Recap: National Digital Newspaper Program Conference 2015

Another year, another National Digital Newspaper Program Conference! Last month, Jeffrey Marshall, project director and principal investigator, Erenst Anip, project librarian, and Karyn Norwood, digital support specialist, traveled to Washington, DC, for the annual conference for the National Digital Newspaper Program between September 16th and 18th. Below, a recap of just a few of the exciting moments of the conference!

There are some exciting developments on the national level for Chronicling America: significantly, on October 7th, the program  celebrated the surpassing of 10 million newspaper pages freely available online, which is a huge accomplishment! Vermont alone has contributed around 260,000 pages from 59 newspaper titles to this number.

An early cake celebration at the conference for reaching 10 million pages.

Two more states this year have joined the program, Wisconsin and Delaware–bringing the total number of states participating in the program up to 40 states and territories.

There was also news that the National History Day Prize for best use of Chronicling America content would continue! All participants who use Chronicling America content in their research projects across all categories will receive a ribbon, which is terrific news. (Visit our educator page for more on National History Day.)

We also learned that there will be improvements to the Chronicling America infrastructure to allow even more languages to be searchable and available online.

In other conference happenings, Jeff Marshall attended a half-day pre-conference at the Capitol on Tuesday called “Beyond NDNP: Dodging the Memory Hole.”  The focus of this meeting was to agree on a course of action to address the problem of preserving  born-digital newspaper content.  Participants agreed to the formation of a national steering committee that will attempt to build cooperation with newspaper publishers and develop standards and best practices.  Although this effort is unlikely to have any direct impact on us in the near future, it was worthwhile to learn what leaders in the effort are thinking.

On Wednesday, VTDNP also was able to share some of the work we have been doing in Vermont over the past year, particularly in regard to outreach to genealogists. Erenst Anip and Karyn Norwood were part of a panel on genealogy outreach with Tennessee and Michigan. We talked about our website, genealogist resource tab, brochure, and the presentations we have been doing throughout the state in the panel to an engaged audience of fellow newspaper project awardees and our national partners (National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress).

Erenst Anip, project librarian, and Karyn Norwood, digital support specialist, presenting on our resources for genealogists. Photo credit: Thomas McMurdo.


On Friday, VTDNP also contributed to a round-robin discussion of outreach efforts–in particular, we talked about our recent exhibit at UVM’s Bailey-Howe Library, Cycling Through the News: The Rise of Bicycling in Vermont & the Nationand our User Spotlight Series on our blog.

madison balcony
View from the balcony of the Madison Building, during the end-of-conference gathering. Photo credit: Erenst Anip

In closing, we thought we’d share some of the neat online outreach projects underway on the state and national level with Chronicling America that we learned about while at the conference:

  • Indiana has some really fascinating blog posts  on some unconventional topics using Chronicling America content–check them out! 
  • Michigan has an active Twitter account for their project. We recommend following them!
  • Connecticut started a HistoryPin account of newspaper clippings.
  • The Library of Congress has even more topics on their Recommended Topics page on Chronicling America!
  • The Library of Congress now has iBooks for educational purposes on a range of historical topics, from the Dust Bowl to the Industrial Revolution, downloadable through iTunes. Many of these include Chronicling America content.
  • Lastly, for data scientist mostly, Chronicling America have some neat stuff on the website for those interested in the ‘behind the scene’ aspects of the database – we’ll have a separate blog post on this – so stay tuned!
10 things you might not know about Chronicling America
10 things you might not know about Chronicling America – Late Night Show style. More to come, on a separate blog.

All in all, we had a great time. Hope you enjoyed reading about all the new things happening with Chronicling America across the country!

As always, happy searching!

An image of the US Capitol, under construction, from the Madison Building, where we were located for most of the conference. Photo credit: Karyn Norwood