Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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From July 1991 to July 2002, the Connecticut State Library's Connecticut Newspaper Project (CNP) worked to improve access to, and to preserve Connecticut's newspaper heritage. The Project received funds from grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with contributions by the State Library.
The two major products of this effort are the bibliographic and holdings information on the 7,161 American newspapers owned by 280 repositories in the state, and 2,292 reels of microfilm preserving 1,094,446 pages of 437 Connecticut newspapers. Another, less direct, product was an increase in awareness of the importance of preserving newspapers on microfilm as demonstrated by filming efforts by local libraries and historical societies.
Accomplishments - Cataloging And Union Listing Phase
From October 1991-June 1994, the cataloging staff called and visited 279 libraries, historical societies, publisher's offices, museums and other newspaper repositories. Information was collected about every American newspaper owned by these institutions. In CNP terminology a "holding" is defined as all the issues of one title located at one institution. By June 1997, CNP identified 14,876 holdings of 7,151 newspapers, that is, there were 1,851 titles from Connecticut and 5,300 from other states. Since then, 10 more titles have been identified and cataloged, bringing the total to 7,161.
Bibliographic and holdings information were updated on OCLC, an international online library database, to show researchers what each institution owns. This information becomes part of the annual e-publication of the Connecticut Union List of Serials (CULS) as a segment of Project reQuest, the statewide online library catalog (select "reQuest Serials Catalog"). It was also printed in a three-volume set called Newspapers in Connecticut Institutions, updated through June 1997.
Because many publishers' offices and some private collectors did not want their holdings published, the 280 organizations in the project database dropped to 222 in the online and printed lists. Even so, these resources now contain 14,551 holdings statements for American newspapers held in Connecticut institutions. Despite the holdings that were not published, researchers' access to information on Connecticut newspaper titles and holdings is substantially greater than with the previous reference sources, as seen in the chart below. Holdings that were not published are still known to the staff of the State Library through the project database. This information was used as microfilming was planned and conducted.
|Resource||Years covered||Conn. Titles||Locations|
|Brigham||1755-1820||79 titles||in 83 institutions|
|Gregory||1820-1936||453 titles||in 57 institutions|
|Gustafson||1755-1975||995 titles||in 79 institutions|
|Newspapers in ...||1755-1997||1,851 titles||in 222 institutions|
Clarence S. Brigham, History and bibliography of American newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester, Mass., American Antiquarian Society, 1947)
Winifred Gregory, American newspapers, 1821-1936 (New York, H.W. Wilson, 1937)
Don Gustafson, A Preliminary Checklist of Connecticut Newspapers (Hartford, Conn., Connecticut State Library, 1978)
Newspapers in Connecticut Institutions, updated through June 1997 (Hartford, Connecticut State Library, 1997)
Appendices increased the information value of Newspapers in Connecticut institutions. The appendices included a list of existing indexes and their location created by asking survey participants if they had an index to the contents to their local newspapers, and charts that show the various titles of the larger families of related newspapers. The information on indexes is on the State Library website and the charts are in process of being mounted on the Internet. For now users can refer to the printed volumes that were distributed to each participating institution and are available for sale (at cost).
Accomplishments - Preservation Microfilming Phase
Microfilming began in the spring of 1995 with the 54,396 pages of the three titles in the Deep River new era family of newspapers (published in Chester and Deep River, Conn., from 1874-1977) producing 69 reels of film. The microfilming phase continued, in three rounds from May 1996 to July 2002, using the established procedures and workspace.
The CNP Advisory Board affirmed the selection criteria and established the priorities for action. Each round of filming took on greater challenges than the one before. In the pilot project (1995-1996) only three titles in one family of newspapers were filmed, with issues borrowed from only two lenders. For the next round (1996-1998), eight titles in four families were prepared, filmed and inspected, creating 494 reels of film preserving 236,412 pages. The issues for these families were borrowed from 12 institutions. The relative simplicity of the first two rounds of filming allowed CNP to firm up the microfilming contract specifications and procedures for disbinding, repairing, and collating the newspapers (putting them in correct order), targeting (adding information sheets to the microfilm), and inspecting the film.
Each of the two remaining rounds (1998-2000 and 2000-2002) had distinct title lists but the difficulties of borrowing multiple titles from multiple lenders meant that some titles were delayed till later and some were moved up on the list. In our innocence, we selected 426 titles from 116 families for filming over four years. The issues came from 83 libraries, historical societies, museums and publishers. In short, things got complicated, but in the end it all got done and 1,729 reels of film were produced, preserving 803,638 pages.
Final statistics: 2,292 reels of microfilm preserving 121 families, 437 titles, and the content of 1,094,446 pages of deteriorating newspapers from all regions of the state. A map in the appendices shows both those Connecticut towns where newspapers have been published and also those where CNP has done some filming.