Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Library & Archives recently launched the Hoji Shinbun Digital Collection as a part of their Japanese Diaspora Initiative, which aims to make the Hoover Institution the leading center for archive-based research and analysis on the historical issues of war, revolution, and peace as they relate to Japan. With a focus on Japan’s modern diaspora—especially Japanese Americans and overseas Japanese communities— the efforts of this initiative have resulted in an absolutely incredible resource of digitized materials, including the half a million+ pages of rare Japanese newspapers like the Hoji Shinbun, which were published in the U.S. from the late nineteenth century through WWII.
From the website:
The Hoji Shinbun Digital Collection is currently the world’s largest online archive of open-access, full-image newspapers published by overseas Japanese and their descendants. All content reproduced in this collection is full image, with enhancements added where possible, and rendering the text maximally searchable. The holdings of each title are also browsable by date, and each title is cross searchable with other titles on the platform. This collection currently contains fourteen newspapers published in Hawaii and North America. Most publications present a mix of content in the Japanese and English languages, with formats and proportionality of Japanese/English often changing as a reflection of shifting business and social circumstances.
As stated above, there’s multiple searching methods, including title, date, keywords, or advanced options for individual newspapers. The entire site can also be navigated in either English or in Japanese. Some newspapers are Stanford access only, but the majority are open to the public and do not require any logins.
Once you select a newspaper (such as the Hawaii Times, seen on the right, then you can search that individual paper by calendar date for a specific entry of interest, which is enormously helpful if you are cross-referencing another historical date with these materials. It’s also possible to look by date and list the various newspapers with entries for that specific date, rather than browsing one title at a time.
One of the most interesting parts of the entire collection, though, may be their OCR (Optical Character Recognition) system. The some 500,000 materials have been through OCR processing to render the difficult visuals into text, and though it leaves much to be desired in terms of accuracy, Stanford has set it up so that users can sign up to be OCR correctors.
So if you happen to be using these materials for your research (or fun) and have transcribed parts of them, you can submit it to the system to improve the overall content of the collection. This is a great step towards bridging the gap between private and public scholarship/resources.
Even if you’re not a researcher, this collection is a fascinating glimpse into Japanese/Japanese American/U.S. history, so be sure to check it out!