The Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP) joins the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in celebrating a major milestone for Chronicling America. As of Tuesday, October 7, 2015, Chronicling America has more than 10 million pages of historic U.S. newspapers available online, transforming access and impacting research of all kinds!
Launched in 2007 by the Library of Congress and the NEH, Chronicling America is a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers. It provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. Chronicling America is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the Library of Congress, the NEH, and partners in 40 states and territories.
Oregon joined the partnership in 2009, when the University of Oregon announced via press release that it had been awarded a $364,042 grant from the NEH and the Library of Congress to digitize historic Oregon newspapers dating from 1860 to 1922. This grant money was augmented by matching funds from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office and Oregon Heritage Commission through the Oregon Cultural Trust. Since 2009, ODNP, a program of the University of Oregon Libraries, has contributed nearly 300,000 pages of historic Oregon newspaper content to the Chronicling America site.
“Chronicling America is one of the great online treasures, a remarkable window into our history and a testament to the power of collaborative efforts among cultural institutions nationwide,” said Mark Sweeney, the Library of Congress’s Associate Librarian for Library Services. “The Library of Congress is proud to work alongside NEH and all our partner institutions to make this vision a growing reality. In the coming years, we look forward to adding newspapers from the remaining states and territories, as new partners join the program.”
“We at the National Endowment for the Humanities are proud to support the Chronicling America historic newspaper project,” said William Adams, NEH Chairman. “This invaluable resource preserves and makes available to all the first draft of America’s history so that we can see the ideas and events that shaped our republic unfold in the headlines of their times.”
Traditionally, historic newspapers have been available for general use through microfilm and shared among users through interlibrary loan (ILL) or by purchasing copies. Chronicling America has revolutionized access to historic newspaper content by digitizing pages and providing full-text keyword access to the content. This has been transformative for research of all kinds. In addition to saving researchers hours of scrolling through reels of microfilm, full-text access allows them to discover connections between research topics and uncover little-known stories in U.S. history.
“Historic newspapers supply vital evidence of our history and culture and are used by students, scholars, historians, arts groups, businesses, urban planners, genealogists, and others,” said Karen Estlund, former Head of the Digital Scholarship Center for the University of Oregon Libraries. From 2009 to 2015, Estlund was also Project Director for ODNP. Speaking specifically on access to historic Oregon newspapers, Estlund said, “These primary source materials provide a window into the life of local Oregon communities a century or more ago, covering early environmental preservation, industry, agriculture, urban development, Native American and race relations, the establishment of the state, and more.”
Through a few clicks, users of Chronicling America can narrow their focus to newspapers published all on the same day, in the same region, or the entire country. In addition, the content in Chronicling America is available for bulk download and API use. Here are additional facts about Chronicling America:
- Between January and December 2014, the site logged 3.8 million visits and 41.7 million page views;
- The resource includes more than 285,000 pages in almost 100 non-English newspapers (French, German, Italian, and Spanish);
- More than 250 Recommended Topics pages have been created, offering a gateway to exploration for users at any level. Topics include presidential assassinations, historic events such as the sinking of the Titanic, inventions and famous individuals such as the Wright Brothers, and cultural or offbeat subjects such as fashion trends, ping-pong, and world’s fairs;
- NEH has awarded a total of more than $30 million in grants to 40 partner institutions to contribute to Chronicling America, listed at http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/awards.
In celebration of the Chronicling America milestone, the Library of Congress will post a new blog every Thursday for 10 weeks, beginning October 7, 2015. Each blog post will highlight a different offbeat topic with headlines in Chronicling America, such as “Medical Advances Gone Wrong,” “Coffee ‘Facts’,” and “End of the World.” Subscribe to the blog or check out loc.gov/blogs each Thursday for the week’s installment.
In addition, the National Endowment for the Humanities will launch a special website on September 29, 2015, commemorating the 50th anniversary of NEH’s founding. The website will highlight Chronicling America in an online feature at 50.neh.gov/projects/newspapers-the-first-draft-history. Share online with the hashtag #NEHturns50.
Also, check out the NDNP Impact report, which features information from interviews with NDNP project directors.
About the Library of Congress: Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications, and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at loc.gov.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating its 50th anniversary as an independent federal agency in 2015, National Endowment for the Humanities brings the best in humanities research, public programs, education, and preservation projects to the American people. To date, NEH has awarded $5 billion in grants to build the nation’s cultural capital – at museums, libraries, colleges and universities, archives, and historical societies – and advance our understanding and appreciation of history, literature, philosophy, and language. Learn more at neh.gov.