Helping You Digitize Your Microfilm

ArchiveInABox may specialize in digitizing bound volume and loose printed archives but we also do our share of digitizing microfilm for our customers.  Many organizations simply don’t have the original archive material or, in some cases, it’s just too fragile to even move.

We have two options for digitizing microfilm archives and making them online accessible and searchable.

  1. Pay once, free hosting, no ongoing expense – ArchiveInABox.
    This is the service we provide when we scan a publication archive which is in bound volumes. Everything is indexed by year, publication date, page number, and OCR searchable text. All-inclusive of shipping, hosting and you get the master scans on your own hard drive.
  2. Low-cost scanning and annual hosting – ImageHOST.
    This is a service we provide for very large jobs where the cost per page is critical. Very low scan cost, pay for low cost hosting. Index is OCR only. Generally need to scan 50,000 pages or more, so it may work for 44k pages on microfilm. There is a low cost annual, per page hosting fee and additional costs such as shipping and master scans.

We can walk you through the process and explain how the two options differ.  Just let us know if you’d like to explore digitizing your microfilm archives and placing them online where they can be searched and enjoyed.  Email for details.

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Seeking grants for archive digitization.

ArchiveInABox works with numerous organizations that seek grants to pay to digitize the community’s newspaper archive and make it online accessible for everyone to explore and enjoy.  Nearly every community has an organization which provides historical preservation type grant funds so check around and see what’s available in your area.

There are a few steps to help you get organized if you’re about to apply for such grants.

  1. Inventory your newspaper archive.
    You’ll want to know how many newspaper editions and how many pages you are working with. If you have bound volumes, how many are there and how many pages do they contain?  If you have microfilm, how many reels?
  2. Gauge the condition of the archive material.
    Whether you’re working with bound volumes, loose printed newspapers or microfilm, take pictures and notes about the condition of the material. Fragile archives will require white glove handling to protect them.
  3. Consider which you’d like to digitize first.
    Most people think of scanning the oldest material first but often, it is a different decade that may be of the most interest to your community.  Baby boomers, for example, enjoy looking back at childhood and early adult years so the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s may be where you want to begin.  If your community has an anniversary such as a centennial celebration coming up, you may want to begin with that decade.
  4. Research your options for digitizing.
    Do your research, check references, pricing, and make sure that your archive is being handled by organizations with experience and expertise in digitizing archives and scanning often delicate newspaper pages.  If you have bound volumes, ensure they are not taken apart for scanning unless you request it.  If you want a bound volume unbound for scanning, you can request it be rebound though there will be additional costs involved.
  5. Where is the content hosted?
    Think about whether you want the content hosted by the scanning company or you want to upload and host it yourself.  Ask what’s involved in hosting.
  6. Digital scan ownership.
    Check and make sure that you retain ownership and control of the digital scans.

With this information in hand, completing your grant application will be much easier.  Once you have the grant, you will be ready to decide where to begin and when you want to get started.

ArchiveInABox has a proven system that makes it as easy as possible – we send you a shipping container, arrange shipping, scanning and return the original material and scans to you.  Contact us today ( for a quote or to get started.

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A Community Helps Digitally Preserve its Newspaper’s Archive


The Jewish News of Tidewater has been covering events and providing perspective for the southern Virginia Jewish community since 1947 – the year before Israel was declared a state. The newspaper’s bound volume archive was filled with history but the books were under threat. The paper’s long time book reviewer Hal Sacks was devastated to discover that people had ripped pages out of the volumes. Editor Terri Denison decided to keep the books locked away to protect them but that also meant no one could access them.

Hal couldn’t let it go. The bound volumes had to be digitized to preserve the content and make them accessible and searchable for the community. But how would they afford it?
A former sailor in the Navy, Hal set out in 2013 to come up with a solution and he didn’t have to look far. Thanks to Hal’s Navy and a community eager to have history at its fingertips, today the archive is scanned and available to everyone online. The success surprised everyone including Hal, “What surprised me most of all is that I got thousand dollar checks from people we hadn’t heard from in ten years.”

>>Click here to learn how the newspaper was able to complete the digital preservation and scanning of its historic archive.

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How Arkansas Catholic Found Money to Digitize Its Complete Archive


It’s the story no newspaper wants to write.

Publishers never want to have to inform readers that the newspaper’s archive is gone. It could have been the story for the Arkansas Catholic newspaper and its 91 year old bound volume archive. Rich with history and perspective, the newpaper’s archives were deteriorating and some of the oldest books were literally too fragile to touch. Editor Malea Hargett recalls, “Everytime we had to do a historical article, we had to go into those archives and it was very evident we were losing those pages.”

Fearing the history would soon be lost forever, Malea approached her publisher with a plea to digitally preserve the archive content before it was too late but was told the money simply wasn’t available. So, she came up with another way to save the archive. Today, just 5 years later, the complete archive is online accessible for the community to search and explore.

So, how’d she do it? With the help of guardian angels.  >>Click here to learn how Arkansas Catholic was able to complete the digital preservation of their entire archive.


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Editor & Publisher Article on Our Archive Scanning Services

E&PEditor & Publisher did a great job telling readers about Discover America’s Story which helps publishers monetize their archives.  The article in the April issue of Editor & Publisher explains how publishers can sell sponsorships to generate a revenue stream that can then be used to pay to have the archive scanned and hosted online.

“In the past, since there was no commercial value to their bound volume archives, many publishers turned to local libraries and historical societies to maintain these community records. Often, the archives were maintained or stored but remained difficult if not impossible to access and search,” said Paul Jeffko, SmallTownPapers president and founder. “Now with new technologies, we can make them accessible and use them for commercial purposes.”

>>Click here to read the full article written by Adreana Young.


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Community Donations Flow to Digitize Historical Newspaper Issues

(Repost – originally published June 11, 2014 – the digitization of The Jewish News is nearly complete thanks to their highly successful communitiy campaign.)

Jewish community rallies financial support to digitize the Jewish News’ 68 years of archives.

“What surprised me most of all is that when I announced the project, I got thousand dollar checks from people we hadn’t heard from in ten years.”
Hal Sacks, Author

Author Harold H. “Hal” Sacks has been writing book reviews for his local Jewish community newspaper, the Jewish News in Virginia Beach, Virginia for more than 30 years. Through his work and time in the newspaper office, he had numerous occasions to handle the newspaper’s bound volume archives dating back to 1946. 

It was while browsing through those archives that the retired Navy commander had the inspiration for a new mission. “People would go in there and just tear out a page,” he explained sadly. “It was like tearing out my arm… like going into a library and defacing a book.” 

The heartache of seeing where pages had been ripped from the archive made it clear the printed issues had to be preserved, and soon. Hal enlisted his granddaughter to begin organizing the material for scanning but he says the project lost momentum. Shortly thereafter, when he started looking for copies of the nearly 500 book reviews he had written for the newspaper, the effort was re-energized. The only option was an employee manually scanning each of the reviews and emailing it to him. 

The idea for a professionally-managed archive digitization project was born – one which would scan the pages intact, return the original bound volumes safely to the newspaper and make the digital archive online-accessible and searchable to anyone with Internet access. 

Shayna Horwitz, who is managing the project for the Jewish News, contacted SmallTownPapers, Inc. to see what would be involved in digitally scanning the printed archives which had been bound into hard cover editions. One bound volume was scanned by the company and presented to the newspaper and, of course, Hal. 

“I said wow, that’s fantastic! I really didn’t expect anything so legible and so useable,” Hal said, recalling his first encounter with their digitized archives online. 

After selecting SmallTownPaper’s ArchiveInABox digitization service, the newspaper’s management was anxious to get started. “There were two reasons we wanted to move quickly,” reflects Horwitz. “First, everyone loved the final result and second, completing it in one year gave us a discount on the price.” 

However, the funds for the project simply were not available. 

Eager to see the online archive come to fruition, Hal, a long time and active member of the Tidewater Jewish community, decided that proceeds from his memoir, Hal’s Navy, published in late 2013, would go toward the Jewish News Archive project. A fundraising campaign kicked off in November 2013 and Hal issued an additional community appeal in the newspaper in March 2014. The community rallied raising more than $30K for the project. 

“What surprised me most of all is that when I announced the project, I got thousand dollar checks from people we hadn’t heard from in ten years. For people my age, the only real link to the community is the newspaper.” 

The Jewish News bound volumes are in the process of being digitized and even those working on the project are learning more about the community in which they live. 

“I’ve discovered so much about the history, to see the articles about how much people did for the community and Israel was empowering and gave me a sense of pride. I see endless opportunities this resource will present for our future,” notes Horwitz. 

Hal sees another project on the horizon. “I’m hoping when this archive is available to the public that other organizations in town will want to do the same thing. Synagogues have all kinds of stuff, some more than 100 years old. I’ll help raise the money to make it happen.” 

Visit the Jewish News online archive:  Want to learn more about how ArchiveInABox can help your community preserve its written history, contact us at 360.427.6300 or email Paul Jeffko at 

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Archives as a Way to Build Audiences

There’s a great article in today’s Editor and Publisher Daily called “10 Newspapers That Do It Right 2016: Finding Success with Audience, Digital and New Revenue Ideas.”  Writers Adreana Young and Nu Yang profile ten newspapers and how they’re staying ahead of the pack. There are fantastic ideas including one from the StarNews in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The profile on the StarNews says, “The paper’s digital initiatives also helped them remain true to their mission of being community minded. They developed shareable programs centered on community interests and audience involvement. These include contests, voting on photos of the month, polls and quizzes.  The newspaper also utilizes its own archives as a way to build audiences. Strategies, such as #tbt photos and a section on the homepage called StarNews Flashback, where old news stories and advertisements are shared, are among the site’s most popular features.”

That second part is what caught our attention since that is exactly the driver of our program, Discover America’s Story. Your archive content is in high demand and it has endless potential when it comes to engaging your community – including those who have moved away but want to connect to their hometown or the town where their parents lived as children.  Consider the size of the audience interested – your town’s current and past residents.

Because, as the article says, the archive related features “are among the site’s most popular”, local businesses and organizations will want to be a part of your effort to put your archive online. Ask them to sponsor the scanning of bound volume archives and showcase their support. The revenue you generate from sponsorships can more than cover the cost of scanning.  It’s a win-win.

We help newspapers with the scanning of archive content and we can provide easy online hosting for those who would like it. Imagine being able to quickly search and pull a #TBT item to push on social media? Or a local business can search your coverage of the day they opened a facility in your town?

Want to get started? Just contact us today – email or call us at (360) 427-6300.

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Why preservation via microfilm isn’t cutting it.

An article circulating online recently (click here to read it) addressed the need to preserve our country’s documented history but probably not in microfilm at this day and age.  The article explains that today “there are new digital formats that are easier and less expensive to produce.”

People want easy, online access to newspaper archives they can explore and search.  Microfilm has always been a challenge for most to use… and generally not convenient.  Organizations with print or bound volume archives have in hand original material that can be safely and affordably scanned producing a clear image perfectly suited for online.

ArchiveInABox was designed to give organziations a way to digitize archives of community and small town newspapers, school newspapers, yearbooks and more.  We make it easy and affordable providing all logistics so all they have to do is pack up the bound volumes or loose printed archives and we handle shipping.  As well, we scan the original material intact (books are never cut apart unless the customer requests it) and then they are safely returned to the owner.  We even offer online hosting for those who would like it.

New this year is a program called Discover America’s Story which provides scanning but also shows publishers how to monetize the online archive with a ready-to-go ad sales program.  Finding local businesses that want to sponsor the digital preservation of the community’s documented history provides a new revenue stream.  Learn more about it by checking out or by contacting

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Don’t lose your archive ownership rights.

Often, newspaper publishers are so eager to digitize their archives and so resource limited that they will turn the archives over to a university, library or other organization to scan without thinking through what that might cost them.  In some cases, the organization will scan in exchange for some ownership or distribution rights.  The publisher realizes this after the scanning is already underway and it’s too late.

We encourage publishers to read the fine print and make sure they retain 100% ownership and control of the archive. Why is that important?

The newspaper documented a community’s history and that is in huge demand — and its becoming increasingly easy to monetize the archives.  Publishers will want to ensure they have all rights to make money off of their historic record in the future.  Yes, they can share a copy of their digital archive with whoever they want but it should be on the publisher’s terms.  So, how do they get it digitized affordably?

Discover America’s Story is a program helping newspapers do just that.  They show publishers how to secure community sponsors for the archive preservation project and the revenue generated pays for the actual scanning.  They have a proven method for getting community sponsors and there’s no cost for that to the publisher – in fact, they provide support at no charge.  All they are paid for is the actual scanning which is completed at a pace set by the publisher…. generally, over a period of time.

One Oklahoma publisher used the program to get money to pay for digitization which he completed well ahead of his anticipated schedule. He then decided to keep the program going and has a new revenue stream that is still flowing today.

Contact Discover America’s Story to get started digitizing your archive – try it with a decades worth of archive material.  You’ll be surprised.

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Wrapping up Two Great Scanning Projects

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be wrapping up two major newspaper archive scanning projects. Both happen to have been for religious newspapers which tell wonderfully rich stories of their respective communities.

The organizations we were scanning for have both been a delight to work with and we’re so proud to now see their archives fully accessible and searchable online for everyone to explore.  These two organizations have also been spectacular examples of how to tap into a community of people to make an archive preservation project possible.  In one case, the driver of the community campaign to digitize the archive told us that people were so eager to see the newspaper’s archive online that they started sending checks… people the newspaper hadn’t heard from in years.

If you have a community newspaper or even your high school newspaper that you would like to see digitized and made online accessible, encourage the paper to contact us to see how to make it happen.

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