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"Please Help Save Our History"

For two years the Vernon Historical Society (VHS) has been working to digitize and make available online over a hundred years of Tolland County newspapers that will be available to anyone anywhere for free with full search capability.

The newspapers are currently on microfilm at the Rockville Public Library with the physical newspapers located at VHS. However, the newspapers are deteriorating and microfilm readers are basically obsolete. We live in a digital online world where newspapers and microfilm are seldom used anymore. Hours for access are limited such that this valuable resource is rarely used.

The four newspapers being digitized were published in Rockville, but were regional papers covering primarily Tolland County, but reached from Stafford to East Windsor and from Coventry to Somers. Surrounding towns will find their stories here too.

Over time the papers ranged from 4 to 20 pages and were published once or twice a week. Most focused on local news but for periods national and world news was also included.

For most of their life each issue included local news columns written by 'stringers' who were part-time journalists assigned to cover an area such as Vernon Center or Broad Brook and paid for each piece of published work. These columns provide a unique look at the detail history of individuals, organizations and churches not available anywhere else.

Who will benefit from this project?

Family Historians . . . and they can do it from home.

Organizations such as churches, fraternal organizations, sports fans, arts and museums. Learn about your early history and the people who led them.

Schools - The newspapers provide schools a tool for students to learn more about their town and explore social changes and trends.

Fans - As they do today the papers featured sports and movie stars - local and national - and covered their visits to Tolland County.

Historians who will find information on people and events such as town government, wars, social history and town development. Reporters often provided lengthy background stories on a business, person or event rarely seen in newspapers today.

Those who love their town and want to preserve its history and the knowledge of our early way of life.

Where Are We?

For the past two years a few volunteers at the Vernon Historical Society led by Jean Luddy have been preparing to digitize and put our newspapers online - both to preserve them and make them available to researchers around the world.

A small grant allowed us to hire a professional to guide us through the many steps involved. The most labor intensive task has been reviewing the microfilm newspapers page by page prior to digitizing.

We divided the papers into three batches. The first has been digitized and is ready to be uploaded to UConn's site.

However, the total cost is about $25,000 and very little grant money is available for this type of project, which is why we need your support to continue.

Will you help us preserve our history and make it accessible to the world?

Learn more about the digitization project and how to donate.

On a personal note our newspapers have been an invaluable resource for research on The Tankerhoosen exploring local history and the people who built our town. Searching through the old papers by hand is challenging and there is so much more to learn that will be discovered when we are online.

Jon Roe   

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