Perrysburg Newspapersto Chronicle Ohios's Civil War History on Library of Congress Website

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(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. Three Perrysburg newspapers, the Perrysburg Journal (1853), Perrysburg Weekly Journal and Perrysburg Journal (1868), are among the Civil War-era Ohio newspapers that are being 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.

“The Perrysburg Journal was first published as the Fort Meigs Reveille in 1844,” said Stephen Charter, Head and University Archivist for Bowling Green State University. “One of the oldest Wood County newspapers, the Journal provided local, state and national news to the residents of the historic Maumee River town and Wood County Seat of Perrysburg, Ohio as well as its Northwest Ohio neighbors.”

About the Perrysburg Journal (1853), Perrysburg Weekly Journal and Perrysburg Journal (1868)
The Perrysburg Journal, a weekly paper, started in 1844, as the Fort Meigs Reveille. S.T. Hosmer, the first editor, filled his newspaper with advertisements and general news from the local, state, and national levels. The paper was renamed in 1851 as the Perrysburg Star because so many people had trouble pronouncing “reveille.”

In 1853, the paper was renamed again, this time as the Perrysburg Journal. The paper was then known as the Weekly Perrysburg Journal starting in 1861. It dropped the “weekly” and returned to its former title, the Perrysburg Journal, in 1868. The paper supported Whig interests until 1854 when it switched to support the newly-formed Republican Party. Starting in 1920, the newspaper took on the Independent point of view.

As with many local, weekly papers, ownership changed hands several times over the course of only a few years. James Timmons, whose term as editor from 1868 until 1889 was considered “aggressive,” ran few advertisements and included few, if any, images on the front page. Stories covered a diverse range of topics, such as national news, international events, and developments in science and industry. Many of these short articles, however, focused on the current local, national, and international political and economic climate. Coverage of the Civil War was prominent from 1861 to 1865, when the Journal’s pages were filled with news and letters from the front as well as political speeches and reports on local involvement in the conflict. Starting in 1890, just after the beginning of Ed L. Blue’s reign as editor, the paper began to include more advertisements, more pictures, and more pages. Though the paper still reported national news, its focus became increasingly local. The publication maintained a decent subscription list and announced its own technological advancements when, in 1902, it began to use an electric cylinder press instead of a hand press. 

During the World War I years of 1917 to 1919, the newspaper urged its readers to support their countrymen by purchasing war bonds and printed several letters from local soldiers writing back home, giving readers eyewitness accounts of the war. The regular column “On the Spur of the Moment” by Roy K. Moulton contained these letters in addition to short poems and commentary on the war, from the battlefield to the home front, and on American life in general. The writer’s remarks were often sarcastic, reflecting his unfavorable opinions of World War I and other current issues. The July 7th, 1918 issue, for example, had this to say: “One of the post-war problems will be to stop the knitters. Some of them have acquired a terrific momentum.” At the same time, the paper increased its focus on local news and matters. The paper began to print works of serialized fiction and regular columns such as “Household Hints” and “Fireside Talks with Rev. Allen,” content that is reminiscent of the articles that fill the Life or Entertainment sections of newspapers today. The Perrysburg Journal ceased publication in 1965 when it became the Perrysburg Messenger Journal, which is still being published.

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 Perrysburg Journal (1853) from 1854 to 1861, the Perrysburg Weekly Journal from 1861 to 1868 and the Perrysburg Journal (1868) from 1868 to 1880 (joining issues from 1880 to 1920 that have been online since 2010), the selected publications include: 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 jsalamon@ohiohistory.org.

Established in 1885, the Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology, natural history and architecture.  For more information about programs and events, call 614.297.2300/800.686.6124 or go online at www.ohiohistory.org.

NOTE: The Perrysburg Journal (1853) is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85026192/issues/
The Perrysburg Weekly Journal is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85026193/issues/
The Perrysburg Journal (1868) is available at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87076843/issues/