Groups digitize historic Hall County newspapers

Several groups are working to digitize 28 Hall County newspapers dating back 150 years....
Several groups are working to digitize 28 Hall County newspapers dating back 150 years. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 6:32 PM CST
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Several groups are bringing 150 years of Hall County history right to your fingertips.

Phase one of the Hall County Newspaper Digitization Project is finished. Seven newspapers dating back to the 1870s can now be found online through the

As of now, they include the Wood River Interests, Wood River Gazette, Wood River Sunbeam, Grand Island Times, Platte Valley Independent, Doniphan Eagle and the Grand Island Independent up to 1900.

"The earliest records of the history of our community are found in the newspapers," said Michelle Setlik, Hall County Historical Society. "That's really want we want, is we want people to be able to go out and find these old newspapers, and search through and find out where we came from, and how we got to be where we are today."

The Hall County Historical Society along with Prairie Pioneer Genealogical Society and all the newspapers, libraries and museums in the county are working on the project.

With the digital archive you can find stories of your great, great grandmother, or maybe even one of yourself from the county fair.

Before, you would've had to search through rolls of microfilm on a machine. Each roll has thousands of pages.

"The page does not fit on the screen, so you have to scroll side to side, and up and down if you're looking for something specific," said Shaun Klee, an adult and technical services librarian at the Grand Island Public Library. "It would take days if I was looking for something specific."

Unlike with microfilm, you can search for specific words or phrases on the digital archive. You can search through one newspaper, and limit the date perimeters.

Setlik said the archive helped her solve a long-time family mystery.

She found an article about her great, great, great grandfather, who left his family to search for wealth in the mines out west and never returned home. The article detailed an unclaimed bag found in Omaha with letters from her great, great, great grandmother in it.

"The claim ticket matched that in the pocket of a man who was found by a railroad track in New Mexico. So he apparently boarded the train in New Mexico and was headed back to Grand Island, and never made it back, although his trunk did," Setlik said.

She said they're hoping this project will spark some curiosity for local history.

There have been 28 newspapers published since 1870 in Hall County. The groups hope to get them all digitized.

The newspapers that have been digitized so far are sponsored by individuals or businesses.

If you'd like to make a donation or sponsor a newspaper, you can do so online at, or write a check to the Hall County Historical Society, 603 N. Plum St., Grand Island, NE 68801.