2016 NDNP Annual Meeting Report

Submitted by Jeffrey Marshall, Project Director

The VTDNP said thank you and goodbye to Project Librarian Erenst Anip at the end of July, so I represented VTDNP at the 2016
National Digital Newspaper Program annual meeting earlier this month. The meeting proved to be the most interesting of the three that I’ve attended.  Fifty-four state project participants from 29 states joined NEH and Library of Congress staff for three days of presentations, updates, lightning talks, and discussions.  Four states—Alaska, Colorado, Maine, and New Jersey—have started new projects, leaving just seven states (and four territories)
unrepresented in the program.

NDNP 2005-2016

The Wednesday afternoon session was devoted to presentations from the winners of NEH’s Data Challenge awards.  This contest, open to researchers at all levels, challenged users to apply
data-mining techniques to Chronicling America.  The top award went to Lincoln Mullen of George Mason University, who studied the use and context of Biblical quotes in newspapers and how they corresponded with regional concerns, as well as historical events.  Another project, by Andrew Bales of the University of Cincinnati, compiled data on lynchings, with impressive quantitative and
qualitative results.  High school students in an AP History class at Sunapee (New Hampshire) High School also undertook some
interesting projects, including tracing the use of particular words across the country geographically and across time.  Each Data
Challenge project involved the design and use of algorithms to
balance the geographical distribution and frequency of the
newspapers searched, among other factors.


Thursday morning began with updates.  Since the last annual meeting in September, 2015, 1.3 million pages have been added to Chronicling America for a total of about 11.3 million.  This encompasses 2,097 titles.  Usage is down slightly, but the amount of time users spend on the site remains very high relative to other databases.  The most popular search term this year: “flat earth.”

Significant changes in the scope of the program were also announced.  Earlier in the summer NDNP notified participants that the date range has been expanded to 1670 to 1963.  We learned that under some circumstances newspapers previously digitized outside of NDNP may now be submitted; guidelines for these will be published soon.  Also, NDNP now welcomes applications for fourth-phase projects, particularly when a state has significant content to offer within the expanded date range.

Library of Congress staff spoke about copyright, in light of the decision to expand the range of content beyond 1922.  It is important to note that NDNP will only accept those newspapers that can be proven to be in the public domain.  This is not as prohibitive as it sounds.  Apparently, many publishers failed to renew newspaper copyrights 28 years after first filing copyright, as required between 1923 and 1963, in which cases they reverted to the public domain.  With frequent reminders that they were not offering legal advice, the speakers described some of the methods for determining whether a newspaper is under copyright.

I was pleased to present a “lightning talk” slideshow about our “Cycling Through the News” exhibit, which was well-received.

The Thursday reception was held in the beautiful Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  It was a very congenial gathering, and it was with some sadness that I said goodbye to NDNP staff and fellow project participants.  Various members of the VTDNP have attended the annual meeting since Birdie MacLennan launched the project in 2010, and former participants are always welcome.  So, who knows?  Perhaps it will be possible for some of us to attend in the future.


Another 10,000 pages now searchable on Chronicling America!

Some good news just in time for Thanksgiving! More Vermont historic newspaper pages are available online on Chronicling America!

Another 10,000 pages of The Barre Daily Times from 1912-1915 are  available for browsing, searching, and printing! When complete, we will have a run of this title from 1903-1922.

barre daily times first issue 1903Browse issues of the Barre Daily Times  on Chronicling America from 1903-1915.

Happy Thanksgiving from VTDNP! (Browse our Thanksgiving Flickr and Pinterest albums.)

Good Roads & Good Sidepaths

The Vermont Digital Newspaper Project was delighted that the University of Vermont’s Special Collections hosted Robert McCullough, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, last Wednesday, the 21st, at 5:30 pm, for a special talk entitled, Good Roads & Good Sidepaths: Tracing Bicycle History on the Land. This talk was in conjunction with the newspaper project’s summer/fall exhibit at the Bailey/Howe Library, Cycling Through the News: The Rise of Bicycling in Vermont and the Nation. 

Robert McCullough addressed an engaged audience in UVM’s Special Collections on Wednesday.

McCullough’s talk explored the rise of bicycling in the late 19th century in the United States and how pioneering wheelmen and wheelwomen shaped  the landscape. In particular, he addressed the creation of sidepaths and the push for good roads, starting in the late 1880s. Sidepaths were created, particularly in New York state, alongside roads as special paths for bicyclists only. Many of these paths required bicyclists to purchase special bicycle tags in order to ride on them! Unfortunately, few of these original sidepaths remain extant today in the country–and none are known extant (or known ever to have been created) in Vermont.

Image from the New-York tribune., December 30, 1894, Page 15, on Chronicling America.

McCullough’s new book, Old Wheelways: Traces of Bicycle History on the Land, is out now. You can find it on the MIT Press’s website and on Amazon.9780262029469

If you haven’t seen it, there’s a few more days yet to view the exhibit! We’ll be taking it down on Friday, October 30.

Chronicling America celebrates 10 Millionth Page and More!

Free, searchable database of historic newspapers reflects Vermont’s history

Vermont Digital Newspaper Project (VTDNP) today joins the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities in celebrating a major milestone for Chronicling America, a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers. The Library announced today that more than 10 million pages have been posted to the site, which includes 260,000 pages from 59 Vermont newspaper titles.

Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the two agencies and partners in 40 states and territories.

The NDNP awards grants to entities in each state and territory to identify and digitize historic newspaper content. Awardees receive NEH funding to select and digitize 100,000 pages of historic newspapers published in their states between 1836 and 1922. Uniform technical specifications are provided to ensure consistency of all content, and digital files are transferred to the Library of Congress for long-term management and access. The first awards were made in 2005. Since then, NEH has awarded more than $30 million in support of the project.

cronaca sovversiva first page for 10 million poster
Our digitized page chosen to represent Vermont’s contribution on the poster above comes from Cronaca Sovversiva.

“Chronicling American unlocks a treasure trove of information that was previously accessible only through tedious scrolling through reels of microfilm,” said VTDNP project director Jeff Marshall.  “We are delighted to be part of this nationwide effort to make newspaper content easily available to anyone with access to a computer.”

“Having free and searchable content from Vermont newspapers means a whole lot to Vermonters. I have seen people uncovering gems and facts about their ancestors that were previously unknown. It’s a valuable primary resource for family historians, teachers, students, and researchers,” said VTDNP project librarian Erenst Anip. Continue reading Chronicling America celebrates 10 Millionth Page and More!