Researching the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley
Newspapers are a valuable source of historic narratives. As the “first draft of history,” news sources can show the evolution of public thought, document events, and provide insight into historical contexts. Advertising columns can be particularly valuable in documenting the flow of consumer goods (many of them also artifacts of the Atlantic slave economy), and also the changing shape of labor, as notices seeking apprentices, wet nurses, and other forms of assistance appear here regularly. In the documentation of African American history, researchers have often used advertisements placed by enslavers seeking to recover runaways to understand many aspects of enslavement.
Newspapers, like any source, have biases. A bias is not necessarily good or bad: it is a part of the perspective of its authors. This is more relevant still in early America, as the idea that newspapers or journalists should report “objectively” had not yet emerged in that industry or profession. Most newspapers actively represented a distinct point of view. Abolitionist newspapers opposed enslavement and published the words of African Americans; White dominated newspapers that advertised rewards for escaped slaves and supported the institution of slavery through these interactions. Researchers should be sure to understand the orientation of any newspaper as part of assessing its perspective.'
Newspapers can be located in local libraries' collections as well as online. Resources like Ancestry, FamilySearch, Newsbank, and even GenealogyBank have newspapers digitized. You can use these resources to search through many newspapers or use the resources below to search a specific newspaper.
Selected Materials in the W.E.B. DuBois Library Collection
Hartford The Connecticut Courant and Hartford Weekly Intelligencer 1774- 1791 UM Microprint 60
The Hartford Courant 1764-1990 ProQuest Historical Newspapers
The American Mercury 1784-1833 UM Microprint 40
New Haven New Haven Chronicle 1786-1787 UM Microprint 13
New Haven Gazette 1784-1786 UM Microprint 13
The New Haven Gazette & The Connecticut Magazine 1786-1788 UM Microfilm A82 Reel 20
New London Connecticut Gazette, The Universal Intelligencer 1773-1787 UM Microprint 12
New London Gazette 1763-1773 UM Microprint 12
New London Summary or the Weekly Advertiser 1758-1763 UM Microfilm A1051, UM Microprint 48
Norwich Norwich Packet OR The Weekly Advertiser 1777-1779 UM Microprint 43
OR The Chronicle of Freedom OR The Country Journal
Providence Providence Gazette and Country Journal 1762- 1795 UM Microprint 59
The United States Chronicle 1784-1804 UM Microprint 42
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