2021 Finalists

Congratulations to the 2021 DigMichNews Grant Winners

Beaver Island District Library and Beaver Island Historical Society (WINNER)

Newspaper: Beaver Beacon

Dates: 1955-1958 

Special Features:

The Beaver Beacon was the only Beaver Island newspaper since James Jesse Strang’s Northern Islander was published in the 1850s. Begun in 1955 by the Beaver Island Civic Association, those who paid for a membership in the Civic Association received the newsletter. Editors were Beaver Island residents themselves, many contributing to the production of each issue. It was filled with the news of the Island happenings, contact information for servicemen and women, weddings, births, deaths, birthday and anniversary celebrations and school events. The Beaver Beacon was also the link for off-island relatives and friends to stay connected to the Island. It served as a beacon for visitors who were looking for a place to stay, things to do and much more. While the paper dealt with Beaver Island happenings, it also included information about the extended Island families who resided off-island as well. It was run as a public service more so than profit-making venture, yet it lasted 60+ years.

Reasons Why These Newspapers Should be Digitized:

Offering The Beaver Beacon online would assist family historians looking for information about Island residents in the 1950s-2000s. Also, some of the later issues are currently available through the Clarke Historical Library (2003-2014). Inclusion of these 1955-2002 issues would complete the collection. It is quite likely that the Beaver Island District Library and the Beaver Island Historical Society is the only two complete-run collections in existence. Half a century of history are contained in the aging pages and need to be preserved and made available to the public.


Newspaper: The Belleville Independent

Dates: 1995-2019

Special Features:

The Belleville Area Independent contains detailed reporting of local news, politics, and events happening in the City of Belleville, Sumpter Township, and Van Buren Township. The editor of the paper attends all meetings of local government and provides detailed minutes and reporting for many of them. Extra Things I Know is a section featured on the Opinions page where the editor shares commentary on local situations and events as well as news, announcements, and personal stories from residents. Everything from pole barn fires to warnings about scams circulating the community are covered there. There's a vibrant and active Letters section where readers address news and events from their own backgrounds as well as the national and global stage. There's often a lively discussion week-to-week between letter writers on different sides of an issue. There are local classified ads and a weekly column dedicated to the area's business community. In addition to all the regular features of a weekly newspaper, these additions highlight the true local flavor of the Belleville Area Independent.

Reasons Why These Newspapers Should be Digitized:

Although situated between Detroit and Ann Arbor, the Belleville area falls into a bit of a news coverage gap which the Belleville Area Independent faithfully bridges. It’s a perfect example of a dying medium: the local hometown newspaper. It is rare to see contemporary papers still thriving that dedicate themselves to original reporting of local news, politics, and events. Even as readership for other, larger papers dwindles our library sees weekly traffic from visitors who come in only to pick up their copy of the Independent – often asking if they can grab an extra for a relative or neighbor. This paper continues to be a reliable and sought-after source of hyper-local news, and provides a snapshot of modern life in the Belleville Area community for the last 25 years.

Digitizing this paper and making it available online offers the wider world a chance to experience what many communities lack these days: a truly local newspaper.

Monroe County Museum System (WINNER)

Newspaper: Monroe Evening News

Dates: 1920-1923

Special Features:

The Monroe News is the oldest newspaper in existence in Monroe County and continues to report on one of the oldest communities in Michigan. In the 1920s, Monroe County saw its greatest decade of population growth in the twentieth century and it represented the second greatest decade of population growth for the City of Monroe. A county with a rich agricultural heritage, the city's expanding industrial base in the 1920s would transform the community for the next century. The Monroe News of these years captures these changes.

Reasons Why These Newspapers Should be Digitized:

These papers are rapidly degrading due to the type of paper on which they were originally printed. Scanning and placing them online not only allows them to continue in a new format, it will make them available to a greater audience and reduce barriers of access to researchers.

According to the Digital Michigan Newspaper Portal, there are no papers on-line to represent Michigan's second oldest county.

If selected, this would be the Monroe County Museum System's first substantial project in making part of our holdings available online for researchers.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Saginaw

Newspaper Title: The Catholic Weekly

Dates: 1942-1960

Special Features:

The Catholic Weekly newspaper was one of the few region-wide newspapers to report on current events and Catholic-based news in the Mid-Michigan, Great Bay area region of the state. The paper started as an "authorized publication" for the Diocese of Saginaw, along with its sister paper the Catholic Times, which reported for the Diocese of Lansing. The Catholic Weekly's mission was to "spread teachings of Jesus, report official information of the church at all levels, and to report other news of importance to Catholic." The paper began publishing in early 1942, not long after the first US troops landed in Europe to fight in World War II. Saginaw was one of many Midwestern, industrial cities that saw a boom of workers during the war, as well as an initial rise post-WWII, which meant a greater population for the paper to publicize to. The Catholic Weekly had been around since the early years of the Diocese of Saginaw, which was officially established in 1938, and was around during the creation of the Diocese of Gaylord in 1971, which was formed out of counties between the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the Diocese of Saginaw, though the Diocese of Saginaw did acquire Clare and Isabella counties in the arrangement. Shrinking from 16 counties to 11, the Diocese of Saginaw still utilized the Catholic Weekly as an authorized publication to report on Catholic news in the Bay region. The paper also managed as an authorized publication for the Diocese of Gaylord, after the creation of the diocese. Which meant that, from the 1970s up until its closing, the Catholic Weekly serviced up to 32 counties around the state of Michigan. It should also be mentioned that, starting in the 1990s, the bound volumes we hold include sections that are dedicated to "state of Michigan" news, covering news of other diocese and regional events throughout Michigan.

Reasons Why This Newspapers Should be Digitized:

The Catholic Weekly newspapers should be available online because access to these papers has become limited, in recent years. The non-profit corporation behind the paper, as well as Catholic Times, closed in 2016 due to financial difficulties, and their materials were sold to the Diocese of Saginaw. The diocese may have recently started an archives department within the Chancery, but the timeframe, funds, manpower, and technological capabilities for the office to digitize and have them available for a wide audience is a lot further down the line than we'd like to admit. Access to these papers not only provides a unique perspective on the region's history, but it also provides the religious aspect of the area as well. Michigan has, historically, been interlinked with Catholicism in its roots, both during its territorial times and in its current statehood. Catholic history in Michigan is just as relevant and important as any other specified history. Plus, the paper covers over thirty counties in Michigan over its seventy-four-year history, many of which do not have their local news digitized through the Digital Michigan Newspaper Portal.

This grant is made possible by the Robert and Susan Clarke Endowment with additional funding provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library of Michigan.