UNT Libraries are pleased to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress have selected us for a fourth, two-year cycle of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), to digitize Texas newspapers on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America.
This award is for $200,000 and will build access to an additional 100,000 pages of Texas newspapers on Chronicling America, to spotlight community identity in Texas. This time, the news is even more exciting because these additional newspapers will be in Spanish and German. Access to these additional issues and languages in a national context will represent and support the large populations in Texas whose ancestors settled here in the 19th-century and documented their experiences in these very newspapers. In addition to adding the newspapers to Chronicling America, where Texas identity can be preserved alongside other state awardees’ newspapers, we will include these newspapers in the Texas Digital Newspaper Program (TDNP). These will serve as a jewel in the TDNP collection because they serve the descendants of Spanish- and German-speaking Texas pioneers as they explored what was then a mysterious frontier. These descendants comprise a large percentage of the Texas population, and we are proud to be able to represent them in NDNP. All of the newspapers available in Chronicling America and visible in the TDNP collection are freely accessible for research and education. As a result, we try continually to inform teachers and students about the importance of newspapers in understanding history.
Newspapers illustrate cultural mergings in many ways, from the very languages in which they were written, to the different groups of people who lived in and settled the areas where the issues were disseminated, to the governments that oversaw settlement of those areas. At present, a search for Texas newspapers, and even into early Texas History, brings up a wealth of primary source information about Texas after it entered the United States and about Texas in the Civil War, most of which is available in English-language newspapers. We are very excited about the opportunity to expand the representation of Texas cultures in Chronicling America with the addition of Spanish- and German-language titles.
For more information about the National Digital Newspaper Program, you can visit the NEH NDNP page.
University of North Texas Libraries is excited to announce the completion of a project to digitize and make freely available the Texas Jewish Post. This project was funded primarily through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library
Services (IMLS) and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) as part of TSLAC’s TexTreasures competitive grants program. This project was also funded in part by private donors, which was very helpful due to the breadth of the collection.
The Texas Jewish Post has served the Jewish community in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Texas since Shelden Beren first began publishing it in January 1947. Published primarily in English and secondarily in Hebrew, the Texas Jewish Post changed hands in 1948, to the ownership of Jessard A. “Jimmy” Wisch. Since 1948, many members of the Wisch family have been involved in maintaining the newspaper, and now the title is published by Sharon Wisch-Ray, the daughter of Jimmy Wisch. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing coverage of political, economic, and social developments affecting Jews globally, provides wire reports to the Texas Jewish Post. Correspondents for The Post contribute coverage from Israel and Washington, D.C., making it both a state, local, and national newspaper. Multiple generations of readers have reported to the Wisch family that it is their first source for news in the north Texas area as well as in the Jewish community.
The Wisch family’s legacy lives on through the Texas Jewish Post. Jimmy Wisch passed away on January 26, 2002. Rene Wisch passed away on November 1, 2010. Their lifetime of service to the Jewish community in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex will not be forgotten, especially now that their newspaper is freely accessible on The Portal to Texas History in perpetuity, for generations of researchers to come.
Prior to this grant award, the Texas Jewish Post collection only existed in paper format, with neither a complete digital nor microfilm duplicate. The publisher, Sharon Wisch-Ray, has provided this collection to University of North Texas Libraries to digitally preserve it for long-term research and education access. Open access to this newspaper’s archive, via The Portal to Texas History, will benefit researchers interested in learning about the Jewish experience from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. The materials digitized through this grant represent 59,360 pages in 2,763 issues of newspapers.
The Portal to Texas History has recently announced the call for submissions for its most recent round of the Rescuing Texas History program. Rescuing Texas History 2016 is the ninth year of the program, which has brought to light over 45,000 items from 206 partnerships. Since the beginning of the program there have been over 5.1 million uses of materials hosted on the Portal to Texas History that were received in response to past call for submissions.
Now it is your turn.
Each project selected will be provided with up to $1,000 of digitization services to libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and other groups (including individuals) that house historical materials. All materials accepted will be scanned at UNT Libraries and hosted on The Portal to Texas History. Deadline for receipt of applications is August 1, 2016.
For more information and to download the application: Rescuing Texas History Mini-Grant
The celebration of Juneteenth in Texas on June 19th has marked the ending of slavery in the United States since 1865. To celebrate this year, I’d like to share some items and collections I’ve found on The Portal to Texas History and the Gateway to Oklahoma History that are about African-American Texans whose lives have enriched Texas and the world.
From the late 19th-century, The Representative, published by Richard Nelson, was the first newspaper published and owned by an African-American proprietor. Mr. Nelson was born in the Florida Keys in 1842, and he served in multiple federal posts, including postmaster in Virginia Point and federal customs office inspector. In 1870, he served as Justice of the Peace for Galveston County, one year before he began publishing The Representative, which he started on May 22, 1871, stating, “[The Representative] will advocate the rights of all American citizens ‘without regard to color, race or previous condition of servitude.'” According to the Handbook of Texas online, in 1901, Mr. Nelson “served as vice president for the Southern Negro Congress,” toward furthering education and economic prospects for the advancement of the African American community (Barr, 2010). As I read through issues of Nelson’s first newspaper, I am most struck by his brave outspokenness.
The first African-American Aviator in the world was Bessie Coleman, and she came from Atlanta, Texas. Coleman graduated from the Caudron Brothers’ Aviation School in Paris, France, and she flew all over the world. In Orange, Texas, in 1925, she thrilled audiences with her aviation skills, but she also received a death threat letter due to her race. While the death threat letter did not scare her out of performing, Ms. Coleman was killed in an airplane accident one year later, along with her mechanic and PR manager, William Willis. The Gateway to Oklahoma History offers further detail into Coleman’s aviation background.
A modern-day hero we can learn about from the Portal is Barbara Jordan, who became the first African-American Texan in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, as well as the first African-American woman from the South to be elected to congress. Rep. Jordan was famous for her speeches, one of which became immortalized when she spoke in support of the Nixon impeachment in 1973 during the Watergate hearings. Much of Jordan’s work can be found on The Portal to Texas History, in the Barbara C. Jordan Archives Collection. This collection houses speeches, photographs, and newspaper clippings that document Jordan’s impact on Texas and the U.S., and the documents are freely accessible for worldwide research.
If you’d like to expand your education about the contributions of African-Americans in Texas and the south, you can find these people and more searching on The Portal to Texas History and the Gateway to Oklahoma History.