ELMWOOD – The digital age is now a part of Elmwood’s history.
Almost every edition from the city’s three former newspapers, beginning in the 1890s, can now be read on the internet. In the past, people wanting to read those papers—and all the community events they covered—had to travel to Lincoln to see them on microfilm, according to Anne Pope, director of the Elmwood Public Library.
“Now, you can do it from the comfort of your own home,” she said. “This is really exciting.”
All that people need to do is go to their computers, type in the library’s website, libraries.ne.gov/elmwood, go to archived newspapers and go from there, according to Pope.
“It’s self-explanatory,” she said.
People can search for individual newspapers, people, places or specific events.
It can also be done at the library, Pope said.
“Even if people don’t have a computer, we have three with internet so they can come in and utilize our facility,” she said.
Early in Elmwood’s history, there were two newspapers the Elmwood Leader and the Elmwood Echo. They later merged becoming the Elmwood Leader Echo. Its last issue was published on Sept. 24, 1953. Another publication, Weeks Review, was also available in the 1890s.
The current collection of these papers on the internet runs to 1950, with the remaining three years of papers available soon, Pope said.
The funding for this project was provided by Kirby and Cindy Drake in memory of Kirby’s parents, Arthur and Gwineth (TenBroeck) Drake and their 15 children who grew up in Elmwood and graduated from Elmwood High School.
The Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation of Elmwood was instrumental in helping the Drakes with this project, while the George Blessing family granted copyright permission for the last decades of the Elmwood Leader-Echo, according to Pope.
The state does not currently fund the digitizing of newspapers so any digitization has to be supplied by local entities, such as libraries, local historical organizations, foundations, or private individuals, she said.
Pope in particular praised the efforts of Cindy Drake, a librarian at the Nebraska History Library in Lincoln, for getting the project started.
“She came up with the idea, `Let’s make these copies readily available for everyone on the internet,’” Pope said.
On some rolls of filmstrip microfilm where some Elmwood newspapers were located, there were also copies of newspapers from other communities, according to Pope.
When History Nebraska originally filmed the bulk of the Elmwood newspapers, they were continuous over many rolls of microfilm. Sometimes, however, missing issues or short runs of a newspaper could not be spliced with the original microfilm. For that reason, History Nebraska would microfilm together on one roll many different community publications calling them filmstrip rolls. This is what happened with some issues of the Elmwood newspaper, according to Pope.
That means people interested in reading old newspapers from Brownsville, University Place, Thomas County, Alliance and Axtell can also go to the Elmwood website to read their particular history, she said.
Obviously, this can be a great educational tool for area young people wanting to know more on the history of where they live, Pope said.
“We’re hoping to make this school district aware of this,” she said.