Previous Winners

2014

Cheboygan Democrat

Timespan - 1880-1927

Special Features or Unique Aspects of This Paper:

 

There are many special attributes of the Cheboygan Democrat. While the American nation was expanding as we headed west, lumber from Northern Michigan literally helped build up the new territory.

The Cheboygan Democrat covers a period in which there are currently no other papers available online from the Cheboygan region.  While mid and southern Michigan were important in this era of the state's history, the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula has not had its story appropriately told.  To that end, the Democrat chronicled the development and maturation of the lumber industry here, along with its impact in building communities in the region. 

Another important facet of the Democrat is that it is one of very few reliable sources of information about Duncan City.  This small village was separate from Cheboygan, yet still within the corporate boundaries of the city.  It was once a booming little lumber town of about 500 people, is now not even a ghost town.  Two original structures are yet standing from the village but otherwise there is virtually no trace today that the settlement ever existed.  It was home to the largest lumber mill north of Bay City and had its own fire department, post office, store, a second lumber mill, and many homes and other businesses.  After the big mill burned in 1898, the community was quickly abandoned and buildings were either moved or fell into disrepair. While it is difficult to see any trace of the town today, through the Democrat readers can get a picture of what it was like to be part of Duncan City.  Stories of who was in town, what the mills were producing, what businesses operated there and by whom, are reported in virtually every edition of the paper.  

The Democrat provides information that was relevant not only at the time it was written but also to the current reader.  It provides detailed information in a format that was published consistently throughout many decades.  Many newspapers of the era lasted only a few years (even months in some cases), but what makes the Democrat stand out is the fact that it is today a consistent source of information during an era that had many people moving to or coming through the region.  In its pages are recalled the roots and connections many people in this area still have to places like the Northeast, Ontario and Quebec, and homelands farther away like Sweden, France, Poland and Germany.

The Cheboygan Democrat is a unique paper that, in order to accurately tell the history of Michigan and its people, should be preserved and made available to as many researchers as possible.

Reason Why the Nominator Believes This Papers Should Be Online:

 

Access to newspapers is one of the best ways to study a community's history and its people.  Unfortunately, access to newspapers such as the Cheboygan Democrat is currently limited to microfilm.  While this is a minor hindrance for those who live in the community, for many researchers it can be difficult to search these newspapers.  Digitizing them would improve access and make it easier for historians and genealogists to utilize the information they contain.  As these newspapers were, the largest in this part of the state, they have become the definitive window onto the day-to-day history of this region. 

Northern Michigan is in many ways unique when compared to the rest of the state.  While much of Lower Michigan was settled long before the lumber boom, in the north the region was specifically settled because of lumber.  Had there been no demand for lumber, the communities here today would not exist, or certainly not in their present form.  The rise (and for some, fall) of these cities and villages needs to be studied in greater detail.  Digitizing the Democrat will improve access to this historical paper and not only let individuals connect with their past, but also allow researchers to understand and appreciate this region's contribution to state history.

Many newspapers from many communities in Michigan are already digitized.  While Northern Michigan undoubtedly has a smaller population, the impact this region made on Michigan history should not be underestimated.  What is more, people from throughout the state and the nation can trace their roots in some form or another to this area.  By digitizing the Democrat, even casual genealogists can research their family's roots and see how they fit in to the global community. 

A searchable, digitized newspaper from Northern Michigan will have an impact on many people not just from a historical standpoint, but from a familial one as well.  Ancestry isn't just about individuals; it's about their lives, their relations, their occupations, and more.  These are things that only a newspaper can shed concise light upon.

As an historian, I can confidently say that current literature on state history does not appropriately take into account the impact that the northern part of the state played in the history of Michigan.  The lack of availability of digitized newspapers from this region certainly plays a role in that, but one which can be corrected.  From local history to the region's people and events, newspapers are a crucial component for learning more about Michigan.  I would hope that you would give the strongest consideration to digitizing the Cheboygan Democrat.

 

2015

Milford Times

Timespan - 1871-1940

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.


 

2016

Alpena County P​ublic Library

Titles & Timespan​:

Alpena News, 1899-1905; 1909-10

Michigan Labor Journal, 1884-90

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper

Published in Alpena, Michigan both the Alpena News and the Michigan Labor Journal are treasure troves for genealogists and researchers. Alpena's history as an extremely active port city surrounded by a large agricultural community lends itself to a unique catalog of newspaper publications. These publications focused on city news and county news respectively, the publications documented the comings and goings of local people, illnesses, accidents, marriages, deaths, events, and advertisements for local businesses. The Michigan Labor Journal in particular paints a detailed picture of the lumbering, farming, and agricultural communities of the area.

As a port city, records of arrivals and departures of marine vessels, including incidents and wrecks, make up a large component of the local sections of the papers. The Thunder Bay area was well known for its Lighthouse and Life-Saving Services, the men and women of which were often highlighted in the papers. This primary source complements the Great Lakes Maritime Database housed and maintained by the Library in addition to the work of the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary also based in Alpena.

Stories of state and national events featuring in the publications provide an insight into local mindsets and opinions at the time and are an invaluable primary source for research by students of the high school and Alpena Community College.

Reason why you believe this paper should be made available online

Accessibility to our collections is important to the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library. We believe strongly in the preservation of primary resources, but we believe just as strongly in assuring the availability of these resources to the public. Digitizing the newspapers and uploading them to an online database will accomplish both of these goals. As an example of this mission, the Library recently launched the Northeast Michigan Oral History and Photograph Archive Database, accessible through the Library's website. Recordings on cassette, VHS, and reel-to-reel are being digitized, carefully transcribed and uploaded into an easily searchable database. This singular oral history archive focuses on the history and culture of northeast Michigan, with particular emphasis on Great Lakes maritime history. The Alpena County Library's historical resources, including our genealogical and local history records, are a source of great pride for the community. Scholars and researchers from across the state and country regularly utilize our collections. Providing access to the Alpena News and Michigan Labor Journal will enrich this experience and assist in more in depth research.

 

 

2017

L'Anse Area Schools/Baraga County Public Library

Title:The L'Anse Sentinel

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper

TheL'Anse Sentinel is the largest weekly newspaper in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is available on-line through subscription only.

This paper was established in 1890 and still operates today. Records exist back to 1896. This paper includes a history page each week which features an actual copy from older editions correlating to the date of the present edition. Many elderly residents who have grown up in the area love seeing the history page each week. Younger generations who have connections to historical events reported, by family relations or living in a certain location, also enjoy TheSentinel. This paper also covers headline events in the area as well as recaps sports events. Weekly features include obituaries, which provide a reliable reference for citizens of the area. Outlying news from the greater geographical area is also a weekly feature. The geographic coverage of this paper covers a reader radius of 1,265 square miles. Other weekly features include, outdoor, dining and entertainment, four national columnists and a local human interest feature called "The Fireside Chat." Most local advertising is done in The L'Anse Sentinel and residents of the area have come to use it as a necessary tool for reference information.

Reason why you believe this paper should be made available online

We believe this particular newspaper, The L'Anse Sentinel, should be made available on-line through the L'Anse Area Schools / Baraga County Public Library as it would provide local digitalized access to historical events in the area. The current access to historical pages of The L'Anse Sentinel is difficult at best. The pages are on microfiche / film that have to be used on a reader that is old and difficult to use. It would make easy access for interested persons to research ancestral, sports, geographical or other events of interest within the local geographical area. Several environmental episodes have been reported in this paper over the years in regards to pollution of the Great Lakes as we are positioned on the shores of Lake Superior. Making this paper available on-line would make researching topics affecting the environment by larger companies looking to locate in the area possible. Environmental activist groups who are striving to protect the environment of this beautiful area, especially its fresh water and clean air, find this particular newspaper a way to make their voice heard.​

 

2018

Saugatuck-Douglas History Center & the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library

Title:

The Commercial-Record (Saugatuck): 1959-1969


Geographic coverage: The primary geographic area of The Commercial-Record is northwest Allegan County, centered on the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, and surrounding townships.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

The Commercial-Record is the oldest continuously-published newspaper in Allegan County and among the oldest in west Michigan, having been first printed on July 9, 1868. Starting as the Saugatuck Commercial, within two years its reach was expanded to include Douglas and the nearby lakeshore area and was renamed the Lake Shore Commercial.
The Commercial was the only paper many people received and it had to cover all the news: local, national and worldwide. When the newsprint arrived, usually by boat, the news from outside the area was already printed on one side. It would be placed on the press in position to have the local news and advertisements added to the back. Given the Saugatuck area’s close connection with the Chicago area, some news from “across the lake” was also reported in more detail than other national stories.

In 1902, the new, hyphenated Commercial-Record name was first used when the Saugatuck Commercial (having regained its original name) merged with a nearby rival, the Weekly Record. For a weekly paper primarily serving two small communities, the Commercial-Record was the source for news from nearby and far away for much of the past century and a half. Because many people from Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis rent or own vacation homes in this area, the paper has always carried news from those cities as well as national news, in addition to being the primary record of local events, official municipal actions, a police blotter, and election coverage.

The 1960s – the period we propose to digitize for this grant – were a decade of great change in west Michigan. Saugatuck’s Big Pavilion dance hall, the largest west of New York when it opened, burned in a spectacular fire in 1960 and was among the last vestiges of an earlier, simpler recreational era. Throughout the decade, the region became the scene of several major music festivals with nationally-known performers, endured the anxiety of transient motorcycle gangs, and was invaded by college students by the thousands each busy summer. The Commercial-Record went above and beyond what might typically be expected from a small-town paper to regularly report on these events, and the outsiders who were inciting them. In 1968, the village of Saugatuck celebrated its centennial anniversary, and the Commercial-Record marked the occasion with a special 48-page edition. 2018 will be a milestone year to make this information more fully available – Saugatuck’s 150th anniversary. (Portions of the text above taken from A Brief History of the Commercial Record by Kit Lane:(http://sdhistoricalsociety.net/CR/CRhistory.html)

Reasons why this paper should be made available online:

The Commercial-Record is the oldest continuously-publishing paper in Allegan County and has always been at an important seat for creating and sharing news – Allegan County’s main port community where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan. Great local stories – the arrival of the interurban, the burning of the biggest dance hall in the eastern United States, the infiltration of motorcycle gangs in the 1960s - were all dutifully reported in print week in and week out.

The existing microfilm copies are degrading over time, and are not indexed and not searchable. Researchers must laboriously scroll through each page to locate relevant information. To compound matters, the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, owner of the microfilm, does not have a functioning microfilm reader, so anyone wishing to use the microfilm must take it to another library with a functioning reader two townships away.

This makes trying to use the Commercial-Record in its current form very difficult. Second grade students at Douglas Elementary used to try to use the paper as part of a yearly local history research project, but the collective struggle led them to turn to using other – perhaps less valuable – sources. Library patrons face the same hurdle.

The History Center regularly relies on the Commercial-Record when researching our programs, exhibits, and more. Our recent successful nominations of two local historic structures to the National Register of Historic Places relied heavily on details taken from past editions. Just this year the History Center unveiled a new, immersive 2-year exhibit titled Cold War | Hot Towns: Saugatuck-Douglas in the Cold War Era, which explores the concepts of fear and fun during this tumultuous era. The Commercial-Record issues from the 1950s-60s helped document the stories and society of the era in contemporaneous reporting. Adding them to the Digital Michigan Newspaper Database would make them so much more accessible to History Center and Library visitors and the general public, thereby benefiting the communities immeasurably.

By making these print pages for this eventful period available online – indexed and searchable – historians, researchers, and casual visitors will all be ensured simple access to a unique time of conflict and invasion, a microcosm of American history, from a landmark lakeshore community. We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate our high level of community support for digitizing the Commercial-Record and ensuring better access to these stories of Michigan’s past.

 

2019

Sparta Sentinel-Leader

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

Sparta's earliest newspaper, Sparta Sentinel-Leader, began under the title The Sentinel in 1876. At that time, Sparta Township had three general stores, one boot shop and hardware store, two smith shops, a wagon and harness shop, a school, two churches, and one sawmill. By 1880, it had a population of over 2,100. Due to its close location to Grand Rapids and Newaygo Railroads, Sparta was a thriving community for its time. The Sentinel operated under that title until 1900 when it merged with another Sparta paper, The Leader, as Sparta Sentinel and Leader. The Sparta Sentinel-Leader title was published on January 18, 1901.

Including Sparta Township and surrounding Kent County areas, Sparta Sentinel-Leader published local, state, and national level articles. A large farming area, many of the families that came stayed in the region for generations. Many use the Sparta Sentinel-Leader for reference information on their families as well as events. The period selected in proposal is especially historically significant due to its World War I content. Many went off to war and outside labor sources were needed to harvest crops. In 1917, the Carnation Milk Company built a plant in Sparta and milk was hauled daily. Sparta Sentinel-Leader expressed war news, impact, and attitudes and told the stories of the people during that time.

On June 12, 1931, the Sparta Sentinel-Leader, Kent City Press, and Casnovia Herald combined to become The Sentinel-Leader. The hyphen was dropped in the early 1960s. The Sentinel Leader ran independently until purchased by The Sparta Reminder in 1972 and became The Sparta Reminder Sentinel-Leader, which in January of 1974 was renamed the North Kent Leader. The paper expanded to include Sparta, Kent City, Casnovia, Bailey, Belmont, Grand Rapids RR2, Conklin, Comstock Park, Ravenna, Cedar Springs, and Rockford and boasted the title of North Kent County's largest weekly paper.

Reason why you believe this paper should be made available online:

A complete, digital Sparta Sentinel-Leader would preserve and promote access to Kent County and Michigan history. Certain years and issues are available in digital format, which greatly reduces the time needed to search for topics and the handling of the fragile newspapers. However, the existing digital newspapers were created from microfilm done over thirty years ago that was not comprehensive. Some issues were of such poor quality that they are not readable. This selection of newspapers proposed has years that have neither been microfilmed nor digitized and what has been done in this year range is not usable. To better serve the community and the area, these gaps need to be addressed.

This selection needs to be preserved before it deteriorates beyond use. It is not on microfilm or digitized and is fragile. It is difficult to access. Researchers who want to access these newspapers must view them in their physical format, which is detrimental to the newspapers and time-consuming for researchers. The period selected would be a valuable digital resource for not only the Kent County area, but for anyone interested in World War I sentiment in Michigan before, during, and after the war.

 

2020

Hazel Park

Newspaper Titles:
The Hazel Park News
The Ferndale Gazette Times
The Legal Examiner

The Palladium

 Dates:
The Hazel Park New
s ranges from 1956-1980
The
Ferndale Gazette Times & Legal Examiner  ranges from 1936-1980
The
Paladium Newspaper ranges from 1939-1955


Special Features:

The Paladium Newspaper features the news, advertisements, comics and obituaries of Hazel Park, MI.  The Ferndale Gazette Times and Legal Examiner features advertisements, comics, obituaries and news from Ferndale, MI.  The Hazel Park News features advertisements, obituaries, and news from Hazel Park, MI. 

Reasons Why These Newspapers Should be Digitized:

These four newspapers chronical the unique perspective of the Detroit border suburbs in Southern Oakland County.  The papers highlight the tumultuous conflicts of the 20th century including the civil rights movement, race riots in Detroit, Vietnam era, etc.  Suburban papers of this era give a unique insight to what were then new environments.  Suburbs became the homes of the newly affluent working class.  The Hazel Park Memorial District Library patrons deserve access to this valuable window to the world in which their families and friends lived.  This history should be preserved for anybody that is interested in learning about the Oakland County area during that era.   

 

2021

(Two Winners)

Beaver Island District Library and Beaver Island Historical Society

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.


 

Monroe County Museum System

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.