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

Dec 3, 2020

The St. Joseph County Public Library will make 9,000 images donated by the South Bend Tribune available to the public online by summer 2021.
Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

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 gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo

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