newspapers were quite fragile, and they would have been irreplaceable had some disaster occurred.”
Last year, the historical society received a grant from the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board to cover some of the project costs, with the library picking up the remainder of the costs.
Some more recent editions of The Gazette — from 2007 to 2015 — are scheduled to be microfilmed this spring, O’Rourke said.
“We haven’t had any concrete talk about doing this, but the next step would be to digitize what we have on microfilm someday,” he said. With digitization, optical character recognition software would be able to convert an image such as a page of a newspaper from an image file to a text file.
The library has local newspapers dating back to 1821 on file, O’Rourke said, with The Gazette dating back to 1858. In addition, an old ornate family Bible that was recently donated to the library included pages of The Gazette dating back to the 1913 flood.
“It’s definitely part of our strategic plan to introduce the community to itself,” Fowles said of the historical materials. “As a storehouse of community information, we have the ability for people to come and know the community’s past as well as its present. That allows us to be a gateway to the past for people who don’t have the ability to find it through everyday means, like Google.”
The main branch of the library is at 84 E. Winter St. The local history room is open during the library’s regular hours.
Preserving copies of newspapers using microfilm became popular in the 1940s, library staff said in a prepared statement.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.