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Over A Century Of News-Tribune Microfilm Donated To Allen County Public Library

"A key to unlock the past." That is how The News-Tribune's editor Mary Ann Barth, describes the microfilm collection of News-Tribunes dating back to 1882, which she presented to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne last Wednesday, February 25.

"It's important to unlock doors for those interested in history and genealogy," Barth said. "And we are happy to be able to present Hicksville's history in such a way that the public can view it at any time.

"It has been such a shame to have the films in our possession and not be able to share them with the public. Now, after many years of working, collecting and processing them, they are finally available."

Allen County Public Library's Historical Genealogical Depart-ment Director Curt Witcher echoed Ms. Barth's sentiments during the presentation ceremony at the library's Berry Street location. "People, with today's technology, tend to lose focus of recording the news as a historical reference. Newspapers are, and were, a record of the life and times of the people they represent. They give a good idea of the community, the people and its views.

"This collection will be a great addition to our library." Mr. Witcher stated. "Most of our newspapers are considered contemporary (1930s and newer) daily papers. We do have some 1700s editions from Virginia which are our oldest newspapers.

"The extent of this collection is wonderful." Witcher continued. "To have over 100 years of news from a community is exceptional, and we are very pleased to be able to add this collection to the Allen County Public Library."

Witcher expects the acquisition of the Tribune films to be the largest addition the library will make in the next several years.

Curt Witcher is shown loading a reel of microfilm from The News-Tribune archive into a reader at the Allen County Public Library. Witchert syas that the Tribune collection has already been put to use in the week since its donation by members of the public researching Hicksville's history.

Tribune Printing owner and editor of The News-Tribune, Mary Ann Barth is shown presenting Curt Witcher of the Allen County Library with The News-Tribune microfilms. Over 100 separate films were presented, representing more than a century of Hicksville's history. Witcher called the collection "exceptional."

The Allen County Public Library is known throughout the nation for having the largest genealogical department in a public library. Newspapers are a prime source of information for those studying genealogy, and, according to Mr. Witcher, the Tribune editions were put to use less than two days after their arrival. "A woman came in this morning (Friday) requesting several issues, and although we don't have everything cataloged yet, we made them availble for her."

Hicksville area residents have been using the same collection for nearly a year now since a duplicate set of microfilm editions were presented to Johnson Memorial Library by the Barth family in 2003. The microfilming process is ongoing, and both libraries will continue to receive updated microfilms with current issues of The News-Tribune each year.

The microfilming project began nearly 20 years ago when former Tribune editor and publisher Merle Pepple (Ms. Barth's father and former owner of The News-Tribune) began sending issues of The Hicksville News dating back to 1882 to Bowling Green State University to be microfilmed. Issues from 1882 through 1887 were available along with a complete set of issues from 1906 through the present. The project was completed after Ms. Barth purchased the Tribune in 1990.

Today, Ms. Barth operates the newspaper with her sons, making the Tribune a third-generation family-owned printing and publishing business.

"It's nice to finally see this all come together," Ms. Barth said. "We're glad to have had the opportunity to continue my father's dream of preserving our history and sharing it with future generations."

Visit the Allen County Public Library Genealogical Department


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