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What is Immigrant Newspapers?
Immigrant Newspapers is a digital collection of newspapers based in New York City that were founded between 1860 and 1890 and served their readers in one or more of the following languages: Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Yiddish. The list of more than 70 titles is not meant to be comprehensive but rather to give an idea of the large number of periodicals that served immigrant populations in their native language. We have built upon the names and information about the newspapers, which come from Chronicling America, by finding addresses for their offices in old city directories and from the newspapers themselves via microfilm reels at the New York Public Library. Through these sources, we have compiled visuals for these dozens of newspapers to provide details not just about their years in business and who they served but also to give a glimpse of the publications themselves, or at the very least, an advertisement for it or a directory listing.
What is the meaning behind the castle in our logo?
After selecting 1860 to 1890 as the time period of newspapers to feature, we did additional research to find inspiration for our website name and logo. We learned that Castle Garden was the first U.S. immigration station, located in what’s now known as Battery Park in Manhattan, New York. From 1855 to 1890, more than eight million immigrants passed through Castle Garden to enter the United States. Given the almost identical time period and our project’s connection to immigration, we ultimately decided to pay homage to Castle Garden by incorporating a castle in our logo.
Why did we select 1860 to 1890 as the time period of newspapers to feature?
We chose the 30-year timespan because of the increasing diversity of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who arrived during 1860-1890. That enabled us to include Italian, Swedish, Czech and Yiddish papers in addition to the German, French, Spanish and Irish publications. There were not very many Russian and Polish papers, so we did not include them in the database.
Why did we select these particular immigrant communities?
These immigrant communities had at least several active newspapers during the time period, reflecting their sizable population at the time. We also wanted a diversity of languages; in this case, of European languages.
What was happening in this time and to/with these communities that make them worthy of study?
While immigration from German-speaking countries and Ireland reached its peak during these decades, people started arriving in increasing numbers from other parts of Europe as well, such as Italy and Eastern Europe. These communities had established enough of a presence in New York in terms of population size and familiarity with the city that members could establish newspapers. This trend, in turn, would help immigrants adapt to their new country.
Are there any parallels to be made between this time period and now?
Today, while newspapers in the metro area still exist that serve the Irish, Italian and of course French- and Spanish-speaking communities, numerous other languages and immigrant groups also have their own papers, particularly people from Asian and African countries and parts of Latin America. While the majority of immigrants today speak different languages and come from different cultures, their means of survival in a new country parallel those of the immigrants who came before them. Today, immigrants look for information about where live in media outlets, some found online, published in their native language. Whether they arrived in 1865 or 2005, immigrants found comfort in their enclaves and their languages as they attempted to make a life for themselves in a new home. And knowing that, community members start newspapers today as they did 200 years ago.
How did we obtain the addresses and images of the newspapers?
We obtained a majority of the addresses from newspaper directories and online databases, as well as microfilmed editions of the newspapers — which are housed in the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Microforms Division. Images of the newspapers were also obtained through the NYPL’s Microforms Division.
Why does a newspaper profile say it is a daily when the attached image, or another source, says it is a weekly?
A newspaper would sometimes change its publishing frequency so it may have initially appeared, for example, as a daily before transitioning into a weekly. We used either the information provided on Chronicling America or the earliest indication of its frequency according to digital archives or directory listings.
Why is it important to create a digital collection of immigrant newspapers?
New York is home to a thriving media sector of hundreds of community and ethnic publications, a large portion of which serve immigrant communities in their respective languages. We believed this project would showcase a sliver of immigrant history through the lens of the news media – a perspective that is often overlooked. Through the newspapers that served newcomers in their native language, one can trace immigrant waves and population patterns. For example, German immigration to New York peaked in the 19th century, which can be noted through the abundance of German-language newspapers at the time.
Who should I contact if I have inquiries or corrections?