TN Civil War Era Newspapers Going Online

From the News Sentinel:W.B. Oakley, a 17-year-old private from Alabama, was captured by Union forces at the First Battle of Manassas, bound at his hands and feet and left on the battlefield.
His story and the stories of so many others, long forgotten with the passing of generations, once again can be appreciated thanks to a project to digitize thousands of pages of historic Tennessee newspapers.
“Young Alabama, however, was possessed of too much Anglo Saxon elasticity to occupy his recumbent attitude in idleness, and setting to work with a good pair of jaws, he soon gnawed apart the fine rope which bound his hands,” reads the 150-year-old account of the soldier’s experience.
He obtained a musket “from the side of a dead man” and began the return to his regiment, killing an enemy soldier and capturing a federal colonel along the way.
The account of Oakley’s exploits in the Aug. 9, 1861, issue of the Memphis Daily Appeal now is only a few mouse clicks away from anyone with a curiosity for history.
It is among more than 100,000 pages of Tennessee newspapers to be digitized and made available online through a $325,165 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Tennessee Digital Newspaper Project, an effort of the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Issues of the Memphis Daily Appeal from 1857 to 1872 are the first from the Tennessee Digital Newspaper Project to be added to the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
Other Tennessee newspapers that will be added include Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig, the Nashville Union and American, the Chattanooga Daily Rebel, the Athens Post and the Clarksville Weekly Chronicle.
When complete, the Chronicling America project will include digitized, searchable historic issues of newspapers from throughout the country. Nearly 4 million pages already are available online.
“It’s like a window in history. We can see right in there to how things were happening at that time,” said Louisa Trott, the project coordinator at the University of Tennessee.

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