MOULTRIE, Ga. — Some 125 years ago, W.H. Cooper thought Moultrie and Colquitt County should have a newspaper. In 1894, The Moultrie Observer was born.
Thanks to the Moultrie-Colquitt County Library Service, you can view most of that 125-year history online at mccls.org. Click the tab “Resources” near the top of the page and scroll down to “Moultrie Observer digital archive.”
The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library, a separate area at the main Moultrie library that’s dedicated to genealogical research and local history, had most of the old newspapers on microfilm that could then be digitized. In working on the project, the library discovered some rolls of microfilm were missing from its collection and was able to use some from The Observer to fill in the some of the gaps.
“Any community’s most extensive source of local history is its newspaper,” said Melody Jenkins, adult services librarian and project manager. “By preserving The Moultrie Observer and making it available online, the availability of information it contains will be guaranteed for many years to come.”
So far, the library website has all editions of the Weekly Observer, 1894-1988; daily editions from 1905, when the newspaper began daily publication, until 1962; and daily editions from 2002 to 2017. Daily editions from 1962 to 1983 are still being digitized and will be online very soon, according to library director Holly Phillips.
Phillips said the work has been going on for years as the library had resources. The library received about $9,000 when the Tift County Genealogical Society disbanded in 2016, and the Daughters of the American Revolution provided a $10,000 grant this year. Other, smaller gifts and some regular funds have gone into it too.
Nancy Coleman, regent of the John Benning Chapter, said the Odom Library has been a valuable asset for DAR members and other genealogists for many years. Its extensive collection of resources has made it possible for individuals to connect with their ancestors and learn who they were and how they lived.
“The Observer is especially valuable in discovering the day-to-day lives of our ancestors in the local community,” said Coleman. “The John Benning chapter is pleased to have endorsed this grant.”
“The digitization of The Observer has been very helpful in researching genealogy for prospective DAR members,” said Paula Neely, John Benning registrar and a member of the Odom Library Board. “Obituaries, for example, tell us who was married to whom, who their children were and what they did for a living. Digitization allows us to easily access this information.”
The project has cost $51,000 so far, but the library faces one more section — 79 rolls of microfilm from 1984 to 2002. To digitize those will take about another $10,000, Phillips said.
The library created a fundraising page online through CrowdRise at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/mccls-newspaper-digitization-project. The page went live Oct. 16.
In addition, donations can be made in person at the Moultrie library or by mail at the Moultrie-Colquitt County Library Service, Attn: Holly Phillips, P.O. Box 2828, Moultrie, GA 31776. Make a note that it’s for the Moultrie Observer Digitalization Project.