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2015 MDNP Grant Finalists and Winner

Sault Ste. Marie
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Traverse City
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Milford Times  - WINNER



Geographic Coverage:

News was reported from Fenton to Chelsea, and from Lansing to Detroit. The Huron Valley area was the "playground" of Detroit and many scions, such as the Fords, Dodges, and Labadies had homes in the area.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper

The Milford Times was the premiere newspaper in the Huron Valley area. It also had the distinction to be owned, operated and edited by a female journalist who is now in the Michigan Journalist Hall of Fame - Carrie Jackson Rowe.

"Carrie Jackson Rowe (1866-1949) grew up in Milford and was credited as one of the first women publishers in Michigan. She was reared in the print shop of The Milford Times, which was owned and operated by her father. After graduating from Milford High School in 1882, she became a regular staff member of The Times. When her father died four years later, she shared complete responsibility of the paper with her 16-year-old brother Bert. In 1892 Bert died of tuberculosis and left Rowe as sole owner, publisher and editor of the growing Milford paper. She was 25 years old. She ran the paper alone until 1896, when she married Grant S. Rowe, a man who had been working with her at The Times. For the next 40 years, the Rowes published the paper together and raised a family of eight children."

Throughout her life Rowe was known for her involvement in the community and dedication to a better way of life. She helped organize the Monday Literary Club in the 1890′s and campaigned for a reading room library, heat for the railroad depot, a warning bell at a railroad crossing, college scholarships for local youth and the clean-up of the mill site so that it could be used for swimming. Rowe was the "voice and conscience" of Milford for 53 years. She was featured in the Michigan Women's Press Association magazine in 1893 and, in 1895, she was asked to speak to the Michigan Press Association. Her topic: "Can a Young Lady Successfully Conduct a Country Paper?"

The newspaper recorded the rise and fall of businesses, the railroad, industries and the people. A unique chronicle of a small town growing into a world business power. The Milford Times also made a point of chronicling the history of the beginnings of the community and continued to add feature stories of the founding families, their ways of life and their accomplishments. This information is now the chief research tool for genealogists and history in the Huron Valley area.

Reason Why the Nominator Believes This Paper Should Be Online:

One of the earliest newspapers in the State of Michigan… The Milford Times began in the same year the railroad came to Milford. The newspaper chronicled the changes from a farming community with local commerce to a thriving industrial sector that traded goods throughout the world. Milford, Highland, White Lake and parts of Commerce were the "up north" for the scions of Detroit. The estates of Edsel Ford, hunting lodge of Henry Ford, the Dodge estate and more were noted and remarked upon in the newspaper – the Milford Times. The Detroit News referred to the Huron Valley area as the "Up north playgrounds of the Detroit wealthy."

Unique items would have included the eighty years the Oakland County Fair was held in Milford – the fairgrounds and entertainment from 1860 to 1940. The Casino in Commerce, which featured name entertainment such as Frank Sinatra. The development of Milford as one of Henry Ford's cottage industries, the development of the General Motors Proving Grounds – the first safety testing in automobile industry; and the efforts of the community to salvage the Albert Kahn Powerhouse that still stands as a reminder of those times.

Throughout the years, the Milford Times has documented the people, industries and way of life in Milford and surrounding communities. To preserve the history of Milford, Highland, White Lake and Commerce, the Milford Times is the only continuous chronicle of the area. This newspaper should be made available to all whose past has crossed that of the area. Until now, residents have had to come to the libraries or historical records and search through microfilm archives. Out-of-town researchers have to rely on a kind volunteer.

The Milford Times should be available online as a unique chronicle of a time in Michigan under the leadership of a unique and talented female publisher.

Alpena (Several Titles)  

Titles & Timespan

Alpena News 1899-1910 & Michigan Labor Journal 1884-1890

Geographic Coverage:

Northeast Lower Michigan, specifically Alpena County, with mentions of Montmorency, Presque Isle, and Alcona Counties.

 Special Features or Unique Aspects of these Papers:

The Alpena News and the Michigan Labor Journal were both published in Alpena, Michigan. The Alpena News focused more on city news, whereas the Labor Journal emphasized county news, particularly the lumbering, farming, and agricultural communities.

Both newspapers are a treasure-trove for genealogists with the comings and goings of local people, illnesses, accidents, marriages, deaths, events, and business advertisements.

Another unique feature is that Alpena is a port city, and the comings and goings of vessels is a strong ​component of the local section of the papers, including vessel incidents and wrecks. The area was also known for its Lighthouse and Life-Saving Services, the men and women of which were often written about in the papers. These features compliment the current Great Lakes Maritime Database the library maintains, as well as, the work of NOAA's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is based in Alpena.

The newspaper also featured current state and national events, which is important to local school students and Alpena Community College students needing primary sources for research papers.

Reason Why the Nominator Believes These Papers Should Be Online:

Accessibility to our collections is important to us at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library. We believe strongly in the preservation of primary resources, but we believe just as strongly in making the library's primary resources available for public use. Digitizing the newspapers and making them available online accomplishes both of these goals.

Having a collection, such as this, online also makes people more aware of the library and the resources we hold. Seeing that we have these newspapers may actually lead them to searching through our website, particularly our Special Collections pages of Genealogy & Local History and Great Lakes Maritime History. This may assist in more in-depth research and may even persuade them to contact us for further research assistance or to visit the library for a hands-on research experience.

Ionia (Several Titles

Titles & Timespan

Approximately ten years of coverage, selected from the following available titles:

Ionia County Daily Sentinel, 1866-1868

Ionia Daily Sentinel, 1868-1919

The Ionia Daily Standard, 1889-1919

Ionia Daily Sentinel-Standard, 1919-1921 (papers merged in 1919)

The Ionia Sentinel-Standard, 1921-

Geographic Coverage:

The primary coverage of the papers consisted of events occurring in communities located in Ionia County, with some coverage allotted to neighboring communities in Montcalm, Ingham and Kent Counties. Notable statewide decisions made in the nearby state capital of Lansing were also reported, especially if they had an effect on local events or decisions.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper or Papers

There are several exceptional attributes of the publications making up the Ionia Sentinel-Standard lineage that are noteworthy:

  • The papers have a rare and unbroken line of journalistic service to the community that spans almost 150 years over three centuries, an unusual occurrence. With it comes a dynamic of a steady point of view that only newspapers with a long history of service to a specific area are able to retain.
  • The newspaper line offers a unique glimpse into the lifestyles that local people in villages and small Michigan towns led during the 19th and 20th centuries. This is an attribute that is difficult to find in publications that served a broader service area.
  • The newspapers were headquartered in the county seat, originally the Village and then the City of Ionia, and have significant importance because they were the newspapers of record for government proceedings, legal documents and authorized public announcements. Here are three notices from the December 4, 1866 edition that illustrate this point and exemplify the inherent research and genealogical value:


IN accordance with the provisions of Section 2 of an Act to authorize the towns in Ionia county to pledge their credit to aid in the construction of a Railroad from the village of Ionia to the city of Lansing, approved March 21st, 1865, notice is hereby given that a special Township Meeting will be held in this township on TUESDAY, TJIE1STII DAY 01' DECEMBER, 1866, (or the purpose of taking a vote of the electors in this township on the subject of voting the tax of five per cent, on the aggregate valuation of the personal property and real estate of said township to aid in the construction of said Railroad.

D. W. GODDARD, Supervisor..

Dated, Sebewa, Nor. 28th, 1866.

Dissolution of Co-Partnership

THE firm of Benedict & Miller, is this day desolved (sic) by mutual consent. The business will hereafter be carried on by H. Miller at the old stand.



Ionia, Sept. 20,1S66


In the matter of the Estate of Charles Hall and Carrie Hall, minors.

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to license and authority to me granted by the Probate Court for the county of Ionia, in the State of Michigan, in said matter, I will sell at public auction, on Thursday the 3d day of January, A. D. 1867, at l o'clock in the afternoon of that day, upon the premises hereinafter described, all the right, title and interest of said minors in and to the following described lands, viz: The south half of lot number ten (10), block sixteen (16), of the village of Lyons, according to the recorded plat thereof, in the county of Ionia and State of Michigan.


Dated, NOV. 20, A. D. 1866. n30—7w

These features are remarkable for the era and mesh well with the goals of the Michigan Digital Newspaper Grant Program, making the papers particularly good candidates for the award.

Reason Why the Nominator Believes These Papers Should Be Online:

The Ionia Community Library (ICL) has made a demonstrated commitment to preserving local history that is represented by its ongoing project to microfilm current editions of the Sentinel-Standard, which the Clarke Historical Library currently archives for ICL. The ICL has also previously contracted with Clarke to convert older newspapers from microfilm to digital pdf versions. It has been the dearth of discretionary funding caused by the difficult economic situation in Michigan over the past decade that has kept the library from further pursuing newspaper digitization and online projects.

In regards to the papers themselves, today's names of the streets and on the buildings in Ionia and the surrounding district are markers of the local history taking place over the past 150 years. This is true especially of the formative early years of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries when these names were platted on the street grid or chiseled into the façades of buildings. The lives of these citizens - some prominent, others notorious - are told in the pages of the local newspapers. These documented stories help us to understand why these names are significant to our history and perhaps important to our future decision making.

In its inaugural edition, the paper stated its standards would be rooted in the support of Republican values and follow an agenda which members of our age would now recognize as Progressive and liberal. Questions about economic justice, civil rights and social norms were argued in these pages and these stories provide examples of when people made difficult business decisions and intimate personal choices in public. This is because the newspaper was the primary legal vehicle available for them to do so at that time and place. We read in newsprint stories that remind us of posts that we now might see on Facebook. They chronicle the changing tastes and political attitudes over time and we learn of a barter and trade economic system that would most likely astound a middle school student who was accustomed to learning history as a bunch of dates in a textbook.

Digitizing the paper would improve the access and enable researchers to use modern search capabilities to glean the information that these voices of the past articulate. Further, the project would provide the community with a new tool to teach history in our school system and provide us with a strong partner in promoting life-long learning in our district.

Sault Ste. Marie (several titles) 

 Titles & Timespan

Chippewa County News, MI (weekly): Sept. 1, 1883 (1 issue)​

Sault Democrat (weekly): May 12, 1887-October 25, 1900

Sault Ste. Marie News (weekly): January 7, 1888-1901

Sault Daily News Record (weekly): January 26, 1901-April 15, 1903

Sault Evening Journal (weekly): April 7, 1902-April 15, 1903

Geographic Coverage

Upper Peninsula of Michigan, especially eastern U.P., Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Ontario. The residents of the area were predominantly farmers, factory workers, laborers. There were many immigrants who came to the area to work on the locks or in the factories. Some stayed and opened businesses in the Sault, which was a hub for the area.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of these Papers:

These newspapers are an important guide to the history of the region. They focus on community happenings, but they also report on national and international news of interest to the local readers. There are reports on the ships passing through the Soo Locks and the St. Marys River as well as on the traveling sports teams and entertainers. Each surrounding rural community has a weekly column throughout many of these years where items related to vital statistics are reported. These are the boom years of Sault Ste. Marie when Chase S. Osborn, Sault Ste. Marie News editor/publisher and eventual governor of Michigan (the only one from the U.P.), was making bold predictions about the future of the Sault. The Carnegie Library was being planned, the new Locks, the Power Canal, and the International Bridge were being constructed, and much of the city's housing stock was being built. It was an important time for transportation and industry as well as a time of some of the disastrous fires.

Reason Why the Nominator Believes These Papers Should Be Online:

The Bayliss Public Library, an affiliate of Superior District Library, is the only library besides the Library of Michigan that owns these early microfilmed newspapers. Bayliss Library has a major investment in its 135 years of newspaper microfilm that we continue to purchase each year, the Sault paper--The Evening News and Sault Sunday.

Many of the older reels are starting to show wear. They are in high demand by the public, genealogists, historians, and library staff, who do research daily using them on the library's microfilm readers. Making the newspapers available through digitization would greatly assist researchers over a wider geographical area, and save them time, since there is currently not an index to assist in finding articles.

Twelve issues of the Chippewa County News were microfilmed and digitized at CMU already a few years ago through a local historical society grant. Another issue, mentioned here, could be combined with the other twelve.

Traverse City (Several Titles) ​

Grand Traverse Herald, The Morning Record, The Evening Record, Traverse City Record Eagle


3 November 1858-30 August 1883 and 22 June 1915-24 December 1915

Geographic Coverage

Northwestern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, with an emphasis on Grand Traverse, Leelanau,

Benzie and Kalkaska Counties.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of these Papers:

From 1858 to 1880, the Grand Traverse Herald was the only general newspaper in the region,

which reported on social, political and business happenings in local communities, and national

stories that impacted daily life. Few newspapers in Michigan had the longevity and geographic

outreach to match the success of the Traverse City newspapers. The earliest contemporary to

the Grand Traverse Herald, the Northern Islander (18501856), focused on news from Beaver

Island and other Mormon communities. This paper did not have the regional impact the Traverse

City newspapers enjoyed.

Today, genealogists and Michigan historians benefit from the broad geographic coverage of these earlier Traverse City papers. Their expanse has ensured the published survival of coverage for a number of topics which were otherwise ignored in published contemporary local histories. For example, the racially instigated bombings of Traverse City in 1923 are not covered except in the Traverse City Record Eagle. Additionally, the obituaries of pioneers from Muskegon to the Straits proudly appeared in the Traverse City papers, as there were no other papers available or willing to honor the settlers of villages across the region.

Reason Why the Nominator Believes These Papers Should Be Online:

In 2013, the staff of the Traverse Area District Library handled 624 unique genealogical inquiries, from both inhouse and remote patrons. The numbers posted by the History Center of Traverse City posted similar numbers in their annual report, which means our regional resources were of benefit to over 1200 people last year. These numbers do not reflect the more general local history inquiries posited to these institutions, which only the Traverse City newspapers can answer. Clearly, the demand for wide access for these papers exists.

Michigan historians and general readers are always surprised to find the dearth of information published concerning the history of Northwest Lower Michigan. For many topics, including the advancement of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, locations of lumber camps along the Manistee, the early impact of the Jewish community on the region and the existence of short lived businesses and one room schoolhouses, the Grand Traverse Herald may be the only published resource available.

Local competitions, including the Floyd Milton Webster History Prize offered by the Kingsley Friends of the Library, Kingsley, Michigan, have attempted to encourage interest in local history publication. However, as access to the Grand Traverse Herald and following papers remains limited to in-house microfilm only, the potential to build interest in this field is limited.

A local coalition, comprised of the Traverse Area District Library, the Osterlin Library of Northwestern Michigan College and the History Center of Traverse City, is working to improve access to our local history collections. By collaborating on collection scopes, our organizations have created significant digital local history collections online. However, the costs and expertise required for digitizing microfilm have hampered our success in getting the newspapers online.

​Additionally, continual staff reductions have hampered the ability of these organizations to meet research query demand with the expediency patrons anticipate when using our services. Offering wide, on demand, online access is critical to the region's ability to provide this historical information in a way that is easily and remotely accessible.

The generous grant offer from the Clarke Historical Library would enable our coalition to jumpstart a digitization program that would lead to the online availability of the entirety of the Traverse City Record Eagle and its predecessor papers. In preliminary film conversion samples created by various vendors, the microfilm print masters available have scanned with a fairly high OCR confidence, averaging 7.32%. Additionally, the current publishers of the Traverse City Record Eagle have responded positively to requests for digital reproduction rights for content on which they continue to hold copyright.

Between the demand for digital access and the willingness of partners involved, we see no reason why this project will not be a resounding success, for our patrons, partner institutions and for the Clarke Historical Library.​