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Winthrop using new grant to digitize century-old newspaper collection

Winthrop University is using a new grant to help digitize is microfiche library of archived newspapers.

University officials said Monday a $14,000 Lutz grant will help the Louise Pettus Archives purchase equipment to assist in the microfilm digitization of area papers dating back to the 1860s.

Dacus Library is joining other South Carolina university libraries in conducting a massive, multi-year effort to digitize Palmetto State media. The project proposed should start by this spring and will be ongoing, said Mark Herring, Dacus dean of library services.

Researchers have long complained to librarians how difficult and time-consuming it is to search on microfilm. Herring said it is growing increasingly difficult and costly to acquire microfilm, plus there is no search feature to aid researchers in finding information quickly.

The long-term plan for archives is to make the digitized records available to researchers and the general public where applicable under new copyright court rulings.

Included in the digitization is Winthrop student paper, The Johnsonian (1923-present), which provides valuable insights about S.C. women’s history, civil rights and integration.

In addition, Archives staff members plan to cooperate in the digitization of the Chester County newspapers in the possession of the Chester County Library, including older back issues of The News and Herald (Winnsboro), 1866-1878, 1905-1919, and 1921-1931, The Chester News, 1933-1971, The Chester Reporter, 1874-1906, 1933-1971, and perhaps others. A cooperative agreement on this project has been entered upon between the Dacus Library and the Chester County Library Board.

Archives staff members also plan to digitize original historical records related to Chester and York counties, such as the York County Soldiers Board of Relief Papers, 1862-1863, which relate to York and Chester counties’ militia troop strength during the Civil War.

The Lutz grant will be paired with university money and Archives money from the Louise Pettus Endowment, which is a fund established by a major benefactor of the University to support Archives and Special Collections. The budget for year one, , including in-kind contributions, is anticipated to be nearly $24,000, said Herring.

The Chester-based Lutz Foundation, has provided three other grants between 2001-03 totaling $22,500 for the library’s digitization efforts. These grants made possible the Archives and Special Collections digitized website, which currently provides access to some 126 collections and 2,785 images.

14-thousand-dollar grant to buy new equipment to digitize newspapers on microfiche. Winthrop’s Louise Pettus Archives has back issues of area newspapers dating back to the 1860s. Winthrop is joining other university libaries in a statewide efort to digitize Palmetto State media.

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