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Tribune 1873-1922 online and searchable
[April 01, 2013]

Tribune 1873-1922 online and searchable

Apr 01, 2013 (The Bismarck Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Anyone can now read issues of the Bismarck Tribune from 1873 through 1922 online. Not only that, a person can search terms and dates and avoid a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to research.

A request came into the archives at the North Dakota Heritage Center in October from a resident of Pennsylvania. He wanted to know the terms of office for an early Morton County state's attorney who unsuccessfully prosecuted the Marquis de Mores for murder in 1885.

"The only way to do it was to search every newspaper," said Jim Davis, project coordinator and head of reference services with the State Historical Society of North Dakota. On the Tuesday morning after the Library of Congress went live with the Tribune online archive, Davis ran a search and in minutes he had the answer -- two terms. The archive went live about two weeks ago.

The same search speed can be applied to the names of parents and grandparents, if they showed up in the pages of the Tribune in those early years. Fortunately, the Tribune covered events and people over a large part of central and western North Dakota early in statehood, and also carried summaries from area weekly newspapers.

When a person makes a search the results appear as small facsimiles of the actual page, with the search terms highlighted. By magnifying the pages, a person can typically read the text, as well as the ads and captions. Movement around the page is smooth. It helps to hit "refresh" between searches.

It makes the online newspapers particularly useful for people doing family histories, or students working on projects, or scholars. It means not having to come to the Heritage Center in Bismarck to do basic research.

"It's great that people can now easily use early Tribunes to trace family members and events back to the early days of Bismarck," said Tribune Publisher Brian Kroshus, who thanked the State Historical Society, which initiated the project, for its work on improving access to historic newspapers.

By translating microfilm into digital files, 60,000 pages of the Tribune are now searchable over the Internet by going to the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website: . The Library of Congress now has newspapers from 32 states and the District of Columbia online.

"We could have never done it without the help from the federal government (National Endowment for the Humanities)," said North Dakota State Archivist Ann Jenks. The searchable Tribune archive was made possible by the National Digital Newspaper Program and a grant of $350,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

North Dakota's grant was for 100,000 pages. In addition to the Tribune, four other newspapers have been prepared for placement on the Chronicling American website: The Jamestown Weekly Alert (1882-1904), Ward County Independent (1903-21), Weekly Times-Record from Valley City (1912-22) and Williston Graphic (1895-1898 and 1902-19).

North Dakota's newspaper content on the Chronicling America site represent about 11 terabytes -- it's big. Jenks is trying to acquire a state server on which to place it.

The Heritage Center did not have all the early Tribunes, but was able to get micro film of many missing copies from the Minnesota Historical Society, which also was contracted with to do quality control on the creation of digital pages.

The SHSND has applied for round two of the grants, and hopes to get funding to prepare another 100,000 pages, which would increase the geographic coverage of the state.

The New York Times is one of the few newspapers that has been indexed, mostly because it's so labor intensive. This new digital project makes that indexing nearly instantaneous.

People going to state vital statistics, looking for death notices in the years prior to statehood and shortly after can often come up empty. During that early period, mailing death notices to the state or territorial government was spotty. But those deaths, said deputy state archivist Shane Molander, probably show up in the pages of the newspaper and the searchable, digital Tribune is a quick way of finding them.

___ (c)2013 The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, N.D.) Visit The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, N.D.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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