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The Journal Gazette

  • July 18, 1947: Don Reader photographs pages from a book of old copies of The Journal Gazette. Previous to the process of making microfilm copies, the old pages were bound into large books and held on large shelves, which can be seen in the upper right of this photo. (Journal Gazette file)

  • Today, old pages of The Journal Gazette can be scanned from microfilm to make digital copies for staff members doing research. Here, a page from 1947 about the creation of the JG's microfilm is being scanned in 2019. (Corey McMaken | The Journal Gazette)

  • Drawers of Journal Gazette microfilm are seen in the newspaper's library in 2019. (Corey McMaken | The Journal Gazette)

Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:00 am

July 18, 1947: Making microfilm of JG archives

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

In the summer of 1947, a project was underway in The Journal-Gazette's library that any fan of History Journal should appreciate.

The newspaper was converting all of its archived editions to microfilm, which was then a new technology. These rolls of film are still consulted regularly for History Journal as well as other research purposes by members of the newsroom's staff. 

Pages on microfilm go back to 1884. The newspaper began a digital archive for in-house use in the 1990s, but we still make microfilm copies of our pages.

The story below was published in 1947 and gives some details of the process, which was a first for newspapers in the area.

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"For Posterity: All Of J-G Files Being Microfilmed" (July 20, 1947)

Microfilm – one of the most important documentary devices of the age is being brought to Fort Wayne by The Journal-Gazette.

The entire back files of this newspaper are being photographed for posterity. This marks another first in this area for The Journal-Gazette.

Microfilm makes it possible to skim through back files of a newspaper without wallowing around in musty volumes or flipping through crumbling pages.

Under the process as carried on in The Journal-Gazette library by the Lincoln Reproduction Company of 202 West Wayne Street, the pages are photographed one at a time by a Microstat machine, the only one of its type in the state.

Individual rolls of film are 100 feet in length. Each roll accommodates 1,350 pages, or a considerable number of daily papers. But the time the project is finished several months hence the entire Journal, Gazette and Journal-Gazette files will be preserved on some 350 odd rolls of microfilm.

When he desires to consult a back newspaper, the viewer simply inserts the roll into the Recordak machine in The Journal-Gazette morgue room. The viewer sits down, turns a crank to obtain the desired page and the page appears on a brightly illuminated screen in any desired size.

On the film each page is contained on a strip a little larger than a postage stamp but the projected image can be adjusted for comfortable reading.

Don Reader and Jim Johnson who have been operating the Microstat under the direction of O.B. Schwab of Lincoln Reproductions, have progressed up to the year 1914 in the files to date.

Microfilm for newspapers was pioneered by the New York Times. Main objectives of the whole process are to preserve bulky files in a compact, non-deteriorating form. Eventually all major libraries will be equipped with Recordaks and microfilm records of significant newspapers. Many government agencies are using the method to preserve priceless historical documents.