As the name of its "History Without Walls" campaign indicates, much of what the West Linn Historical Society has to offer can be found outside of a museum. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can find everything from historic maps and photos to digitized books and old census data.
Now, with the help of the University of Oregon, the historical society is partnering with West Linn High School students in an effort to digitize the archives of the student newspaper, The Amplifier. The effort falls under the nationwide Digital Newspaper Project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities — which awarded a grant to the University of Oregon to complete digitization projects from across the state — and the historical society hopes to digitize a collection of just under 600 pages of student newspapers dating back to 1982.
"But there are copies in existence going back to the '20s," said Danny Schreiber, who serves as vice president of the historical society. "We're going to start with these and hopefully get access to other issues. It's all kid journalism, all written by kids under supervision from adults. It's a great way to get access to what they're saying."
Schreiber said the historical society was approached about a month ago by WLHS student Evan McKinley, who recently took on the role of archivist for "The Amplifier." The historical society then turned to the University of Oregon, which said it could digitize the records at a price of $600.
"We will pay for the digitization, and they'll archive and make a searchable index," Schreiber said. "It will be saved forever, so there's no concern of degradation of paper or loss due to a disaster."
The historical society is looking for donations toward the $600 price tag, and also for access to more copies of The Amplifier.
"Some are saved in long term storage from the (school) district, so we're hoping if this goes well and people are pleased with what it looks like, maybe we can track down the oldest issues," Schreiber said. "It will be hard to tell if we got every copy, because we don't know if they were doing four a year or six or eight (at any given time)."
Schreiber added that the historical society will also rely on citizens for help with unearthing old copies.
"If people have access to old copies, certainly let us know," Schreiber said.