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UNT Insider | July 2007 Issue | National Digital Newspaper grant

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UNT only Texas university with National Digital Newspaper grant

From a UNT News Service press release

UNT is one of eight universities in the nation and the only one from Texas to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize Texas newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program, "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers."

The National Digital Newspaper Program is a joint project by NEH and the Library of Congress to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers from 1690 to the present. During the next 20 years, NDNP will create a digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The UNT Libraries received a two-year, $397,552 grant from NEH to participate in the program, which was designated a "We The People" project for promoting knowledge and understanding of American history and culture.

The UNT Libraries' Digital Projects Unit will digitize 100,000 pages of newspapers published in Texas between 1880 and 1910, placing the files on the Library of Congress web site.

The files also will be placed on the UNT Libraries' Portal to Texas History which provides a digital gateway to collections in Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies and private collections. The portal contains primary source materials, including maps, books, manuscripts, diaries, photographs and letters.

Dreanna Belden, coordinator of grants and development for UNT libraries, says that newspapers from the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries are valued by historians.

"Newspapers of that era covered significant Texas events, such as the Galveston hurricane in 1900 and the Spindletop field near Beaumont, which produced the first oil gusher in 1901," she says.

Other historical events between 1880 and 1910 included the Southern Pacific Railroad reaching El Paso in 1881, the Texas State Fair debuting in Dallas in 1886 and the chartering of the Texas Equal Rights Association after a statewide women suffrage convention in 1893.

Cathy Hartman, UNT Libraries' assistant dean for digital and information technologies, says newspapers of that time also were very "community-specific," often listing information about visiting relatives or accomplishments of community residents.

"Editors also used the newspapers to promote business in their communities," she says.

Hartman and Beldon say they will follow the Library of Congress' guidelines for selecting newspapers that will be archived on the Library of Congress web site, selecting publications to provide broad demographic coverage of Texas between 1880 and 1910.

Hartman says another selection guideline is that the newspapers be published continuously during those years.

Research associates at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for American History and the Texas Tech University Libraries will collaborate with the Willis Library.

"It's really exciting to add this to the portal," Hartman says. "We already have more than 70 partners that have provided content, and 100,000 pages of newsprint will be a huge addition."

When the two-year NEH grant expires, the Digital Projects Unit plans to reapply for funds, and seek additional funding so that smaller community newspapers may be placed online.

UNT News Service Press Release
Nancy Kolsti can be reached at nkolsti@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

July 2007

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