Opening Statements: Douglas Island News

The Opening Statement series features the foreword or introduction given by  editors or publishers in the first issue of the paper addressing its readers. 

Douglas Island News

Douglas Island News, November 23, 1898, Vol. 1, No. 1

Publisher: A.G. McBride, Charles A. Hopp

“SALUTATORY

We take pleasure in herewith presenting to the people of Douglas City and Treadwell the initial number of the Douglas Island News, which we earnestly trust will meet with your expectations as an ideal local newspaper and merit a liberal support.

The live and prosperous towns of Douglas City and Treadwell are certainly entitled to one good, wide-awake newspaper, and it will be our desire to supply this adjunct, that is so necessary to the upbuilding of cities, and whether, or not, we succeed in our efforts, we leave for you to judge.

The columns of this paper, with only slight exceptions, will be devoted to the publication of local events and Alaska news, and there being no municipal organizations or elections, its pages will be for the present non-partisan.

Read our paper, observe its style and make-up, and, if it pleases you, give it such support as it is entitled to, and we will be satisfied.

Very respectfully,

A.G. McBride and

Chas. A. Hopp,

Editors and Publishers.”

 

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FIRST BATCH LIVE!

The first batch of Alaskan historical newspapers is live on Chronicling America – FREE for you to search.     CLICK HERE!

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The 1915 Development Number issue of The Alaska Daily Empire, shown in Chronicling America. Highlighted text represents a search for the term “mill”.

NOW AVAILABLE:

1,206 issues of The Alaska Daily Empire (1912-1918), 448 issues of the Douglas Island News (1898-1907), and 47 issues of The Thlinget (1908-1912).

These digitized newspaper pages are TEXT SEARCHABLE.  For tips on searching check out our previous post, Searching Chronicling America, or visit the Help page.

To start exploring Alaskan papers in Chronicling America CLICK HERE or visit Chronicling America and use the dropdown menu to select “Alaska”.

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Happy Searching!

Searching Chronicling America

There are multiple ways to search historical newspapers for information using Chronicling America.  But where do you start?

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When doing any kind of research it’s important to consider your subjects.  In genealogy this could be your ancestors’ names, in science it could be a theory or phenomenon, and in history it could be an event or place name.  One thing to consider about searching within historical newspapers is the diversity of language used when describing these things.

For example if you’re searching for articles on the Chisana Gold Rush you might only be finding a fraction of the information out there if you’re only searching “Chisana”.  In the early days of the rush there were multiple spellings of Chisana (pronounced Shooshana), sometimes called Shushanna, and often spelled Shushana or Sushana.  Names of towns, regions, rivers, and lakes also differed as new trails were mapped in addition to the use of both Native and non-Native place names.

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Also take into consideration the vernacular of the time period.  If you’re researching women’s fashion trends on the Frontier you may want to consider searching the more antiquated term “trousers” instead of “pants”.

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“The First Woman In Atlin”. Article from the front page of the January 18, 1899 issue of the Douglas Island News.

Luckily Chronicling America has a number of search options that will help you narrow your searches and find the specific information you’re after.  To begin there is the Basic Search that appears on the Chronicling America homepage.  You may begin with a broad search here to judge if you need to further narrow your search.  The Basic Search allows you to choose which state you’d like to search, a date range, and any keywords you’d like.  A search for “coal” in West Virginia newspapers from 1800-1899 results in 65,414 results.

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At this point you may choose to give up OR check out the Advanced Search tab found at the top of the homepage (definitely check out the Advanced Search).

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The Advanced Search lets you select multiple states or specific newspapers if you have a specific town or region you’re interested in.  You can limit searches to just the front page and you can also choose what language the paper was published in (currently the only languages offered are English, French, German, and Spanish).  The phrase search “mardi gras” in newspapers published in French from Louisiana, 1789-1924 yields 155 results.

If you move to the All Digitized Newspapers 1789-1924 tab you’re given the added unique option of searching publications by ethnicity such as Jewish, African American, or Irish.  With the ethnicity search you may also select what state and language (or simply leave the default “All” setting).

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And finally, if you’re searching for a popular topic in American history visit the Recommended Topics page (link located on the left sidebar of the Chronicling America homepage).  This page offers preselected articles provided by the Library of Congress (new topics added on a regular basis).  Here you have the option of browsing topics in alphabetical order, by subject category (shown below), or by date (topics arranged by decade).  This page in particular is an excellent resource for students and educators looking to incorporate digital historical newspapers into the classroom!  I highly recommend checking it out.

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Now you should be equipped with the knowledge for starting your first search in Chronicling America – happy searching!

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For additional tips and help with Basic Searching and instruction in Advanced Searching visit the Help page on Chronicling America at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/help/

 

Opening Statement: The Thlinget

The Opening Statement series features the foreword or introduction given by  editors or publishers in the first issue of the paper addressing its readers. 

 

The Thlinget

The Thlinget, August 1908, Vol. 1, No. 1

Publisher: The Sitka Training School

“FOREWARD

Our Paper bears the name of The Thlinget not because this is the name of the largest tribe of Alaskan natives but because it means “the people” Although primarally a school paper The Thlinget will be constantly devoted to the welfare of all native people of Alaska.  With this introduction we are glad to make your acquaintance and earnestly hope that our acquaintance may develop into warm friendship.”

 

On This Day In History: August 9

The rush to Atlin Lake as reported in the August 9, 1898 issue of the Daily Alaskan.  

Few endeavors are as exciting still as the placer strikes of Alaska.  However, while we may remember aspects such as location, the riches (or the busts), and the often perilous conditions strikers endured for the chance of a lifetime, smaller yet telling details are often overlooked.

This cheeky article in the Daily Alaskan gives perspective into just that – the business men looking to profit off the strikers by packing up loads of whisky and tobacco, or the man who can’t quite seem to decide whether to take a chance and keeps changing his coat throughout the day as he changes his mind.

DailySkagway_18980809_AtlinLakeGoldStrikeRush

 

“THE MAD RUSH IS NOW OVER.

Few Left To-Day Except Those Unable to Leave Before.

NO DEFINITE NEWS YET.

Beyond What Was Given Last Evening, Which Rumor Tends to Confirm and to Exaggerate.

Packer Feero showed the gold he had dug on Pine creek, Atlin lake, with some amount of pride this morning, and appologized for not thinking of it yesterday.  That sounds very much like millionaire talk.  He was buttonholed by a number of would be millionaires, whose names appeared among the entries for the race to Atlin in last evening’s issue, but who were unable to get away until to-day.

There has come in no news to-day, confirmatory or otherwise of the strike on Atlin lake, but the city is filled with rumors.  The DAILY ALASKAN hoped to have a messenger out this afternoon, with reliable dcetails, but up to the time of going to press nothing had been heard from him.

The claim stakers may be said to have gone yesterday.  This was business man’s day.  The schemes for making money were exceedingly plentiful, but it seemed as if impossible to mention a single enterprise that somebody had not already started in with and believed he had a cinch on.  So far as we can learn there were at least seven who each packed in a stock of general merchandise; one man took a supply of whiskey and two others knew they could buy whiskey at Log Cabin or Bennett and save the freight; three cooking stoves were sent out in the wee sma hours of this morning, and one man staked his fortune on one horse and one-hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco and cigars.  Brother Watson is going to have a “pudding.”  He will have his real estate shingle out by the time crowd gets there, and will sell corner lots as fast as he can make change.  Brother Church has gone to, but he took in an empty coal oil can with him, with the ambition to scoot over new territory and fill it with nuggets without bothering to locate anywhere.  He has read books on mining.

The mining fever has spread right to the end of the wharf, and agent Twitchell has caught it.  This afternoon he was studying how to affix wings on to his bicycle, so that he might go in to the new diggings from Log Cabin.

Thomas Whitten put on a blue sweater and started for the mines this afternoon.  He took his surveying instruments with him and has the townsite fever.

Edward Foreman struck the trail for Atlin this afternoon.

Dr. Bryant did not know exactly what to do today.  He changed his opinion and his coat several times.  Early in the morning he sported a mackinaw, and of course he was going to hit the trail.  But a little later he was strutting around in a very elaborate smoking jacket, as an indication that he would not leave Mrs. Bryant for all the gold fields in the new mining district.  In the afternoon he sported a light yachting coat, showing that his thoughts would a roving go, whether he would or no.  An extra will be published this evening if Dr. Bryant’s further changes are sufficient to warrant it.

Harry Lane Meyers, the safe expert, was called into the First Bank of Skaguay a few days ago to change the combination.  He did so and gave it to Cashier Bullen.  The strike excitement crowded the combination out of Mr. Bullen’s head last night and this morning he had to send for Mr. Meyers to open the safe for him.

Mr Everest did not get away until nearly 4 o’clock this afternoon.  He put the delay on his wife, sarcastically suggesting that she was not satisfied with the set of the evening dress in which she will make her debut in Taku society.  It was, in fact, the large business Mr. Everest has been doing in outfitting that caused the delay.  They started for Bennett on the famous grey horses, and from there will go by boat.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith also left this afternoon.

Boniface Brannick was complimented on Sunday, and deservingly so, one beine one of the best-dressed men in town.  At four o’clock this morning he donned a blue flannel shirt.  It destroyed his natty appearance, but it looked like business.  Toward noon he restlessly kicked his heels in front of his famous hotel and began to sprout the grey hairs of worry.  He could not make up his mind whether to be a blue-shirted prospector or a boiled-shirted hotel proprietor.  He hated like Hoboken to miss the chance of going to the new diggings, but then– the next steamers up were sure to crowd his hotel.  As we go to press he retired to a quiet corner to toss up.  Then he mounted his mountain stage with Mr. Hverst, Mr. Whitten and others and went.”

Parts of a Newspaper: Advertisements

In the first installment of Parts of a Newspaper, we’ll dive into an area most people just skim over – advertisements!

Ads can tell us a lot about what is happening in a community during a particular time.  Think about the ads you see in papers today – there are advertisements for goods, businesses, and services offered to name a few.  So what can these tell us?

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One way to track the development of a town is to follow the types of goods and services being offered.

  • Shops – Quantity and variety
  • Clothing & housing goods – practical vs. luxury
  • Resources offered & prices – e.g. timber and coal
  • Groceries – variety of stock & prices
  • Entertainment – theaters, bars & billiards
  • Banks & Hospitals
  • Steamships – tourism, transportation, and mail delivery

There are essentials that a town on the Alaskan frontier needed to survive and then there are those that made it thrive.  Comparing businesses, resources, and the price of goods and services across time indicates of how quickly a town is growing.  As industry and business thrived, more people relocated to the towns bringing in more money, this in turn allowed businesses to start offering higher quality goods and luxury items as well as entertainment – something that there previously had not been a market or population to support.

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Another type of advertisement to consider is the classified ad.  Job advertisements can tell us what type of work was common/available year-round and seasonally in a community.  By tracking types of and demand for employment over time you can detect shifts in industry and economy.

To conclude, advertisements in historical newspapers can offer a wealth of information on class, industry, economy, culture, and retail if you know what to look.  So next time you’re flipping through the paper take a second to study the ads and think about what they say about the marketing, industry, and economy of where you live!

!! Check out our Instagram post on advertisements to learn more about the featured image and what the editor of the Seward Gateway had to say about advertisements and growth of Seward, Alaska in 1904 !!

On This Day In History: July 18

A plea for the preservation of scenic woodlands surrounding Skagway, Alaska printed in the July 18, 1901 issue of The Daily Alaskan.  It would not be for another six years until that plea was answered by the creation of the Tongass National Forest in September 1907 through a presidential proclamation by Theodore Roosevelt.


 

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“Three years ago the Skagway and Dyea canyons were wooded with stately trees.  The mountain sides were clothed in a mantle of attractive evergreens.  Today the bottoms of the Skagway river have been cleared for the townsite and its extension, and the beauty of the scenery is marred by vast expanses of charred tree trunks.  Much of the primeval attraction of the country is gone forever.  Each succeeding summer marks the recurrence of devastating forest fires.  In most cases they are caused by negligence that is little short of criminal.  There is no closely adjacent timber to Skagway left to protect.  If some concerted action is not taken to preserve the woodlands at the head of Lynn canal it will be but a very few years before the shores of the scenic waters are but blackened and ungainly wastes.

No country on the face of the globe contains a nook more scenically beautiful than West creek, the lower tributary of the Dyea river.  The beetling crags, the walled valley, the pinnacles of the mountains, the glistening glaciers hanging to their precipitous inclines, combined with the sweeping, placid curves of the shaded stream, that in places breaks into a roaring torrent of rapids and waterfalls.  And all this beauty was enhanced with moss carpeted evergreen groves.  This summer must be recorded the defacement of the loveliest feature in this scenic paradise for the green forests in its radius are now but charred and unattractive expanses.  Those who do not care for natural beauties of the country may reasonably remain passive over the destruction of the forests, though people who have cast their lot here must certainly be alive not only to the destruction of valuable timber but to the commercial value of strikingly beautiful scenery.

It will not be many years before people of leasure and means will tarry in Alaska for their summer outings.  The Gun Club, Camera Club, the Chamber of Commerce and all other organizations, called into being for the furtherance of vested interests, or the enjoyment of the beauty and sport afforded by flood, field, mountain and fell, should combine to devise some means whereby Goths and Vandals may be restrained from destroying that which nature has taken centuries to produce.”

What is the National Digital Newspaper Program?

Part II

Why devote national resources to something that was not originally intended to be kept longer than the time it took to print the next issue?

In his 1999 response to an award granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the purpose of digitizing U.K. newspapers, Chris Smith, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, had this to say:

“Newspapers have been called history’s first draft. The conservation of our stock of local newspapers, much of it suffering from acidity and thus difficult to handle, is incredibly important because it forms a considerable part of our nation’s archives.”¹

As one of the first mass produced means of communication, historical newspapers offer a wealth of information and insight into past events valuable to researchers across fields.  Local papers, especially those of small communities, are records of political, social, cultural, and economic development and decline.  Following are just a few examples of the types of information found in newspapers:

  • Advertisements of goods and services offered by local businesses
  • Political commentary of legislation, political figures, and elections
  • Detailed accounts of events, e.g. disasters, social gatherings and celebrations
  • Letters to the editor: what concerns were people having at that time
  • Public notices, e.g. unclaimed mail, emergency notification and instruction, and delinquent taxes
  • Obituaries: often the only source of detailed information on a person’s life in those times

*A note on what historical newspapers do not do: provide a full record of the human experience by largely ignoring or selectively representing minority populations, often in an unfavorable light.

The concept behind Chronicling America is access.  To have this wealth of information preserved is only one aspect of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).  The webpage Chronicling America (chroniclingamerica.lov.gov), run by the Library of Congress, ensures that the public will be able to access the fruit of the NDNP’s digital labor 24/7.  Currently there are over 12 million pages of U.S. historical newspapers digitized on Chronicling America ready to be used for everything from searching consumer and fashion trends, to tracking weather history and climate change, to inspiring projects like Freedom on the Move.²  By implementing optical character recognition (OCR), these digitized pages are text-searchable, making it an extremely useful resource for researchers and educators.

While newspapers may be considered the first draft, they are still an important source of unique historical information, a chorus of voices reflecting the concerns and opinions of communities, many of which have otherwise not survived the sands of time. Their preservation is in part the preservation of not only local, but national heritage and through this they can serve as tools of education and instruction for future generations.

 


¹ J. Secker, “Newspapers and historical research: a study of historians and custodians in Wales” (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Wales, 1999), 17.  http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/17693

 

² Freedom on the Move is a joint project between Cornell University, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Alabama focused on creating a database comprised of all runaway slave ads printed in historical newspapers throughout the South for the purpose of making this information accessible for analysis and education.  For more on this project visit http://freedomonthemove.org/


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For Part I of this post visit What is the National Digital Newspaper Program (Part I)

On This Day In History: July 12

An interview with Mr. Hunter, mine foreman of the old Treadwell and Three Hundred mills explains mine operations and how the excavation site the “Glory Hole” got its name in an 1899 interview published in the July 12, 1899 issue of Douglas Island News.

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Left: July 12, 1899 Douglas Island News article; Right: The July 05, 1899 Douglas Island news article mentioned in the July 12 article.

The interview reads:

“The Treadwell Mines.

Two Mills Consume 1950 Tons of Ore Every 24 Hours.

A TALK WITH FOREMAN HUNTER.

The great mines on Douglas Island are generally known as the Treadwell mines and stamp mills, of which there are in fact five mills and four separate mines.  When the first mill was put in it was called the Treadwell, with 240 stamps.  It is back of this that the Glory Hole, of which we made mention in our last issue, is located.  The new 300 stamp mill is located less than a quarter of a mile from the old mill and the two, with 540 stamps are under the control of one mill foreman, who is Mr. Angus Mackay.

The mine foreman for these two mills is Mr. A. Hunter and the Glory Hole is also in his charge.  Mr. Hunter was seen by the News man a few days ago and from him we gained much information concerning mill operations, which we will give to our readers:

“You are not quite right in assuming that the Glory Hole gets its name from the people who have gone to glory from its confines,” said Mr. Hunter.  “The fact is that for years there hasn’t been a man killed in the Glory Hole and I can remember of but one man ever losing his life in there.”

“But how did it get the name?” was asked.

“Oh, that was because a man, who wanted work, once offered to work for his board and lodging until there was a job open for him and the men said he was working for glory, and ever since it was called the Glory Hole, because he worked there.   No, the Glory Hole is not a dangerous place to work in, but it would be a bad place to fall into.”

“What is the Glory Hole doing for the big mills?” was asked.

“The two big mills, the old Treadwell and the new Three Hundred, consume 1950 tons of ore every 24 hours and this is mined at the Glory Hole.

“How many men are employed at the new Three Hundred?”

“Oh, something like twenty men.  The machinery is the latest improved and nearly everything is done by the machinery.”

“What are they doing down at the other mills?”

“While the other three mills are owned by the same parties they are under a different superintendent and mine foreman, but generally speaking, I can say that the new Seven Hundred, with 100 stamps, consumes 350 tons of ore a day.  The Mexican, with 120 stamps, crushes 400 tons per day, and the Ready Bullion, with 120 stamps, consumes 400 tons a day.  Add these together and you will see that we crush 3100 tones of ore every 24 hours.”

“How deep do you go for this ore?”

“About 800 feet from the top of the Glory Hole and we are down about 450 feet below sea level.”

“How far is it from the new Three Hundred to the Ready Bullion mill, and does the vein of ore extend that far?”

“About 7000 feet.  Yes, the vein of ore extends that distance and is practically the same.  If there is any difference, the ore at the Ready Bullion, the mine farthest south, is a little the best.  The vein seems to stop on the north side of the new Three Hundred.”

“Then you are not worrying any about your ore giving out?”

“No, indeed.”

“What is your manner of getting the gold out of this rock, Mr. Hunter?”

“It is very simple indeed.  After going through the stamps the free gold is collected on the copper plates, which are coated with quicksilver.   The balance of the ore goes through the concentrators.  The first is put into the bricks at the company assay office, the second is sacked and shipped to the smelter at Tacoma.  These sulphates or concentrates that are shipped will run about fifty dollars to the ton.  The final result is about two-thirds free gold and one-third that is shipped in the shape of sulphates.”

Mr. Hunter has been with the Treadwell’s for years and is one of the best and most expert mine foremen living.  Nearly every tunnel, shaft or raise in the old Treadwell mines were mapped out and ordered by him, and the fact that he has held his position for so long a time is proof of his competency.”

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