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Local museum and library link up to digitize Thorold's past

The library is creating an online archive of old Thorold newspapers, dating as far back as the 1870s; 'You probably get the best insight in the day-to-day life within the community'

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: This article was originally published by ThoroldToday on March 14.

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The Thorold Museum is linking up with the Thorold Public Library to digitize old Thorold newspapers such as the Thorold Post and Thorold News — with issues dating as far back as the 1870s.

“We’re going to try and digitize all of the Thorold newspaper editions we have in our collective resources,” says the director of the Thorold Museum, Randy Barnes, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “What we want to do is build an as large as possible Thorold database.”

With the project, the Thorold Museum hopes to provide an intricate view of Thorold’s history.

“With newspapers you probably get the best insight in the day-to-day life within the community,” Barnes says. “You’re not going to get that out of a history book. They just can’t get down to that level of detail.”

According to Barnes, the online news archive is the start of a much larger project to digitize Thorold's past.

“Once we’ve completed that we’re going to continue digitizing whatever records we have,” he says. “We have a number of photographs, we have land records, we have ledgers and minute books and so forth. Ultimately, our hope is it’ll form part of this database.”

While the Thorold Museum Board still hopes to turn Fire Station 1 into their permanent location, the digitization project will go a long way to preserve local history.

“If we don’t actually get a physical museum in the end this project becomes even more important because this will be how the collection is accessible for people,” Barnes says.

To realize the project, the museum and library are getting help from the Niagara branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, as well as the Thorold Heritage Committee. 

Financial aid has been made available through a grant from the Niagara Community Foundation.

“From that we were able to buy the equipment necessary,” Thorold Public Services Librarian Rebecca Lazarenko tells ThoroldToday. “We were also able to hire a student to help with the project. We’re hoping to digitize as much of our local history collection as we can.”

The Fred Campbell Room in the Thorold Public Library currently houses a vast collection of microfilm and hard copies of the Thorold Post and the Thorold News.

“Most of our collection is already catalogued using Dewey Decimal,” Lazarenko says. “It’s not borrowable but people have been able to come in and look at it. This is really a way to make it accessible for everyone. Along with that we’re making an index of everything so it’s easy to search.”

It might seem like an insurmountable amount of work to digitize more than a century worth of newspapers but Lazarenko hopes to have it done by the end of the year.

Curious Thorold residents will be able to follow the project online, as the library aims to add new content every week.

“Hopefully people will check in periodically and see what has gone up,” Barnes says. “At the end of the day we can have something extremely comprehensive and informative — something for Thorold to be proud of.”

To check out old copies of the Thorold Post, head over to the library’s website.

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Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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