Seeking old Enterprises

Hopefully you read earlier this week about how, at long last, we learned the date of the first issue of this newspaper: Feb. 21, 1895. For generations we had thought the Adirondack Enterprise (then a weekly) was first published sometime in 1894, but we couldn’t verify that because so few early copies of the paper remain. A 1926 fire in the Harrietstown Town Hall, where the paper then had its offices and press, is a likely culprit.

Ace freelance reporter James Odato (who wrote for the Enterprise in the 1970s) and Saranac Lake Free Library archivist Michele Tucker solved the mystery because copies do still exist of other newspapers of that time — based in towns such as Chateaugay, Fort Covington, St. Regis Falls and Malone — and several of them reported on the Enterprise’s launch. We wouldn’t have known where to look for them when we celebrated our 100th anniversary in 1994; they were likely scattered in local libraries and such. But now they are collected in one grand archive online where anyone can quickly and easily browse without leaving home: NYS Historic Newspapers (http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org). This project is a wonderful benefit to the general public as well as to future generations.

If you look there, you’ll see only a few copies of the Enterprise before 1952, except for what seems to be the complete pages from 1948. We’re sure a lot more old copies exist out in the world, however, so we’re asking you to help us fill in the gaps.

Occasionally people come into our office to give us old Enterprises they found in their homes, perhaps in an attic or inside a wall — from back when newspapers were used as insulation. We have never solicited these, but now we are making a concerted effort to do so. Specifically, we are asking that if you have any old copies of the Enterprise from before 1952 (except for 1948) that you are willing to donate, would you please drop them off at our office at 54 Broadway, Saranac Lake, during regular business hours on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

We ask that you submit complete newspaper pages only; clippings probably aren’t adequate for this purpose.

Meanwhile, we are in conversation with the Northern New York Library Network about getting more Enterprise pages scanned and posted on NYS Historic Newspapers, for the benefit of all.

We realize that the public record will probably never be complete, but with your help, it can be greatly improved. Just think: That old newspaper in your attic may contain news of a person that would be of great assistance to that person’s descendants.