From a National Park Service News Release (June 1, 2012):
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and Harpers Ferry Historical Association are formalizing a partnership with the West Virginia GeoExplorer Project. The park is digitizing some microfilmed newspapers with funding provided by the association. Many of these digitized collections are historic Virginia, now West Virginia, newspapers that are of interest to researchers and are not readily available in digital format. These microfilmed papers are part of the non-circulating library located at the park and managed by the park’s Museum Management Program. This new partnership will allow the park to have a location to post these valuable research tools for easy access.
The GeoExplorer Project created an innovative geographically-based web resource for exploring the history, culture, and architecture of West Virginia. Jefferson County has served as the starting point for project efforts, which will later be expanded to encompass the rest of the state.
“I am excited to be able to enter into this partnership,” says the park Museum Curator Michael Hosking. “We have many resources at the park including the museum collection and the park library and a small staff dedicated to preserving and providing access to it. This partnership will enable us to have the digitization funded through a grant by our non-profit Historical Association and then utilize the volunteers and infrastructure of the West Virginia GeoExplorer Project to make these digital files available to anybody with interest on their website.”
As part of this partnership, the GeoExplorer Project is actively looking for other copies of the Harpers Ferry Free Press, the Constitutionalist, the Spirit of Jefferson, and the Virginia Free Press to help fill in missing, damaged, or poorly microfilmed copies, making a complete set of these newspapers. They will eventually transcribe and link the original scans to these transcriptions for anybody to access through the web.
“This is a win-win situation for everybody” Hosking says, “the Association is fulfilling its mission by helping make these resources available to the public, the park is able to get these resources out of the drawers and make them readily available for all that are interested without appointments or formal requests, and the GeoExplorer Project is increasing their database of Jefferson County related documentation for its other partners.”
For additional information on the park and research policy please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/hafe and go to the collections page. For more information about the Harpers Ferry Historical Association and their mission please visit http://www.harpersferryhistory.org.