Friday, February 24, 2012

The Kalamazoo Telegraph is Online

Extra, extra, read all about it. The Regional Publications & Images database, currently featuring the Kalamazoo Telegraph has just gone live. I would like to give a big thank you to the Kalamazoo Public Library for digitizing this valuable resource. So far, the images available are for the Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph (1868-1885) and the Kalamazoo Weekly Telegraph (1893-1899), but more is planned.

Published with generous permission of the Kalamazoo Public Library.

In addition to a continuation of the Telegraph digitization process (currently ongoing) they intend to digitize other records previously available only in hard copy or on microfilm. One of the items planned for inclusion is the Grand Army memorial record. This book, published in 1884, is “for the purpose of securing and perpetuating the military history of every Grand Army comrade .” If you have Civil War ancestors who lived in Kalamazoo you will likely find something once this record is available online.

So, before you head straight to the website there are a few things you should know. First, this is a beta site, which means that it is still being refined so you may encounter a few bugs while doing your searches (you can email them your feedback at the bottom of the search or grid pages). I ran into a few bugs, but they were intermittent and nothing that couldn't be worked around in most cases. I'll mention them as I describe how the system works.

On the search page you can choose which resources you want to search, what years you wish to search and then your search term(s). You can choose “all of these words,” “any of these words” or “exact phrase.” You can't do proximity searching, so you'll have to try variations of names if you hope to find them together or use the exact phrase option. I also tried searching with initials, but this didn't work for me even when I selected “exact phrase.”

Once on the results page, I found it easier to select “grid” view at the top of the page. The hits will be in a list of 25 per page. Occasionally, I have had a problem continuing on the the next page, but this has been sporadic. Once you have brought up the image you'll want to watch on the left panel of the screen for it to pull up your hit(s). The first hit will appear in a blue-outlined box with your search term highlighted in blue. To go to the next hit click on it in the list in the left panel.

One quirk I have noticed is that sometimes when I click on the image the left panel indicates that there are no hits in that issue of the newspaper. When this happens I click back onto the “grid” view and look for the words immediately next to my search term. Back on the image at the bottom of the left panel is a “Find” feature. Try searching for one of the alternate words or part of your original search term. Sometimes this works and sometimes not. One difficulty is that in grid view only a few of the words surrounding your search term pertain to your hit. Most of the rest is irrelevant.

A few final things. If you find there is no scroll bar on the right side, click the button next to the box displaying the percent magnification. When you save be sure to include the page number and column number (I also add T, M or B for top, middle or bottom; my typical notation is KT1876-5-4P4Col3M) so you can more easily find your hit later, otherwise you'll have to read the entire issue to find it. While that would certainly be interesting, it would be more than a tad irritating if you wanted to quickly find your hit again.

One last thing I did discover is that, although the KPL website says digitized images only go through 1885, I found hits in the Daily Telegraph as late as 1899. As for my research, I found the first indication in print of my bad boy, Henry Harrigan's, run-ins with the law. As a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old (in 1876) he was sent to Detroit for ninety days for assault and battery of a woman upon his forcibly entering her house to retrieve a baseball that went through her window. It's disturbing, but I can't really say that I'm surprised.

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