(COLUMBUS, OHIO)— Civil War re-enactors, researchers and enthusiasts have cause to celebrate: the hours spent poring over pages of Ohio’s historical newspapers in search of news from the warfront and soldiers’ letters back home is now reduced to minutes thanks to the Ohio Historical Society. One Hillsboro newspaper, the Highland Weekly News, is among the first Civil War-era Ohio newspapers to be digitized and uploaded to the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website at www.chroniclingamerica.org. At this site, a researcher can use a term such as someone’s name, hometown or military regiment in the “search” function to instantly find occurrences of that word in the newspapers.
The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, a part of the National Digital Newspaper Program developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, will enable the Ohio Historical Society to digitize 100,000 additional Ohio newspaper pages published from 1845 to 1894. These pages will join the 14 papers—over 100,000 Ohio newspaper pages published between 1880 and 1922—that are already available on Chronicling America through the project’s first phase. This is welcome news to blurry-eyed researchers and genealogists who scour old microfilm in search of clues to history’s mysteries and family histories.
“I’m very excited that the Highland Weekly News was selected to be a part of the Chronicling America project,” said Greg Edwards, library manager for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. “Making available in digital format mid-nineteenth century issues of this southern Ohio paper will be extremely valuable to researchers and to those with a general interest in Highland County history. The years leading up to the Civil War and immediately following are covered in these issues, and provide a tremendous insight into what was newsworthy—national and local—in the rural Ohio county of Highland.”
“The ability to access this paper remotely, and other papers included in the project, is phenomenal and expands access to so many people in and outside of Ohio,” said Edwards. “A great paper included in a great project!”
About the Highland Weekly News
In 1837, James Brown established what was to become the Highland Weekly News at Hillsboro as the Ohio News with a goal to “promote the Interests of the Whigs” and provide a much sought-after alternative to the Democratic Hillsboro’ Gazette, for which there had been no rival publication since its establishment in 1818 as the Hillsborough Gazette, and Highland Advertiser. In 1847, the Ohio News became known as the Highland News until 1852 when it changed its name to the Weekly Highland News, before finally settling on the Highland Weekly News in 1853. Soon afterward, the paper began to support the newly formed Republican Party and considered itself to be a “fearless defender of every principle of moral reform in the interest of religion and good government.”
Ownership of the paper changed only a few times, first in 1852 when James Brown sold the News to Joseph L. Boardman and J.C.D. Hanna. In 1857, Boardman became the sole proprietor and editor of the Highland Weekly News until 1878 when his son, Edward L. Boardman, took over the paper. Under the Boardman family’s leadership, the News reached strong circulation numbers; by 1880, there were 1,500 subscribers throughout southern Ohio. The “family journal devoted to News, Politics, Literature, Agriculture, &c.” printed local, state, regional, national, and international news. In addition to offering poetry, a youth section of Enigma (puzzles), and, during the Civil War, correspondence from the battlefront, the paper included a special temperance column that was edited by the Women’s Christian Union of Hillsboro.
In 1884, Edward L. Boardman sold the Weekly News to George W. Barrere who purchased the Saturday Herald the following year and consolidated the papers to form the News-Herald. In 1973, the News-Herald became the Hillsboro Press Gazette, which has been published as the Press Gazette since 1985.
Archived Newspapers Available at Ohio History Center
The Ohio Historical Society’s Archives/Library at the Ohio History Center in Columbus contains the largest collection of Ohio newspapers in existence. The newspaper holdings contain newspapers published from 1793 to present, 4,500 titles, 20,000 volumes, and over 50,000 rolls of microfilm of Ohio titles.
Much of the microfilm in the Society’s newspaper collection was created in 1971 as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities initiative called the United States Newspaper Program. Since then, the information published in the thousands of deteriorating wood-pulp newspaper volumes in the society’s collections has been transferred to more than 16,000 rolls of master negative microfilm. The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio builds upon this earlier effort.
Looking to the Future
“Thanks to a $334,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities last year, the Ohio Historical Society has been able to continue its efforts to digitize a select number of historical Ohio newspapers,” said Angela O’Neal, director for Collections Services at the Ohio Historical Society. “We are helping to create a national, online, keyword-searchable resource.”
According to O’Neal, both phases of the project have been limited to a small number of papers selected from 10 regions across the state by an advisory group of 18 librarians, archivists, curators, historians, educators and journalists. “This phase will add 26 more papers to Chronicling America,” O’Neal said. “With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we’ve chosen publications from before, during and after the war to provide greater access to researchers on this important time period in Ohio’s history.”
In addition to issues of the Highland Weekly News from 1857 to 1886, the selected publications include: Perrysburg Journal from Perrysburg, (1854-1880); Hancock Jeffersonian from Findlay (1857-1878); Fremont Journal from Fremont (1853-1875); Tiffin Tribune from Tiffin (1856-1879); Cleveland Leader from Cleveland (1858-1866); Western Reserve Chronicle from Warren (1855-1873); Jeffersonian Democrat from Chardon (1859-1865); Ashtabula Telegraph from Ashtabula (1858-1880); Anti-Slavery Bugle from New-Lisbon & Salem (1845-1861); Holmes County Farmer from Millersburg (1860-1866); Holmes County Republican from Millersburg (1856-1862, 1870-1874); Stark County Democrat from Canton (1868-1890); Daily Ohio Statesman from Columbus (1861-1868); Dayton Daily Empire from Dayton (1859-1867); Urbana Union from Urbana (1862-1872); Xenia Sentinel from Xenia (1863-1865); Highland Weekly News from Hillsboro (1857-1886); Cincinnati Daily Press from Cincinnati (1859-1862); Gallipolis Journal from Gallipolis (1850-1880), McArthur Democrat (1855-1865), Vinton Record (1866-1874), Democratic Enquirer (1867-1873) and McArthur Enquirer (1873-1884) from McArthur; Conservative and South-eastern Independent from McConnelsville (1866-1871); and the Belmont Chronicle from St. Clairsville (1853-1894).
"We will continue to apply for NEH funds in upcoming grant cycles until we can complete the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio," O'Neal said. "Eventually, using microfilm for researching newspapers will be a thing of the past."
In addition to the Library of Congress site, researchers also will be able to access the newspapers at www.ohiomemory.org. For more information about the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, contact Jenni Salamon at 614.297.2579 or email@example.com.
About the Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio History Center
Founded in 1885, the non-profit Ohio Historical Society (OHS) provides a wide array of statewide services and programs related to collecting, preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archeology and natural history. The society has about 1.6 million items in its collections throughout its 50+ sites and within its 250,000-square-feet Ohio History Center at 800 E 17th Ave. (Exit 111 off Highway I-71), Columbus, Ohio, 43211. The Archives/Library is on the third floor of the Ohio History Center and is open: Wed.-Sat, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Society receives a portion of its funding from the state, but relies on admission fees, memberships, grants, donations and other forms of revenue to continue to serve Ohioans in the future. For information regarding the Society, contact Jane M. Mason, Director of Marketing and Communications, Ohio Historical Society: 614.297.2312, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about programs and events, call 614.297.2300/800.686.6124 or go online at www.ohiohistory.org.
NOTE: The Highland Weekly News is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038158/issues/