One-Hundred-and-Twenty-Year-Old Pemaquid Newspapers Digitized
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
We now have about 84 issues of the Pemaquid Messenger that have been photographed and converted to computer files so that they can be read and scrutinized on a computer display device. This newspaper was published during part of the 1880 and 1890 decades and was donated to the Pemaquid Point Association by Edith Hary with the proviso that if we can 'digitize' them, we should then pass the originals on to the local historical society, which we have done. Edith acquired these papers when she was the Historian for the Association. The newspapers were auctioned off in 2 lots in two consecutive years and Shirley Geyer acting on behalf of Skip Atwood, of the Pemaquid Hotel bought the first lot and Edith bought the second lot. We have both lots here in this collection, except for a few issues remaining with the Pemaquid Hotel; they range in dates from Jan. 12 1887 to July 24, 1890 and were published weekly. The project took about a year and a half of spare time effort to complete as some of the people involved were available only during the summer and fall seasons. John Porter agreed to take on the project when he was the president of the Association and very quickly caught the interest of Mark Eelman the webmaster and Pat Porter, John's wife. After a quick trial picture, taken by Mark with his camera, proved the technique would work, the wheels started slowly turning down the road to digitizing the old papers. At a lunch date with Jack (John) and Jeanne Lane, the topic came up and Jack was hooked on the idea. Jack promptly volunteered to take the photos and John, Pat and Mark very quickly agreed, knowing that with Jack's professional expertise and equipment we couldn't hope for more. The wheels on the road to 'Digi-town' were now picking up speed. This past summer (2008) the newspapers were hauled to Jack's studio for 3 sessions of 'shooting' the old relics. Jack made some contrast adjustments to enhance the appearance of the photos and gave us digital files of the papers.
WHAT WE HAVE
Reading the advertisements in these old papers is a hoot; there are remedies, gadgets, services and retail ads that give a vivid view into life in the past. In the news sections of the papers are interesting fictional and real stories, history, advice, recipes, news, poetry and many other topics. We have not read many of the issues at this point so there there are no doubt many surprises yet to be discovered. There were two physical sizes of the newspapers, the older ones were a smaller format printed on both sides of one large sheet of paper with individual pages approximately 13 inches by 20 inches. The sheets were folded twice; and required unfolding to read all of the pages. Most of the issues of this physical size were cut in half and then only required one fold to achieve a newspaper style publication. The newer ones were larger with each page being about 22.5 inches by 31 inches. In photographing, we photographed 2 pages at once; so each paper having 8 pages required 4 photos, resulting in 4 files per paper. The Christmas issue of 1887 had a special insert with two pages of Christmas items so that issue required 6 photos. We started with the older ones and worked generally in chronological order, except that we re-did the first days photos at the end because Jack came up with a better set-up by the time we did the second session. So the filename sequence will not all be in chronological order. The only page of each issue that has a date on it is the front page; we photographed the front page first, then the rest of the pages. The front page will have a lower sequence number than the other pages of any given issue. Eventually we will rename the filenames to identify the issue date of the paper. There are too many files to fit on one CD so we are storing them on a DVD instead.
We will be posting articles from the Pemaquid Messenger in the History section of the Association website. I'll try to dig out some interesting articles or advertisements and post them periodically so check the history section from time to time.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION
John Porter wishes to express his special thanks to all who helped make this project possible: Skip Atwood of the Pemaquid Hotel for acquiring and safe keeping of the papers and Edith Hary, when serving as the Association's Historian, for the same. Jack Lane for his professional expertise, facilities and time that he donated to the project. Mark Eelman for his assistance in the photo shoots and his expertise in adding this to the website. Last; but definitely not least John's wife Pat for her eternal and valuable assistance in whatever project he is into; specifically in this case, putting up with the make shift paper press to flatten the old papers (on a writing surface in her library room for a year), helping with the photo shoots and editing this write up.
AVAILABILITY OF COPIES OF THE NEWPAPERS
You can obtain a copy of the DVD by contacting Jack Lane Photographs. He will make copies available on an 'as is' basis for $22.50 including first class postage.