The Gdańsk branch of the Polish National Archives has two very interesting online exhibitions at the moment.
Gdynia miasto portowe: A series of photographs relating to the history and development of the city of Gdynia. Gdynia was founded in 1926 as a Polish rival to the Free City of Danzig.
90 lat diecezji gdańskiej: Photographs and documents concerning the Catholic church in the Danzig region over the past 90 years (including the Free City period).
Go have a look!
We need Newspapers
There aren't as many German-language newspapers available online as I would like. Those that have been digitized are either not in the correct time period or don't have text-searching capability. It's quite disappointing, particularly in comparison with sites such as Trove and Gallica. Pull your socks up, German libraries!
Here are some newspapers it would be helpful to access--German-language papers published in the Free City. Many of them are quite short-lived, as you can see.
Free City newspapers
In mid-2014 I announced that I had purchased a set of the Danzig Gesetzblatt (the old Prussian Ministry of Justice collection, as it happens). I thought I would explain briefly why it hasn't been put online yet.
These are very fragile documents and I don't want to subject them to a regular scanner. A neighboring department where I work has one of these clever scanners that they use for their own projects. I have been given permission to use this scanner when they don't need it and that's what I've been planning for the Gesetzblatt. (It's what I used to scan a set of postcards that you can see at the bottom of the page here.) Unfortunately, the scanner needs the attentions of IT at the moment and is unavailable for anyone's use. Once it's back online and there's free time available for booking, I'll get the ball rolling on digitizing the Gesetzblatt.
I'm disappointed that it's taking so long but them's the breaks when you're running a project with a $0 budget! Thanks for your patience.
Update on current work
I’m a legal researcher so one of my key goals for this site is to offer as many legal and administrative materials as I can. The League of Nations Official Journal entries are already available. Now I’m working on the Staatsanzeiger (State Gazette). It ran from 1922 to 1939 in two sets, Teil 1 and Teil 2, which means double the work in getting everything processed and online.
My primary source for these documents is the Pomeranian Digital Library, which is an absolute treasure trove of all sorts of good stuff. Everyone should go have a look! Their collection isn’t complete, however. When there’s a missing issue from the PDL I request copies from the New York Public Library. Those requests are US$25 each and, seeing as this project is funded by whatever I can spare from my paycheck, it may be a while before this collection will be complete.
The original documents from the PDL are DjVu files. I’d never encountered this type of file before starting the Free City Sourcebook. They’re high-quality images that are compressed nicely into small files. You have to download a viewer to open DjVu files and there are a few steps involved in downloading and opening the DjVu files so you can read the contents.
PDFs, despite their limitations, are the go-to file format for most online legal documents. Wherever possible, that’s what I’m using here on the Sourcebook. I’m converting the DjVu files into PDFs for placement on the site. This is where the difficulty arises: the DjVu images are high-resolution and, when converted to PDF, can take up a tremendous amount of space. If a particular Staatsanzeiger issue is more than a few pages long it can turn into a really unwieldy PDF. Coupled with my sometimes slow internet, this fact can make it difficult to upload the files to the Sourcebook. In some cases you will see that I’ve split particular issues up into two or more smaller files. I can only apologize for this technical limitation.
In addition to the files themselves I’m adding introductory information for each issue to make the site more searchable and user-friendly. That means transcribing the “Inhalt” section from each Staatsanzeiger issue, which is a bigger chore than it sounds because these documents all use the Fraktur (Gothic) typeface. I’m getting better at it but it’s slow going.
As of the writing of this post, I’m almost finished with downloading and converting the Teil 1 entries. As is often the case, it’s taken longer than I anticipated but I’m hopeful that at least Teil 1, with the transcribed introductions, will be ready to go live soon.
Thank you for your interest! If you have any leads on other legal documents I'd love to hear about it.
I've decided (preliminarily) to put my bibliography entries and newspaper articles into MLA style, using this tool from the North Carolina State University library page. It's an easy, straightforward program and I like it. I suppose it's the MLA style itself that I don't care for. It's inelegant. I don't like the straight-up-and-down quotation marks. And it's not terribly flexible. For example, entries for newspaper articles can cite to the print, online, or database version. However, the articles I'm pulling from Google News don't really fall entirely into any of those categories. I'm perfectly comfortable improvising, at least. I suppose the real answer is I'm too accustomed to legal citation styles: the Bluebook for years, and now the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.
I may well change my mind later if it's not too much of a hassle.
I'm starting with the low-hanging fruit as I build up the site. There's quite a bit of information freely available on the open web once you track it down; my goal is to get it all into one place. As I do so I'm developing a running list of documentation that's going to be trickier to lay my hands on, in terms of convenience and/or cost.
In particular, there's a great trove of information at the League of Nations archive in Geneva. Their catalog is here if you'd like to see for yourself. Their access policy allows registered users to view their LON files but prohibits photocopying. It makes sense, considering many of these papers are getting on in years. I'm surprised, though, that they haven't got a book scanner that could do the job without damaging the documents. It's worth looking into at a future date, as there's simply too much information kept there that isn't reflected in the Official Journal entries. The story of the Free City wouldn't be complete without it.
This is where I muse about the site and future developments.