Help us preserve our county’s history: sponsor a year of The Observer

By Thompson Free Library Director Jon Knepp

The digital archive maintained by the Thompson Free Library and the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society (found at https://doverfoxcroft.advantage-preservation.com/) is a tremendous resource for our community! And now, we are looking for help to make it even better by rescanning the Piscataquis Observer collection between 1921 and 1986. Because of badly damaged microfilm, you cannot search through the paper for names, towns, or really anything.

Through donors willing to sponsor a year of the Observer for $100, we can redigitize these vital pieces of our county’s history and make them fully searchable for local historians, genealogists, families and anyone who wants to research the rich history of our wonderful county! Donations are accepted by mail via check, in-person at the library via cash, card, or check, or online via credit, debit, or PayPal using the link: www.bit.ly/observerpaypal.

The archive was created to house all of the Foxcroft Academy yearbooks (1940-2021) as well as all of the county’s newspapers from 1838 to 2019. Unfortunately, when the archive was created, it was made with a well-used, very scratched copy of microfilm. When scanned, entire lines went missing. e’s scanned in as c’s or vice versa. You can read the images, but searching is useless. Even The Piscataquis Observer itself became “The Piscatarus Qhseg ‘et.”

Starting with the 1987 paper, the Observer became the Observer again. The film was undamaged and you can once again search for anything through the search bar! Having worked in digitization projects for 17 years, I was always frustrated with the low quality of the searchable text in the archive and have always wanted to improve it! There just wasn’t an easy way until now. Recently, the historical society uncovered completely untouched microfilm, which, if rescanned and used to replace the current digital versions, will mean the text is searchable, making historical research much easier and more accessible. No more leafing through pages of the Observer to find an obituary. The search bar will lead you right to it!

Unfortunately, rescanning will be costly! By sponsoring the cost of a year’s digitization for $100, we can all work together to preserve this resource and make it accessible! Purchase the birth year of you or a relative, your anniversary, your class at FA. Any reason is a good reason to help out your community! For more information, reach out at 207-564-3350, email director@thompsonfreelibrary.org, or stop in and chat about it at 186 E. Main Street Dover-Foxcroft, Maine 04426.

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