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News-Herald pages digitized, searchable

Issues of the Suffolk News-Herald from decades past now are available online in a searchable format.

The project has been a partnership between the Library of Virginia, Suffolk Public Library and the Suffolk News-Herald.

The Virginia Chronicle, a project of the Library of Virginia, includes more than a million newspaper pages of well over 200 publications dating back to the 1700s. The pages are text searchable using text recognition software, and readers can help improve the database by logging in and making text corrections in places the software didn’t quite get it right.

Downloading and saving PDFs of pages is also simple to do.

“It is easily one of our most viewed resources at the Library of Virginia on a daily basis,” said Errol Somay, director of the Virginia Newspaper Project. “We’ve slowly been adding issues.”

The path to getting the Suffolk News-Herald digitized started in July 2018, when Suffolk Library Director Clint Rudy contacted the News-Herald to get the ball rolling. The News-Herald signed a memorandum of agreement to allow the digitization to take place, but the Library of Virginia first needed to get funding for the project.

This summer, the first 80 reels of the Library of Virginia’s collection of microfilm for the Suffolk News-Herald were sent to the vendor to be processed. The Virginia Chronicle website now includes Suffolk News-Herald issues from August 1927 to December 1941.

The Suffolk News was founded in 1873 and later merged with the Suffolk Herald in the early 1900s.

Somay said issues through 1951 should be uploaded by the end of November. The rest of the collection may take a little while, he said. The Suffolk News-Herald gave permission to digitize through 2009, as its website content is fairly comprehensive from the last decade.

There are some gaps in the collection on the Virginia Chronicle, and Somay said those may have resulted from issues with the quality of the film or other reasons.

Somay said the Virginia Chronicle project is an important one for those researching not only genealogy but also other historical topics.

“I can’t tell you what it means to historical research,” he said. “There’s so much more that newspapers are doing now with historical research.”

Rudy said he is excited about having the News-Herald pages digitized.

“We are very excited to be a part of this project,” he said. “The digitization of the Suffolk News-Herald will allow the community to easily access and search the library’s microfilm collection for this publication online.”

News-Herald Editor Tracy Agnew also said she is happy about the project beginning to come to fruition.

“When I first heard about this two years ago, I was very excited,” she said. “This will be very helpful to the community as well as to our staff when we research historical features.”

To view and search the Suffolk News-Herald or other digitized titles, visit virginiachronicle.com.