FREDERICKTOWN — This week, the Main Street Free Press Museum received what director John Long called “the most significant” donation in its 20-year history.
Tom Palmer, who spent more than three decades as a reporter and editor for the Boston Globe, has donated his personal collection of print newspapers to the museum. The donation includes hundreds of editions with original coverage of a number of national and international events.
“For him to choose us is a really meaningful endorsement of what we’ve been trying to do here for the last 20 years,” said Long. “There’s a reason why we named this museum ‘The Main Street Free Press Museum.’ We wanted it to apply to everyone in this free democracy, of which journalism is a key part.”
Long said he plans to digitize the papers and show them on a video loop in the museum. By next year’s Tomato Show, he hopes to expand one of the museum’s rooms and devote a whole gallery to Palmer’s collection.
“We have several rooms in the building available for expansion,” he said. “That’s a work in progress.”
Tonight, residents will have the opportunity to hear about the new exhibit from Palmer himself during a presentation entitled “A Life’s Journey in Daily Journalism.” The presentation will take place at 7:15 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Fredericktown.
“I had some really momentous exciting experiences during the golden age of newspapers and I’m going to talk about that,” said Palmer.
As a national correspondent, Palmer covered the Iran-Contra and Oliver North congressional hearings in Congress and the aftermath of NASA’s Shuttle Challenger disaster. As a foreign correspondent, he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall in Eastern Europe in 1989, the 1987 Haitian election and conflict, and civil war in the Sudan.
Palmer said that the papers are valuable because they document not only national and world history, but the history of journalism itself.
“We go through different cycles of media and information in a democracy as history moves on and technology changes. And whatever you think about the current, chaotic time, I think it’s important to remember how things were done in the past,” he said. “I want to keep ahold of that and preserve these so they can be studied and enjoyed.”
The Main Street Free Press Museum will be open for tours and letterpress printing demonstrations today from 6 – 7 p.m. and 8:30 – 10 p.m. It will also be open on Friday from 6 – 10 p.m. and Saturday from 2 – 10 p.m. Special tours can be scheduled at other times by contacting Long at 917-693-7664 or by emailing John.Long.FHS@gmail.com.
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