By CHRIS AGEE
In just over a decade, Portal to Texas History has blossomed into a comprehensive online clearinghouse for centuries' worth of state historical documents.
Boyce Ditto Public Library Manager Palin Bree said the local library was an early partner with the group.
"We received the deed of gift from the Weaver family for the A.F. Weaver collection of historical photographs," she said. "We looked at many different ways to showcase them and get them online."
After being advised of Portal to Texas History's record of digitally displaying such artifacts, Bree said the library decided to join the effort.
"They just hit their one millionth mark of pages of newspapers they've digitized," Bree said, explaining the service has grown exponentially since she first became involved.
Not only does the website feature more than three million digital files dating as far back as 1550, documents are also searchable.
"It's indexed down to the word level," Bree said, explaining locals can search either of two Mineral Wells city directories posted on the site.
Along with other documents on the site, she said the 1909 and 1920 directories can offer insight into family history and local landmarks.
"You can put in a name or address and it will take you to every instance it is found in that book," she said, explaining users can find out "who lived in your house or were your relatives here at that time."
She said newspapers are available as far back as the early 19th century and Boyce Ditto has received interest from regional media concerning items listed on the Portal.
"We've had people calling the library for permission to use [our documents] when they're making films or making things for KERA or The Daytripper," she said.
She said the library is currently undertaking a project to scan local yearbooks into the database. A sum of money donated to Friends of the Library is earmarked specifically for such additions, she explained.
Additionally, she explained artifacts associated with the area's rich military history are set to be added soon.
"We're adding more," she said, including items from "Col. [Willie] Casper's collection, which he saved from being destroyed."
The Portal provides primary sources from all Texas counties, all 50 states, and more than 80 other countries. Subjects documented range from issues of regional interest previously only found in the small libraries of remote towns to international incidents such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
Whether a Texas history buff or simply inquisitive by nature, Bree said anyone can find something of interest on the site.
All content on the site is free to access and can be found by visiting texashistory.unt.edu.