North Country Inspiration: Preserving the past to learn today

North Country Inspiration: Preserving the past to learn today
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 6:27 AM EDT
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - “The oldest complete newspaper that I have is 1890,” said newspaper collector Larry Wiley of Massena.

Amongst stacks and stacks of carefully preserved newspapers, Wiley spends his days reading.

They’re fixed so they can be picked up and read and I just enjoy putting them together and it takes a long time,” he said, “because sometimes I get to reading them and there’s some good stories in there.”

Wiley has been cultivating this collection for more than 20 years. He has mostly local papers, some with life-changing headlines.

“You’ll see papers from the Herald American about Germany’s surrender, the president’s assassinations, and a lot of sports articles,” he said.

His interest in papers started as a boy when he delivered for the Watertown Daily Times in Cape Vincent.

“I delivered a whole sum of 24 papers a day,” he said. “That was in 1947.”

He’s individually flattened, taped, and protected each of these special papers. And what’s displayed now is only a fraction of his collection.

“There’s never any end to it,” he said. “I enjoy doing it.”

He says he preserves these newspapers because all of these stories — be they good, bad, or matter of fact — are snapshots of what’s built life as we know it.

“I always think of the people that made it this good for us,” he said. “Wow, they made it possible for me to be free and doing what I’m doing.”

He has hopes of creating his own small museum with his collection. Even now, visitors are welcome.

“They can come see it, but they’d have to call me,” he said. “Two or three or four people at a time would be welcome.”

Because even if the news isn’t new, there’s surely something you can learn.

If you want to make an appointment to see Wiley’s collection, give him a call at 315-769-3701.