Sun archives move to University of Jamestown

More than 20 football players from the University of Jamestown took the Sun archives Monday, Aug. 29, to the campus.

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And so the process began of moving the archived bound Jamestown Sun newspapers by a group of UJ football players. The entire process from start to finish took about one hour on Monday, Aug. 29.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – A piece of history left The Jamestown Sun building on Monday, Aug. 29, when more than 20 football players from the University of Jamestown took The Sun archives to the campus.

Paul Olson, UJ provost, said the university agreed to take The Sun archives because it was important to keep them in Jamestown. He said the university’s archives include items related to Jamestown, Stutsman County and UJ.

“It’s not really that unusual for us to have material that isn’t directly produced by the university,” he said. “The Sun had a great history of reporting on what happens here at the college. So, to have that here on campus, anybody, who wants to look back at some of the history of the college and what happened, will now have that resource right on campus.”

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Members of the University of Jamestown football team form a line and pass bound newspaper books down the chain from the second floor of The Jamestown Sun building to vehicles on Monday, Aug. 29.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Sun Publisher Rob Keller said it was a natural fit for the university to take the archives because UJ has been an icon in the community for almost as long as the first newspaper in North Dakota.


“I believe that The Jamestown Sun has a very strong relationship with the University of Jamestown over the course of our existence,” he said. “We are grateful to the University of Jamestown for keeping these archived papers in their possession. It only made sense to keep the archived papers at the University of Jamestown in their possession with its rich history in our community.”

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Bound books of The Jamestown Sun packed in some 130 linear feet of shelving were emptied and moved to the University of Jamestown on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Forum Communications Co., the current owner, purchased The Sun from American Publishing in October 2000.

The Sun sold its building to Grainline Investments LLC in August. Grainline Investments LLC is partnering with a brewery crew and a little more than half of the building will be used for the brewery. The Sun will rent about 2,000 square feet for its operations.

Keller cited a lack of storage space and having E-editions – an online version of the newspaper – as reasons to ask the university to accept the Sun archives. He said he reached out to the State Historical Society of North Dakota but it already has all of the newspapers from The Sun.

He said the work of current and past Sun employees is important and has value not only for this generation but for future generations as well.

“The platform we have is meant to be accurate, trustworthy and credible,” Keller said. “Those archives are the history of Jamestown, the foundations of our community and carry all of the information that makes Jamestown what it is today.”

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Rob Keller, left, publisher of The Jamestown Sun, shares a history lesson with a group of University of Jamestown football players as they page through a bound book of newspapers from December 1941.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Keller said the archives provide a wealth of information that includes the history of the names that are seen in parks and various buildings in Jamestown and the surrounding communities.

“Archived national and local information is used to tell the stories of the past generations,” he said. “This is still the same role of today's newspapers in its various platforms.”


Olson said the archives won’t be available initially to the public. He said the storage for the archives right now is tight.

“We will have to go through the process of intake and incorporating them into our archives, and we have some work that we really need to do on our archives before they will be really readily available for the public,” he said.

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The bound newspaper books were stacked in vehicles and then hauled to the University of Jamestown campus.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Olson said he would like to see Phyllis Bratton, an archivist for UJ’s library, go through the archives to make them more available for the public to use.

“Phyllis Bratton has done a very nice job with enhancing our archives over the last decade to make them more readily available,” he said. “We have some plans to digitize a lot of the material, but hopefully we will be expanding our archive space in the coming years to make it more available to the general public.”

He said the university wants to be good partners with others across the state in terms of sharing materials. Every year, the university gets requests for archived materials from a professor or graduate student who is doing some research. He said the university also receives genealogical requests.

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Marcus Flores, a freshman football player at the University of Jamestown, carries out the last bound book of newspapers, The Jamestown Daily Alert, dated 1897, from the archive room of The Jamestown Sun on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

“We want to be more available for requests like that so we can help people maybe learn more about their ancestors or maybe we are learning more about the history of the city of Jamestown, Stutsman County or some of the smaller communities that surround us,” Olson said.

The first edition of the Jamestown Alert, later renamed The Jamestown Sun, was published July 4, 1878. E. H. and C. H. Foster were the original owners and publishers of the newspaper.

After one year of operations, the Fosters suspended operations of the Alert in July 1879. The Alert was eventually resurrected in October 1879 under the ownership of Marshall McClure with financial backing from J. J. Nierling and E. P. Wells.


William Ross Kellog became the third owner of the paper, and he eventually sold the Alert to the Hansen brothers, Byron, Percy and Loren, in 1925. The brothers would eventually change the name from the Jamestown Alert to The Jamestown Sun in 1925.

Gordon Hansen sold the newspaper to American Publishing in 1988 before Forum Communications purchased The Jamestown Sun in October 2000.

The University of Jamestown was founded in 1883. It was known as Jamestown College until 2013.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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