The Library of Congress has approved the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project’s selection of three historical New Jersey newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program. Through a collaboration between Rutgers University Libraries, the New Jersey State Archives, and the New Jersey State Library, microfilm of these newspapers from the New Jersey State Archives will be scanned and made publicly available on the Library of Congress website Chronicling America.
The three selected papers provide news from northern, central, and southern regions of New Jersey and span a period of over 70 years, from before the Civil War to after World War I. The West-Jersey Pioneer (later the Bridgeton Pioneer), “An Independent Family Newspaper Devoted to Agriculture, Arts, Education, Morality, Local and General News,” will be digitized from 1851 to 1917; the Jersey City News, “Democratic in Principles and Independent in its Views on Local Questions,” from 1889 to 1906; and the Perth Amboy Evening News, “An Independent Newspaper,” from 1903 to 1922.
A list of 72 potential newspapers was initially reviewed by the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project advisory board, which includes archivists, librarians, museum directors, historians, journalists, and educators from across the state. The three titles ultimately emerged because of their statewide and regional influence as well as their coverage of a broad range of ethnic, political, economic, cultural, and regional groups.
“From Lincoln’s assassination and the capture of spies during World War I, to an inquiry on freeholder corruption, these papers offer local perspectives that simply cannot be found elsewhere,” notes Mary Chute, New Jersey state librarian and member of the advisory board.
To project leader Caryn Radick, digital archivist for Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University, the nearly complete runs for the selected years and quality of the microfilm make these papers particularly good candidates for digital conversion.
“We selected papers based on content quality and how they appear on the microfilm,” she explains. “Our goal was to increase our impact by ensuring that researchers will be able to search, view, and analyze the newspapers easily using the latest textual analysis tools.”
The New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is supported by a $186,204 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that was awarded in August 2016. Upon its completion, 100,000 pages of New Jersey newspapers will join millions of pages from 43 other participating states online in a fully searchable, digital format. The scans are expected to become available to the public by the end of the year.
“We are proud to make these contributions to Chronicling America on behalf of our state,” says Joseph Klett, director of the New Jersey State Archives and member of the advisory board. “That these resources will be available at the click of a button anywhere, at any time, without the need for an onsite microfilm reader, is a major boon to anyone interested in researching New Jersey’s unique place in the history of our country.”