Luther's Preus Library and Winneshiek County Historical Society awarded $30,000 grant

Money will fund digitization of Winneshiek County newspapers

Thanks to a grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Luther College's Preus Library and the Winneshiek County Historical Society will make county newspapers more accessible to the public.

The entities were jointly awarded $30,016 to fund the digitization of Winneshiek County newspapers dating back more than 150 years. The Winneshiek County Historical Society will augment the grant award with a $10,000 cash contribution to fully fund the digitization efforts.

Advantage Preservation of Cedar Rapids is scanning and indexing the microfilm of the county newspapers, including the Decorah Public Opinion, Decorah Journal, Decorah Republican, and The Calmar Courier. The project will result in a keyword-searchable website that's open to the public. This process is estimated to take four to six weeks. When it's completed, there will be approximately 275,000 pages catalogued.

Once the process is completed, Ryan Gjerde, Luther College Preus Library director, will create documentation and training materials for local users. Throughout the two-year grant period, Gjerde will lead training and outreach efforts.

"We are excited that this project will unlock a significant source of local history for casual and serious researchers and genealogists, and perhaps even students in local schools," said Gjerde. "Once the collection site is up and running, we look forward to reaching out to local groups who might be interested in training on how to use the collection."

The project will also be a benefit to the cities of Decorah and Calmar.

"The Winneshiek County Historical Society is excited about our collaboration with Luther College in getting 150 years-worth of microfilm of the Decorah Newspapers and the Calmar Courier digitized and made available to the public," said Stacey Gossling, Winneshiek County Historical Society Decorah township director.

In total, $2,091,162 was awarded via 210 grants in two division—the Iowa Arts Council and the State Historical Society of Iowa.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

The Winneshiek County Historical Society is a county organization whose mission is to protect, collect, preserve, and promote the written, oral, and tangible items of historical importance to Winneshiek County and to cooperate with other organizations to accomplish common goals.