Readex to Launch Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection, 1799-1971

by | Jan 11, 2011 | 0 comments

Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection, 1799-1971, will be released by Readex, a division of NewsBank, in spring 2011.

Featuring more than 130 fully searchable newspapers in 10 languages from 25 states—including many rare 19th-century titles—this online collection will provide extensive coverage of many of the most influential ethnic groups in U.S. history. With an emphasis on Americans of Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak and Welsh descent, this unique resource will enable students and scholars to explore often-overlooked aspects of this nation’s history, politics and culture.

Spanning the Early Republic’s Open Door Era to the Era of Liberalization in the mid-1960s, Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection covers two centuries of immigrant life in the United States. Nineteenth-century topics include the denial of citizenship to “nonwhites”; the founding of nativist political movements, including the anti-immigrant “Know-Nothing” party; the 1849 discovery of gold in California, which lured people from all over the world; New York City’s place as the world’s largest Irish city in 1860 with more than 200,000 Irish-born citizens; and the Immigration Act of 1882, which levied a tax on all immigrants landing at U.S. ports.

In addition to the major contributions of immigrants to business, music, science, education, labor movements and war efforts, later topics include the Naturalization Act of 1906, which for citizenship required immigrants to learn to speak English; the 1921 Emergency Quota Act, which favored northern and western Europeans; the 1942 internment in “War Relocation Camps” of Japanese Americans, several of whom published newspapers; Truman’s 1953 Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, which revealed the positive impact of immigrants; and much more.

This new resource features newspapers from the former Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies—arguably the best known ethnic research center in America, which merged with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 2002—and the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania itself, one of the largest and oldest family history libraries in the nation. Many of the early 19th-century newspapers were published solely in the native European languages of the publishers, but later many were published in both English and the native language of the ethnic group that formed its audience; in the 20th-century many publications—frequently pro-labor and communist papers—were published in English to reach a variety of European ethnic groups.

Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection is the third collection in the Readex American Ethnic Newspapers series, which also includes African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 and Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980. It can be cross-searched with the aforementioned collections, as well as all other America’s Historical Newspapers series, including Early American Newspapers and 20th-Century American Newspapers.

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