Does your local library, historical or genealogical society have a newspaper collection to share? Let the NEH help!
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is accepting proposals from institutions hoping to participate in the the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). This program creates “a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 in U.S. states and territories.” Guidelines for 2014 are now available and proposals must be submitted by January 15, 2014.
According to the press release, “Each award supports a 2-year project to digitally convert 100,000 newspaper pages from that state’s collections, primarily from microfilm negative. Titles may be printed in Danish, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish. The program provides access to this resource through the Chronicling America web site hosted by the Library of Congress. The site currently includes more than 6.6 million newspaper pages in English, French, German, and Spanish, from more than 1100 titles digitized by institutions in 30 states.”
For more program information, please visit the NEH’s program page or this page for technical information from the Library of Congress. Click here to see what institutions have participated.
I can’t say enough good things about this and other initiatives to support more digitized newspapers online. My book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers will provide you with more about using these awesome resources to flesh out your family’s story, a tried and true research process, and loads of resources. Check it out in paperback or pdf e-book!
Have you already searched for your relatives’ names at Chronicling America, the the Library of Congress’ web collection of digitized American newspapers? Well, search again!
Recently the the Library of Congress added more than 600,000 historic newspaper pages to its enormous collection. According to a press release, these pages include “first-time contributions from Iowa, Michigan, and West Virginia. Other new additions include content from Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.” The site now has over 6.6 million searchable newspaper pages from over 1100 newspaper titles, published in 30 states and Washington, D.C. between 1836 and 1922.
What are the chances your family will appear on one of those pages? Pretty good, actually. Here’s a list of the kinds of articles they may show up in from my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers:
- Advertising: classifieds, companies your ancestor worked for or owned, grocery or dry goods stores ads (for historical context), runaway slaves search and reward, ship departures.
- Births & deaths: birth announcements, card of thanks printed by the family, obituary and death notices, “Community Pioneer” article upon passing, funeral notice, reporting of the event that lead to the death, or the funeral.
- Legal notices and public announcements: auctions, bankruptcies, city council meetings, divorce filings, estate sales, executions and punishments, lawsuits, marriage licenses, probate notices tax seizures, sheriff’s sale lists.
- Lists: disaster victims, hotel registrations, juror’s and judicial reporting, letters left in the post office, military lists, newly naturalized citizens, passenger lists (immigrants and travelers), unclaimed mail notices.
- News articles: accidents, fires, etc. featuring your ancestor; front page (for the big picture); industry news (related to occupations); natural disasters in the area; shipping news; social history articles.
- Community and social events like school graduations, honor rolls, sporting and theater events; social news like anniversaries, church events, clubs, engagements, family reunions, visiting relatives, parties, travel, gossip columns, illnesses, weddings and marriage announcements.
Learn more about researching family history with my book, available in both print and e-book format. And don’t forget to keep checking Chronicling America for stories and clues about your ancestors’ lives.
Many of us know the fabulous Chronicling America newspaper site. Hosted by the Library of Congress, it catalogs all known U.S. newspapers and provides free access to more than six million digital newspaper pages. Well, this site keeps getting better. Content continues to grow and expand into other languages. And–something I personally love–the site will be easier to use on my iPad and iPhone!
Gazette Sentinel, Plaquemine, LA, Jan 20, 1860, Image from Chronicling America
First, let’s look at growing content: 130 new titles and 800,000 pages are new on the site. New titles include French and Spanish newspapers, like the French-English bilingual paper shown here.
‘We as genealogists can read as it were over our ancestors’ shoulders.’
Historical newspapers give readers a front-page view of American history. Recent additions to the collection echo popular feelings about presidential politics, slavery and westward expansion. We as genealogists can read as it were over our ancestors’ shoulders. Even if we don’t find them mentioned there specifically, we can learn a lot about their lives from newspapers of their day.
As I mentioned, Chronicling America now works better on mobile web devices. Specifically mentioned in a recent press release are “the ability to enlarge a portion of a newspaper page in a tablet or mobile phone device by using a pinch-to-zoom gesture. Also, a thumbnail navigator that appears on every page facilitates panning and zooming the image.” That’s a big improvement for users who have been frustrated at trying to use the site on the small screen!
Want to learn more about newspaper research for family historians–especially how to find newspapers online? Check out my book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available in paperback and as an e-book.