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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Vintage Potsdam newspaper preserves history

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POTSDAM - After sitting on a shelf in a Potsdam home for nearly a century, a Courier-Freeman newspaper published on July 28, 1915 has circulated its way back to a local newspaper office.

Margaret A. Latella, a former Potsdam resident, visited the Northern New York Newspapers Inc. office, 1 Main St., Canton, on Monday and donated the well-preserved, eight-column newspaper. The Courier-Freeman served as Potsdam’s weekly newspaper for more than a century before being merged in 1989 with the Massena Observer to create the Daily Courier-Observer.

Printed as a special trade edition, the four-page paper features stories and photographs about prominent Potsdam people, buildings and homes.

The publication originally belonged to Mrs. Latella’s godmother, Margaret M. Cuthbert, who resided at 26 Larnard St., Potsdam, most of her life. Mrs. Cuthbert died in February 2007 at the age of 100, according to published records.

“I’ve had it ever since she passed away,” Mrs. Latella said. “I’m moving out of my house and didn’t want it to get destroyed. I decided the newspaper might want it.”

The lengthy front page headline boldy asserts, “Prosperous Potsdam. Located on the Most Productive Waterway in New York State. Home of Noted Institutions of Learning Scholastic, Instrumental and Vocal. Housed in Handsome Homes.”

Some of the photographs include Potsdam State Normal School and the Crane Normal Institute of Music which are now part of SUNY Potsdam. Early buildings at Clarkson College of Technology, the Snell Power Compnay at Highley Falls, the Potsdam Railroad Station annd several homes, churches and businesses are also featured.

The paper describes Potsdam as “a thriving village of 5,000 inhabitants at the foothills of the Adirondacks with great hydro-electric power which insures future growth and prosperity.”

One photo and story describe the Greig Muslin Underwear Co. on Falls Island, Potsdam. The factory produced women’s under garments and employed many women as well as men.

“Unlike the cities where women’s goods are made up in the sweat shops and under unsanitary conditions, this factory looms up as an ideal place for intelligent women to be employed,” the story says. “You see by the condition of affairs in Potsdam that the managers are able to select the most intellegent girls and men for the conduct of their business.”

Ryne R. Martin, Daily Courier-Observer managing editor, said he was grateful for the donation.

“It’s always fascinating when readers share their finds with us. This old Courier, nearly a century old, is in pristine condition, and we will find a spot to display it prominently in our office,” Mr. Martin said.

He said it’s not uncommon for readers to discover vintage newspapers when they’re renovating older homes or going through collections gathered over the years by family members.

“We also enjoy the opportunity to take a step back in time and read the news from a century ago. Journalism has changed dramatically over the past century, but this paper reminds us there are many similarities as well,” Mr. Martin noted.

The newspaper keeps its own bound copies of publications dating back to the 1940s and has computerized files of most of the older papers from Massena and Potsdam.

“But it’s always is a treasure when we find print copies of our papers that are in outstanding condition,” Mr. Martin said.

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