One Man. Wicks and Wilson Scanners. 26+ Million Newspaper Images


Old Fulton New York Post Cards
This issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer circa 1945 was scanned from microfilm using a Wicks and Wilson 8850 Scanstation. Photo credit: Old Fulton New York Post Cards

At Crowley, we love discovering great digital collections – especially when they’ve been scanned on our manufactured capture equipment. Even after more than 30 years, the idea of making images and information from the past available to records managers, archivists, researchers, students and history junkies today and in the future is exciting. When we saw this feature on long-time Wicks and Wilson client, Tom Tryniski, and his astonishing 26 million+ newspaper images scanned, we just had to dig deeper. What we found was the inspiring story of one man and his dedication to the preservation and accessibility of New York’s written history.

Newspapers and Access for All

A retired manufacturing engineer, Tryniski devotes his time to digitizing historical newspaper from microfilm using a Wicks and Wilson 8850 Scanstation production-level microfilm scanner. He hosts the images to his website, Old Fulton New York Post Cards. The sole creator, sponsor and project manager for this operation, Tryniski manages the website out of his home in the small town of Fulton, NY.

In 2001, his website initially featured a collection of historic Fulton post cards dating from 1870. Next, he scanned a local 1947 newspaper, the Oswego Valley News, on a flatbed scanner. The newspapers, larger than the area of his scanner glass, required scanning different sections at a time to get a full-page image. In 2003, increasing interest in his site – and Tryniski’s desire to make more titles available more efficiently – led him to start scanning newspaper images from microfilm.

Finding the Right Scanner

After comparing several scanning equipment vendors at an industry conference, Tryniski selected a Wicks and Wilson 4001 Scanstation for to its high volume capacity, automation, affordability and image quality. Four years and four million images later, Tryniski wanted additional speed and grayscale capabilities, so he upgraded to the Wicks and Wilson RS325 Scanstation. Seven million images after that, heavy volume dictated a third upgrade and Tryniski chose the brand that had served him well in the past, selecting a Wicks and Wilson 8850 Scanstation. He has digitized approximately 15 million images with the 8850 to date and the scanner continues to operate smoothly. “My Wicks and Wilsons have, or still do, run without any maintenance cost or repair,” says Tryniski. “They just keep running.”

Sourcing and Sharing Material

“The people who use my site request specific publications,” notes Tryniski. “I contact the library or organization with the microfilm and seek permission to borrow. I also am contacted by libraries asking if I will scan their collection.” In exchange for loaning Tryniski the microfilm service copies and granting permission to post the images, the institutions are given a copy of the scanned images for their own use.

Tryniski spends an average of 70-80 hours a week scanning rolls of 16 and 35mm microfilm, after which the images are processed and rendered text-searchable via OCR. The original 300 dpi PDFs are saved to high-capacity hard drives for off-site storage. The files are then compressed to 150 dpi grayscale JPEG2000 images, allowing for a smaller file size that is more easily accessible online. Tryniski updates the website with new files almost every day. Most amazing, perhaps, is that all of this information is free to the public.

Still Going Strong

As of this print, Old Fulton New York Post Cards hosts digitized issues from 500+ New York newspapers as well as newspapers from North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and even a few Canadian provinces. The unconventional website features a spider-like “web crawler” with an image of Tryniski’s head attached and a comprehensive search tool. Upon completion or cessation of the project, Tryniski plans to donate a copy of the database to and another to The New York State Library.

To read the case study in its entirety, click here.

Interested in newspaper digitization for preservation or wider access?

If you have any questions about newspaper digitization services or equipment, please contact The Crowley Company by calling (240) 215-0224. General inquiries can be emailed to [email protected]. You can also follow The Crowley Company on FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest, and YouTube.

Camily BishopWith a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Towson University, Camily Bishop serves as The Crowley Company’s sales and marketing assistant. A self-proclaimed member of the grammar police and avid reader of classical fiction, you can find her curled up with a good e-book or, on a nice day, experiencing the great outdoors – perhaps at the nearest wine festival.

4 Responses

  1. My father was the editor of the Millbrook Roundtable during the late 1960s, and is now writing his memoirs.

    I read your article about Tom Tryniski’s project to digitize the Millbrook Roundtable, along with many other newspapers from New York State.
    What an amazing and good thing this is.

    While the article states that his work is OCR searchable, I can only locate entire pages of the newspaper. They are not laid out chronologically, and I can find no text search feature.

    This may be because we are using my father’s new Apple, which does not run flash media. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that neither, nor chronicling , nor newspaper, nor any other service has m father’s articles, so, Fulton History seems to be the only site that has this material. My father is 80 years old, and we very m
    much desire to find a way to read his old newspaper articles and the editorials he wrote, if it is possible to search them. If you know of a way to achieve this, or of a way to contact Mr Tryniski, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you very much,

  2. Thank you for your comment, Rolf. I’m glad you were able to find some of your father’s articles and hope they’ll help with his memoir. I’ll send you Tom’s email privately. Good luck!

    • Thanks very much.

      On a separate issue, where do I find rates for digitizing rolls of newspaper microfilm?

      I am working on a grant request, and need some way to create a ball park estimate, and don’t know how to do so.


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