The Illinois Newspaper Project (INP) is an initiative of the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library (HPNL) and the Preservation Services Unit at the University of Illinois Library.

What We Do

  • Illinois newspapers
  • Illinois newspapers
  • Illinois newspapers
  • to users of Illinois newspapers

Helpful Acronyms

  • INP Illinois Newspaper Project
  • IDNP – Illinois Digital Newspaper Project
  • IDNC – Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections
  • NDNP – National Digital Newspaper Program

By the Numbers

1814 was the year the first newspaper was published in the Illinois Territory

We inventoried 8,016 newspaper titles

We microfilmed 2.2 million pages of newsprint

We have digitized 1.5 million pages of newsprint

Newspaper digitization costs one dollar per page

1.1 million lines of text corrected by volunteers

Timeline of the Illinois Newspaper Project

April 1987

The Illinois State Historical Library (ISHL) received a planning grant from National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a survey to assess the state’s newspaper collections. The ISHL staff sent more than 4,000 surveys to libraries, newspaper publishers, historical societies, genealogical organizations, library systems, county clerks, and some individuals and booksellers.

April 1989

With the planning phase completed, the INP team received another grant from NEH, administered by the Library of Congress as part of the U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP), to undertake the cataloging and inventorying work. For the purposes of the project, the state was divided into seven cataloging regions. The INP began inventorying and cataloging the newspaper collections at the ISHL in Springfield, Illinois, and at the Chicago Historical Society (CHS) in Chicago. The work on the collection at ISHL was completed in June 1995. Over the course of these six years, INP staff inventoried and cataloged 6,232 newspaper titles and added 11,791 holdings records to the newspaper union list in OCLC. Staff at the CHS completed work on their collection in 1995, and continued inventorying and cataloging other collections in INP Region 7 during this period.

June 1995

The INP relocated its office to the University of Illinois Library in Urbana, Illinois.

January 1996

The University of Illinois-based staff began inventorying and cataloging the newspaper collections at the University of Illinois Library. Over the next three years, INP staff inventoried and cataloged 1,963 U.S. newspaper titles and added 2,287 holdings records to the newspaper union list in OCLC. INP staff identified 73 unique Illinois newspapers in the University of Illinois Library collections for future preservation microfilming.

July 1999-March 2000

The INP staff at Illinois began the fieldwork phase, beginning with McLean County. Inventorying and cataloging of all collections at Illinois State University and the McLean County Historical Society was completed in April 2000. A total of 699 titles were cataloged, and holdings records for 759 newspaper titles were added to OCLC. Additionally, 75 unique titles were added to the list of candidates for future microfilming.

April 2000-2001

A streamlined inventory strategy was developed by INP staff at the University of Illinois. Fieldwork was completed in INP Cataloging Region 2. After completing work in Region 7, the CHS team took responsibility for inventorying and cataloging Region 6.

2002-October 2007

INP staff at University of Illinois performed all inventorying and cataloging in Regions 1 and 5, and completed most of the inventorying and cataloging of newspapers in Region 4. In 2005, INP staff began preservation microfilming of unique Illinois newspapers from the University of Illinois Library collections and other institutions in the state. The Chicago Historical Society team (now the Chicago History Museum) completed fieldwork in Region 7.

October 2007-June 2009

The INP completed inventorying and cataloging the final regions. To date, INP staff have inventoried and cataloged 20,916 newspaper titles and added 26,429 holdings records to the newspaper union list in OCLC. To access information of all titles inventoried and cataloged, please see the Illinois Newspaper Directory (formerly called the Illinois Newspaper Project Database).

The INP also completed preservation microfilming of unique Illinois newspaper titles from the University of Illinois Library. In order to complete our efforts to preserve the state’s newspaper heritage, the team borrowed newspapers from many other repositories in Illinois to microfilm.

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (IDNC) was unveiled to the public in 2007 as part of the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library’s newspaper digitization initiative.

July 2009-August 2015

The INP team was awarded the first of multiple grants from the NEH, administered by the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), to begin digitizing Illinois newspapers.

During this first round of funding, the Illinois Digital Newspaper Project (IDNP) contributed 100,300 pages of newspaper content from Chicago’s diverse populations, including including the Chicago Eagle (1899-ca.1935), the Broad Ax (Chicago, 1895-ca.1930), and the Day Book (Chicago, 1911-1917). The IDNP received a second grant in 2011, and contributed an additional 99,483 pages of historic newspapers. A third grant in 2013 allowed the IDNP to contribute an additional 110,476 pages. Click here for more information on the digitization phase of the INP.

September 2015-2021

Thanks to staff efficiencies, the IDNP underspent on the 2013 award, and was granted a no-cost extension to use the remaining funding. The September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016 extension functioned as IDNP’s pilot project for the digitization of non-English language newspapers, and 9,112 pages were contributed. An additional grant in 2016 funded the continuation of digitization of non-English language newspapers. The IDNP prioritized titles published by and for immigrant communities in Chicago, specifically Polish, Slovenian, Czech, and Lithuanian newspapers (including the world’s oldest continuously-published newspaper in Lithuanian), and 103,730 pages were digitized.

In 2018, the INP received an additional NDNP grant to digitize Illinois newspapers representing diverse communities and causes. The INP specifically prioritized newspapers published by and for historically underrepresented communities and causes, such as African-American communities, European immigrant communities, and non-mainstream religious and political groups, such as the widely-circulated Illinois Staats-Zeitung, the monumental labor paper Daily Worker, and African-American touchstone Chicago Whip. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the grant was given an extension and completed in September 2021. The INP contributed 91,308 pages representing 37 newspaper titles.

September 2022-Present

The INP received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize another 100,000 pages of historic Illinois newspapers for inclusion in the National Digital Newspaper Program’s (NDNP) Chronicling America and the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections. This grant cycle, the INP is asking Illinois libraries, museums, historical societies, and other cultural heritage institutions to participate in the selection process by nominating newspapers for digitization. More information on this opportunity will be announced in spring 2023.

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