In April, Carnegie Public Library employee, Nathan Forsha, was contacted to locate and restore an image from 1939 that would be used in a Discovery Channel documentary.
The request was made by the research department for “Allied Heroes: A Liberation Journey.” The department called the library seeking a high resolution version of an image obtained through newspapers.com—a photo that ran in the Record-Herald on June 9, 1939.
By phone and email, Carnegie Public Library receives more than a dozen requests each month for obituaries and local news features. Forsha fulfills the majority of the library’s local history and genealogy requests.
Still the standard and preferred format for archiving newspapers, the majority of this research is conducted by accessing past issues (from the mid-1800s to present) of the Record-Herald via microfilm in the library’s genealogy room. Researchers and citizens discover their connection to Washington Court House, Fayette County or the Record-Herald through the library’s resources.
These resources includes the library’s online indexes and databases—HeritageQuest along with websites like newspapers.com, Ancestry.com and more.
The photo was titled “Ship Steams Away to Return Refugees to Reich.” The show’s producers hoped to feature the newspaper image in an upcoming Discovery Channel documentary. Forsha set to work trying to capture a high quality image.
More than a decade old, the library’s microfilm readers display and print microfilm accurately when the film is in good condition, but capturing a high quality image from 1939 by 2019 standards is nearly impossible. Forsha was determined. He experimented with lighting and the settings on his smartphone camera until he finally achieved a satisfactory version of this historic photo.
There was no guarantee that the photo would make it into the final cut of the documentary, but on Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m., “Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses” aired with the image Forsha captured and fulfilled on behalf of Carnegie Public Library.
Credits are given to both Carnegie Public Library of Washington Court House and to the Record-Herald. The show was produced in association with USC Shoah Foundation, established by Steven Spielberg in 1994 to record and preserve testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses for educational purposes.
From the Discovery Channel website: “In this one-hour documentary, heroic World War II Liberators and Liberation witnesses will vividly share their journeys in their own words – drawing parallels between the past and the present. While exploring the stories of these key eyewitnesses, most in their final years, we hope to illuminate the efforts of these often-unsung heroes, to bring a deeper understanding of their history and role in the war, and to share their cautionary tale of what can happen when insidious hatred remains unchecked.”
Director of the Washington Court House Carnegie Public Library, Sarah Nichols, said, “Thanks to Nathan’s skill and determination our library had the exciting opportunity to be part of this documentary. For librarians, it brings to light questions of discovery and preservation.”
She explained, “Discovery is how we find information in an online environment. Preservation is how original sources and histories are archived and maintained. It is both satisfying and challenging to participate at both ends of this continuum. It illustrates the dynamic role public libraries play in today’s evolving information landscape. ”
The documentary will air again on the Discovery Channel this weekend, and is available to subscribers through the Discovery Channel website and app.