What Was Accomplished
Project TIMELINE: 1983 – 1990, 1991
The purpose of this timeline is to highlight significant happenings and important decision points of the statewide Pennsylvania Newspaper Project (PaNP) for the period 1983 to 1990. Post-project activities for 1991 are also included to show the continuation of the microfilming phase beyond the PaNP. The Project officially began in 1983 with a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) planning grant. By 1984, Pennsylvania received its first NEH United States Newspaper Program (USNP) grant to catalog newspaper holdings found in each of the states’ 67 counties. Four regional cataloging sites were established making Pennsylvania one of the first large states participating in the USNP, the first state to be divided into geographic regions to carry out the work, and the first to conduct field work. The cataloging phase began in 1985 at each of the four regional sites, and by 1987 the microfilming phase of the Project was underway. The statewide Project concluded its work in December 1990 when the microfilming phase ended. Throughout the life of the Project the lack of funding, securing the required NEH matching funds, plagued the project resulting in fewer titles and holdings being filmed. However, with NEH funds, Pennsylvania was able to locate and catalog 7,921 titles, many of which were previously unknown, and to preserve on microfilm 3 million newspaper pages.
Background on Pennsylvania newspapers
Pennsylvania’s newspaper publishing heritage is a rich and storied history of the Commonwealth, its communities, and its culture. The Commonwealth’s earliest newspaper was the American Weekly Mercury published in Philadelphia. The title began on December 22, 1719 and is thought to have ceased sometime in 1749; May 22, 1746 is the last known issue found. According to Brigham’s American Newspaper Bibliography1, the American Weekly Mercury was “The first newspaper published in the middle colonies, and the fourth in order of time, published in America.” Prior to receiving the NEH planning grant in 1983, it was estimated that there were 9,500 – 10,000 Pennsylvania newspapers published since 1719. As of 1983 only 400 titles were being published. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s background and those of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette can be traced back through title and frequency changes for more than 200 years. Many papers, however, died after a shorter period, and many were issued in cities and towns which have not had their own paper published for many years.
Unlike many other states, no single library or historical institution in Pennsylvania held a majority of Pennsylvania newspaper titles. The largest collections were found at the State Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and at the University of Pittsburgh. As of 1984 it was estimated that 1,600 Pennsylvania titles had been microfilmed by commercial companies, libraries and historical societies.
1Brigham, Clarence S. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820. Worcester, Mass.; American Antiquarian Society, 1947.
A Steering Committee was convened to develop a newspaper cataloging plan for Pennsylvania.
NEH awarded $10,000 to the State Library of Pennsylvania. This grant funding supported the development of a plan to identify, catalog and enter holdings into the OCLC database of newspapers published in Pennsylvania, and other U.S. newspapers held by Pennsylvania libraries, historical societies, and other agencies. The grant was to also support the development of a plan to microfilm Pennsylvania newspapers.
State Library sent a brief questionnaire to all Pennsylvania libraries, historical societies, publishers, and others to determine the number of titles held in an institution. This data was needed to apply for a subsequent NEH grant to complete an inventory of the newspapers published in Pennsylvania.
Results of the questionnaire showed that newspaper collections were “maintained” in about 1,400 locations throughout the State. The two largest newspaper collections were held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania with 1,614 titles and the State Library with 1,560 titles (bound in 3,600 volumes and 63,000 reels of microfilm). Other large collections were at the University of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society and the Carnegie Library; at the Penn State University; and other Philadelphia collections and communities throughout the State.
The one-day Newspaper Conference was held at the William Penn Memorial Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Roughly 100 people representing a broad spectrum of potential users and those interested in newspapers attended. The intent of the conference was to gauge the interest and support of the library and historical communities in the Commonwealth’s participation in the United States Newspaper Program.
David Hoffman, State Library noted in his 1986 article in Serials Librarian that “in December 1983 … we can count as the beginning of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project.”
Penn State University Libraries was approached by David Hoffman from the State Library to discuss the newspaper program and determine how interested the University Libraries was in serving as a cataloging site for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project. David Hoffman proposed to Stuart Forth, Dean of the University Libraries that Penn State would be the work site for cataloging Pennsylvania titles published in, and recording holdings data of newspapers held in the following 15 counties: Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Clearfield, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union
The Penn State University Libraries agreed to serve as a cataloging site for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project. It was determined that two staff would need to be hired to complete the work – 1 FTE cataloger and 1 FTE field survey librarian. It was estimated that the field work would take 3,000 miles of travel at $.25 per mile; 18 nights of lodging and meals at $23.00 per day. University Libraries Assistant Dean Barbara Smith would serve as project coordinator. Since the Penn State University Libraries was a tape-loading member of OCLC, the keyboarding of cataloging worksheets generated at Penn State would be handled elsewhere.
A $312,418 NEH grant application was submitted by David Hoffman, Director of Library Services at the State Library on behalf of the Commonwealth to inventory and catalog the newspapers of Pennsylvania as part of the United States Newspaper Program.
NEH reported to the State Library that they would not fund the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project proposal for July 1 but recommended re-submission for the October 1 funding cycle.
The Pennsylvania Newspaper Steering Committee met to consider what to look for in examining microfilm, to discuss cataloging procedures, and to review responses to NEH reviewer comments about Pennsylvania’s application. Committee member Ruth Carter distributed copies of the cataloger’s worksheets and examples of OCLC entries and a list of fields required for each entry.
The Library of Congress sent the State Library a list of Pennsylvania titles currently on the CONSER database.
The Pennsylvania Newspaper Steering Committee met where Ruth Carter distributed the ‘Report on Newspaper Cataloging Test’ conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to recommending cataloging entry field changes, the report suggested that the cataloging worksheets be modified to be a 4-page form: two pages for cataloging data, one page for holdings information and one page for a condition report. At this meeting attendees were reminded that the creation of catalog records will be “a very slow process” if the catalogers are also responsible for the information on the holdings for the copy from which cataloging is done.
Penn State University Libraries signed an agreement with the State Library of Pennsylvania to participate in the Project to inventory and catalog Pennsylvania newspapers.
The University of Pittsburgh Hillman Library signed an agreement with the State Library of Pennsylvania to participate in the Program to inventory and catalog Pennsylvania newspapers.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania signed an agreement with the State Library of Pennsylvania to participate in the Project to inventory and catalog Pennsylvania newspapers.
NEH awarded the State Library an outright grant of $200,000 to inventory and catalog newspapers published in Pennsylvania and out-of-state papers held in Pennsylvania libraries, historical societies, publishers’ files and other collections for 1985 and 1986.
Note: An additional $112,419 would need to be raised in Pennsylvania to earn the full NEH grant of $312,419 (funds were to be matched on a 3:1 basis).
$30,000 was appropriated by the General Assembly for the project as part of the match requirement.
It was officially announced that cataloging sites would be established at the State Library, the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. These sites were to gather and catalog newspapers held in south central, southwestern and southeastern Pennsylvania during the life of the two-year grant.
It was officially announced that one-year cataloging sites would be established at the Pennsylvania State University and at libraries in northeastern and northwestern Pennsylvania, yet to be identified.
The United States Newspaper Program’s Guidelines “Input of Holdings into OCLC” and OCLC’s “Profiling Guidelines for the U.S. Newspaper Program” were distributed to the State Library and to each of the regional cataloging sites.
Members of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project Advisory Committee were named to work with the State Library during the cataloging phase.
Penn State University Libraries advertised for two one-year non-renewable faculty appointments; appointments to begin January 1, 1985.
State Library agreed to pay for cataloging training for all sites’ cataloging staff.
Penn State University Libraries hired Sue Kellerman and Becky Wilson to serve as the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project staff at Penn State. Project staff began work on January 2, 1985.
Penn State Project staff office space was secured in the Steelworker’s Annex, room W308 Pattee Library. It was noted in a memo dated December 13, 1984 from Barbara Smith to Dean Stuart Forth that “it is essential that these women have a telephone” in their office, and to “make arrangements for [its] installation as soon as possible.”
It was decided that the Project “could work best if the largest collections were cataloged first,” according to David Hoffman’s 1986 article in Serials Librarian. Hoffman further noted in his article “that even if the largest collections were entered, it would be necessary for us to spend considerable time in the field because not even the State Library or the Historical Society of Pennsylvania claimed more than about 20% of the universe of Pennsylvania titles.”
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Penn State Project staff received the county-by-county surveys of newspaper holdings from the State Library for their 15-county area. Project staff were advised to check these surveys against county histories to identify titles not ‘unearthed’ for the production of want lists.
Penn State Project staff set up their office, gathered supplies, collected reference sources and county histories, and drafted a work plan for the year.
University of Pittsburgh Project hired Faye Leibowitz as Cataloger.
Faye Leibowitz, from the University of Pittsburgh and Patricia Morton, Head of the State Library’s Cataloging Section were selected by the State Library to represent the Project at the three-day training program for newspaper catalogers at OCLC, Dublin, OH.
University of Pittsburgh Project hired Cathy Sorensen as Cataloger.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) hired Kathy Cole as field cataloger. When Kathy resigned later in the month HSP hired Barbara Kurimchak to take over the field cataloger responsibilities.
The State Library hosted a two-day training program for Project staff and The Free Library of Philadelphia staff. Training topics covered newspaper cataloging and union listing, handling fragile newspapers, and instruction on identifying pertinent characteristics of microfilm.
The Penn State Project staff opted to begin their Project work by conducting field work first since the Penn State University Libraries Pennsylvania newspaper holdings were relatively small in number. The first Pennsylvania Newspaper Project site visit was conducted on February 25, 1985 by the Penn State Project staff. This first site visit was to the Aaronsburg Library, Centre County.
See 1985 (February through December) Monthly Reports generated by the Penn State Project staff for details on their cataloging accomplishments, statistics and discoveries. Counties completed by the Penn State Project staff in 1985 were:
Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Union, Columbia, Potter, Northumberland, Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming, Snyder
University of Pittsburgh Project staff provided quality control and final CONSER authentication of all titles cataloged and data compiled by the Penn State Project staff for central and north central Pennsylvania.
The Free Library of Philadelphia received State Library Title I funding from the Library Services and Construction Act (not NEH funds) to catalog its Pennsylvania newspaper collection following Project guidelines. The University of Pittsburgh Project staff provided the CONSER authentication for these titles cataloged.
The Project Advisory Council, representatives from the four regional cataloging sites, and Jeffery Field from NEH met on May 15 and heard status reports on the USNP national program and from each of the four cataloging sites. Other topics discussed included criteria for microfilming, publicity and communication, and potential sources for matching funds.
The State Library Project hired Susan Bryson and Karen Brosius. Due to the hiring delay, five counties originally assigned to the State Library staff were transferred to the Penn State Project staff.
Project staff at Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh were invited to contribute articles to Cataloging & Classification Quarterly.
State Library Project staff and David Hoffman observed the Penn State Project staff “in action” on site visits to Mt. Carmel and Shamokin libraries and historical societies, Snyder County.
A draft “Plan for Microfilming Newspapers” was prepared by David Hoffman, State Library for the Technical Committee’s review. The plan included the criteria for the selection and processes to be followed. Project catalogers would be involved in the process to nominate titles for consideration and the Technical Committee would review recommendations for microfilming, and determine which papers were to be filmed.
Project cataloging staff from all four sites met at the University of Pittsburgh along with Bob Harriman from the Library of Congress to share work experiences and resolve cataloging inconsistencies.
David Hoffman reported his findings to the Technical Committee on the usefulness of hand-held film viewers for Project staff in the “rapid scanning of microfilm for changes in mastheads.” Regrettably no extra (Project) funds were available to purchase the devices in quantity for distribution. Project coordinators were encouraged, however, to purchase the viewers for their cataloging staff using another budget line.
Project staff at the State Library and Penn State investigated the use of “Electronic Mail” to facilitate communications between the two sites.
Project catalogers met at the Pennsylvania Library Conference, Lancaster, PA. Their main agenda item was to review changes to the cataloging workform, condition report and microfilming score sheet. The need to have a “ready” slide show and script for local presentations was also discussed.
The State Library submitted an NEH grant application, an outright funding request of $22,487.60, to employ a coordinator for the microfilming program.
With one-full year of field work completed, the Penn State Project staff found of the 171 sties visited, 81 were private collectors, or about 47% – almost half! In central Pennsylvania, private individuals represented a significant source of obscure titles.
Cumulative statistics for Pennsylvania Newspaper Project entries in the OCLC database, from the beginning of the Project in January 1985 through December 1985 were:
New cataloging records created: 831
New Local Data Holdings records created: 2,359
These figures represented workforms which had final CONSER authentication at the University of Pittsburgh.
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See 1986 (January through December) Monthly Reports generated by the Penn State Project Staff for details on their cataloging accomplishments, statistics and discoveries. Counties completed by the Penn State Project staff in 1986 (January through June) were:
Mifflin, Juniata, Sullivan, Montour
University of Pittsburgh Project staff continued to input data compiled by the Penn State Project staff for central and north central Pennsylvania, and to provide CONSER authentication for all sites.
Matching funds had not yet been raised by the General Assembly to keep the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project going beyond June 30. $82,000 was needed before July 1 if work was to continue for 1986.
Note: A total of $112,419 was to have been provided by the state legislature in matching funds to secure a $312,418 grant from NEH. To date, only $30,000 of that original amount had been appropriated.
Plans were tentatively underway to close down the Project at the Penn State cataloging site by June 30. The State Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh would be able to keep some staff on through December 1986 due to salary savings and other internal funding sources.
Amy Newell from the Penn State University Libraries Special Collections Library was hired by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to work on planning the microfilming phase of the Newspaper Project.
Technical Committee was “unanimous in its insistence” that Becky Wilson and Sue Kellerman attend the OCLC suite at ALA (New York) on June 30 and July 1 to “instruct” those in attendance about “working in the field.”
Cataloging work for the northeast counties was scheduled for 1987. Becky and Sue expressed an interested in taking on this work.
NEH reduced the Project’s matching requirement to 80/20 for 1987 and beyond.
Barbara Smith and the Penn State Project staff visited legislators at the Harrisburg Capital Building seeking funds for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project.
Barbara Smith sent a memo and a sample letter to the Penn State University Libraries department heads and administrators urging them to contact their local legislators and others requesting funding for the Project. Barbara noted in her memo that “Letters to [Representatives] Rudy, Herman, McClatchy, Pievsky, [Senators] Jubelirer, Corman, Tilghman and to the Governor [Thornburgh] himself are particularly important.”
On behalf of the statewide Project State Library Project Cataloger Susan Bryson entered “MAKE MY DATA” in the annual OCLC button slogan contest.
Penn State University Libraries and the Penn State Project staff submitted a proposal to the State Library to inventory and catalog the newspapers in 10 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1987; January 1 through December 31.
Ruth Carter, Project coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh, submitted a request to the University of Pittsburgh’s Central Research Development Fund to cover a funding gap in the amount of $2,850.85. The request was to support the cataloging phase of the PA Newspaper Project is western Pennsylvania for the period July 1 through December 31, 1986. The funds were to maintain student assistant hours (500 hours at $4/hour) plus travel monies for field work in Washington, Beaver and Indiana counties.
The University of Pittsburgh newspaper collections were completely cataloged. Pittsburgh Project staff begun to catalog collections held at the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
NEH granted a funding supplement in the amount of $88,041 to the State Library for continuation of the cataloging phase (through 1986) and provide staff and operating costs for preparation of the microfilming phase.
With funding secured, the Penn State Project staff continued their cataloging work. Cataloging the newspaper collections held at the Penn State University were completed, and the holdings of 217 sites from 14 central and north central Pennsylvania counties were surveyed.
The 475-title collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia was cataloged.
University of Pittsburgh Project staff began field work in the 10 southwestern Pennsylvania counties. It was anticipated that it would require the remainder of 1986, all of 1987 and some months in 1988 to complete this assignment.
Glenmede Trust Company, representing the Pew Memorial Trust, awarded the Historical Society of Pennsylvania $300,000 to support their work on the Project, the statewide microfilming project and the microfilming of newspapers from the 5-county southeastern Pennsylvania area.
The State Library submitted an NEH grant application in the amount of $505,602 (outright request) for the completion of the newspaper cataloging phase and the microfilming phase for the period January 1987 through December 1989.
Noted in the NEH grant application was that the State Library accepted responsibility for keeping holdings data current once the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project ended. Repositories whose collections had been cataloged signed a release form agreeing to public access of the holdings. Each repository was given a certificate noting that the holdings were entered into the OCLC database, and that the State Library should be notified if there were titles to be added, withdrawn, or paper copies replaced with microfilm. The task of updating the holdings records would be accomplished by the regular staff of the State Library.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Central Research Development Fund awarded the University of Pittsburgh’s Project $2,851 to support the Project at the University of Pittsburgh site.
Cumulative statistics for Pennsylvania Newspaper Project entries in the OCLC database, from the beginning of the Project in 1985 through June 1986 were:
New cataloging records created: 1,657
New Local Data Holdings records created: 4,347
These figures represented workforms which had final CONSER authentication at the University of Pittsburgh.
See 1986 (January through December) Monthly Reports generated by the Penn State Project Staff for details on their cataloging accomplishments, statistics and discoveries. Counties completed by the Penn State Project staff in 1986 (July through December) were:
Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, Huntingdon, Blair, Bedford
Inventorying of the newspaper collection held at Penn State’s Pattee Library was completed from 8 locations, 1,080 titles.
Penn State Project completed its 5th photo album of field work visits.
Pennsylvania welcomed NEH’s decision to allow state projects to begin microfilming before cataloging was completed.
NEH awarded supplemental funding in the amount of $22,487.60 to the State Library to employ a Microfilming Project Coordinator and a project assistant to handle the development of the list of papers to microfilm, July through December 1986.
William “Bill” Hamill was hired as the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project Microfilming Coordinator.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania was assigned to manage the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project Microfilming Program on behalf of the statewide project.
The State Library Project and Penn State Project purchased PowerBase management software to create databases of titles, holdings and repositories. The University of Pittsburgh Project was at the beginning stages of using PC-File II to build their database. Questions were raised on how to incorporate Pittsburgh’s database since they were using a different software program.
The special issue of Cataloging and Classification Quarterly on “The United States Newspaper Program: Cataloging Aspects”, edited by Ruth C. Carter was published. The publication featured articles from the Penn State and University of Pittsburgh cataloging sites.
The Technical Committee met August 20 to discuss the microfilming program, the selection process and how title lists would be developed.
Microfilming specifications were developed at the State Library, in collaboration with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Standards for filming and quality control guidelines were outlined. The process included the production of a preservation master, a production negative and a silver positive to be used for on-demand copying. In addition, vesicular positive service copies would be produced for the repository that provided the papers for microfilming and for the State Library for interlibrary loan purposes.
The Project established a process to catalog “single issues” by mail.
A pre-proposal microfilm conference for prospective microfilming vendors was held in Harrisburg on October 8. Eleven microfilm vendors attended.
Additional conditions of the microfilming program were refined and included: 1) the State Library must have unrestricted right to distribute copies of the microfilm via interlibrary loan; 2) the State Library must retain, for proper storage, the preservation master, and 3) the State Library of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission must have unrestricted right to prepare and distribute service copies of the microfilm.
Sealed bids for the microfilming phase of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project were received. A committee with representatives from the State Library, the State Archives and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania reviewed the bids.
The Penn State Project staff participated in the selection of titles to be microfilmed – mostly long runs. The treatment of single issues remained an unresolved problem.
Pennsylvania ordered two OCLC offline products (paper copies) that reflected data in the online union list. The option of having this product available soon in a new format, on a CD-ROM, was seen as an opportunity to distribute the data to hundreds of libraries as long as they had the appropriate equipment for this format.
After reviewing the findings of the Penn State Project staff to film single issues of newspapers using a 35mm camera, the Advisory Council advised against taking this approach. The Council felt that this effort “would require a considerable investment of time and resources, and that single issues of newspapers were of limited value to historians.”
The Advisory Council at its November 13 meeting re-affirmed their position that the Project would not, except in unusual circumstances, microfilm post-1980 newspapers, but would seek to persuade current publishers to accept responsibility for their preservation. Furthermore, the Council suggested the development of a handout which addressed “what to do if you are not going to keep post-1980 papers” and suggested that the Pennsylvania Library Association be encouraged to adopt the preservation of post-1980 papers as a project.
The Advisory Council, the Technical Committee, Project Staff from the four cataloging sites and the Microfilming Coordinator met at the State Library in Harrisburg. It was noted in the January 1987 Pennsylvania Newspaper Reporter, that among the interesting facts shared at the meeting was that the “Back files of newspapers, are stored in such a variety of places that persistence, skill in detection, and freedom from fear are essential qualities for a good cataloger.”
As recorded in the Penn State Project’s Daily Journal at the end of the month: “November brought to a close the many site visits so thoroughly enjoyed over the past 22 months. The variety of experiences and cooperation and good will of people met would fill a book. Indeed it has! Sue is on volume 6 of her daily journal.”
It was noted in David Hoffman’s NEH Final Report for the period July – December 1986 that developing a list of titles to be filmed, “is perhaps the most difficult task yet undertaken, as the funding levels will apparently permit Pennsylvania to film fewer than half of the titles which have been found in the bibliographic phase.” The report went on to say: “Despite the generous matching grant offered by the Endowment, Pennsylvania will have to provide a very large amount of money if the Commonwealth’s newspapers are to be filmed to assure their survival and extend access to the material contained in them.”
NEH awarded $206,744 to the State Library to continue the Project cataloging phase. NEH also indicated its intention to award an additional $144,748 in 1988, and $154,110 in 1989 as outright funds to complete the cataloging work in Pennsylvania. NEH also offered a $300,000 challenge grant to initiate a 3-year microfilming program. Funds would be disbursed at the rate of $75,000 in FY 87, $100,000 in FY 88, and $125,000 in FY 89 subject to the “certification of equal amounts of eligible gifts.”
Note: $75,000 of the challenge grant match was appropriated by the Department of Education by the Pennsylvania General Assembly for the 1987 fiscal year.
The other regional cataloging sites adopted the Penn State Project site’s data management system in the creation of their own database.
Cumulative statistics for Pennsylvania Newspaper Project entries in the OCLC database, from the beginning of the Project in 1985 through December 1986 were:
New cataloging records created: 2,944
New Local Data Holdings records created: 10,627
These figures represented workforms which had final CONSER authentication at the University of Pittsburgh.
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The Penn State Project Staff continued inventorying and cataloging work in 10 northeast Pennsylvania counties.
See 1987 (January through December) Monthly Reports generated by the Penn State Project staff for details on their cataloging accomplishments, statistics and discoveries.
30-counties would be completed by December. Counties completed by the Penn State Project staff in 1987 were: Wyoming, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Lackawanna, Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Susquehanna
University of Pittsburgh Project staff continued to input data compiled by the Penn State Project staff for northeastern Pennsylvania, and to provide CONSER authentication for all sites.
The Pennsylvania Newspaper Project Microfilming phase began. It was anticipated that the microfilming phase would continue through 1989. The proposed annual microfilming expenditure to microfilm 3M pages was estimated at:
$150,000 for 1987 ; $200,000 for 1988; $250,000 for 1989
MICOR, the Micrographics Corporation, of Bensalem, Pennsylvania was selected to serve as the Project microfilm vendor for 1987.
Bill Hamill, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Project coordinator noted in his February Progress Report:
“Entering the Society’s cavernous newspaper vaults, a visitor is likely to feel that he has come upon a forgotten crypt whose quieted lives yearn to be unstilled. Unstilled they have become as the stories of our past days are awakened from the pulp and rag bodies of the Ledger, the Packet, and the Press. But another life has also been unstilled. The ghost of Albert Edmunds, (1875-1941) the Society’s late venerable cataloger, has been said to walk the building’s halls and rooms. We are compelled to report, however, that old Albert is no mournful spirit – just a friendly prankster who has overseen the cataloging of nearly 800 titles from a collection he helped to build.”
Juniata College donated $2,000 to the Project on behalf of the Friends of the Juniata College Library. These funds would be counted toward the NEH required funding match, and would be used to microfilm newspapers held at the Juniata College, Huntingdon County.
The Pennsylvania Newspaper Project Microfilming phase began on April 13when MICOR Micrographics Corporation made its first pick-up of newspapers for microfilming – the Daily Review from the Daily Review Office in Towanda, Bradford County.
State Library Project staff completed their in-house work, cataloging more than 2,500 Pennsylvania and out-of-state titles. Field work was set to begin at the Historical and Museum Commission and at Shippensburg University.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Project staff completed their in-house cataloging and had cataloged the collections at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the American Philosophical Society. Work was nearing completion at the Balch Institute.
The University of Pittsburgh Project staff completed cataloging at all Pittsburgh repositories. Work was also completed in repositories in Washington, (PA), and in Indiana, Westmoreland, Armstrong and Beaver counties.
State Library Project staff Susan Bryson and Karen Brosius resigned to accept other non-Project positions. Susan accepted a position at the Penn State Mont Alto Campus Library, and Karen accepted a position in the State Library’s Interlibrary Loan Section.
University of Pittsburgh Project cataloger Faye Leibowitz resigned to accept a new position as Head of Technical Services at the Beaver County Library System, PA.
Penn State Project field librarian Becky Wilson resigned to accept the position as Assistant Director of the Susquehanna University Library, Selinsgrove, Snyder County, PA.
Nancy Greene’s article “Library Automation in Transit was published in Small Computers in Libraries. The article described the use of portable microcomputer technology in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project. Microcomputers were used to search the OCLC database via a dial-up service , build local databases of titles found and institutions visited, and to “take advantage” of an electronic mail network in the state.
Due to difficulties to gain approval to fill Project staff vacancies at the State Library, the State Library contracted with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) Project to complete the cataloging field work of central Pennsylvania initially assigned to the State Library Project site. Counties re-assigned to the Historical Society were: Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lehigh and Schuylkill. The contract with HSP was completed in December with HSP Project staff to begin work in this new area in 1988.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Project staff completed the cataloging of the Society’s holdings.
MATCO/ROMCOR of Camp Hill, PA was selected the Project’s new microfilming vendor for 1988.
Private gifts (in amounts of $100, $300) and a pledge of $10,000 payable in early 1988 and $10,000 payable in early 1989 were received as matching funds for the Project from the McLean Contributionship. A request for $86,350 of state funding (required to receive NEH’s maximum funds for 1988) was included in the State Library’s 1988-1989 budget request.
Cumulative statistics for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project, through December 1987:
Total counties completed: 39
New cataloging records created: 3,889
New Local Data Holdings records created: 19,146
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See 1988 (January through February) Monthly Reports generated by the Penn State Project staff for details on their cataloging accomplishments, statistics and discoveries. The cataloging work would be completed for their 30 county-assignment.
University of Pittsburgh Project staff expanded their field work to inventory and catalog newspapers held in 10 remaining northwestern Pennsylvania counties. These counties included:
Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Warren, Venango, Forest, Clarion, Elk, McKean, Cameron
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Project staff began inventorying and cataloging newspapers held in their assigned 5-county territory – Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. In addition, the Historical Society Project staff planned to inventory major newspaper collections in Philadelphia including the American Philosophical Society, the Presbyterian Historical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, the German Society of Pennsylvania and the Schwenkfelder Library. It was anticipated that it would require all of 1988 and 1989 to complete this assignment.
As of January 23, 108 newspaper titles from 17 counties had been or were in the process of being microfilmed.
Assistant Dean Jim Neal at Penn State University Libraries took the initiative to write to the leadership in the Pennsylvania General Assembly urging an appropriation, on behalf of an ad hoc committee which the State Library convened to assist the Project in developing an application to NEH for funds to start a statewide program in public awareness, continuing education, and planning for library materials preservation.
The Penn State University’s formal participation on the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project ended on February 26.
Project microfilming vendor MATCO/ROMCOR of Camp Hill, PA started filming titles for the Project. First titles filmed were those from Juniata and Snyder Counties.
The Technical Committee met in Pittsburgh on June 9 and heard progress reports from the cataloging sites, selected titles for microfilming from several western Pennsylvania counties and reviewed funding strategies for the microfilming program. David Hoffman reported that he had sent out 65 letters to private foundations seeking additional funding for the microfilming phase.
Microfilming turn-around time was 12 -16 weeks. Project staff were advised to inform repositories that filming would take 4 months.
Repositories were found to be unwilling to have bound newspaper volumes disbound for microfilming. MATCO/ROMCOR reported that it took 3X longer to film bound volumes than unbound volumes.
Microfilming Coordinator Bill Hamill recommended at the Project film titles after 1890 since Readex agreed to film earlier titles.
Cumulative statistics for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project entries in the OCLC database, from the beginning of the Project through June 1988 were:
Counties completed: 43
New Records created: 4,360
New LDRs created: 22,746
State Library staff (not paid from the Project) continued to enter holdings records of the State Library’s microfilm service positives and master negatives into OCLC, and updated records and holdings sent in from repositories.
The microfilming vendor continued to meet project requirements for quality and speed of filming. Camera work was reported at the rate of 5,000 frames per day.
Surprisingly, the Project found that owners of newspapers picked up for filming were asking for their papers to be returned after filming. The Project had anticipated that most owners would authorize disposal of their papers once they were filmed.
Cumulative statistics for Pennsylvania Newspaper Project entries in the OCLC database, from the beginning of the Project through November 1988 were:
Counties completed: 45
New Records created: 4,865
New LDRs created: 24,832
Letters were sent to selected national celebrities who were born in counties whose papers were being selected for microfilming in the hopes they would support the Project. To date, only one such request yielded a $50 contribution.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission allocated $12,000 for the microfilming phase.
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To date a total of $166,325 in private funding had been raised as matching funds for the microfilming phase; an additional $133,675 was needed to fulfill the full NEH ($300,000) match offer.
The Technical Committee asked for approval from NEH to cease the production of the copy negative (print negative) as a cost saving measure. It was anticipated that this production change would allow the Project to microfilm 20-25% more papers, and speed delivery of film to its intended repositories.
The Technical Committee considered a proposal from David Hoffman, Project Director, and Bill Hamill, Microfilming Project Coordinator to approve a lower “fixed” average allocation per county for microfilming to $3,149. From April 1987 to May 1989, the average dollar amount spent on microfilming titles in each county was $10,225. Fewer dollars designated per county would ensure some filming would be done in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
Pennsylvania Project staff from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and from the University of Pittsburgh, along with David Hoffman attended the USNP meeting in Washington, D.C.
David Hoffman proposed to the Technical Committee a microfilming expenditure “formula” for the 30 remaining counties where filming had not yet started or where no commitment had been made with repositories or private collectors for filming of their papers.
The Technical Committee met to approve the list of titles to be microfilmed, and reviewed the “formula” to determine funding for microfilming in the remaining 30 counties. Typical, known costs for microfilming were calculated at $70 to film a year of a weekly newspaper and $450 to film a year of a daily newspaper. The Committee recognized that many more titles were worthy of preservation, but that current funding levels would permit only a limited number of titles to be considered. Title selection for Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties remained; however, $50,000 in Pew Memorial Trust funds were available for microfilming these titles.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Project cataloger Barbara Kurimchak resigned to accept a position at Temple University.
All microfilming for the Project was expected to be completed by the end of December 1990.
NEH extended the Project funding through December 1990 and released the balance of the $300,000 for the microfilming phase.
Cumulative statistics for Pennsylvania Newspaper Project entries in the OCLC database, from the beginning of the Project through September 1989 were:
New Records created: 5,601
New LDRs created: 28,254
Project microfilming vendor, MATCO/ROMCOR of Camp Hill, PA, acquired a microfilming firm in Hazleton, PA earlier in the year which resulted in MATCO/ROMCOR changing its company name to IMR, Inc. As of October both the Camp Hill and Hazleton filming sites were microfilming for the Project.
The Project produced 1,758,722 frames of master negative film and twice that number of frames of service positives from the beginning of the microfilming phase in April 1987 to the end of November 1989.
The University of Pittsburgh’s formal participation on the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project ended on December 31.
Cataloging was completed in the southeastern counties of Pennsylvania.
Bob Harriman, Technical Coordinator of the USNP visited the Historical Society of Pennsylvania cataloging and microfilming site, and made a visit to the IMR, Inc. facility in Camp Hill.
The State Library’s collection of microfilmed newspaper reels grew by more than 1,770 reels as service positive copies were deposited at the State Library for interlibrary loan purposes.
Noted “Concerns for the Future” outlined in David Hoffman’s NEH Final Report for the period July – December 1989 include:
- Many papers remain to be filmed. A means needs to be provided to continue filming as funds can be found until substantially the entire corpus of unfilmed papers has been preserved.
- There is a need for better awareness, of the part of all types of repositories, of proper procedures for care and housing of newspapers and other library materials. A comprehensive public awareness program is needed to focus attention on library materials preservation and conservation issues.
- Those who are responsible for repositories of newspapers still need to know more about the importance of following standard procedures in filming.
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Unexpended surplus funds from 1988 and 1989 were transferred to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Project budget totaling $32,424.40.
Cataloging field work and microfilming work continued at the Historical Society Project site.
Microfilming Coordinator Bill Hamill presented Pennsylvania’s plan and title selection practice at the USNP meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 28.
The Technical Committee met at the State Library on May 11. Topics covered were title selection of titles; ways to provide information about/access to holdings of small repositories and private collectors for whom OCLC symbols are not available in the OCLC database, the format for the Project’s final off-line product, and how to end the Project.
Sue Kellerman and Becky Wilson’s Index to the Readex Microopaque Collection of Early American Newspapers was printed and distributed by the State Library to national and state projects and to Pennsylvania libraries which owned the Readex microprint collection.
Cataloging field work was completed in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties by June 30. The Project’s final months would be spent completing the microfilming phase.
The Technical Committee met to review a report detailing the actual and proposed use of available funds for microfilming. More titles had been approved for microfilming than funds available, and no titles had been selected from the last three counties (Cumberland, Dauphin and York). In order to stay in budget (with the small amount of funds available) it was necessary to cut back on some of the planned filming in counties not yet started. Furthermore, more drastic cuts would be required if the Committee agreed to remain faithful to the plan that some filming should be completed in every county (Cumberland, Dauphin and York).
Bill Hamill resigned as Microfilming Coordinator to accept a position at Columbia University.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s formal participation on the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project ended on December 31.
By the end of December, 7,921 Pennsylvania newspaper titles were located, holdings inventoried and titles cataloged on OCLC.
By the end of December, 66,350 local data records of holdings had been created.
By the end of December 3,055,454 Pennsylvania newspaper pages were microfilmed.
The Pennsylvania Newspaper Project’s formal participation in the USNP ended on December 31, 1990.
A total of $1,903,193 in NEH funds were received over the 8-year life span of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project.
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Although the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project “officially” ended in December 1990, Project activities continued at the State Library, at the State’s expense. The following are highlights of what happened “after” the Project.
- Lou Rauco, Head of the Newspaper Section, State Library continued the microfilming phase by handling microfilming contractor negotiations, inspecting completed film, processing invoices and seeing that microfilm copies were distributed to repositories who had loaned their papers for filming.
- IMR, Inc. continued as the microfilming vendor.
- Unspent Project funds from 1990 were used to film selected titles from the collections of the State Library and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Microfilming these titles provided a balanced geographic coverage of all titles filmed from across the Commonwealth.
- By the end of September 1991, a total of 3.2M newspaper pages from Pennsylvania had been microfilmed.
Content found in this Timeline is courtesy of: the Penn State University Archives, Library Administration collection; the State Library Archives, Hoffman Files; the National Endowment for the Humanities’ USNP Archive, and personal files of Sue Kellerman and Becky Wilson.