Totality, Then and Now

We are less than 24 hours away from a total solar eclipse in the United States. If sales of protective eyewear are any indication, interest in witnessing this rather unique event is very high. I have my eclipse glasses, and plan to drive in to work early just so I can be out of the car and ready to witness the event, which will only be a near total eclipse (98%) here in Seattle.

The last total solar eclipse to traverse the continental United States was on June 8th, 1918. My grandmother was a teenager then living in Kansas, so I got to thinking about whether she would have been able to have seen the eclipse and how it was reported in the newspaper in her time. When she learned the next event of this magnitude was nearly one hundred years in the future, I wonder if she mused about whether she would have children or grandchildren who would witness the event? I will never know the answer to that question, but can research how the event was covered in 1918. Using Chronicling America, my favorite historical newspaper site, I was able to locate an article in The Topeka State Journal. Amid the many columns devoted to updates from the front about the war effort overseas was this article, quoted below:

IN ECLIPSE TODAY.
Kansas in Path of Event Rarely Seen in America.
Next Total Eclipse Here Will Be in 2017.

  Ninety percent of the normal sunlight in Kansas will be shut off this afternoon between hours of 5:22 and 6:22 o’clock, when the moon will pass between the sun and the earth. In some parts of the country the eclipse will be total.

  The total eclipse of the sun takes place when the lunar shadow actually reaches the earth. While the moon passes eastward, approaching gradually the point where it is exactly between us and the sun, steadily the darkness deepens as more and more sunlight is withdrawn. Then quite suddenly the darkness of late twilight comes on, when the moon reaches just the point where the moon first shuts off completely the light of the sun. At that instant, the solar corona flashes out and the total eclipse begins.

Shadow Passes Rapidly.

  The observer is then within the umbra and totality only lasts so long as he remains within it. As an average, the umbra will require less than three minutes to pass by any one place, but the extreme length of a total solar eclipse is nearly eight minutes.

  Those who will be lucky enough to make the journey to any of the towns over which the shadow of the eclipse will appear will do well to get as near the center of the favored zone as possible. It will not be necessary to take a telescope, but a smoked or dark glass can be used to advantage to watch the progress of the moon in its preliminary phase, the glass should be discarded as soon as the totality arrives.

100 Years Until Next Eclipse in U.S.

  Not until 2017 will another total solar eclipse be visible over so large an area of this country, and it is rare that an eclipse track anywhere in the world offers so great a choice of accessible sites for observing the eclipse.1

[Article continues.]
Total Solar Eclipse, 1918
This image of the path of the total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918 was published in the El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas).

Sources:
Image: “Sun to be in total eclipse in this section June 8th in afternoon,” El Paso (Texas) Herald, 4 May 1918, p. 21, cols. 2-8; digital image, Library of Congress, Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, accessed 20 Aug 2017).

1 “In Eclipse Today,” Topeka State Journal (Topeka, Kans.), 8 June 1918, p. 1, col. 2; digital image, Library of Congress, Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers  (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, accessed 20 Aug 2017).

New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project

In this installment of Web Sightings, we take a look at the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project, one of the latest states to be brought into the fold of the larger National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

loc-ca-no-new-jersey-newspapers
There are no New Jersey digital newspapers included in the Chronicling America portal for the Library of Congress. That situation is about to change with the recent announcement.

I am excited to learn and share with you that New Jersey has been included in the latest round of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant winners as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).1 New Jersey is one of the states that I spend much of my time researching online, and the Chronicling America project of the Library of Congress is a topic that I have lectured on and written about in the past, on this blog and elsewhere, so this is a welcome announcement indeed.

According to the Rutgers University blog the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is a joint collaboration with Rutgers University and the New Jersey State Library, along with the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, three big holders of historical collections in the Garden State.

nj-digital-newspaper-project

The $186,204 grant will allow for the inclusion of at least 100,000 digitized pages from New Jersey’s historic newspapers published between 1836-1922.2 The advisory board is already hard at work determining which of the 450 available microfilmed newspaper titles meet the criteria for inclusion.3 That list has now apparently been winnowed down to 29 titles.4 I sure hope the early Trenton newspapers make the cut, and that the Hightstown Gazette is among the selections as well.

Students, educators, historians and genealogists alike will benefit from their efforts. When complete, free access to the New Jersey content will be through the Chronicling America website, which will augment the 11.5 million plus pages already available online.

In addition to New Jersey, other new states added to the mix in 2016 are Alaska, Colorado and Maine, bringing the total number of project partners to 44.

States not yet represented are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Wyoming. The long-term goal is for all states and U.S. territories to be represented, in roughly 30 million total page views.5

Sources:
1 “2016 NDNP Awards Announced – Alaska, Colorado, Maine and New Jersey Join the Program,” Program News, posted 17 Aug 2016, National Digital Newspaper Program (http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/news/ : accessed 28 Dec 2016).
2 “Rutgers University Libraries Receives Grant to Digitize Important Historical New Jersey Newspapers,” Press Release posted 18 Aug 2016, New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project (https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/njdnp/2016/08/18/njdnp-press-release/ : accessed 28 Dec 2016).
3 “Advisory Board and Newspaper Selection,” posted 21 Sep 2016, New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project (https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/njdnp/2016/09/21/advisory-board-and-newspaper-selection/ : accessed 08 Jan 2017).
4 “Project Update: December 1, 2016,” posted 1 Dec 2016, New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project (https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/njdnp/2016/12/01/project-update-december-1-2016/: accessed 08 Jan 2017).
5 Barbara Quint, “Chronicling America Service Offers Comprehensive Directory of U.S. Newspapers,” posted 26 Mar 2007, Information Today (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Chronicling-America-Service-Offers-Comprehensive-Directory-of-US-Newspapers-35756.asp : accessed 08 Jan 2017).

Historic American Newspapers Website Bug

Last weekend, I became aware of the fact that the Library of Congress Historic American Newspapers website had recently added more than one million digitized American newspapers to its collection. I spent the bulk of my free time the next four days running searches and doing data entry in my genealogy database.

loc-chronicling-america-main-2015-09-23
Main page of the Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers website

In the course of this activity, I noticed a “bug” in the display of filtered search results when using the Advanced Search form. By default, search results on this site are ordered in terms of Relevance, or how many times your search terms appear on the page. Since I typically prefer to see my results ordered by date, I change the Sort by parameter by using the drop down arrow. However, when this option is selected, search results limited by state are no longer retained. The upshot is that my “hits” balloon and include states that I did not select at the outset.

loc-chronicling-america-advanced-search-mulkey
Chronicling America Advanced Search form 


loc-chronicling-america-mulkey-search-8-resultsloc-chronicling-america-search-results-bar
My search for Thomas Mulkey initially yielded 8 results from Missouri and Oregon newspapers

loc-change-to-date-sort-32-results
Changing the default sort order to Date causes my hits to increase, and includes states that I did not select in my original search 

This problem does not occur when using the search box on the main page and changing the sort order of the results, but you cannot limit your search to newspapers from only two states if you use this form. For now, my advice would be to search a single state at a time if you want to sort your results by date.

I tweeted this issue yesterday, and reported the bug to the Library of Congress via their website comment form. Hopefully it will be an easy fix for them. I will report here when there is a response.

@ancestorroundup-tweet-2015-09-22

In case you are interested, John Thomas Mulkey is my third-great-grandfather, a son of the noted preacher, Philip Mulkey. Many from the extended Mulkey family were early pioneers who relocated from Missouri to Oregon via the Oregon Trail to stake Oregon Donation Land Claims.