Historical Shanghai Jewish World War II Era Newspapers Online

Prior to 1935 or so, I had approximately a dozen ancestors/relatives living in or around Berlin. As they were Jewish, their lives were already extremely difficult and about to become impossible. 

In the next ten years (from 1935 to 1945), three were murdered in the concentration camps; one died of “natural causes” – he was the patriarch of the family and was hidden from the Nazis; one committed suicide; one escaped to London; one escaped to Palestine; two escaped to America; and four escaped to Shanghai, which because of their loose visa requirements became a destination for thousands of Jewish refugees.

The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum has built a database that contains name, occupation and address information for many of the refugees.  Click on Database to search and access this information. [Please note that this database is no longer available – you may have some luck with the Wayback machine from Internet Archive]

As a newspaper research aficionado, I found that there were several newspapers written by and for Jews in Shanghai and have been digitized and are available online.

Thanks to the Leo Baeck Institute and the Internet Archive, you can perform full text searches of the newspapers in the collection. Some of the writing is in English, but most is in German. The newspapers are:

The National Digital Newspaper Program

If you research American newspapers then you know about Chronicling America. This online newspaper research site is the culmination of a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) as it is called has been in place for several years. The program awards funding to states to digitize 100,000 pages at a time for newspapers published between 1836-1963. The announcement of the next awards should occur on August 2021.
Please be aware for those of you who are impatient, that all of this needs to be funded and that state and federal governments are involved as well as state institutions who do the abundance of the work. This takes money and time and of course, funding priorities have been difficult in the past few years.

Here is a chart of the award recipients and dates of awards:

Let us be thankful for what has been already accomplished and hope that the NDNP continues to thrive and grow.

Also quite useful is a series of about 40 links to interesting newspaper-related articles entitled NDNP Extras! Check it out!

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Chronicling America Adds Crowdsourcing

Chronicling America, through its new labs.loc.gov capability, is adding crowdsourcing of historic newspaper cartoons and photographs, which will allow users to provide captions for these images.
From the announcement of this new feature, entitled “Beyond Words”:
“The Library of Congress today launched labs.loc.gov, a new online space that will host a changing selection of experiments, projects, events and resources designed to encourage creative use of the Library’s digital collections. To help demonstrate the exciting discoveries that are possible, the new site will also feature a gallery of projects from data challenge winners and innovators-in-residence and blog posts and video presentations from leaders in the field.

“We already know the Library of Congress is the ultimate treasure chest, but with labs.loc.gov we are inviting explorers to help crack open digital discoveries and share the collections in new and innovative ways,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Whether you’re tagging images from our digitized historic newspapers to help future visitors, or exploring the changing nature of democracy through the 25 million bibliographic records the Library recently made public, we are providing tools and inspiration that will lead to new uses and new ways of looking at the incredible materials here at the Library.”
One of the first features on labs.loc.gov is Beyond Words, a website that invites the public to identify cartoons and photographs in historic newspapers and provide captions that will turn images into searchable data. This fun crowdsourcing program grows the data set of text available for researchers who use visualization, text analysis and other digital humanities methodologies to discover new knowledge from Chronicling America—the Library’s large collection of historic American newspapers. Beyond Words is available as a pilot project to help the Library of Congress learn more about what subsets of Library data researchers are interested in and to grow the Library’s capacity for crowdsourcing.”
To read the entire article click on Library Launches labs.loc.gov
This is exciting news that will enable users through crowdsourcing to add captions that when added to the search index, will enable an added search experience of Chronicling America.
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6 Best Free U. S. Online Historical Newspaper Collections

I have been an historic newspaper research addict for a long time. In the past several years I have decided to ratchet up my interest and share what I have learned through newspaper research-related blog articles, huge link lists, as well as video tutorials.

​The link lists for each state in the U.S. can be found at Newspaper Research Links.

What I would like to relate now, however, is my list of what I consider to be the best free sites to find historical articles about your ancestors in U.S. newspapers. These are the first ones that I would use if I were starting out. They have been chosen not because of their interface – because some are better than others and some are not ideal. One of the important criteria, however is that they must be adding to their collection on a regular basis, and they must be sizable. These are presented in no particular order. And remember that these are free sites only and you do not have to go to a library to access them.

  • Elephind – over 175 million items (newspaper pages/articles) from 3,500 titles.  You can search multiple U.S. collections all at once.
  • Chronicling America – over 12.2 million pages from 45 states.  Easy interface and growing constantly, although the growth is quite slow.
  • Old Fulton NY Post Cards –  over 39.3 million pages of New York State and many other states historical newspapers. Rapidly growing and adding lots of non-NY content.  Search interface is powerful but needs you to learn it to be successful.
  • Advantage Preservation Collections –  about 500 collections from 37 states.  The latest list can be found at Search 45 Million Historic U.S. Newspaper Pages from Advantage Preservation for Free! New software interface being rolled out which makes it quite easy to use.
  • NYS Historic Newspapers – over 7.3 million pages – all from New York. Rapidly growing. Similar user interface to that used by Chronicling America.
  • Google News Archive – over 2,500 newspapers – gets an asterisk. You can still get to all of these newspapers, but the search function is pretty much restricted to newspapers since 1970.  And although these are the rules, some pre-1970 pages might sneak in. This is really too bad, since this is quite a large collection of otherwise non-digitized smaller newspapers.

For all my articles about newspaper research, just navigate to the Newspapers! page of this web site and browse. And as mentioned previously, ​the link lists for each state in the U.S. can be found at Newspaper Research Links. There are also 20 special free online collections based on ethnicity and religion that are listed.

A Revealing Interview With Advantage Preservation’s COO Jeff Kiley

I started focusing on newspaper research several years ago, after I discovered that for genealogy purposes, old newspapers could give me interesting information about my ancestors’ life stories that I had no other way to discover.

What I also found was that historic newspaper research was not a mainstay research tool for the majority of genealogy and family history researchers.  Hence the beginning of this website, The Ancestor Hunt, an attempt to provide tools and techniques, and lists of links to historic newspaper collections available online.

Jump ahead to these past 2 years.  I have focused on providing (and updating frequently) a gigantic list of links to historic newspaper collections that are free to browse and search online.

Over these past two years, I have discovered a company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  In updating my link lists, it was apparent that the Advantage Preservation company was publishing a rapidly increasing number of collections, working with libraries, historical societies, and similar institutions who were interested in preserving their community newspapers and providing them to their patrons online.  In fact, it appears that their collections are growing in size as fast or faster than any other collection or set of collections in the U.S. This piqued my interest.

I recently contacted Jeff Kiley, the Chief Operating Officer of the Advantage Preservation company, and asked him several questions.  The results of the interview follow.

1. Hello, Jeff.  Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Could you provide a short history of the Advantage Preservation company and its mission?

For many years, I had been working in the online historical newspaper business and was looking for a new opportunity, as was much of my staff and my executive team.

There was a company here in Cedar Rapids that I had a great deal of respect for. The Advantage Companies had been around since 2003 and had a wonderful reputation not only for records management and storage but also a very strong team of information management professionals and imaging specialists. A member of the Advantage management team, with whom I had an existing relationship, saw an opportunity. He arranged for a meeting between the owner Paul Eganhouse, a key partner, and myself. It didn’t take long at all for us to recognize the similarities between our goals, and that we actually shared a very similar mission: “To protect documents, and make them easily accessible”. By changing one word, the mission became “To preserve documents, and make them easily accessible”. My team moved into their 80,000 sq ft secure records management facility….and Advantage Preservation was born.

2. I know that preserving and providing online newspaper collections record “the first rough draft of history.” This, of course, is very important for community libraries and historical societies.  You seem to be adding online collections at quite a rapid rate.  To what do you attribute this increase in activity?

The communities, publishers, and libraries deserve 100% of the credit for this. We merely provide the means in which they can make sure their own history is preserved and accessible.  We believe that the preservation of a community’s history is a shared responsibility. By bringing together strategic community partners, we are able to accomplish our mutual goals much more effectively. We collaborate with the community publisher, libraries, historical societies, and other interested institutions to develop a plan, and then engage local community businesses to assist with funding. This is primarily done via existing partnerships with the local library foundations and support with programs like the Friends Of The Library, or other community donor networks. This approach has been met with enthusiastic participation and it has been really rewarding for all of us. 

And as an aside, I would like to thank you, Ken, for becoming an evangelist for all of the free newspaper archives available online. Whether Advantage is involved or not, I am a cheerleader for all of these projects. Each and every one of these institutions needs to be applauded, and you do a great job of giving their efforts some much-needed recognition and exposure.

3. Recently I read about a very interesting project that you are doing with the State of Iowa, where ultimately 12 million additional historical newspaper pages will be added to the more than 100 collections that you already have made available in the state. Please tell us briefly about the project.

We work with nearly 1300 libraries in 37 states and over 500 cities, and every one of those relationships is incredibly important to us. The current initiative in Iowa is no more or less important than those outside of the state, but I have to admit, it does feel a little more personal. We are an Iowa company owned and operated by Iowans. Many of us (myself included) were born and raised here, and we are raising our children here. We are extremely honored to be actively involved in preserving our OWN history. It is the same pride I hope others feel when their community comes together to preserve their history.

Over the past 7 years, we have provided our services at no cost to the State Historical Society Of Iowa, and this new chapter in our relationship provides us with access to the physical materials in their collection. This will allow us to ensure that each community’s archive is as complete as possible and that the best available source material has been preserved to microfilm. It is an extensive undertaking, to say the least.  The State has two large collections of bound newspaper volumes and a collection of microfilm stored in our facility.  This will need to be cross-referenced, and evaluated against preservation or digital projects we have done for Iowa libraries and publishers directly. Not to mention any private collections, projects performed by other vendors, at-risk materials, materials of inferior quality, materials not filmed to standards, damage or defects within current collections, and missing materials that are known to have existed but do not exist in any of the collections available. We have our work cut out for us.

The 12M pages referenced in some of the articles written about this project only represent the estimated number of pages yet to be preserved to microfilm. Once filmed, the reels will be added to the state’s collection. This collection is currently comprised of more than 24 million pages from more than 650 statewide titles on more than 44,000 rolls of microfilm. With help and permission from the rights holders, we hope to be able to aggregate the majority of this content into a consolidated collection of Iowa newspapers that can be shared by the libraries across the state, and make it available in every classroom as a resource for Iowa’s students. 

4. I am interested in the history and educational “bent” of this project. It sounds to me that just like genealogists in the past were not making use of historic newspapers, that maybe historians, educators, and students should add historic newspaper research to their research repertoire. Do you agree?

You and your followers have known for a long time how incredibly valuable old newspapers can be in your research. The birth announcements, obituaries, and almost every significant event of one’s life in between are recorded in those pages. My team has always believed that old newspapers can “connect the dots” in a way no other medium can.  

The motivation that drives genealogists is pretty cut and dry: We want to know more about where we came from. What better way to understand the generations before us, then to understand the era in which they lived? Not only can we learn about our ancestors, but we can also learn from them. We can see through their eyes the way certain events impacted and shaped their community, and how that community reacted to those events. When you read stories in the days and weeks before and after a “moment” it can place them in context. The articles, ads, and editorials from that day, can provide new perspective. This is “history as it happened” and by reading people’s accounts using their own words, terminology, phrasing, and verbiage of the time, we can better understand our past, and connect with it in a very meaningful way.

The Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association, Cynthia Sweet spoke to this in a very eloquent way when she was asked about our IA History Project:  “The Advantage Company’s Iowa History project to microfilm, digitize, and make available Iowa’s newspapers to schools, libraries, and museums at no charge to the state, offers an opportunity to engage Iowans of all ages in the joy of research and discovery. Through research and the process of understanding past events, valuable 21st-century skills are developed such as critical thinking, independent thinking, the judgment of the accuracy and reliability of sources, analysis of conflicting evidence, awareness of multiple perspectives, interpretation, and communication. The Iowa Museum Association celebrates projects such as this, that provide historical resources to Iowans of all ages through their schools, museums, and libraries.”

5. In reviewing your collections online, it looks like you are changing the software’s user interface.  It was always easy to use and the changes seem to be maintaining that element. I know that you are in a competitive business environment and may not want the world to know just yet, but is there anything upcoming that you can tell us about? 

This isn’t an easy question to answer, because our list of future releases is literally 4 pages long as it stands today…and it continues to grow. Some will be imperceptible to the end-user. Some will be performance-based. Some will add more functionality. All of them will roll out as completed, one at a time… over the course of the next few weeks, months, and years. We purposefully don’t make large-scale changes or announce “product releases”, we just make small feature upgrades that are rolled out to our 500+ client sites as they are developed. Some of the stuff going on “behind the scenes” is much more impactful than some of the client-facing features being released, but there is always “something” being worked on. Yes, we would like to be able to spend the money on graphic artists, UX engineers, content managers, and teams of product engineers working on “what is next”, but we spread out our resources in a more holistic approach that also includes preservation and archival storage. 

We have created our Community History Archive platforms to serve as a practical means to explore and discover content, nothing more and nothing less. When we started building these online archives, we were focused on making them as simple as possible so anyone can use them. It is intended as a way to unlock content that was previously only accessible on microfilm, within the library, and not searchable in any practical way. We have tried not to concern ourselves with the “bells and whistles” or “cutting edge” features meant to attract subscribers or retain memberships. The content is the product, not the delivery method…but we do want an archive that the community is proud of, so we will continue to improve the aesthetic as time and resources allow…as long as they don’t interfere or distract us from our core values.

By focusing on small incremental changes, our platform continues to evolve at a pace which keeps our expenses at a reasonable level. This has been key to everything we do….simple, sustainable, and affordable. We know full well the painful condition and trends of budgets in our city, county, and state libraries… and we are extremely conscious of the fact that one of the hardest-hit areas has been in newspaper and historical preservation services.  Every decision we make in design and development is geared to ensuring we have a cost-effective solution to stretch what money is available.

6. Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you would like to share with us?

It is all about microfilm….

Microfilm is at the heart of everything we do. Digitization alone offers amazing access, but we believe microfilming is a necessity for the preservation process, and digitization is just a piece of a bigger puzzle. 

As technology advances, we can always go back to the film and re-digitize the images to whatever the “new cutting edge” image format is. Just take a minute to think about the advances we have seen in the last 50 years alone.  I am not just talking about storage technology becoming obsolete as floppy disks and CDs have, but even the way we consume digital content. The changes are exponential from decade to decade. The iPhone in my pocket has more computing power than the $16M Cray 2 supercomputer had in 1985. Where will digital technology be 50 years from now? We are not “chasing” the highest quality digital image that technology can provide today…because it WILL become obsolete. When it comes to our digital product, we strive to strike the perfect balance between value, volume, and quality. None of these factors can become more important than the other when considering digitization.  We will always be improving our online platform but will be doing so in the most pragmatic cost-effective manner possible.

That being said, we will make no such “compromises” when it comes to the preservation of the newspaper content. Their value and volume are clearly secondary and tertiary concerns behind the quality and care of the microfilm. Without well-preserved content on archival quality film, what source material will we have to digitize from in the future? 500 years from now, a simple candle and a magnifying glass will be all the technology one needs to view this content if properly preserved. 

———

Thanks to Jeff Kiley, for his time and for letting us know a bit more about the Advantage Preservation Company. For readers who are interested in the free online collections that Advantage Preservation provides, check out my recently updated list of links – Search 45 Million Historic U.S. Newspaper Pages from Advantage Preservation for Free!

And for links to other U.S. online historical newspapers available to search for free online, check out the Newspaper Research Links page.

Virginia Announces Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Online Newspapers

The Library of Virginia and the Virginia Newspaper Project have collaborated to make available online, many newspapers published in Virginia from the various Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps throughout the state from 1934 to 1941.
The complete announcement of the new collection is available at VNP ANNOUNCES THE CCC.
Here is a list of the current Virginia CCC newspapers available  (41 in total):
This is a terrific collection that provides readers a flavor of this part of Virginia’s history.
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Europe Free Online Historical Newspapers

There are quite a bit of free online historical newspapers from European countries.  There are also some that are subscription-based.

This article will try and list many of the free ones. There may be some that you are aware of that are not on this list, so please weigh in in the comments.  But this is intended to be a “starter” list for those of you with European ancestors.  (Please be aware that a couple in the list below are free to search but require payment to see and download the image)

I would start with the Europeana collection, a collective of several dozen participating partners. There are over 10 million pages available (the list is below).

Some on these lists are indexed and full-text searchable, some are browse-only; some have English translation capability, some do not. Some are easy to navigate while others may present quite a challenge.

Please note that these links to free newspaper research sites are accurate at the time of publication. Collection updates may occur (as well as dead links) in the future, both of which are out of my control. It is not the intention of the author (me) to maintain a complete or constantly updated list for all times. In other words, please don’t yell at me if this is not 100% complete and/or accurate forever.

Europeana

A collaboration of 23 member countries libraries and archives that makes over 10 million newspaper pages available for searching.

Austria

Belgium

Croatia

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Iceland

Ireland

Italy

Latvia

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Russia

Slovenia

Spain

Switzerland

United Kingdom

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Australia Free Online Historical Newspapers

There are quite a bit of free online historical newspapers from Australia. Most of the links listed below are for totally free access. This article lists links to many online collections. There may be some that you are aware of that are not on this list, so please weigh in in the comments.  

The huge national collection, provided by the National Library of Australia is Trove.  I would certainly start there, but please do not overlook the others listed below. There are obituary indexes, several good size free collections, and a couple that are unique.

Some on these lists are indexed and full-text searchable, some are browse only; and some you can search the index but must pay to acquire the newspaper image

Please note that these links to free newspaper research sites are accurate at the time of publication. Collection updates may occur (as well as dead links) in the future, both of which are out of my control. It is not the intention of the author (me) to maintain a complete or constantly updated list for all time. In other words, please don’t yell at me if this is not 100% complete and/or accurate forever.

Collections:

Trove – a massive national collection; links by state below,

Ryerson Index – index to over 5 million obituaries and death notices across the country (no images)

Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845

Other Free Sites:

New South Wales

Queensland

Victoria

Western Australia

Good luck and happy hunting!

For more free links for different countries, states, and provinces – please see the Newspapers page on this website.

Google News Archive – List of All Newspapers

Many people have used the Free Google News Archive to search historic newspapers for articles about their ancestors. If you haven’t, you should. It is free and fairly easy to use.I for one, always seem to forget how to access the list of all the newspapers contained in the archives.

Here is the link.  In case you forget too!

Google News Archive List of Newspapers

The list does provide publication dates as well as the number of issues for each entry in the archives. But there is no way to search the list other than an alphabetical listing. So for example, if I was interested in a list of all African-American newspapers in the collection, there is no way to search for that. So the list is better than having no list at all, but its searchability is limited.