Headlines from America’s Earliest Days

Coverage of the inauguration of George Washington. Gazette of the United-States., May 02, 1789. Chronicling America.

Coverage of the inauguration of George Washington. Gazette of the United-States., May 02, 1789. Chronicling America.

Want to read how an 18th-century newspaper covered the inauguration of George Washington? How about learning what issues divided Congress in the early 1800s?

Going back into early American history is now possible due to new digital content that has been added to Chronicling America, the open access database of historic U.S. newspapers that is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

The newly available digital content is from 18th-century newspapers from the three early capitals of the United States: New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. At nearly 15,000 pages total, these early newspapers from the earliest days of the country are part of the database because of an expansion of the chronological scope of NDNP. The program is expanding its current time window of the years 1836-1922, to include digitized newspapers from the years 1690-1963. The expansion will further the program goal of capturing the richness and diversity of our nation’s history in an open access database, which anyone can use.

Two of the early newspapers were established as national political publications. The Gazette of the United States (1789-1800) advocated a strong monarchical presidency and loyalty to the federal government. In opposition, the National Gazette (1791-1793), as the voice for the Republicans or Anti-Federalists, promoted a populist form of government.

The National Intelligencer (1800-1809) was the first newspaper published in the City of Washington and the first to document the activities of Congress. It recorded in great detail the actions of the young national legislature.

NDNP is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress and participating states. NEH awards grants to state libraries, historical institutions and other cultural organizations that allow them to select historic local newspapers to be preserved in digital form. The states contribute information on each newspaper title and its historical and cultural context. To date, more than 11 million pages of historic newspapers are available on Chronicling America.

Only public-domain newspapers may be selected—that is, either those published before 1923 or those published between 1923 and 1963 and not under copyright. Henceforth, all state and territorial partners will be able to select newspapers from the expanded date scope, provided they can prove the publications are in the public domain.

Chronicling America presents pages from the past full of stories that provide historic glimpses of American life, culture, government, politics and more. Read up on widely covered topics of their time or check out previous blog posts highlighting the collection.

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