Campus: Humboldt State University -- December 8, 2004

NW Newspapers' History Online

Looking for a back issue of the Humboldt Times? Or a way-back issue of the Times Daily Telephone, say from 1883? And did you ever hear of The Western Watchman, in 1890 deemed "a journal of considerable ability, claiming perfect independence, and warmly espousing the temperance cause"?

Through its Northwestern California Newspapers web site, the Humboldt State University Library provides online information about these and roughly 140 other newspapers published in Humboldt, Del Norte and Klamath Counties from the 1850s to the present. Its web address is http://library.humboldt.edu/nwcnews/.

Along with brief narratives and timelines of the newspapers, grouped by seven geographical areas, the site profiles many the newspapers in their historical context and offers a bibliography of articles about journalism in northwestern California. It also provides a brief history of Humboldt County by Susie Van Kirk, who compiled chronologies of the newspaper work of Susie Baker Fountain and Andrew Genzoli. Van Kirk also offers "A Researcher's Reflections on Local Newspapers."

To view available back issues, which are primarily preserved in microforms, readers must visit the Humboldt Room itself, on the HSU Library's third floor.

Joan Berman, curator of the HSU Library's Humboldt Room, led a project team that included library staff members Edie Butler, Laurie Maxwell-Chamberlain and Gisela Rohde; and student assistants Nathaniel Haas, Drogheda NiFaolain and Leigh Westfall. Van Kirk and Merry Schellinger served as consultants.

This project was supported in part by the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and was sponsored by the California Council for the Promotion of History and California Library Association. Berman presented the new site at a recent CLA conference.

"The web site," said Berman, "makes it easy for users anywhere to find answers to questions like, 'What newspapers were published in northwestern California in the 1860s - or the 1920s - or the 1960s?' 'Were any papers published in Crescent City in the 1860s?' 'What papers have ever been published in Loleta?' 'Where can I find copies of the Daily Evening Signal?'"

The project began about six years ago, she said, when staff from the California Newspaper Project spent two weeks in Humboldt County.

"They visited all the local libraries, historical societies and museums to locate as many copies as they could find of our local newspapers. They went away and put their findings into a database," she said. "And, as we know, the newspapers continued their own lives, some dying, some changing their names, some celebrating anniversaries. Some new ones even came into being."

The project's challenge was to capture this continuing information and present it in an attractive, graphical and updateable fashion for local newspaper readers and researchers.

HSU Library Contact: Joan Berman, librarian, (707) 826-4939 or jrb2@humboldt.edu

Media Contact: Sean Kearns, Public Affairs, (707) 826-5151, kearns@humboldt.edu


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