Historic Canton, Ohio Newspaper Now Online at Library of Congress:

Publication Chronicles State's Civil War History

Columbus— Civil War re-enactors, researchers and enthusiasts have cause to celebrate: the hours spent poring over pages of Ohio’s historical newspapers in search of news from the warfront and soldiers’ letters back home is now reduced to minutes thanks to the Ohio Historical Society. One Canton paper, the Stark County Democrat, is among the Civil War-era Ohio newspapers that are being digitized and uploaded to the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website at www.chroniclingamerica.org. At this site, a researcher can use a term such as someone’s name, hometown or military regiment in the “search” function to instantly find occurrences of that word in the newspapers.

The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, a part of the National Digital Newspaper Program developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, will enable the Ohio Historical Society to digitize 100,000 additional Ohio newspaper pages published from 1845 to 1894. These pages will join the 14 papers — over 100,000 Ohio newspaper pages published between 1880 and 1922 — that are already available on Chronicling America through the project’s first phase. This is welcome news to blurry-eyed researchers and genealogists who scour old microfilm in search of clues to history’s mysteries and family histories.

“The earlier date range of the Stark County Democrat that is now available in Chronicling America provides a counterpoint to the politics of William McKinley's presidential campaign,” said Kimberly Kenney, curator for the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. “Since The Repository was Canton's major Republican paper, owned by McKinley's in-laws, it did not entertain opposing points of view in the 1896 and 1900 presidential campaigns.  This segment of the historical record provides more context for the political environment in Stark County, as well as adding another voice to the conversation.”

In addition to issues of the Stark County Democrat from 1868 to 1910, the selected publications include: Perrysburg Journal from Perrysburg, (1854-1880); Fremont Journal from Fremont (1853-1875); Cleveland Leader from Cleveland (1858-1866); Western Reserve Chronicle from Warren (1855-1873); Daily Ohio Statesman from Columbus (1861-1868); Dayton Daily Empire from Dayton (1859-1867); Highland Weekly News from Hillsboro (1857-1886); Gallipolis Journal from Gallipolis (1850-1880); Belmont Chronicle from St. Clairsville (1853-1894); and many more. For a full listing, visit www.chroniclingamerica.org/newspapers/ohio.

“The National Digital Newspaper Program is providing access to a treasure trove of historical newspapers that were previously unsearchable,” said Kenney. “Although the content had been preserved on microfilm, the newspapers were not searchable by keyword. If you didn’t know the exact date, you could not find it. Microfilm is not set up for browsing, which also limited its access. The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio is revealing history in a new way, providing first person accounts of historical events of local and national significance.”

The Stark County Democrat is available at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84028490/issues/.

Looking to the Future
“Thanks to a $334,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities last year, the Ohio Historical Society has been able to continue its efforts to digitize a select number of historical Ohio newspapers,” said Angela O’Neal, director for Collections Services at the Ohio Historical Society. “We are helping to create a national, online, keyword-searchable resource.”

According to O’Neal, both phases of the project have been limited to a small number of papers selected from 10 regions across the state by an advisory group of 18 librarians, archivists, curators, historians, educators and journalists. “This phase will add 26 more papers to Chronicling America,” O’Neal said. “With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we’ve chosen publications from before, during and after the war to provide greater access to researchers on this important time period in Ohio’s history.”

For more information about the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, contact Jenni Salamon at 614.297.2579 or jsalamon@ohiohistory.org.

Archived Newspapers Available at Ohio History Center
The Ohio Historical Society’s Archives/Library at the Ohio History Center in Columbus contains the largest collection of Ohio newspapers in existence. The newspaper holdings contain newspapers published from 1793 to present, 4,500 titles, 20,000 volumes, and over 50,000 rolls of microfilm of Ohio titles. Much of the microfilm in the Society’s newspaper collection was created in 1971 as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities initiative called the United States Newspaper Program. Since then, the information published in the thousands of deteriorating wood-pulp newspaper volumes in the society’s collections has been transferred to more than 16,000 rolls of master negative microfilm. The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio builds upon this earlier effort.

Founded in 1885, the non-profit Ohio Historical Society provides a wide array of statewide services and programs related to collecting, preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archeology and natural history. The Society has about 1.6 million items in its collections throughout its 50+ sites and museums and within its 283,000-square-feet Ohio History Center at 800 E 17th Ave. (Exit 111 off Highway I-71), Columbus, Ohio, 43211. The Society receives a portion of its funding from the state, but relies on admission fees, memberships, grants, donations and other forms of revenue to continue to serve Ohioans in the future. For information regarding the Society, contact Jane M. Mason, Director of Communications, Ohio Historical Society: 614.297.2312, jmason@ohiohistory.org.