St. John Valley

Initiatives will digitize historical records

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska Public Library announced two new initiatives to digitize historical records pertaining to the French of the upper St. John Valley.

The first initiative is a new partnership between the library, the Madawaska Historical Society and the Maine State Library to support digitization and access to family reunion genealogy books in the historical society’s collection at the library, most created during the Acadian Festival. Many of these items are out of print and are falling apart from excessive use. This project aims to make PDF copies of the books so they are preserved for future generations. Books that have not yet been indexed will have an index created to facilitate their use.

Once digitized, the items will be made available online at the Madawaska Historical Society website, as well as the Maine State Library’s Digital Maine Repository. Text in the books (including names) will also be searchable from online search engines.

The second initiative is funded in part by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, aimed at improving access to historical newspapers from throughout the United States. Over 300,000 pages of historical newspapers from Maine were previously digitized with project funds from NDNP, where they are being made accessible online through the project’s historical newspaper portal. This project will involve filling in the missing parts of the St. John Valley Times as it was digitized by Dan Berube.

The Maine State Library will be providing a new large format scanner and other digitization equipment. “Digitization is an important tool in terms of both access and preservation,” said Adam Fisher, director of collections development and digital initiatives at the Maine State Library. “When historical materials are scanned and made available online, they can easily be viewed by anyone with access to the internet and searched by keyword. By making the information available in digital form, it also spares the print originals from some of the wear that comes from repeated use.”

The Madawaska Public Library over the years has become a major center for the study of the Acadian and French history, genealogy  and culture of the St. John Valley. The partnership with the Maine State Library will reinforce that roll, making hard to find materials accessible worldwide. 

You may follow the progress of the project at the Madawaska Public Library’s website,

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