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How Tom Tryniski digitized nearly 50 million pages of newspapers in his living room

Columbia Journalism Review: “Tom Tryniski began digitizing newspapers from all over Upstate New York in 1999. Since then, he’s scanned and uploaded nearly 50 million newspaper pages from publications across the US and Canada dating back to the 1800s…By October of last year, [his] site hosted nearly 50 million pages of American and Canadian newspapers—a collection much larger than that of Chronicling America, the joint newspaper digitization efforts sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment of the Arts. The first newspaper he digitized was the Fulton Patriot; at the time, he didn’t own his own equipment. Twice a week, he borrowed microfilm rolls of the newspaper from the Fulton library and drove north to Potsdam, New York, nearly three hours away, to use an old foot pedal-powered microscanner at the offices of the Northern New York Library Network. He scanned 36,000 pages in this way and, exhausted from the commute, decided that if he was serious about his project, he was going to have to buy his own scanner..” [h/t Pete Weiss]

  • This is Tryniski’s site – it is by current standards, obsolete, but for those of us who started working way back when and are not deterred by the challenges of looking through folders of scanned information organized by location, year and name of the newspapers, and have some patience, the rewards speak for themselves. This is a truly unique and perhaps invaluable resource that will not be duplicated. The papers that are archived here are testament to the history and impact of local journalism on the lives of millions of Americans. The scanned pages include a remarkable amount of advertising [which provides a long lens perspective on the way our country has sold products and services over more than 50 years], obituaries, marriage announcements, “how to do” factoids, local sports scores, well, everything one used to find in local print newspapers. They were informative in a way that is no longer familiar to those are tethered 24/7 to “smartphones.”  And for researchers who are willing to devote the time, this site is a significant and expansive source of information that may just prove, “the truth is out there.”

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