15 December 2015

Don't Overlook Non-English Language Newspapers (U.S. & Canadian Published)

page 1152 from the 1910 N.W. Ayer & Son's American newspaper annual and directory, Hathi Trust Digital Library

I write about newspapers often as so many have become accessible through recent digitization efforts.  Newspaper content can really help your research by adding in details that won’t be found in official documents – social news, farming news, community news, birth/marriage/death announcements, reunion news, sports reporting, fraternal organization membership, and so much more.

As a country of emigrants, not all U.S. newspapers published have been nor are currently published in English. There is the so-called Ethnic Press which most often means newspaper published in a foreign language.

Two articles have been written about Chronicling America and some of the American ethnic press included in its collection -- Chronicling America’s Historic German Newspapers and the Growth of the American Ethnic Press & New Mexico, New Spain, Old Cultures: Historic Spanish-Language Newspapers in Chronicling America.

These are a good place to get started on appreciating the scope and breadth of the American Ethic Press.

Once curiosity is peaked, I suggest visiting the Chronicling America, U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present. A search option is to select language and included are languages from Albanian to Asue Awye to Cebuano to Choctaw to Finnish to Inupiaq to Marathi to Persian to Uzbek, etc.  I think you can appreciate the great diversity of languages represented.  

Additionally, the Center for Research Libraries - Global Resources Network has a list of Ethnic Newspapers held in its collection.  A great resource for early 20th-century ethnic newspapers in circulation is the N.W. Ayer & Son’s American newspaper annual and directory.  You can access the years 1910-1923 via Hathi Trust Digital Library. Check out page 1152 from the 1910 directory, “Publications in Foreign Languages.”  The list is organized by language and then state. Unfortunately, for my own personal research, MA was not a hot bed for non-English language newspapers in Finnish, Polish or Russian.

BTW, did I mention that the Chronicling America project hit the milestone of posting its 10 millionth page!?!?!

There are other newspaper collections that include Ethnic Newspapers.  These are not free to access like Chronicling America and you may have access via a local university library -- Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection, 1799-1971 & Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 (Readex).

Additionally, there are other resources for Ethnic Newspapers such as:
+ Historic Mexican & Mexican American Press (The University of Arizona)
+ Multicultural Canada – includes digitized ethnic newspapers

These newspapers are invaluable as you research your emigrant ancestors.

Do you have a favorite ethnic newspaper and/or newspaper collection? 

What is the best bit of “news” you learned from a non-English language U.S. or Canadian newspaper?

Editor’s Note: Previous Upfront with NGS blog posts on related topics.

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