Becky: Sue, we’re going backwards.
Sue: Yes, Becky I know!
Becky: Are you in reverse?
Sue: No, we’re in drive.
Becky: We’re not going to get up this icy hill. Put it in reverse and let’s back down the hill.
–Taken from the February 1987 Monthly Report
Welcome to “Our Story…”
… a website illustrating the field work, discoveries, and accomplishments of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project site at the Penn State University for the first three years of the statewide project.
As one of four regional field offices established for Pennsylvania, the Project Team – field librarian Becky Wilson and field catalog librarian Sue Kellerman – journeyed throughout 30 rural counties in central Pennsylvania seeking out collections of newspapers, old and new. According to the USNP charge, we were to: locate, inventory, and catalog all newspapers ever published in Pennsylvania!
With the 1978 Pennsylvania Newspapers: A Bibliography and Union List firmly in hand, we set out to find every newspaper title listed… and more!
We knew that every single title found would ultimately contribute to the comprehensive knowledge base being built nationwide to afford descriptive and location information of newspapers for the first time – ever – for scholars, historians, genealogists, and the general public.
“The value of the Project and need for bibliographic control of newspapers becomes more evident day by day.” — Taken from the August 1986 Monthly Report
This website makes available from the only extant copy of the Pennsylvania field office records the photographic images, Monthly Reports, excerpts from the Daily Journals, stories, statistics, and so much more. These documents are among the few known to have been kept by any USNP state project office during the Program’s 27-year history. They represent a historical record of the processes and the pioneering work accomplished by this office.
Many factors serve to make these records historically significant. As an early applicant of the USNP in 1985, Pennsylvania held the distinction of being the largest state geographically to participate in the USNP and to be divided into four regions. Moreover, the site at Penn State was the first to conduct field work due to the lack of a large repository in central Pennsylvania. As we would discover, the majority of newspapers we found were in public libraries, historical societies, newspaper publishing offices, and in collections held by private citizens. We, therefore, spent much time and effort “on the road”.
“If anyone is wondering whether four counties are too many to be done in one month, the answer is yes!” – Taken from the April 1987 Monthly Report
Our Team was given precious little direction on how to proceed with their work, and our region represented a large, historically rich, ethnically-diverse area harboring thousands of newspapers. With the most cursory of instructions, we devised organizational procedures and innovative strategies that, in the end, produced results far exceeding all expectations for the state. Some of these strategies were later emulated by other USNP state projects.
“Forms, forms, and more forms!” – Taken from the Project Team’s June 2, 1988 presentation at the USNP Participants’ Meeting, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
The USNP of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) came to a close in 2011; this website honors that work.
Come along with us as we share this extraordinary journey with you.
Becky Wilson and Sue Kellerman