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WVU Libraries Go Online with Digital Newspaper Collection

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 9th, 2013

The first crop of the West Virginia University Libraries’ contribution to the National Digital Newspaper Program can now be viewed online at the Chronicling America website.

“This changes everything,” said John Cuthbert, director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center.  “Researchers will no longer have to pore over countless pages looking for needles in a haystack. The ability to do online full-text searches is going to revolutionize newspaper research.”

In fall 2011, as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, the WVRHC received a $266,000 grant from National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize newspapers published in West Virginia from 1836 to 1922.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress are partnering with libraries and institutions from around the country to provide enhanced access to historical United States newspapers.

So far, 39 years, or nearly 12,000 issues, of Wheeling newspapers are available: Daily Intelligencer, November 12, 1859-June 24, 1865; Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, August 24, 1852-November 11, 1859; The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, June 26, 1865-December 31, 1898.

In preparation for the launch of the project, the WVRHC’s project advisory committee identified the Intelligencer as the most significant newspaper for the time period.

“The Intelligencer is the perfect newspaper for this project because, along with being the only daily newspaper being published in western Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War, it held anti-slavery and pro-Union stances, and it was the strongest supporter of the statehood movement,” WVRHC Associate Curator Harold M. Forbes said.

Plans call for digitizing all existing issues of the Wheeling paper, currently preserved on microfilm in the WVRHC, from 1852-1903, and six other papers:

  • Cooper’s Clarksburg Register, Clarksburg (1851-1861);
  • Spirit of Jefferson, Charles Town (1844-1899);
  • Star of the Kanawha Valley, Buffalo (1855-1856), and Kanawha Valley Star, Charleston (1856-1861);
  • Monongalia Mirror (1849-1855) and American Union (1855-1859), both Morgantown;
  • The Weekly Register, Point Pleasant (1862-1909);
  • The Democrat (1868-1874) and The Weston Democrat (1875-1902), both Weston.

WVU’s addition to the national newspaper project will present both sides of the Civil War conflict. Although most of western Virginia remained loyal to the Union, Cooper’s Clarksburg Register and the Kanawha Valley Star opposed abolitionism and the separation of the western counties to form a new state.

The digital papers will also give researchers access to reporting on the growing antebellum conflict between eastern and western Virginia, John Brown’s Raid, West Virginia’s statehood movement and establishment, West Virginia’s constitution of 1872, Reconstruction, and the United States’ Centennial.

When WVU’s part of the project is complete, the results will be available on the WVU Libraries’ website and the Chronicling America website hosted by the Library of Congress.

To browse the digitized Intelligencer, visit

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