Friday, August 18, 2017

The Search for Newspaper Coverage

This week I was researching anti-Semitic vandalism that happened in Chicago between May 20 and June 2, 1972 in the West Rogers Park neighborhood that I live.  I was doing the research for a video documentary of the neighborhood.  On May 20 and June 2 nine Jewish institutions were vandalized.  The vandals painted swastikas on outside and invaded some buildings causing damage to walls, objects and floors.  However, this article is not about the event, but the search for newspaper coverage of the event.

Using ProQuest I found one article from the Chicago Tribune published June 22, 1972 that reported the incidents. This confirmed the dates. The other Chicago daily newspapers of the time are not indexed.  In looking through the microfilms of the Daily News I found a letter to the editor about the event that refers to a previous article.  I couldn’t find the actual article.  The Daily News on microfilm is a challenge to browse.  Some articles are repeated and some pages are missing.  The front page as a very small table of contents, that is largely useless to find content.

I was doing the search for a videographer.  She wanted to know what the neighborhood papers and the Jewish papers wrote about the incidents.  In 1972 The Lerner Newspapers had several neighborhood publications including the North Town News, which covered West Rogers Park. The chain at one time had 54 publications, but by 1992 had consolidated to 14 publications.  The chain was sold many times and the last owner was Sunstates Corp. who bought it in 1992 from the Pulitzer Publishing Company, which also owned the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  For a full story see: “Lerner Newspapers Plans To Close In October” by Charles Storch[1].  August 06, 1992 and also the Wikipedia article “Lerner Newspapers.” [2] The Wikipedia article makes several references to the Illinois Newspaper Project.  This project attempts to save local Illinois papers, but they are focused on the 19th century.

I started searching for the archives of the North Town News. I searched Illinois Digital Archives[3] (a project to preserve local Illinois documents and newspapers) and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library's Newspaper Microfilm Collection[4] and found nothing.  I searched the Chicago Public Library, WorldCat, and Chicago Historical Society Research Center and found nothing.  I searched the online databases of ProQuest[5] and Ebsco and found nothing.  I asked a journalist friend for other search ideas.  He said that in the haste to close the Lerner Newspapers, probably no one bothered to save the archives. I even appealed to crowd sourcing[6] to see if any collector had saved the newspaper or made a clipping file. I have to assume that no one saved the archives or made copies of the actual papers.

The only Jewish newspaper in 1972 was the Sentinel.  This was published in tabloid magazine-like format weekly.  Journalistically it was a rather tired old paper that mostly had warmed over press releases, social news, and a couple of columns. They had no reporters. There were no investigative stories or even coverage based on in-person reporter attended events. In the end, there was little original material in any of its pages. The Illinois Digital Archives has a run that ends in 1949.  I searched all of the above online sources and found one library that had print copies.  The run is incomplete.  I don’t want to mention the name of the library since the list of holdings is not accurate.  If you examine the holdings below, it looks are if they hold the issues from (Feb. 10, 1972)-v. 124, no. 4 (Aug. 31, 1972).  This would seem to include the May and June issues that I wanted.  However, when the storage box of issues arrived. These issues were missing.  For want of a semi-colon instead of the hyphen, I made a trip to this library in vain.  This demonstrates the importance of accurate cataloging.  Even if the cataloging was reviewed by another cataloger, this mistake would not have been found.

Local note: 
Library has: v. 115, no. 11 (Mar. 17, 1949); v. 162 (sic.), no. 12 (June 17, 1948); v. 208, no. 8 (Jan. 14, 1960); v. 108, no. 15 (Nov. 4, 1965); v. 109, no. 8 (Mar. 17, 1966); v. 109, no. 12 (Apr. 14, 1966); v. 109, no. 22 (June 23, 1966)-v. 110, no. 16 (Nov. 10, 1966); v. 110, no. 18 (Nov. 24, 1966)-v. 111, no. 7 (Mar. 9, 1967); v. 111, no. 9 (Mar. 23, 1967)-v. 140 (sic.), no. 22 (June 22, 1967); v. 140 (sic.), no. 24 (July 6, 1967); v. 112, no. 16 (Nov. 9, 1967); v. 112, no. 18 (Nov. 23, 1967)-v. 113, no. 2 (Feb. 8, 1968; v. 113, no. 9 (Mar. 28, 1968); v. 114, no. 14 (May 2, 1968); v. 114, no. 25 (July 18, 1968); v. 116, no. 18 (May 29, 1969); v. 118, no. 5 (Sept. 4, 1969); v. 118, no. 14 (Nov. 13, 1969); v. 118, no. 16 (Nov. 27, 1969)-v. 118, no. 18 (Dec. 11, 1969); v. 118, no. 23 (Jan. 15, 1970)-v. 119, no. 2 (Feb. 19, 1970); v. 119, no. 6 (Mar. 19, 1970)-v. 122, no. 25 (Jan. 27, 1972); v. 123, no. 1 (Feb. 10, 1972)-v. 124, no. 4 (Aug. 31, 1972).

However, while preparing this article I found that the National Library of Israel[7] has online digital copies. NLI with Tel Aviv University has a project to digitize historic Jewish newspapers. The site currently has 114 newspapers; only five are in English[8]. 

I started without even knowing if an article existed and below is a screen shot of one item I found.  Warning—be very careful when using punctuation in a catalog record, a tiny error may waste the readers’ time.

[2] Retrieved on Aug. 17, 2017  The Chicago Park District has a park near my house named after Leo Lerner, the founder of the Lerner Newspapers.

[3] Retrieved on Aug. 17, 2017

[5] ProQuest and Ebsco are paid databases available from many libraries.  ProQuest has a special historical newspaper collection.  It is ironic that I could find a microfilm of a 19th century small town newspaper, but not a newspaper that I once read as soon as it was distributed.

[6] Some people did respond to my query. The importance of a reference interview is very important when I try to help researchers. One question I always ask puzzled researchers is what they have already checked so that I don’t repeat the obvious. I put into my query all of the above sources that I checked.  One person said to check the Jewish Federation newspaper.  It was a house organ that did not cover news events. 

[8] The collection has: B'nai B'rith Messenger, Palestine Bulletin (which changed its name to the Palestine Post and in 1950 to the Jerusalem Post), The Forward, The Occident and American Jewish Advocate.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What is a Bribe?

This week (August 12) parasha Ekev. opens with a blessing that will come with obedience.  While do not understand this as a promise or covenant, the message is clear.  If the people keep the laws, God will love us, bless us, and cause the nation to multiply. This message is repeated in several ways in the parasha.  Is obedience a bribe or payment to God?  Can God be bribed?

If we want to bride a person we offer something they desire such as fame, honor, or fortune.  Can doing the right thing for the good of oneself or community ever be a “bribe?”  Can one do good in one area as a compensation for a lack in another?  Such as does an act of tzedakah compensate for treating someone disrespectfully?  May one violate Shabbat for a “worthy” cause?

The management lesson for this week is in 8:3 –

כי לא על הלחם לבדו יחיה האדם כי

 על כל מוצא פי ה" יחיה האדם 

For man (people) do no live by bread alone, but everything that comes from the mouth of God sustains the people.

Part of this sentence is often quoted to mean that food is not the only thing that people require.  For the organization food (read monetary compensation) is not enough.  Everything word that comes out of the “organizational mouth” should work toward making the organization a better place.  We have to give the employees respect, honor, and justice not as a bribe, but as the way to make the organization a better place to work and a better way to help the customers and clients. The spiritual well-being of the organization is as important as the financial well-being.  In the well-run organization one leads by setting a good example, having reasonable expectations, and respect for the needs of the individual.