A Great Start in the New Year for the Hilgenberg Archive

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. Just a few weeks into 2011, excitement ensues. Just before I left for a two week vacation in December before Christmas, I received a visit from Mr. Carl Hilgenberg and guests. It was lovely to speak with the group about the archive and plans for the future. On an unrelated note, just before leaving the library, Mr. Hilgenberg spoke with our Senior Reference Librarian, Francis O’Neill, about property in downtown Baltimore. I learned that ground rent is a very old tradition here in Baltimore; this cleared up what was almost myth-like for me as a non-homeowner.

When my two weeks of vacation was about to come to an end, I developed bronchitis and missed almost the entire first week of work in January. It was quite the ordeal. However, just after I began to feel well enough to come to work, I received notice that the Charles Edward Hilgenberg Archive received a generous donation from the Ross and Grace Pierpont Charitable Trust! Ron Barbagallo, IT Manager, and I have had preliminary discussions about possibly vetting web site developers in order to receive an estimate on a site for the Hilgenberg Archive. These additional funds would certainly  help us pay for such an endeavor. While we have not yet found a company with the software needed to OCR (translate and index) the digital files, we hope that uploading the images we have now to a site and having a clear statement on what we need additional funds for, would raise awareness of the archive and what we hope to do.

I am hoping that the Library of Congress/National Endowment for the Humanities National Digital Newspaper Program will begin accepting German-language newspapers. If this happens, Der Deutsche Correspondent would be a strong candidate for the project. Here is a list of requirements for the project:

  • The newspaper significantly reflects the political, economic and cultural history of the State. These include, but are not limited to, titles of statewide or regional influence and titles important as a source of information about a variety of ethnic, racial, political, economic, religious, or other special audiences or interest groups.”
  • Contains “news of state and regional governmental affairs, and announcements of community news and events, including births, deaths, and marriages.”
  • “Preference should be given to titles that provide state coverage or at least multi-county coverage of a majority of the population.”
  • “Scanning will be limited initially to the time period 1836-1922…”
  • “document a significant minority community at the state or region level during the target time period (1836-1922) should be considered as a means to balance content.”

I have to wonder whether or not the reason for only allowing English, French, Italian, and Spanish newspapers at the moment is because of the OCR issues with German Gothic Script. This part of America had a large number of German immigrants during the targeted time period so German newspapers should be considered valuable as documented news.

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3 comments
  1. I had a conversation with Dr Ruppert last year and have taken his suggestion to look into this source. I am very much excited. I already found some priceless clues and documentation in Ruppert’s 2 volume set for 1879-1883 which I recently bought. I read the Sun article and the blog posts from then until now. Very impressive! And I was simply googling trying to find out who had the rest of these newspapers.
    Being so deeply involved with genealogy you may already be aware that FamilySearch is known to digitize or index records at no cost. You may be familiar with “FamilySearch Indexing.” I am not aware of their approach to OCR technology for newspapers. That might be a whole different monster and I am aware it is a complicated thing, especially for German. I just thought you might want to ask FamilySearch since they are one of the biggest digitizing organizations and often do it at low or no cost to the record holder.

  2. It is me again. Quick question… Is it possible to view your collection before you get it online? I know you might get it online this year, but not indexed right? Anyhow, I bet it’ll take a good 6 months to get the website made even if you have the money. So how can we see the papers in the mean time? Can we look at the images on your server if we come during open hours to the MD Hist Soc? How would that work? I didn’t find any info on the Hist Soc website.

  3. Mr. McCormick,

    Thank you for your interest in the Hilgenberg Archive. I’m so happy to hear about your enthusiasm for the archive. I will certainly look into FamilySearch. I have looked into sites similar to FamilySearch but did not receive responses to my inquiries regarding this project.

    As for your second comment: please feel free to email me at jferretti@mdhs.org in order to provide details regarding your research and need for Der Deutsche Correspondent. At this point, we do not have files fit for viewing by patrons, but I hope that I can in the near future.

    Thanks again!

    Kindest Regards,

    J.

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