Preserving papers for posterity

The December 23, 1914 edition of The Siuslaw Pilot. Courtesy Jim Hays

Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, UO team up to save Florence’s newspapers

August 5, 2022 — The Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP), housed at the University of Oregon (UO) Libraries, is an initiative to digitize historic Oregon newspaper content and make it freely available to the public through a keyword-searchable online database. The initial phase of the program, starting in 2009, concentrated on newspapers in the Public Domain published between 1860 and 1922.

There are currently over 1 million newspaper pages available on the Historic Oregon Newspapers website, with some content published after 1922. All titles that have been digitized are listed on the website.

The ODNP was also constructed to help facilitate the digitization of Oregon newspapers by outside organizations/individuals.

Lucky for those interested in the preservation of Florence’s history, there is a group in Florence taking on the job of finding and preserving all the newspapers that have ever been published in Western Lane County.

Jim Hays and Sharon Waite are Siuslaw Pioneer Museum volunteers and part of the mission to preserve the history held in these rapidly aging pieces of newsprint.

Florence and its surrounding area have a storied history of newspaper publishing. For an area with a relatively small population, one might be surprised to learn of the numerous newspapers that have been published in the area through the years.

Besides the Siuslaw News, which can trace its history 132 years, there was The West, The Siuslaw Pilot and Florence Times in the Florence area. Upriver the Mapleton Bee and Coast-Valley Journal once kept people apprised on the news and events around the upper Siuslaw. South of Florence there was once a newspaper called the Tsiltcoos Currier. These are just a few of the attempts by local residents to keep their neighbors informed through years.

The original copies of these newspapers that the pioneer museum has are rapidly aging and, without preservation, will soon be lost forever.

In an effort to preserve the history, Hays and Waite would like to get all of this area’s papers on the ODNP’s searchable database.

The Siuslaw Pilot is the first newspaper Hays and Waite have focused their efforts on. Published from 1913-1916, the newspaper was rival to The West (which would later become the Siuslaw News) and covered news from the entire Siuslaw region.

Thanks to interested members of both the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and Siuslaw Genealogical Society, $700 was already raised to cover the cost of adding all the copies of the Siuslaw Pilot that are in the UO’s collection to the ODNP keyword-searchable online database.

Next, Hays and Waite hope to digitize The West, which was published from 1890-1921. This will be a more expensive project than The Siuslaw Pilot, as there are roughly nine times as many micro-film reels in the collection.

The community can help in two ways:

  • By financially supporting the project by making a donation. Donations can be made at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum or by mailing a check to

Siuslaw Pioneer Museum Association, Attn: Newspaper Project, P.O. Box 2637, Florence, OR 97439

Gifts to the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. People will receive a note of thanks from a museum board member within a few days of their receiving it.

  • By checking attics and crawl spaces for old copies of the newspapers of the Siuslaw region.

Though the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, Siuslaw Public Library and University of Oregon archives have collections that include many of the papers that have informed area residents during the last century, the collections are incomplete. If, in your collection, you have of the newspapers of the Siuslaw region’s past that you’d like to share for this project (or if you have questions about donations or the project in general) contact Jim Hays at [email protected].

Siuslaw Pioneer Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, go to