Monday, May 4, 2009

Utah Digital Papers

For someone who specializes in Mormon History but doesn’t live anywhere near Utah, the Utah Digital Newspapers is a useful source. Collections once only available along the Wasatch Front now can be perused at your leisure. Of course even if you do live near a Utah Public Library. This is still a very useful tool.

It was started in 2001 by the University of Utah with a demonstration grant. The idea was to prove it could be done. The program was so successful they received more grants. Other organizations, including BYU, have joined the effort.

Like most newspapers, you need to be careful about what was printed. The accuracy of the information is not guaranteed, only that it was printed. And just being in print is not proof that what was printed was true. Many things were printed for obvious polemical reasons. Makes you wonder about what my great grandchildren will read in papers published today that will seem outlandishly partisan to them.

The database is large, and contains a huge number of papers. Although it is far from comprehensive, new collections are being added all the time. Check the homepage for the newest ones. Check out how your ancestors we portrayed in the papers. You might be surprised how closely watched the comings and goings of ordinary people were.

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