Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Libraries Create Digital Archive of Jewish News in Pittsburgh Since 1895-Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, July 8, 2013

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Libraries Create Digital Archive of Jewish News in Pittsburgh Since 1895

Contact: Cindy Carroll / 412-268-7260 / stell@cmu.edu

Jewish CriterionPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University Libraries have completed the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, a digital archive documenting daily life in the Pittsburgh Jewish community from 1895 to the present. The full text archive providing an unparalleled look back into more than a century of life in Pittsburgh is fully searchable, free and open to the public at http://ptfs.library.cmu.edu/pjn.

Three weekly newspapers and a weekly newsletter are archived: the "Jewish Criterion" (1895-1962), "The American Jewish Outlook" (1934-1962), "The Jewish Chronicle" (1962-present), and the Y-JCC newsletter series published by the Young Men and Women's Hebrew Association, the Y-IKC, and the Jewish Community Center (1926-1976).

The successful six-year project was proposed by CMU Trustee Anne Molloy, executive director of the Posner Fine Arts Foundation and librarian at Rodef Shalom Synagogue. Molloy proposed a collaboration to digitize the historic Pittsburgh Jewish publications housed in the Rodef Shalom Library & Archive, the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center and The Jewish Chronicle office files. The collections — in paper and on microfilm — were heavily used and deteriorating.

Lead funding was provided from the contributions CMU received in memory of Henry Posner Jr. and was augmented by funding from the Jewish community through the United Jewish Federation, the Philip Chosky Charitable & Educational Foundation through the Heinz History Center, and by online donations from archive users. The Jewish Chronicle contributed stories about the project and assisted fundraising. Archivists Martha Berg at Rodef Shalom and Susan Melnick at the Heinz History Center consulted on the project.

Gabrielle Michalek, head of archives and digital library initiatives for the CMU Libraries, said the site has become a mecca for historians, genealogists, Ancestry.com and people around the world.

Michalek noted one visitor to the website wrote, "I would spend two hours going through bound copy for a half-year in search of family names. Now I can find them in half a minute. I entered my maiden name and found articles about my grandparents and the things that they and their friends were doing even before my father was born! Even if you are not from the Pittsburgh area, I strongly encourage you to check it out."

Another online visitor expressed gratitude for the effort. "Just a little note of thanks for all the work you have done (I imagine together with others) to get the Jewish Criterion online. The ability to look up information about my ancestors' births, deaths and other family information has meant that I have been able to get in touch with many unknown relatives in connection with my genealogical investigations. In case you have ever wondered whether people actually find this resource useful, the answer is a resounding yes!"

In addition, the Scout Report and other rating services praise the endeavor as "engaging" and "a great resource for researchers." The Cleveland Jewish History Cyber Pioneers laud the archive as "a remarkable example of community collaboration." Genealogy Websites I Don't Hate! said the "Linked images for later issues [scanned from paper] are some of the finest I've seen on the Web."

"The Pittsburgh Jewish community has been the source of rich intellectual and cultural leadership in the city and worldwide. I thank the Posner Fine Arts Foundation, directed by Carnegie Mellon University Trustee Anne Molloy, and the other funders — and the librarians, archivists, partners and staff who brought this unique archive to the Web for all to enjoy," said Gloriana St. Clair, CMU University Libraries dean emerita.

###
The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, a digital archive created by Carnegie Mellon Libraries, includes the Jewish Criterion, a weekly newspaper that was published from 1895 to 1962.