All issues of the Daily Jefferson County Union — from its founding in 1870 through 90 day ago — now are available online, thanks to a partnership of library and newspaper organizations.

The Daily Unions from 1892 through three months ago have been digitized and made available online through the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers, a repository maintained by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. The newspaper collection is freely available through BadgerLink at https://badgerlink.newsmemory.com/wna/badgerlink/.

The earliest newspapers from 1870-1891 were made available digitally in 2017, through a project spearheaded by the Dwight Foster Public Library of Fort Atkinson and its Friends of the Library, the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation and the Daily Jefferson County Union. Now, the rest of the archive has been digitized and added to the online collection, where newspaper articles prior to 90 days ago can be searched and viewed online.

Primary funding of $12,500 for this second phase of the digitization project was provided by the Bridges Library System, of which public libraries in Jefferson and Waukesha counties are members, with an additional investmentin the form of a federal grant managed by Recollection Wisconsin (https://recollectionwisconsin.org).

“This is so exciting, and a wonderful birthday present as the Daily Union celebrates its 150th year,” said Christine Spangler, managing editor of the Fort Atkinson-based newspaper.

She noted that all it takes to access the collection, either through BadgerLink or the Dwight Foster Public Library website, is a Wisconsin library card with one’s barcode number.

“Once on the site, you can search for specific names, dates, event or whatever word you wish,” she said. “This is an amazing resource for doing research, especially students, historians and people tracing their family history. And it is free!”

Eric Robinson, director of the Dwight Foster Public Library, agreed, saying that optical character recognition (OCR) “enables you to search as though it is a PDF.”

He noted that often, people doing research have a vague notion of dates, but it take a while to find exactly what they are looking for. However, OCR is a major timesaver because it quickly locates newspapers according to specific names or words.

“We’re really excited to see something that is such a tremendous asset to the community has gotten digitized,” he said of the Daily Union. “Often, people seeking information are unable to come into the library or are out of town or state. This provides access wherever you are.”

The website offers two search options: historical publications prior to 2005 and publications since 2005.

On the site, the Daily Jefferson County Union is listed as “Fort Atkinson, Daily Jefferson County Union” in the full list of newspapers. Search tips and more are available in the video tutorials found online at https://badgerlink.dpi.wi.gov/training/archive-wisconsin-newspapers. Persons may contact their local public library with questions.

Overall, the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers includes more than 250 full-text daily and weekly Wisconsin newspapers from 2005 to 90 days ago, as well as historical newspapers from the 1800s and 1900s. Articles, advertisements and images can be viewed online, searched, downloaded, and printed, offering unparalleled access to these historic publications.

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