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CMU helps digitize Pittsburgh Jewish newspaper archives

A movement started in recent years to digitize documents from the past in order to preserve an area’s history.

Lending its efforts to secure local history, Carnegie Mellon contributed to the digitizing of Jewish newspapers through the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project. The project contains a digital archive of various Jewish newspapers in the Pittsburgh area, some dating to more than 100 years ago.

The official website of the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project explains that the archive contains various Jewish publications, including the Jewish Criterion, the American Jewish Outlook, the Jewish Chronicle, and a weekly publication by the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association of Pittsburgh.

Head of archives and digital library initiatives Gabrielle Michalek spearheaded the six-year long project.

According to an article in the Jewish Chronicle, the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project is “a digital archive documenting daily life in the Pittsburgh Jewish community from 1895 to the present.”

Joy Braunstein, director of the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said, “I think it’s phenomenal, and I’m glad that someone is taking the initiative to do this. I think it will be an interesting and valuable resource, from the academic perspective ... to laypeople or individuals who want to look at the history.”

“I know that they’re doing this as a digital resource, which is fantastic so that people can go online and look at it, and I’m incredibly supportive. If you are a graduate student, you would find this to be absolutely invaluable. Same for someone doing their own genealogy, by looking at their family’s history and people searching for their family’s wedding dates,” Braunstein added.

According to its website, the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project is a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, the Rodef Shalom Congregation Archives, the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center, and the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh.

“The Jewish newspapers in Pittsburgh cover not just local events but regional, national and international news over a long period of time,” Rodef Shalom archivist Martha Berg said in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle.

“They really give a wonderful depiction over time of a community as it grew and changed, and they’re very valuable to have.”

The project was aided by contributions from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Philip Chosky Charitable Educational Foundation, and donations to Carnegie Mellon in memory of Henry Posner Jr.