The first public announcement of the digitization of Der Deutsche Correspondent and the creation of the Hilgenberg Archive was made in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Maryland Historical Society News, which was released late last week. The article featured in this issue is on page 10, titled, “Resurrecting Print Media: Digitizing Der Deutsche Correspondent“. It was written by myself and edited by Joe Tropea of the City Paper. The photograph is of Mr. Hilgenberg and I browsing a later volume of Der Deutsche Correspondent. I have included the short article below.
Resurrecting Print Media: Digitizing Der Deutsche Correspondent
The past year has seen many American newspapers fold or go online only. As anxiety about the death of newsprint increases, MdHS is set to embark on a project that will provide access to an important German-American newspaper from its holdings, Der Deutsche Correspondent. Thanks to a generous grant provided by the Charles Edward Hilgenberg Fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation and the support of Mr. John Hilgenberg and family, digitizing the collection will yield a valuable resource for a wide variety of researchers.
Between 1725 and 1775, German was widely spoken in the United States as a tide of German immigrants landed upon its shores, many of them settling in Maryland. Among them was Frederick Raine. He immigrated to Baltimore in late 1840 after having spent time in Münster, Germany, working as a newspaper apprentice. After only a few months in the city, he saw the need for a German-language newspaper. Just shy of his eighteenth birthday, Raine began printing Der Deutsche Correspondent.
Der Deutsche Correspondent was in print from 1841 through 1918. It grew from a weekly to a bi-weekly, and finally to a prominent daily paper. As owner, founder, and editor, Raine was held in high regard for providing a first-class newspaper to the German-speaking population of the region. His newspaper reported on important historical events such as the European Revolutions of 1848, the American Civil War, and the Franco-Prussian War, conflicts in Asia, Italy, and Austria, and countless political campaigns.
MdHS is proud to have the most substantial known collection of Der Deutsche Correspondent. It consists of 98 bound volumes, totaling 84,000 pages of newsprint. In order to digitize these extremely fragile newspapers, the bound editions require a high-performance overhead scanning system that will provide a high-resolution digital surrogate of each page to allow every word on every page to be legible.
The goals include providing web-based access to Der Deutsche Correspondent, and implementing a Maryland German Heritage program based at MdHS. An annual open house, a potential joint-exhibition with a museum in Germany, and internships for German-language students are also being considered.
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