September 3rd, 2013
The WVU Libraries’ West Virginia and Regional History Center has received a $135,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue digitizing newspapers published in West Virginia from 1836 to 1922.
“This new grant means that the NEH sees tremendous value in the historical newspapers housed in the West Virginia and Regional History Center, and they want to help us make more of these resources accessible to the world,” said John Cuthbert, Curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
The award is the Libraries’ second grant from the NEH as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program. This collaborative effort between the NEH and the Library of Congress enlists libraries and institutions from around the country to provide enhanced access to historical United States newspapers. In fall 2011, the NEH awarded the WVRHC a $266,000 grant to participate in the project.
The extensive digital newspaper database is available on the Chronicling America website hosted by the Library of Congress. Now, instead of painstakingly poring over page after page to find a mention of a desired topic, users can use a keyword to quickly search decades of newspapers.
“This database is an incredible leap forward for every type of researcher, from the student working on a paper or a scholar writing a book, to an individual studying family genealogy,” Cuthbert said.
So far, the WVRHC has made available 39 years, or nearly 12,000 issues, of Wheeling newspapers: 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.
The Libraries are focusing on the Intelligencer because the WVRHC’s project advisory committee identified it as the most significant newspaper for the time period.
WVRHC Associate Curator Harold M. Forbes called the Intelligencer ideal for this project because it was the only daily newspaper 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.
The next step is to finish digitizing all existing issues of the Wheeling paper, currently preserved on microfilm in the WVRHC, from 1852-1903.
Attention will then turn to 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 200,000-page contribution 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 abolition and the separation of Virginia’s western counties to form a new state.
Researchers will also have immediate 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.
To browse the digitized Intelligencer, visit http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/?state=West+Virginiaðnicity=&language