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CCNDI: The St. Joseph Record and Ogden Courier Live on the IDNC!



The history of rural communities is often inaccessible or lost. The Champaign County Newspaper Digitization Initiative’s (CCNDI) mission is to enable these communities to tell their own stories. The newspapers of Dale Publications, which include the St. Joseph Record and the Ogden Courier, were published between 1894 and 1980. The last editors were Robert and Barbara Butler. Their oldest daughter, Jean Butler, lamented that she never read her dad’s editorials. Until recently, the newspaper was only available on microfilm at the Champaign County Historical Archives. Jean contacted the Champaign County History Museum (CCHM) for help with this project. In November 2022, CCNDI was formed as a Champaign County History Museum committee. The committee was formed with guidance from the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection and the Champaign County Historical Archives. The Butler family waived copyright to Dale Publications to make it accessible to the general public.


Committee Chair, Mary Butzow, Former Museum Manager, Connor Monson, and Committee Member, Ashley Pitt spearheaded the CCNDI effort. The primary goal was to crowdsource funds from the community to pay for the digitization process. At its height, Dale Publications served as an information source for the communities of St. Joseph, Ogden, Royal, Flatville, Homer, Broadlands, and Longview in eastern Champaign County and Fithian, Oakwood, Fairmount, Sidell, and Allerton in western Vermilion County; a coverage area of over 350 square miles. Unlike many digitization efforts, it was not originally underwritten by a large institution, corporation, or government funds. CCNDI has raised over $7,500 through on-the-ground fundraising, including in-person contact and digital media. The majority of donors gave modest gifts. Generous monetary gifts were given by Farm Credit Illinois, Jean Butler, Waters Farms, and the Maron family. 


As of mid-March, significant funds were raised to digitize Dale Publications from January 1963 through July 1980. Access to the digitized data is available for no charge on the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (IDNC) website:



Data is searchable by name, date, and keywords. Individuals can research family history, community history, childhood memories, village government, and their “Little League” scores. The consolidation of the St. Joseph Ogden school district in 1963 is preserved digitally, along with copies of the school newspaper The Spartan



An online tutorial will soon be on the CCHM YouTube page to facilitate navigating the IDNC website. Additional funds are needed to complete the next phase of digitization (1940 to 1962) and the remainder of the available newspapers through 1894. These issues contain a wealth of history on community growth in the 1950s, participation of community members in World War II, the Great Depression, and early 20th-century life in rural Illinois. Funds can be donated through the Champaign County History Museum at this link:





Note: The Fairmount Star, the Oakwood Township News, the Ogden Courier, and the Homer Enterprise were retitled editions of the St. Joseph Record under Dale Publications.

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