Chronicling America: Kentucky newspaper collections available online

“Let those who decry the power of banks for evil look to Wall Street. Within the past month the Standard Oil Company, controlling the City National Bank, the United Trust Company and Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company, and aided and abetted by other banking interests to the extent of almost $2,000,000,000, has depreciated property values to the extent of $2,000,000 and has caused failures aggregating as much more. It has brought the country to the verge of a disastrous panic and has caused a tremendous falling off in trade.”

Sound like we’re quoting today’s issue of the Washington Post? Though the language might sound all too familiar, this story excerpt isn’t from a national newspaper and isn’t about recent events. It was printed on the front page of The Adair County News in Columbia, Wednesday, January 3, 1900.

the-adair-county-newsThere’s certainly something romantic about looking at old issues of newspapers from our communities. From advertisements that show century-old prices to feature stories about local people (like the narrative “A Kentucky Romance” also on the cover of this issue), there are so many treasures inside these worn, crumbled pages.

That’s why the National Endowment for the Humanities began the Chronicling America project, as a partnership with the Library of Congress. The National Digital Newspaper Program will, over the period of about 20 years, create a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers from all the states and U.S. territories published between 1836 and 1922. A prototype of this searchable database was launched in 2007 with newspapers from a select few states — including Kentucky.

Check out the site. You can look at a list of all newspapers available for viewing, scroll down to Kentucky and view archives of 37 of our newspapers, many of which are no longer in existence. But there are still some familiar names — The Winchester Sun, The Paducah Sun, The Mount Vernon Signal and The Interior Journal, just to name a few. You can download images and PDFs of these pages, zoom in and out and print whatever you like. And the best part: It’s free.

Other states represented include California, Florida, New York, Utah and Virginia. There are more than 100,000 pages digitized, according to the technical guidelines outlined by the Library of Congress. The National Endowment for the Humanities intends to add to this list during the next 20 years as funding is available.

If you’re a Kentucky history buff, or just want to see what our communities were reporting in 1900, take a few minutes to check this out. It’ll be worth the visit.


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