Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Digital access to the Independent archives?

I do a lot of historical research and I would really love it if the archives of the Addison Independent was digitized and searchable. I don’t know how newspapers.com gets the papers that they have, but their service is invaluable. I search Vermont papers there all the time and there’s a huge gap of information from Addison County after 1924. The Burlington Free Press is on that website as is the Rutland Herald. Those papers occasionally have news from Middlebury, but it’s sporadic. The local obituaries are especially missed.
Using an online database I’ve been able to search for the names of the people who lived in my house in Middlebury and I have found news items about these people and their families going back to the 1800s. For example, there was a huge thunderstorm in Middlebury in 1891 that blew down many trees and also took the roof off my house! (It was William Cota’s house at the time.)
In another example, the Narrabone family was coming to church on a Sunday when their blind horse was spooked by a train and ran away with them. The Narrabone family (Frank and Exilda) also had a wedding reception in my house in 1922, when their son Alfred married Mary McCabe. Being able to search the old papers has made the history of my house, and indeed all of Middlebury, seem like the present.
Without a searchable digital archive all of this information is buried, and for all intents and purposes, lost. I would certainly pay more for this service, although I know not everyone would.
Veronica Hirsch
Middlebury
Editor’s note: Oh, that there was money and time enough in the world to digitize our history! We would love to put all of our back issues online, and we appreciate the writer’s offer to pay more for access to such archives. So far, though, we haven’t identified a base of consumers willing to spend enough on such information to cover the cost of that project. Perhaps there will be a groundswell of demand, but the price would not be cheap. In the meantime, the public is welcome to read old editions reaching back to our founding (in 1946) in the archives at our offices during regular business hours. Try Ilsley Public Library and Sheldon Museum, as well.

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