Library Receives Grant Award

Jun 29, 2009

The Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a $397,000 two-year grant from the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) for its Illinois Digital Newspaper Project.  The award will support the digitization of 100,000 pages of historically significant Illinois newspapers dating from 1860 to 1922.

NDNP is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress to provide online access to U.S. newspapers.  It is part of the “We the People” program at NEH designed to promote the study and teaching of American history and culture.  The University Library received the grant for Illinois on behalf of a coalition of major cultural heritage institutions in the state, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Illinois State Library, Chicago History Museum, University of Chicago, Newberry Library, and Chicago Public Library.  There are now 22 states participating in the National Digital Newspaper Program.

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Project builds upon two highly successful newspaper preservation and access programs currently hosted at the University Library, the Illinois Newspaper Project, and the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection.  The NDNP funding will be used to digitize Illinois newspapers selected by an advisory board based on their regional influence, their role as the “paper of record” at the county level, or their significance for specific ethnic, racial, or other social groups.

“No other primary source conveys the sensibility of an era or the feel of a place like a local newspaper,” said Mary Stuart, history, philosophy and newspaper librarian and professor of library administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Stuart serves as director of the Illinois Digital Newspaper Project.  “It is a great honor to have the opportunity to make this vital part of our cultural heritage readily accessible to the citizens of Illinois and beyond.”

The digitized material will be deposited in Chronicling America, the browsable and searchable repository of historical newspapers digitized through NDNP.  Chronicling America was launched in 2007 and currently contains more than 1.1 million pages of U.S. newspapers published between 1880 and 1922.

U.S. Representative Timothy V. Johnson said, “As a U of I alum, not to mention a history major, I’m thrilled and proud that the University Library has won this award. Newspapers are the first draft of history and their preservation is vital to our collective understanding of our country and our culture. I salute the National Endowment for the Humanities for recognizing this good cause and for entrusting this endeavor to the University Library.”

For additional information about the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), visit www.neh.gov/projects/ndnp.html. To find information about newspapers from 1690 to the present and to view newspaper pages using Chronicling America, visit http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.

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