October 7, 2015
UF Libraries’ Florida and Puerto Rico Newspaper Project Celebrates Contributions
to Chronicling America’s 10 Million Pages
Free, searchable database of historic newspapers reflects Florida & Puerto Rico history
The University of Florida and the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras today join 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 news from Florida related to the development of the citrus industry, natural disasters, wartime development and other historic events. News from Puerto Rico related to commerce, industry, agriculture, the Spanish America War and more can also be found in Chronicling America.
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.
The UF George A. Smathers Libraries was awarded an NEH grant in 2013 to collaborate with the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras to digitize historic newspapers from Florida and Puerto Rico that are currently on aging microfilm. In August 2015, the Smathers Libraries received a supplemental award from the NEH to digitize additional content. The total award of $613,000 provides funding support for the “Florida and Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper Project”, which is part of the state and territory’s involvement in the NDNP.
“Because these pages are not just on microfilm anymore, it completely changes the access. Anybody with an Internet connection can see them,” said project director Patrick Reakes, the UF libraries’ Associate Dean of Scholarly Resources and Services. “It’s also a more sustainable way to preserve them. Microfilm gets old and brittle and hard to read. Once these pages are digitized, they’re safe. They’ll still be readable in the future.”
“Chronicling America is one of the great online treasures, a remarkable window into our history and a testament to the power of collaborative efforts among cultural institutions nationwide,” said Mark Sweeney, the Library of Congress Associate Librarian for Library Services. “The Library of Congress is proud to work alongside NEH and all our partner institutions to make this vision a growing reality. In the coming years, we look forward to adding newspapers from the remaining states and territories, as new partners join the program.”
“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 have been created, offering a gateway to exploration for users at any level. Topics include presidential assassinations, historic events such as the sinking of the Titanic, inventions and famous individuals such as the Wright Brothers, and cultural or offbeat subjects such as fashion trends, ping-pong and world’s fairs;
- 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/;
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.