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.
“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.
“We at the National Endowment for the Humanities are proud to support the Chronicling America historic newspaper project,” said NEH Chairman William Adams. “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.”
While newspapers are frequently available for general use through microfilm and can be shared among users by interlibrary loan or purchasing copies, digitizing pages and providing full-text keyword access to the content is transformative for research of all kinds. In addition to saving researchers hours of scrolling through reels of microfilm, full-text access allows users to discover connections between research topics and uncover little-known stories in American history. The Chronicling America site includes a broad, curated set of newspapers selected for their historical value that users can browse or search. Through a few clicks they 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, fostering new research approaches through computational and linguistic analysis.
Chronicling America Facts:
- 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 available, offering a gateway to exploration for users at any level. Topics include presidential assassinations, historic events (sinking of the Titanic), inventions & famous individuals (Wright Brothers), and cultural/offbeat subjects (fashion trends, ping-pong and world’s fair);
- 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. Share online with the hashtag #NEHturns50.
Also, check out the NDNP Impact report, which features information from interviews with NDNP project directors.
About the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project: The University of Vermont Libraries were awarded funding from NEH to work collaboratively with partners in the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Ilsley Public Library of Middlebury, and the Vermont Historical Society to select, digitize, and make available up to 300,000 pages of Vermont newspapers, published between 1836 and 1922, from the microfilm collections of the Vermont Department of Libraries and the University of Vermont. Learn more at library.uvm.edu/vtnp
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.