Digitized Newspapers A Gift to Maryland Communities
Chronicled History from 1879 to 2008
Now Available Online
Today is Maryland Day, a day that commemorates the formal founding of the colony of Maryland in 1634. As we’re reminded in this account by Dr. Jean Russo of Maryland State Archives, the news of the day – much like that of every news report before and since – has multiple versions. Thus, the donation of digitized historic newspapers by Eric E. Glass and The Taney Corporation serves as a concrete piece of history’s puzzle for the Maryland communities served by four local news outlets:
- The Emmitsburg Chronicle (1879-1977)
- The Carroll Record (1894-1967)
- The Weekly Chronicle (1909-1918)
- The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch (1993-2008)
One of the 13 original colonies of the United States (and the headquarters of our own Crowley Company), Maryland’s small size does not equal its compelling contributions to our nation’s founding. Similarly, the bucolic Emmitsburg and Taneytown* communities in Frederick and Carroll counties respectively – which both border Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – serve just a small portion of Maryland’s citizens but are rich with the State’s political, religious and agricultural histories.
For Eric Glass, who was born, reared, raised his family and continues to work and contribute beneath the shadow of Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, this gift was a labor of love.
The Collection Steps
Glass, once owner and publisher of the Emmitsburg Chronicle, had the majority of the archives already in his personal holdings. He added the Carroll Record to his collection after a thwarted bid by the then-owners to sell the collection to Neiman Marcus as Christmas wrappings. (Credit given for a clever idea minus the potentially lost history).
As founder of The Taney Corporation, a family-owned and operated custom and pre-built craft stair firm located in Taneytown, Glass knew that the tie-in with the local community was immediate. How the collection went from The Taney Corporation warehouse to its own website, was a step-by-step (pun intended) process.
Initially, the idea was simply to preserve the newspapers. At the company’s expense in 1990, a set of microfilm duplicates was made of the original and bound newspaper copies, one page at a time, one book at a time. One set of microfilm duplicates was donated to the Frederick County Public Library with a second set gifted to the Emmitsburg branch.
Fast forward 27 years. The leaps in technology since the original microfilm duplication now offered an opportunity to share the collection to a much wider audience. With the thought of digitizing the collection in mind, Glass sought recommendations. The Crowley Company’s digitization services division was highly recommended by the Carroll County Historical Society for a project done with the Carroll County Public Library (read more here).
And here’s where the story takes a funny little “small world” turn.
Service with Some Smiles
Years ago, Meghan O’Brien, Crowley’s senior business development manager for conversion services (digitization), worked as wait staff at an area restaurant. “Every Saturday night,” she says, “Eric Glass and his wife would come to the restaurant and order prime rib, and every Saturday night we’d fight over who would get their table because they were just lovely to serve. On other days, his wife would come in on her own, order a salad and quietly read a book, becoming a favorite of the day staff.”
When the lead for the digitization project came in, O’Brien was fairly certain it was the same Eric Glass. After a face-to-face meeting to review the collection, her hunch was confirmed. “I’m not sure he recognized me, but I definitely knew him. Servers don’t forget kind customers,” she laughs. She continues, “This was obviously a pet project for Eric and I wasn’t at all surprised at his generosity in making sure that this important local collection could be accessed by everyone. The concept was in keeping with the family character I had gotten to know 15-plus years ago. It was fun to be able to work with him decades apart in a completely different industry.”
Prior to shipping, the collection was cataloged and documented by Glass’ granddaughter, adding another generational layer to the archiving process. Delivered to Crowley on eight pallets, the collection consisted of 124 bound newspaper books containing 52 issues each as well as several reels of microfilm. Together these collection assets held over 130 years’ worth of newspaper reports, stories, photographs, art and advertising. Additionally, there were colored glass plate negatives from Glass’ private collection dating from the 1940s or 1950s – unusual, O’Brien notes, because that method of photography was no longer popular at the time, but also beautiful because they were in color (also atypical). The glass plates had been handed down by a late friend of Eric’s, Robert Smith, who was also the photographer.
News for All
Once the digitization project was complete, Glass and The Taney Corporation took the final step in this generous gift by hosting the newspapers online in an ad-free, interactive environment. Covering all creation, editing, updating and hosting fees, the website – emmitsburgchronicles.com – is free of charge and visitors can search, download and save images from the newspapers on the site. Launched in August of 2019, the site hosts 55,000+ pages of news and averages 60 new users each week with a 25% return visitor rate.
Most satisfying, besides the fact that the newspaper archives are both preserved and of interest to others, says Glass, is the feedback he receives about the project from folks once or still native to the area. From calls, emails and even walk-ins at the Taney plant, there is an appreciation for the personal connections, genealogy links and general history that has been so freely shared with the community.
About The Taney Corporation
A leader in the stair industry, The Taney Corporation prides itself on delivering the same quality to new construction and renovation projects for homeowners across the East Coast as they did to the over five thousand units in The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. Their work has been featured on Extreme Home Makeover and This Old House as well as the movie, The Firm. Among thousands of discerning eyes and customers who expect the best, Cal Ripken, Vince McMahon, Wayne Newton and Mario Andretti are just of the few of those who have chosen Taney stairs for their homes.
Cheri Baker, Crowley’s Director of Communications, has a career that spans newspaper, agency and corporate communications. A self-described “generalist specialist,” she believes common sense, good grammar, nice manners and a dash of fun go a long way toward successful public relations. Find Cheri Baker on LinkedIn+
* Wondering how to pronounce “Taneytown”? The Frederick and Carroll County locals are split between “Taney” (long ā) or “Tawny” so we loved Eric’s response: “We say ‘Taney’ but George Washington actually wrote ‘Tawney’ in his journal when referring to an overnight stay in the town. It’s either Taney in Tawneytown or Tawney in Taneytown, but one or the other, please!”