The Niagara County Historians Office has received a grant from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation which will be used to digitize 28,000 newspaper pages in the County archives. Most of the newspapers date from the 19th century, but do take in years 1826 to 1920. Many of the papers are unique, being the only copies known in existence. In some cases, these papers are not even listed on the New York State Newspaper Index.
"We have an incredible treasure slowly dying before our eyes. We had to reach out and do something in order to save this very important part of Niagara County history. These papers detail everything from agricultural reports, theater events, family stories, and even period cooking recipes and techniques. Each piece helps to tell the tale of our communities," said Niagara County historian, Catherine Emerson.
County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski thanked Grigg-Lewis for the grant, "I can't stress enough how thankful we are to the Grigg-Lewis Foundation. We don't want to lose this historic treasure that we have."
A bulk of the newspapers are from the Lockport area, although there are several papers from around the county. The biggest paper represented is the Lockport Daily-Union, one of the precursors to the present-day Union Sun & Journal. Other papers in the collection include the Niagara Courier, the Barker Register, the Wilson Star, and the Niagara County Intelligencer.
"These soon to be digitized newspapers will fill in many of the gaps in the previously microfilmed papers at the Lockport Public Library and our office," said Deputy Historian, Craig Bacon.
The papers are so fragile that they are currently unavailable to the public. The project will allow researchers to utilize previously unavailable sources. The project will digitize each page, which will be on file at the Historians Office once the process has been completed.
The Niagara County Legislature is expected to accept the grant during Tuesday's meeting, after which the county attorney and the chairman of the legislature will have to approve a contract.
The Niagara County Historians Office is located at 139 Niagara Street, on the corner of Niagara and Hawley Streets. They are open Wednesday through Friday, 8:30-4:30.