April 4, 2005 Library, National Endowment for the Humanities Launch First Step in Digitizing Early Newspapers

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced that six institutions have received more than $1.9 million in grants in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a new, long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers now in the public domain. Two-year projects in California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah and Virginia each will digitize 100,000 or more pages of each state’s most historically significant newspapers published between 1900 and 1910. When completed, digitized newspapers will be made available through the Library’s Web site (www.loc.gov).

“The Library congratulates these institutions for taking a leading role in making newspapers -- among our richest records of history -- available electronically through our Web site,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We hope the National Digital Newspaper Program inspires other institutions to make their public domain newspapers accessible online.”

“Newspapers are among the most important historical documents we have as Americans. They tell us who we were, who we are and where we’re going,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “Students, historians, lawyers, politicians -- even newspaper reporters -- will be able to go to their computer at home or at work and through a few keystrokes, get immediate, unfiltered access to the greatest source of our history. It will be available to the American public for free, forever.”

As an outgrowth of the soon-to-be-completed U.S. Newspaper Program, a coordinated effort by individual states to inventory, catalog and selectively preserve on microfilm local newspapers, the NDNP will eventually support projects in all states and territories to select and digitize significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922.

The following six institutions received the first NDNP grants to digitize papers in their respective states from the first decade of the 20th century:

  • University of California, Riverside, $400,000;
  • University of Florida Libraries, Gainesville, $320, 959;
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, $310,000;
  • New York Public Library, New York City, $351,500;
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, $352,693; and
  • Library of Virginia, Richmond, $201,226.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Its more than 130 million items -- books, newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, photographs, films, sound recordings and digital materials – are accessible through its 22 reading rooms on Capitol Hill. The Library’s newspaper collections have grown to comprise more than 1 million current issues, more than 30,000 bound historical volumes and more than 600,000 microfilm reels.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.


PR 05-082
ISSN 0731-3527