The University of North Texas Libraries (link to http://www.library.unt.edu/about) received one of five grants from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for the digitalization of special and unique collections of photographs, newspapers, interviews and other historical documents, making them more accessible to the general public.
The UNT Libraries received a $24,637 TexTreasures grant for its project, "Early Texas Newspapers: 1829-1861." Partnering with theCenter for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, the UNT Libraries' Digital Projects Unit will microfilm and digitize Texas newspapers that are currently the property of the Center for American History, and place these newspapers on the Portal to Texas History. The portal, administered by the Digital Projects Unit, provides students and others with a digital gateway to collections in Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies and private collections and contains primary source materials, including maps, books, manuscripts, diaries, photographs and letters.
Dreanna Belden, coordinator of grants and development for the UNT Libraries, says some of the newspapers selected for the project were published before 1836 — the year that Texas won its independence from Mexico and became its own nation.
"Digitizing these rare pre-1836 newspapers will provide valuable resources for those interested in Texas' colonial period," she says. "More than half of the papers selected for this project have never been microfilmed, so in the past only well-credentialed scholars would be allowed to use and access these rare and fragile issues."
Belden says all of the early Texas newspapers held by the Center for American History will be digitized "even if it is just one lonely issue."
"For example, one of the papers is one issue from 1832 of the Texas Gazette and Brazoria Commercial Advertiser — the only surviving example of this newspaper," she says.
Other newspapers that will be microfilmed and digitized include the Telegraph & Texas Register, published in Houston 1835-1845; the Matagorda Bulletin, published 1827-1836; the Redlander in San Augustine, published 1841-1846; the Texas Presbyterian, published in Victoria 1846-48, and pages of the Galveston News, which is still publishing, from 1848-1861.
Belden says that before Texas' revolt against Mexico for its independence, no newspapers survived long in the territory.
"Nine publishers printed newspapers between 1819 and 1836, but only the Telegraph & Texas Register was still in publication at the time of the Texas Revolution. It became the paper of record for the Republic of Texas, and played a major role in keeping citizens informed," she says.
Five years after Texas became a state in 1845, the number of newspapers published grew to 36, she says.
"The collection of newspapers proposed for microfilming and digitization provide critical information regarding the early history of Texas, both as a republic and a state," she says.
UNT News Service Press Release
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