Historic SD&G newspapers now online

The front page of the SDG Newspaper and Photo Digitization Project. The website, which has a searchable database of county newspapers going back nearly 160 years, was launched on Monday, May 3, 2021. (SD&G/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

SD&G – Years of newsprint, ink and photographs in SD&G – some going back almost 160 years – are now accessible with the click of a mouse.

Local dignitaries, historians and politicians were on Zoom this morning (Monday) to launch the SDG Newspaper and Photo Digitization Project.

The SD&G online archives lead Eric Duncan told the audience the whole idea started in 2019 after getting the inspiration to preserve the history while going back through 50 years of the Winchester Press for a high school reunion.

“It’s not just as simple as giving the newspaper page and scanning them. There are some in very good condition but there are many that have not been in good condition. Allan (MacDonald, Glengarry County Archives) used two miles of archival tape…just to tape together some editions of the Glengarry News. Susan (Peters, Dundas County Archives) figures she’s around that length now too in terms of the thousands of pieces of archival tape it’s taken with these puzzles we’ve had to put together,” Duncan said.

Not only are there 210,566 pages on the site, but over 2,000 photos from the Lost Villages project.

Duncan estimates there are still roughly 50,000 pages from SD&G newspapers still to convert to digital format and then there’s a separate project in its infancy to archive the hundreds of thousands of pages from Cornwall newspapers.

Susan Peters of the Dundas County Archives tells Cornwall Newswatch the biggest challenge was not repairing ripped papers but organizing them.

“When they have come to the building, for instance the 60 years of the Iroquois papers, they came in no sense of order whatsoever,” she said.

Peters adds that in some cases they have pieces of papers with no dates. “The other challenge, especially the earlier papers, is they didn’t put the date on every page. So it’s a lot of investigative (work) to figure out does this connect to the article in front of it.”

The United Counties of SD&G put $181,000 over two years toward the project.

The county is hosting the archive on its server in order to keep operating costs low.