An Echo Press Editorial: Newspaper has ally in preserving the past

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

EP Echo Press Editorial
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The Echo Press does more than inform readers about what’s going on in the community right now and what lies ahead.

We also provide an historical record of the community’s past – big breaking news stories, local government coverage, achievements in sports and academics, feature stories on the people who live here, public events and activities (and lots of photos!), elections, letters to the editor, trending issues, public notices, obituaries and more. The Echo Press also has a talented columnist, Rachel Barduson, who gleans interesting, insightful and entertaining information from the pages of newspapers from 25, 50 or as far back as 140 years ago.

All this content, melded together, gives generations of readers a true sense of what it was like to live, work and play in Douglas County. This goes as far back as the Echo Press’ roots, which began in 1891 with the publication of the Brandon Blue Bells, a newspaper that provided a voice for temperance advocates more than 130 years ago. The Blue Bells office moved to Alexandria in 1908 and was renamed the Park Region Echo – a name that some long-time readers still refer to us as.

Providing that bridge between the long-ago past and what’s happening today is a vital function of the Echo Press. Fortunately, we have an ally that helps us preserve all that information – the Douglas County Historical Society. It’s been storing our past issues for a very long time.

And it came through for us again just recently. When the Echo Press moved from Seventh Avenue West into its new location in the Turning Leaf Lane Business Center this past December, we donated thousands of photo negatives and prints to the historical society. The newspaper also donated three pallets of bound newspaper volumes that included the Echo Press, its predecessors and the Osakis review.


It was a win-win donation for the paper and the historical society.

“The photographs are particularly valuable,” the historical society noted in its winter newsletter. “Most of the thousands of negatives are from the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period for which DCHS does not yet have a large collection. Hundreds of ‘mugs’ or file photos related to local individuals or businesses were also included, some dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.”

The transfer of items from the newspaper to the historical society preserves decades of newsworthy moments for research, knowledge or plain old curiosity.

“These materials document life in Douglas County through its ups and downs – major storms, high school sports, local events, personal stories, business accomplishments and much, much more,” the DCHS said in its newsletter. “Although it will take some time to finish accessioning and digitizing the new collection, we’ve included a sneak peak with the images below.” Those images included a Miltona School Science Fair from 2002, a Business and Professional Woman office photo from 2000, a Wilderness Inquiry Canoe Trip circa 2001, and a storm-damaged photo from circa 1998.

Exciting things are happening at the DCHS, including a new cedar shake roof on the Knute Nelson House. Thanks to donations from the DCHS Board of Directors and local residents and businesses, the DCHS was able to raise nearly $180,000 for the project, which shows much the community cares about preserving the past.

To learn more about the Douglas County Historical Society, visit its website, . (Tours of the Knute Nelson House are currently not available.) To fairly serve all of its patrons, the DCHS requires research appointments to be made in advance by calling 320-762-0382 or via email at .

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