Digitized Exponent


The Ottawa County Exponent was a weekly newspaper published in Oak Harbor from 1871 until 2015. Most of the early editions from 1871 until 1897 were destroyed either in an 1883 fire or the major flood on July 4, 1969.

Fortunately, all newspapers from January 2, 1897 until the Exponent ceased publication in 2015 have been preserved and are on microfilm.

Although the Ottawa County Exponent was published in Oak Harbor, it was a county-wide paper covering news items from all of Ottawa County. The information contained therein is invaluable in searching for names of relatives, etc. who may have lived in Ottawa County. The weekly editions are packed full of names of individuals who attended lodges, parties, and social gatherings of which there were many. These “society news” articles are an excellent way to learn more about your ancestors’ interests and social life.

Through a bequest to the Oak Harbor Public Library from the estate of the late Judge Donald Wargowsky, all copies of the Exponent from January 2, 1897 – October 16, 2015 have been digitized and placed on-line at the Oak Harbor Public Library’s website. The information contained in them is all searchable by name, location, event, year, or any other word or words you care to search.

Here is some basic information on how to access and use the Exponent website:

    1. Go to the Oak Harbor Public Library (Ohio) website: https://oakharborpubliclibrary.org/.
    2. Click on “Digital Library”.
    3. Scroll down the page to Newspaper Archive (The Ottawa County Exponent) and click on the “Use this resource” box: http://oakharborpl.advantage-preservation.com/. [Bookmark this site for future use.]
    4. Under “Search For” section (Find people, AND places, AND events);
      Indicate the word or words you wish to search for. If you are searching for more than one key word, put quotes around the words (ie. “John Smith”).
    5. Search dates (Between 1/1/1897 and 12/3/2015);
      Determine the range of dates you wish to consider. Click on the drop-down menu, select one and enter search date range (DD/MM/YYYY). Use the calendar provided or just type in the dates into the date boxes. Generally speaking, keeping the range of dates narrow makes it easier to search.
    6. After all search information is entered, click on the “Discover” button to initiate search.
      You will find the list of pages where you have “hits” on the word or words you are searching. You will find a “heading” for each hit which says Ottawa County Exponent along with the date and page where the word or words you are searching for can be found. You will also see a paragraph which may look like a jumble of words. You only need to worry about your key word and perhaps the words immediately around it. You can disregard the rest.
    7. Now click Ottawa County Exponent above the date on the hit. It will take you to the page where your key word or words were found. In most cases, the word or words you are searching for will be highlighted in blue. Note that once you are on a page, you can also move forward or backward through the newspaper.
    8. Icon tools at the top of the page (identify purpose/action by placing cursor over icon):
      • Home
      • Back to Search Results Page
      • Search on Page Content
      • Crop
      • Download
      • Zoom Out (-)
      • Zoom using drop-down menu (Auto Zoom, Actual Size, Page Width, Page Fit, %’s)
      • Zoom In (+)
      • Previous Page (<) Zoom using drop-down menu (divided into eighths) Next Page (>)
      • Show In Full Screen

The above icon tools are basically self-explanatory, but the “Crop” tool is a three-step process. Click on the “Crop” icon, select paragraph or section by moving the edge markers (blue squares) to frame it. After area selected, click on the blue arrow: Step 1-enter “Add a title” (select from drop-down menu: Person, Place, Topic, Era), then click “Next”; Step 2-enter “Add a Tag”, then click “Next”; Step 3-click on icon (place cursor over icon to identify purpose/action) to Print/Download/Upload/Share/Edit.

A few other hints:

  1. Try various spellings for words. Word usage changes over time. For example, I was searching for old football scores. No luck until I entered “foot ball”…two words.
  2. If you get too many hits, you need to narrow your search somehow. The easiest way is to narrow the range of dates.
  3. Even though the Exponents only goes back to 1897, don’t rule out earlier searches. For many years beginning in 1904, Exponent editor, D.A. Kraemer, initiated a column called “Echo’s of Long Ago” which featured highlights of Exponents from 23 years previous. So, the 1904 Exponents would have information from 1881 and so on. It is a good chance you might find information from 1881 to 1897 in the editions 23 years later.
  4. Recognize that hyphens which are often used in news column breaks are not read by the scanner. Also, if the microfilm copy is weak, the scanned word may not be picked up. So, the system is not fool proof.
  5. This tutorial is only giving the basics of what the website can do. Keep experimenting and you will be surprised what you will find.
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