The Virginia Newspaper Project is always eager to spread the word about historical crowd-sourcing projects that focus on newspapers as a source for information. Recently, a colleague notified us of one such project, sponsored by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, called History Unfolded: US Newspapers and the Holocaust.
In its own words, the project seeks to “uncover what ordinary people around the country could have known about the Holocaust from reading their local newspapers in the years 1933–1945.” It asks “citizen historians” to find articles, op-eds, letters, and political cartoons from local newspapers about key topics such as Kristallnacht, Germany’s Annexation of Austria and FDR’s fourth Inaugural Address. As the project progresses it may add more topics, but for now, it is limited to twenty.
In its nationwide effort, History Unfolded hopes to offer a new understanding of how key events of the Holocaust were portrayed in contemporary small town newspapers. It also wants to show how newspapers discussed the debate over entry into the war and how the American press, as times grew more tumultuous, portrayed immigration and the refugee situation. With the assistance of citizen historians, the History Unfolded database is quickly becoming a comprehensive resource which will be invaluable for scholars, historians, authors, and students.
One quick side note: while searching for content for History Unfolded, we here at the Newspaper Project discovered something interesting. The high school publication the Monocle was as pointed in its criticism of Hitler as any of its contemporary local weeklies. As early as 1933, the Monocle published insightful and scathing articles about Hitler’s treatment of the Jews in Germany. It makes sense that as war progressed, the students of John Marshall High watched world events unfold with great interest–they and their loved ones would be, after all, the generation heading off to war–but the skill and maturity with which they wrote about those events is often sobering.
Currently, Virginia Chronicle has five digitized newspapers with issues that fall between the project’s time frame of 1933-1945: The Highland Recorder, the Monocle, the Rappahannock Record, Southside Sentinel, and the Virginia Farm Bureau News. We hope to add more twentieth century newspapers in the coming year. Though digitized newspapers make for easier searching, History Unfolded is happy to receive PDF and JPEG images taken from microfilmed and original newspapers as well.
Explore Virginia Chronicle today, or check out local newspapers on microfilm, to see what you can find to assist History Unfolded.