Pitch: Archive of Immigrant Newspapers

Sandy and I had originally proposed an aggregation and curation news site for stories produced by nonprofit media outlets. We decided to pitch another project, one that’s still journalism-oriented but focused on the digital archiving of historical immigrant newspapers in NYC. Here’s a partial version of our proposal, with a link to the more complete write-up at the end.

In the city, hundreds of media outlets make up the community and ethnic media sector, which targets select populations whether that be residents of a specific neighborhood or borough, or a particular ethnic group. These kind of specialized newspapers, especially ones that cater to specific ethnicities, have been a part of New York for much of its history. We want to gather, in one location, a record of some of these often overlooked publications. The digital archive, housed on a website, would include immigrant newspapers, founded within a specific time period, in the form of images and information.

For now, we envision the newspaper archive as including the following for each individual publication, depending on what can be found:

  • Image of the front page of a select issue and/or full issues (and if the newspaper still exists, images from present day)
  • Profile information: community served, language, years active, geographic reach, readership, location, facts, description, etc.
  • Links to libraries, museums and other sources to view issues of the newspaper

In addition to the archive, we also want to include a series of visualizations on the website:

  • Map of newspaper locations that can be adjusted based on language and country of origin
  • Animated map showing the emergence and disappearance of newspapers through the years
  • Timeline and other visualizations that reflect the waves of immigration in relation to the number of newspapers

Here is the full proposal: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18T7q_2eDhrIdC3YHRi9ejBFc8eO2hxnDaiN1XdHzAvA/edit?usp=sharing

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  1. Posted February 3, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    This sounds great! I think some more explicating could be done on the kinds of questions this project is hoping to pose, but I think that could easily be workshopped out by a group.

  2. Posted February 4, 2019 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I love this project a lot! Documenting the existence of these papers with very specific readerships is useful for a lot of reasons.

    A couple thoughts:

    1. The word “archive” in the title threw me off a little bit; I came at this wondering how you were going to deal with copyright before realizing that this project won’t include the papers themselves, but will only describe them. That’s absolutely fine, and I really like that you’re linking to libraries for this information, but this seems to me to be more of an index than an archive.

    2. Your proposal mentions coding the website and the database. Have you looked into existing solutions that might work for this project? Building your own is a defensible solution in lots of cases, but it takes a lot of time and work, and for a project with the time constraints of this class, finding a tool to build on might free up your time and effort in a way that would let you get more done.

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