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UNT Insider | March 2013 issue | One million pages of historical Texas newspapers online at Portal to Texas History

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One million pages of historical Texas newspapers online at Portal to Texas History

From a UNT News Service press release


The Telegraph and Texas Register, Jan. 9, 1936</a>

The Telegraph and Texas Register, Jan. 9, 1936

The Jan. 9, 1836, issue of The Telegraph and Texas Register, the newspaper of the Provisional Government of Texas, included an ordinance and decree passed by the government to create a "regular army" consisting of 1,120 men in one regiment of artillery and one regiment of infantry.

Less than four months later, however, the war ended after a heavily outnumbered Texas Army surprised the Mexican force of more than 1,200 soldiers at the Battle of San Jacinto, killing or capturing all of them and forcing Mexico to grant Texas its independence.

Those interested in Texas history can go online to read firsthand reports of the war against Mexico, thanks to one million pages of historical Texas newspapers, including The Telegraph, being available on UNT's Portal to Texas History, administered by the UNT Libraries.

Beginning in 2007, the UNT Libraries received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize pages of Texas newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program, "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers." UNT was one of eight U.S. universities, and the only one from Texas, to receive the funding.

The National Digital Newspaper Program, or NDNP, is a long-term effort from NEH and the Library of Congress to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with select digitization of historic papers. During the next 15 years, NDNP will create a national digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Since receiving the initial two-year, $397,552 grant, the UNT Libraries have received more than $2.4 million in funding for the newspapers and have digitized 118,783 Texas issues.

The oldest newspaper on the portal is a Sept. 25, 1829, issue of the Texas Gazette, which is the earliest Texas newspaper for which more than one issue exists. Writings of Stephen F. Austin were published in the paper.

Other historic newspapers on the portal include late 19th- and early 20th-century issues of the Jefferson Jimplecute; 19th-century issues of the Neu-Braunfelser Zeitung, the German language predecessor to the current New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung; early 20th-century issues of the Brownsville Daily Herald, Snyder Daily Signal and several newspapers published in Galveston; and the defunct Dallas Daily Herald, which was the first newspaper in Dallas and later became the Dallas Times-Herald.

Dreanna Belden, assistant dean for external relations for the UNT Libraries, says the newspapers provide eyewitness accounts from those who lived through major events in Texas history, including the Texas fight for independence against Mexico and the forming of the Republic of Texas; the state's involvement in the Civil War, World War I and World War II; and the 1900 Galveston hurricane.

"A large part of the reason we started the portal was for education. We developed Newspaper Narrative lessons as resources for teachers who want to use the historic newspapers to bring history to life for their students, and we even created posters on different events as captured by the newspapers that teachers can hang in their classrooms," she says.

The Newspaper Narrative lessons cover topics such as cotton farming, the Texas oil boom and the Suffrage Movement. Each lesson includes a PowerPoint lecture, links to corresponding articles in newspapers and engaging activities for students.

The newspaper digital library also appeals to amateur historians like Dallas attorney William D. Elliott. Elliott is writing a biography of a Texas historical figure and wanted to learn as much about the era in which the person lived as possible. He calls the portal and the newspaper digital library "the singular most valuable resource for research."

"The noted historian David McCullough tells of his research technique of immersing himself in the period. I have used the Texas portal and digital newspaper collection to read a newspaper a day. Instead of reading the newspaper on my front porch, I am carried back in time to another era. I read the newspaper that my biographical subject probably read," Elliott says.

Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at Nancy.Kolsti@unt.edu.


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March 2013

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