How did information and concepts flow between Europe and America at the turn of the 20th century?
Historical newspapers are truly a fantastic source for historical enquiry and Digital Humanities offer the best toolbox for accessing it. The historical immigrant press adds an extra layer of socio-historical depth
Between 1880 and 1930, it is estimated that more than 22 million people from all around the world migrated to the United States; as immigrant communities grew larger and larger, the immigrant press boomed accordingly.
Newspapers became an instrument for community building and helped immigrants to cope with life in the New World, including easing their transition into American society.
Acting as advocates for the rights of the respective immigrant communities, they functioned as their representatives to the larger society. For the immigrants, having the possibility to be informed in a language they could at least to an extent understand was of immense value and became an essential element in the many stages of their life.
A bond of trust
A strong bond of trust developed between the community and the newspapers; thus, on the one hand, ethnic newspapers functioned as nodes of knowledge transfer between the homeland and the host country’s communities, and on the other, they acted as a tool for their social and cultural integration.
Oceanic Exchanges (OcEx): Tracing Global Information Networks in Historical Newspaper Repositories, 1840-1914 was an international research project funded by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the fourth Digging into Data challenge. Within this two-year project, we investigated how large-scale computational techniques may be applied to answering research questions in the humanities and social sciences.
OcEx brought together nine academic partners in US, Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the UK to examine patterns of information flow in nineteenth-century newspapers by linking digitized newspaper corpora.
OcEx was an amazing success and a fantastic experience. We developed new methodologies, techniques and tools as well as dug into new areas and explored new research questions. Have a look at the publication list in the Digital Humanities research section!