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JTA launches online archive with a quarter-million articles

JTA

May 4, 2011 | 5:56 pm

The JTA Jewish News Archive features articles from the past nine decades.

The JTA Jewish News Archive features articles from the past nine decades.

JTA has launched a digital archive containing 250,000 articles dating from 1923.

The JTA Jewish News Archive, which is searchable and free for the public to use, was launched officially Tuesday evening with a celebration at the Center for Jewish History in New York.

Highlights of the archive include extensive reporting from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s—including perhaps the first article on what has become known as the Babi Yar massacre—JTA’s reportage on the founding of the State of Israel, close and sustained coverage of the Soviet Jewry movement, and decades of articles chronicling the changing roles and responsibilities of Jewish women.

“The JTA Jewish News Archive has the potential to spark an interest in the past that will transform the future,” said Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University.

Sarna, a member of JTA’s board of directors, spearheaded the effort to digitally preserve the news agency’s reporting.

JTA’s coverage of the Holocaust may be of particular interest to historians.

“There was and still is a lot of conventional wisdom that Americans didn’t know about the Holocaust while it was happening, and couldn’t have known about the Holocaust while it was happening,” said Northeastern University journalism professor Laurel Leff. “One of the values of this archive is that people can actually look at the bulletins that JTA sent out during this period and see what information was, in fact, available.”

The archive was created with the help of Digital Divide Data, a nonprofit organization that provides jobs to disadvantaged youth in Southeast Asia. Young Cambodians digitized JTA’s files, thereby completing a circle—a vital journalistic record of the Holocaust is being preserved by the next generation in a country racked by its own genocide.

Major philanthropic support for the JTA archive was provided by The Gottesman Fund; The Righteous Persons Foundation; The Charles H. Revson Foundation; Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen; George S. Blumenthal; and the Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund.

A video about the JTA Jewish News Archive can be found here.

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