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Archives Month, Part 4

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October is American Archives Month, where archives around the country celebrate the records in their holdings and celebrate the archivists who assess, collect, organize, preserve, maintain control of, and provide access to information of lasting value. The North Dakota State Archives is part of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Jesse A. Tanner briefly worked as a temporary curator for the Historical Society in 1907. In July of that year, the Bismarck Tribune published this note:

“Few people realize the magnitude and value of the work being done by the Curator Tanner … Day by day the work of receiving and arranging the different and various matters pertaining to the work of the society is being carried on by this man.”

One of those tasks involved the newspaper collection, which was required by a 1905 law. It took a lot of time, effort, and space. The Tribune reported that the Historical Society had received and organized “about three hundred weekly newspapers,” plus all the daily papers, all opened, flattened, and arranged alphabetically on racks so they could easily be found. As the papers accumulated, they were bound and “placed in a fire-proof vault and preserved for future reference.” The room in which the papers were assorted and placed on shelves used as little light as possible so as to preserve the fibers of the paper.

Part of keeping up with those papers was to track down any missing issues. But sometimes, they aren’t really missing. In 1910, John Andrews of the Broadaxe newspaper in Lidgerwood sent a message of explanation, saying: “If you will look back on the file of the Broadaxe you will see that two issues, those of June 10 and June 17, were by an error numbered alike, that is No. 23. This made an error all through ‘til the end of the year, and if you will kindly go back and number June 17th issue ‘24’ and so on through, you will find that you have No. 51. … You have a complete file, only the numbers are not right.”

The newspaper collection, and notes like the one above, can be viewed in the State Archives.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Bismarck Daily Tribune, July 9, 1907, p8
State Historical Society Curator’s Correspondence Series 30205, box 1, folder: 1910 correspondence, H.C. Fish

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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