What contains records of births, deaths, community events and local businesses through the decades? Local newspapers!
And the Oliver & District Heritage Society is thrilled to have recently started a grant-funded project to better preserve Oliver’s historic newspapers and make them more accessible for future use.
This spring, the ODHS received $7,947.50 from the BC History Digitization Program at UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre for the purpose of digitizing a large donation of community newspapers received from the Oliver Chronicle in 2018.
The 4,417 newspapers, which span the 1940s to 2010s, contain vital information about Oliver people, places, and events, and are frequently requested by researchers.
“They get used all the time,” said ODHS executive director Julianna Weisgarber.
“We’ve had former residents in other provinces request them, looking for a photo or an article about a family member. They get used for legal or environmental research.
“Then there are the historians, journalists, and writers. We feel it’s important to make them more accessible to people.”
The first step in that process is digitization. The grant helped to purchase a flatbed scanner that came all the way from Ontario, as it had to be large enough to handle the pages. It also helped purchase acid-free storage boxes.
“We keep the physical papers as well as the digital scans,” Weisgarber said. “Using the digital versions will reduce wear and tear on the originals.”
Dedicated volunteers and student employees run the scanning, helping to ensure that Oliver’s recorded history will survive long into the future.
Once the digitization is completed, the ODHS will partner with UBCO’s library staff to have the digitized newspapers uploaded and hosted on the BC Regional Digitized History Program’s repository website Arca. The newspapers will be keyword-searchable and free to use. The project is estimated to take one to two years to complete, resulting in free public access to a significant local record of Oliver’s history.