Last updated: February 16. 2013 11:26PM - 371 Views

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An exciting new project by the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society will put many decades of Hazleton-area newspapers into a modern, accessible format that will preserve their life almost indefinitely.

The group will digitize the entire newspaper collection of the Greater Hazleton Historical Society. That is expected to be some 950,000 pages of the Standard Sentinel, The Hazleton Sentinel, The Plain Speaker and the Daily Standard from 1868 to the 1940s.

Digitizing, in this case, is the conversion of print images (such as old newspapers) into condensed form onto discs, which may then be read via computer. The process is similar to that of a modern digital camera, which puts photos onto a tiny card from which they may then be retrieved, or a CD containing music.

Digitizing is growing in popularity as a means of records storage because old paper records tend to become brittle and disintegrate over time. Paper records are also subject to damage from moisture, fire or handling, and they require immense storage space.

The society has been digitizing records for some time, but the new project is easily the largest it has ever undertaken. The process is to take the paper records to the society's research library in Hanover Township, digitize them and then return them.

In the case of the Hazleton-area papers, one set of discs will be given to the historical society free of charge, one will be kept at the society's library and one will be kept in storage as a master file so that discs in heavy use may be replaced over time. The discs will be readable at the library on a dedicated computer.

"Any civic or religious institution, business or organization with historical vital records in their custodial care which would be useful in doing genealogical research is encouraged to take advantage of our society's records preservation project," the Genealogical Society said in a release.

After digitization, the old paper records will be returned to their custodians.

Institutions with questions about digitizing may contact the Genealogical Society at (570) 829-1765 or nepgsmail@gmail.com.

News Notes: If you'd like to visit Molly Maguire country, the Schuylkill County Historical Society has a trip for you. On Oct. 13 there will be a bus tour of northern Schuylkill County to visit sites associated with the Molly Maguires, as well as some patch towns. Call (570) 622-7540 for details by Wednesday.

Don't forget the Battle of Wyoming walking tour, sponsored by the Luzerne County Historical Society, Sept. 15 and 16. Call (570) 823-6244 Ext. 3 for details on this visit to the grounds around Wyoming and Exeter where the bloody 1778 fight took place.

Another good event is the Historical Society's Wilkes-Barre architectural tour, Sept. 29. You'll visit scenes your local ancestors would have known and learn their historical significance. Call the number above for reservations.

Also coming up this month is the Nathan Denison House Harvest Festival, set for Sept. 23, at the Denison House, Forty Fort. It's a trip back in time to the colonial era. No reservations are needed, but check "The Guide" in your Times Leader for details.

John Stevenson, treasurer and historian of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, will teach a two-session course on, "Introduction to Genealogy" at Luzerne County Community College on October 3 and 10. There is a fee for this course. More information can be found by contacting LCCC at: www.luzerne.edu or calling: 1-800-377-5222 (ext. 7495).

Digitizing is growing in popularity as a means of records storage because old paper records tend to become brittle and disintegrate over time.

Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at tmooney2@ptd.net.

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