Support Old Fulton New York Post Cards!

It’s a website with the improbable name of Old Fulton Post Cards, though it has very little to do with post cards and — these days — not that much to do with Fulton, New York.

The website is definitely funky. The homepage has a fish swimming back and forth and then sticking its tongue out at you.

Old Fulton Post Cards

The archives page requires the use of the Adobe Flash Player and there’s an odd joker character holding colored balloons who appears when you get to that page.

The search function itself is kind of clunky and the help functions don’t always work the way you might expect.

So why would a genealogist ever go there — and why in the world would The Legal Genealogist be trying to drum up financial support for the site in the genealogical community?

Because this kind of clunky funky improbably-named one-man operation has digitized more pages of more newspapers than the Library of Congress.

Old Fulton New York Post Cards is the brainchild and labor of love of one man: Tom Tryniski, a native of Fulton, New York, who started the project after he retired from the paper processing field in 1999. And yes, there actually are old postcards from Fulton, New York, on the website,1 along with other old photos and documents from Fulton and other parts of New York.2

But the bulk of Tryniski’s work is in newspaper digitization. By now, here in 2018, almost 20 years after the project began, we’re talking 43,000,000 plus-and-counting pages of newspapers from around the United States and Canada. And there are just so many tidbits in those newspapers on the Old Fulton Post Cards website that you can’t find anywhere else.

Researcher after researcher has found something about the target person or family on this website when searching other newspaper sites has failed. It’s so important to those of us who’ve used it that we were all appalled and frightened recently to find that the site was down. It turns out that the site had been hit by a Russian ransomware cryptovirus.

The Rochester (New York) Times-Union reported: “In an instant, Tom Tryniski’s astonishing accomplishment — homegrown and hand-built across 20 years of relentless toil and an investment of tens of thousands of dollars – seemed to have been obliterated by rogue hackers. It was a vicious attack that locked up with sophisticated encryption all his hard drives containing more than 50 terabytes of data. He anticipated an ultimatum by the hackers: Pay a hefty ransom or watch his passion project get destroyed. There was one hitch. The hackers did not realize who they were up against: a 69-year-old self-taught computer expert and retired IT engineer. Tryniski learned long ago to build off-site and out-of-state backups and multiple redundancies to thwart any potential malfeasance.”3

It took a couple of days of hard work, but Tryniski brought the site back up from offsite backups that weren’t affected by the virus. All 43,000,000 plus-and-counting pages of historic newspapers are back online.

And free.

Free to us, that is.

Not at all free to Tryniski, who’s spent tens of thousands of dollars of his own money, and hosting and related fees approaching $1,000 a month, to make those 43,000,000 plus-and-counting pages of newspapers from the United States and Canada available for genealogical and other researchers.

The site doesn’t accept advertising. It isn’t even easy to find the donate page on the website. But it is there — and every last one of us who’s made use of the site ought to take a moment today, head over to that donate page, and say thank you in a tangible form.

You can do it via PayPal. Or you can send a check. Information on both is on the website’s donate page.

Let’s send our own virtual postcards to Old Fulton Post Cards, saying thank you and keep up the good work — by helping make that good work possible.


SOURCES

  1. See “Old Fulton Post Cards,” Old Fulton Post Cards (http://fultonhistory.com/ : accessed 26 Sep 2018).
  2. See ibid., “Historical Documents from US and Canada.”
  3. Paul Grondahl, “Russian hackers no match for digital archivist,” Rochester Times-Union, online, posted 25 Sep 2018 (https://www.timesunion.com/ : accessed 25 Sep 2018).
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