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UMass Amherst Libraries

Researching the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley

Introduction

The Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts has been serviced by a number of newspapers over the years. Local papers like the Hampshire Gazette (1786) and the Springfield Republican (1824) documented the life of the towns along the Connecticut River. Before these local papers were established, residents read (and used the advertising columns of) the range of Boston publications as well as the Connecticut Courant in Hartford; researchers using databases to search newspapers should check those resources as well. Franklin County has been served by a series of newspapers beginning in 1792; the Gazette and Courier (1841-1932) was joined and in time purchased by the Recorder (founded as a weekly paper in 1900, becoming daily in 1920).

Massachusetts Valley Newspapers

Connecticut Courant: Launched as a weekly paper in 1764, the Courant became a daily publication in 1837.  It was the main newspaper serving the Massachusetts towns of the Connecticut Valley before the advent of the Hampshire Gazette in 1786.

Hampshire Gazette: The main newspaper to serve Hampshire County was the Hampshire Gazette, founded in 1786. The Hampshire Gazette is currently available and searchable through Newspapers.com or GenealogyBank (up to 1884), and the Hampshire Gazette offers searchability through its own website beginning in 1994; these services all have a fee associated with access. Historic Northampton has digitized issues from 1786-1796 and made them available on their website. The Forbes Library and Historic Northampton have access to the Gazette through Microfilm; the paper is also available at WEB DuBois Library from 1786-1815 via UM Microfilm 2332.

The Springfield Republican: The Springfield Republican began as a weekly paper in 1824 and became a daily publication in 1844. It is available and searchable through Newspapers.com.  The best online collection of Springfield papers, including the Republican, is at GenealogyBank.com.

Hampshire Herald: An abolitionist paper started in Hampshire County, this newspaper was first printed in 1845. The journalists who wrote the paper were embedded in national abolitionist efforts and wrote about activities like the Underground Railroad. The Herald can be used to track resistance to the institution of slavery. It is available on microfilm at the Forbes Library.

Gazette and Courier: Founded in 1841 (and enduring until 1932) the Gazette and Courier was joined and in time purchased by the Recorder (founded as a weekly paper in 1900, becoming daily in 1920.  Newsbank carries the Recorder only back to 1997, and Newspaper Archive has the Gazette and Courier from 1897 to 1969.  The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association also holds the Greenfield Gazette and Courier Collection, 1848-1932, containing 43 bound volumes that include day books, cash books/ledgers, account books, post rider books, sample books, order books, and check books.