Nebraska Newspapers: Digitizing Nebraska's History

The Nebraska Digital Newspaper Project: A National Digital Newspaper Program affiliate

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC) are collaborating on the National Digital Newspaper Program — a major grant program to digitize historically significant newspaper titles from each U.S. state and territory. Digitized newspapers selected for the program will become part of the freely available full-text database, Chronicling America, that is hosted at the Library of Congress. Eventually, the selected historical newspapers will date from 1836 through 1922.

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NDNP project team members in Nebraska

In July 2007, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries and the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, the Nebraska State Historical Society, and the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communication, received funding from NEH to digitize 100,000 pages of newspapers from 1880-1910. Another award was received in 2009 for an additional 100,000 pages from 1860-1922.

This partnership effort among state agencies brings together expertise from many areas. The Nebraska State Historical Society has millions of frames of newspaper microfilm for the state, some of it developed using NEH funds; the UNL Libraries and Center for Digital Research in the Humanities have significant experience with newspapers and digital technologies including metadata and imaging; and the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communication serves an important role in preserving the history of journalism.

Among required NEH criteria for digitization is that titles be English-language newspapers that are significant historically, representing geographic, economic, and political diversity. Even if these criteria are met, the source microfilm used for digitization must meet certain technical specifications, or the titles cannot be included in the project.

Newspapers digitized during the initial phase of the project (2007-2009) were:

The newspapers currently being digitized (2009-2011) include:

In time, the Library of Congress will include non-English-language titles in Chronicling America, and the partners in Nebraska are committed to extending the project beyond English-language titles. Czech, Native American, German, Danish, and other languages were very important in the settlement of Nebraska—and immigrant newspapers and those of Native peoples remind us of our broad heritage. Nebraska would also prefer to digitize more than 100,000 English-language pages for each time period.

For more information about the Nebraska Digital Newspaper Project, contact Katherine Walter, Co-Director, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and Chair, Digital Initiatives & Special Collections at the UNL Libraries. Walter, the project director for the NDNP in Nebraska, can be reached at kwalter1@unl.edu or (402) 472-3939.