Geographic Coverage
News articles have been abstracted for the city of New Bedford (all coverage), and other regional towns (prior to 1850), including: Dartmouth, Westport, Fairhaven, Acushnet, Freetown, Middleborough, Rochester, Mattapoisett, Marion, Wareham, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  Abstracts of news articles for Tiverton and Little Compton, Rhode Island have also been included (prior to 1850).

Geographic names note both town and state, or foreign country, if applicable. Variant spellings of place names have also been noted (i.e., Cutterhunk for Cuttyhunk).

Personal Names
Indexing of select personal names and any variant spellings has been drawn from the news articles. Not all personal names have been included in the index due to the sizable number.  Personal names in marriage and death notices have not been included.

Topical Coverage
In addition to coverage of major news events, information on social history has also been indexed, including advice on health, agriculture, horticulture, housekeeping, religion and marital relations. New Bedford’s early newspapers contain much material illustrating social attitudes toward women, African Americans, Native Americans, Catholics, the Irish and other ethnic groups.  The Republican Standard, an abolitionist newspaper, contains a great deal of material regarding slavery and the status of black people.

Summary of Regular Columns
Advertisements and notice of business partnerships and dissolutions have been listed the first time they appear in the newspaper; also included are names of businessmen and businesswomen and addresses of their firms. Notices of Boston firms have not been represented.

Auction Sales
The Auction Sales column has been abstracted for sales of real estate, vessels and other large property. Notices of real estate and vessel sales have also been drawn from other parts of the newspaper.

City Government
The City Government column details the proceedings of the two chambers of the city – the Common Council and the Board of Aldermen. Among the business of the Common Council were fire regulations, building permits and street layouts.  Subjects may be noted several times in a column so it is advisable to review the full column.

The Police Court, the Court of Common Pleas, the Superior Court and the Supreme Judicial Court heard cases of increasing seriousness or appeals from lower courts; their proceedings have been abstracted. Proceedings of Federal cases handled by the United States District Court and the Commissioners’ Court in Boston, including those involving whaling and merchant vessels, have also been abstracted.  Notices from the Probate Court of administrations, executions, guardianships and select divorces, including notices of absconded apprentices and wives have been included in the index.

Maritime News
The marine column which contains a week’s worth of news of vessel launchings, sales, wrecks, groundings and navigational notices has been abstracted. Crew lists of departing vessels were first noted in the column beginning in 1856.  Routine news from each vessel has not been abstracted nor have listings of men who died or were seriously ill at sea.  (See, Deaths at Sea, 1791-1899 by Joan E. Barney.)

Marriage and Death Notices
Marriage and death notices have not been included in the index. (See, Marriages and Deaths recorded in the New-Bedford Mercury, 1807-1874 by George L. Randall.)

The Poetry column has been abstracted if the material covered a local topic or an interesting topic of social history.

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