Library of Congress Representative to Pay Special Visit to Indiana

The Indiana State Library will host a public program on Friday, July 13 featuring Ms. Deborah Thomas, the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) coordinator for the Library of Congress. Ms. Thomas will discuss the Chronicling America website and the importance of digitizing and preserving historic newspapers published in Indiana. The presentation will take place at the State Library at 315 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, in the History Reference room from 10:30 AM to noon (EDT).

Indiana is one of twenty-nine states currently participating in the NDNP program. The Indiana State Library, in partnership with the Indiana Historical Society, is digitizing a selection of Indiana’s historically significant newspapers as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) NDNP grant. Newspapers digitized as part of this two-year project will be included in the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website, which provides access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages. The NDNP is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages.

This program is worth two (2) Technology Library Education Units toward public librarian certification. Please contact Indiana NDNP project manager Chris Ittenbach at or (317) 234-8153 if you are interested in attending the program. Visit either the project wiki ( to monitor the Indiana NDNP project and receive real-time project status reports.

Indiana Tribüne

The Disappearance of the German Language Press In Indianapolis And Throughout the United States During 1917 and 1918

On May 3, 1918 the Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne printed on page 1 an announcement citing an opinion of the U.S. Attorney General that the United States Government will not lend its aid to the “drive” for the suppression of newspapers printed in German, PROVIDED THAT THEY DO NOT ENGAGE IN UNLAWFUL PROPAGAGNDA”. On May 8 Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne printed on page 1 an announcement quoting President Wilson, “I would just as leave Americanize a language as Americanize an individual. You should not regard the language in which you print your periodicals as a foreign language when printed in America for the conveyance of American thinking. Then we will have taken another step toward that combination of elements which in the long run is going to make America more various in its natural gifts, more variegated in its genius than any other country in the world.” On May 17, 1918 the Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne printed on page 1 an announcement where Mr. George Creel (of the Committee for Public Information) opined that “…the loyal American press printed in the German language fulfills an important mission…the German papers had a right to continue so long as Congress had not abrogated that right…” Mr. Creel also opined that “…he did not favor teaching German in the primary grades of schools, but that he was not opposed to having it taught in the higher grades, as there always were some person who desired to read Goethe and Schiller in the original.” On May 23, 1918 the Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne printed on page 1 an announcement related how Champ Clark, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that “…the readers of the American papers printed in the German Language need have no fear of Congress ever passing a law to suppress these papers, providing they observe the existing laws…He called the German language newspapers loyal and said that the Government itself was most benefited by them and that the Government fully appreciated the services rendered by them.”

On May 29, however, the Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne printed on page 1 an announcement that it and the Spottvogel would cease publication on Monday June 3, 1917 after fifty three years of publication. The announcement received coverage in the English language press with a front page article in the Indianapolis Star. The Indianapolis Star article quotes Otto E. Tamm, the advertising manager of the Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne and the Spottvogel, “We are neutral before the entrance of the United States and we have been loyal since.” In the announcement printed on the front page of the Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne it was stated that, “Unfortunately, however, a pronounced prejudice has arisen in this country against everything printed or written in the German language, regardless of the fact that the German language newspapers are the means of reaching thousands of persons who are reached in no other way, and because of this prejudice and because we feel that all causes for possible disturbance in our community should be removed, we have decided to take the step suggested.”

Courtesy of Indiana State Library.
The May 29, 1918 issue of the Taglicher Telegraph und Tribune. Courtesy of Indiana State Library.

One wonders about the wording “possible disturbance in our community”, were vigilante groups threatening to become active in Indianapolis? In any event, given the anti-German propaganda that the American public was completely marinated in by this time, it would seem a hopeless task for any German language paper published in the United States to stay in business. Perhaps an advertisement that appeared in the May 31, 1918 issue of the Indianapolis Star best captures the feeling of the times. The advertisement is encouraging young men who possess high physical and mental qualifications to join the army tank corps whose motto is “Kill Germans – kill them early, late and all the time but kill them sure.”

An editorial in the May 31, 1918 issue of the Indianapolis Star. Courtesy of Indiana State Library.
An editorial in the May 31, 1918 issue of the Indianapolis Star. Courtesy of Indiana State Library.