Many journalists give former Washington Post President and Publisher Philip L. Graham credit for being the first to describe journalism as "the first rough draft of history."
It was a great day in 2013 when the Burnhaven Library asked us if we would like to receive the bound volumes of the Burnsville Current. You can bet we wasted no time. For nine years the BVC served this community; this is how it started...
Sitting at her Birnamwood kitchen table on a muggy August day in 1975, Mary Ziegenhagen was telling her neighbor about the frustration she felt trying to find out the facts surrounding the firing of the school district's superintendent.
"I read in the Twin Cities daily papers what went on yesterday in Afghanistan or New York, but there was nowhere to look for an explanation of the commotion at the intersection of Cliff Road and Highway 13," said the suburban housewife and mother of two sons.
When she tried to find answers to what was going on around town, she was met with mostly misinformation. And, she then decided it was time to do something about it.
Her answer was to publish for Burnsville residents the first edition of The Current, a free weekly newspaper dedicated to the news of Burnsville and its school districts. Reports on the school board and city council meetings, stories about local nature trails and library offerings, and school and community sports news were all part of that first edition.
The Burnsville CURRENT was published from October 8, 1975 through December of 1983.
Years 1975, 1976 and 1977 are now online.
We will add content as the scanning and processing continue.
The REAL benefit of having digital editions... Digital editions are SEARCHABLE. Imagine being able to put in a search term, say "Black Dog" or "smokestack" and have every instance your term listed for for you in context. This is a historian's dream!
Although issues of the CURRENT had been stored in the local library for years, we learned they had almost never been used.
We quickly realized that, living in the internet age, we could make them available to anyone, anywhere, and any time. All we needed was a way to digitize them for viewing on the web.
During early research we discovered we weren't the first to embrace this potential. A web search quickly led us to the inspiring story of Tom Tryzinski (link). Tom is the founder of fultonhistory.com, the result of his pioneering digitizing work as an amateur. He's a hero for outdoing government agencies.
To make long story short, we experimented with scanners, cameras, and microfilm. We talked to lots of folks in the "history game" about our mission. Most (but not all) thought it was a great idea but were unable to help. Ordinary scanners weren't up to the challenge, couldn't give us the needed quality.
It seemed to us that most of the hi-resolution scanning is done by government, the healthcare industry, and insurance companies. They seem to have big budgets, and the prices of what we needed were astronomical! (During one phone call we were quoted $83,000; in another "only $23,000."
Finally, when technology prices came waaaay down, one of our founding members purchased the scanner needed for newspapers. With loving care we scan one page at a time. It's a labor of love.
If you would be interested in helping us scan, not only the newspapers, but thousands of other photos and documents, please contact us by email!