(LaPorte, IN) - Thanks to some quick action and hard work, a treasure trove of local history has been salvaged.
A year and a half ago, when LaPorte’s newspaper moved its offices to Michigan City, thousands of back issues were left behind. The old Herald-Argus building on State Street was changing hands, and everything in it had to go. That’s when LaPorte County historian Bruce Johnson sprung to action.
“The publisher contacted us and said they were going to be moving out of the building,” Johnson said. “We had a month to get as much as we could out.”
Johnson and his team were allowed in the building for a brief period of time. Rescuing all the issues was no easy task, because they were bound together in cumbersome volumes. “I got three guys together with vans, and we just started carrying them out,” Johnson explained. “You could only carry two or three at a time because they’re really big and heavy.” The building’s awkward old wooden stairs didn’t make the job any easier.
After three hours, Johnson’s salvage team was able to save about 275 bound volumes. The editions go all the way up through present day, although Johnson says many 2008 papers were ruined by water. The oldest one he found was an 1847 edition of the LaPorte Weekly newspaper.
The volumes are currently stored in various areas of the county history museum. Johnson hopes to obtain grant money to properly archive them. The goal is to preserve the newspapers for future research. Johnson says he has already used old papers to answer questions about LaPorte’s past.