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St. Joseph Co. Public Library Will Make Thousands Of Historical Photos Available Online

Jennifer Weingart

The St. Joseph County Public Library recently received an $11,000 grant to digitize a collection of photo negatives donated by the South Bend Tribune. 

Local and family history librarian Ellen Anderson says the library will only digitize 2-3 percent of the collection. But that still comes out to 9,000 images, documenting St. Joe County from the 1950s to the 1990s.

The collection is enormous, disorganized and starting to deteriorate in places. Anderson said digitizing it will solve those problems.

“We always want to make sure that our materials are as accessible to the public as possible," she said. "We’re hoping that just getting those top 2 or 3 percent will cover a lot of what our users are looking for.”

What users are looking for, she said, is people and places – old buildings before they were demolished, landscape photos, pictures of community leaders and celebrity visits – anything that can create a living timeline of St. Joseph County.

That’s what’s important to Anderson about moving the collection online – it will help bring history to life for anyone who wants to view it.

“I mean, I think for me, it’s like getting to see a glimpse of all these things I read about,” Anderson said.

The collection will be available on the library’s Michiana Memory website by summer 2021.

Contact Gemma at or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.