NYU Division of Libraries, in partnership with NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House and the University of Galway’s Hardiman Library, has been awarded a grant of $54,149 by The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to support a project to digitize and apply optical character recognition software to the world’s first newspaper published predominantly in the Irish (Gaelic) language, An Gaodhal. Founded in 1881 by Irish immigrant Micheál Ó Lócháin, the newspaper was assembled and printed in his home at 267 Kosciuszko Street, Brooklyn, New York.
The newspaper is representative of the long and rich history of multilingualism in the New York City area, where even today the five boroughs are home to some of the strongest concentrations of speakers of the world’s endangered languages. Irish, which was experiencing a startling decline in speakers at the time that Ó Lócháin founded the newspaper, was one of those languages spoken in New York but which was underrepresented in the English-dominated public spheres in both the United States and Ireland at the time. Reader-submitted content in the newspaper, moreover, often included songs, folklore, and poems embedded in Irish immigrant oral culture and in now-lost manuscripts which can now only be traced through their mention in An Goadhal’s pages.
According to Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, "These early newspapers are a historic resource for every aspect of a specific community's daily life. They offer insight into social, economic, political and cultural issues of note and concern. This project will bring a richer voice to that more detailed story."
NYU Libraries is dedicated to building and providing access to rich and diverse collections, a mission that includes diversifying the linguistic representation of the world’s text collections. This project, which brings together scholarly expertise in Irish Studies from NYU with the most complete set of print copies of An Gaodhal held at the special collections at Hardiman Library, aims to bring this newspaper composed in an endangered language to wider public attention while enhancing the ability for readers to search and identify key content within the newspaper using full-text search.
Learn more about this project here.