Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Learning Newspaper Research

After a suggestion at Keepapitchinin that there was much work to be done looking in local papers for letters sent home from soldiers in Johnson's Army, I thought I might use this as an opportunity to learn how to do local newspaper research. Since I live in Nashville, and work very close to the archives, I can do this fairly easily. I'll post updates of what I find and where I have looked when I find nothing. I expect this will take some time.

On the first day of searching I found very little, but I did learn how to use the microfilm library (it has been a while), the newspaper index, and the very old microfilm reader. The librarian cautioned me to be careful since replacement parts were getting harder to find all the time.

After a few issues, I figured out where the "news" part of the paper is. Most of the rest is given over to advertisments products of indeterminate value. In the hour I spent I was able to go through all of July 1857. There are about half a dozen local papers covering the period.

This library also has several microfilms of original document collections. A few of them are from the 1857-1858 period and include letters to President James Buchanan from prominent local leaders. Since this war was big news at the time, I'm guessing "some" of them will bring it up. The only problem is there are so many. Again, I expect this will take some time.


BruceC said...

July 1857, of course didn't have much about the Mormons. Just a note on the 24th that the mail from Salt Lake City arrived in St Louis, MO. It said that although the Mormons have heard rumors of the "Utah Expedition", they did not appear to be concerned. I found that funny, but since news didn't really arrive until Porter Rockwell arrived just before the 24th and not publicly announced until the 24th, I don't see how the writer of the newspaper article could have known just how concerned Utah was about to get.

Other non-Tennessee news was focused on bleeding Kansas, William Walker, and Irish street gang riots in New York City.

BruceC said...

August 1857 didn't have much more than July. There was note about the Secretary of War sending a "Special Message for Utah" pertaining to the interferance of mail delivery by Brigham Young.

There were also references to the Gadsen Purchase, attempts to purchase Mt Vernon from private hands, more on Buchanon's Kansas policy, and a comet expected to be visible during the first part of September. mmmmm.

Amy said...

Cool project!

Besides finding references to Mormon history, it's a great way for you to learn more about your area of the country.

I live in an area that is heavily Mennonite, and since they were pacifists and avoided military service, the local papers are highly unlikely to have any of the letters that were being discussed on Keepa. I guess I'll just have to work on other projects. :-)