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Excerpts from the Vineyard Gazette

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How to use these Excerpts

The document is organized chronologically with tabs to browse by year.  An efficient way to research is to use the “Find” option (under “Edit” in the top bar) to search by name for a location, person, or topic. Using this approach one can quickly locate references to the Agricultural Society, Daniel Webster, fires, eels, plovers, or any topic of interest.

The following excerpts are courtesy of the Vineyard Gazette, Copyright Vineyard Gazette, all rights reserved. 

Background and Intent

For insights into the changing nature of the Vineyard, no resource equals that of the Vineyard Gazette. Its columns are filled with facts and opinions that reach from Island towns around the globe; its many pages of ads paint a picture of local commerce and real estate, materials imported and locally produced, and the changing tastes of local and seasonal populations; and its regular reports of taxes, sightings from the Island’s lighthouses, and news from the fleet of Island ships on the world’s oceans provide insights into the actors and action comprising the Island scene.

Beginning in 1846, the Gazette captures the peak of two critical activities in Island history—agriculture, which shaped and conditioned the land, and whaling, which shaped lives, connected the Vineyard to distant lands, and fueled local industry and wealth.  Both leave legacies on the land, in local character and lore.  From this mid-nineteenth century base, the paper brings us forth through the Civil War, the growth of the nation, and siphoning off of Island sons and daughters to California and other distant lands; the decline of farming and whaling; and the emergence of the Island as a self-conscious destination for outsiders who became a critical part of the place.

Sometime in the future, the Gazette’s digital archive—the Time Machine—will capture the full three centuries of newsprint digitally.  Currently on-line coverage extends back to 2000.  The fan of earlier news must rely on microfiche copies of the paper, the Gazette clipping archive, or occasional reprints of old articles.

To tap this invaluable resource in writing A Meeting of Land and Sea, author David Foster began transcribing the excerpts that are found below.  This was a selective effort focusing on ecological insights into the changing nature of the Island. But, he also captured a wide assortment of articles for their insights into local life and the national mood, or for their amusing qualities. 

Future of this Archive

Foster’s intent is to bring the archive forward to the twentieth century; by that time the Gazette may have developed a comprehensive digital newspaper.  Given that it takes a full day and a half to read and transcribe a year of the Gazette on microfiche in the Vineyard Haven Library, progress is slow.  But, Foster refers to this resource regularly and therefore is sharing what we have in the spirit of making this historical and ecological goldmine more accessible.

Comments, suggestions, and assistance in this effort are welcomed.