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Immigrant Newspapers

Group Project Report and Updated Work Plan

Timeline of Deliverables

  • Week 4:
    • Reach out to NYPL research librarian and possibly other individuals
    • Finalize domain name 
    • Explore WordPress platform and possibility of Omeka and Neatline
  • Week 5:
    • Finalize online research of newspaper databases
    • Determine whether to drop any languages
    • Contact ethnic organizations, university departments
  • Week 6:
    • Draft wireframes for design of introductory page: search tool + layout of newspapers
  • Week 7:
    • Visit NYPL and NYHS
  • Week 8: 
    • Start social media outreach
    • Determine based on data what visualizations will be feasible: animated timeline, Carto time series map, histograms, ArtMaps
  • Week 9: 
    • Finalize layout of main page and start implementing design and inputting data
  • Week 10:
    • Sketch logo ideas
  • Week 11: 
    • Finalize logo
    • Finalize main page of digital collection
  • Week 12:
    • Write up pages for website: about, team, FAQ, contact form, additional links

Answers to Pressing Questions

  1. Who is the primary audience?
    • People with an interest in immigration and/or media history, particularly in NYC
    • People with and/or interested in European ancestory
    • Students, educators, scholars of urban/immigration/media history
  2. What are the research questions that will be asked of and facilitated with this database?
    • Can immigration trends and patterns be reflected in the number and/or “activeness” of the immigrant newspaper sector?
    • How do newspapers reveal similarities between immigrants today and in the 19th century?
  3. Clarify the scope: 
  • Why did we select these particular immigrant communities?

These immigrant communities had at least several active newspapers during the time period, reflecting their sizable population at the time. We also wanted a diversity of languages; in this case, of European languages.

  • Why did you select this particular timeframe (1860-1890)?

We settled on a 30-year timespan of newspapers that started in 1860-1890 because of the increasing diversity of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe in that period, according to this visual. That way, we could also factor in Italian, Swedish, Czech and Yiddish papers on top of the German, French, Spanish and Irish publications. There were not very many Russian and Polish papers, so we did not include them in the database.

  • What was happening in this time and to/with these communities that make them worthy of study?

While immigration from German-speaking countries and Ireland reached its peak during these decades, people started arriving in increasing numbers from other parts of Europe as well, such as Italy and Eastern Europe. These communities had established enough of a presence in New York in terms of population numbers and familiarity with the city that members could establish newspapers. This trend, in turn, would help immigrants adapt to their new country.

  • Are there any parallels to be made between that period and now?

Today, while newspapers in the metro area still exist that serve the Irish, Italian and of course French- and Spanish-speaking communities, numerous other languages and immigrant groups also have their own papers, particularly people from Asian and African countries and parts of Latin America. While the majority of immigrants today speak different languages and come from different cultures, their means of survival in a new country parallel the efforts of the immigrants who came before them. Those efforts include relying on newspapers, now also found online, in their native language that is relevant to the city in which they live. Immigrants, whether they arrived in 1865 or 2006, found comfort in their enclaves and their languages as they attempted to make a life for themselves in a new home. And knowing that, community members start newspapers today as they did 200 years ago.

  • Will one particular group be used as a test case, or are we working on all of them simultaneously?

We are working on all of them simultaneously, but some communities, like German-speaking communities, will have more to work with, so down the line, could become a point of focus in some regard.

  • What is the advantage of doing either?

If we focus on one community, we could narrow our search in terms of which organizations and people to reach out to and perhaps find more detailed and in-depth information, as opposed to spreading our efforts across numerous groups. This would certainly be easier to organize and manage.

On the other hand, that would limit not just the amount of data we have to work with, but it would also limit our ability to discern trends and patterns across different immigrant groups of the time period. Plus, a digital collection of immigrant newspapers would end up with just one or two immigrant commnities.

  • Which elements are absolutely necessary for the digital collection, and which can remain null?

(A database with too many null entries can be problematic and make searching difficult, but it also offers useful opportunities for conversations about what information gets preserved.)

Antonios had brought up ordering the columns in our database by importance. We decided on:

    1. Year founded and year ceased
    2. Frequency, language(s)
    3. Address (if possible)
    4. Community, as in the immigrant group

The rest, while helpful to have, will not be as crucial.

  • What particular tools or platforms are ideal for the project? What precisely makes them user-friendly?
    • WordPress: members have familiarity in building a site using the platform
    • Omeka: none of us have used the platform before but we are looking into it
  • What are your outreach plans?
    • We will contact the NYPL to get in touch with a research librarian. We’ll also visit the library, as well as the New-York Historical Society, to look at some of the actual newspapers and try to find addresses and other potentially interesting information.
    • We’re compiling ethnic organizations to see if it’ll be helpful to reach out to them.
    • Also contacting Chronicling America, whose data we are using to compile the database.
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One Comment

  1. Posted February 26, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s great to see the team beginning to clarify the rationale for the project and the specific contributions you seek to make. Visualizations and mapping seem like interesting choices if there’s enough data to do that, particularly so as to differentiate your project from what’s already available through Chronicling America. So far it seems like you’re using the same categories as that project, so what makes your database unique? Being able to talk about that will help call attention to your work once you start doing outreach. We might also consider identifying a consultant (potentially someone in data journalism) to help finesse some of these details further.

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