By nature, newspapers are a perishable product, at least so far as history goes. Readers may clip cherished scrapbook articles and photos from the pages, but it doesn’t take long for newsprint to become yellow with age and more fragile and crumbly than tissue paper.
Thanks, however, to a grant from the Montana History Foundation, some of Richland County’s oldest and most fragile newspapers will be preserved digitally for all time.
MonDak Heritage Center has received a $900 grant to digitize the Yellowstone Valley Star, published out of Savage from 1912 to 1920.
“The Yellowstone Valley Star didn’t last very long,” MHC Director Dan Karalus said. “But it had a lot of unusual stuff in it. Inventions, and scientific development type of articles. These are things that might not be in one of the other newspapers of the time. So hopefully this will be some cool stuff we can use for exhibits or other stories and ideas.”
MHC will maintain hard copies of the newspaper, which have become fragile with age, but the grant will allow MHC to contract with the Montana Historical Society to digitize them all. The digital copies will then be available online, free of charge, for the general public.
“This was one of the newspapers we don’t want researchers rifling through,” Karalus said. “So this will be really helpful to give them online access to it instead.”
The grant will cover a majority of the cost to digitize the paper. MHC will chip in the rest.
The finished papers will be online at montananewspapers.org.
The Yellowstone Valley Star is among a variety of local history resources that the MonDak Heritage Center keeps in its collection. There are several other newspapers in the collection that may also eventually be digitized.
“This project will be a good introduction to working with the Montana Historical Society, to see how their process works,” Karalus said.