The INP began in 1987, as part of the United States Newspaper Program (USNP), a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities(NEH) to identify, catalog, and preserve American newspapers. Since that time, the INP has been staffed by librarians from the Illinois State Historical Library (ISHL), the Chicago Historical Society (CHS), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library. The ISHL, now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (ALPL) , participated from 1987 to 1995. The CHS, now the Chicago History Museum (CHM) , worked on the project from 1989-2009 in the 19 northernmost Illinois counties. The University of Illinois Library was responsible for central and southern Illinois counties since June 1995. NEH funding for the INP ended in July 2010, but the project has continued as a part of the University of Illinois Library. Since 2010, the INP has continued much of the project’s original work, and expanded on other areas (such as newspaper digitization).
Under the USNP, the INP team traveled throughout Illinois inventorying and cataloging collections held by libraries and repositories, private organizations, and individuals. We host a web-based searchable database (the Illinois Newspaper Directory) of all newspapers discovered and preserved through the project. Newspapers that had not already been preserved on microfilm were filmed to create a permanent record of this vanishing material. All microfilm produced for INP is made available through interlibrary loan.
In 2009, the INP received its first round of funding to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), funded by the NEH. The INP team is charged with selecting and digitizing historically significant Illinois titles to be aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress via the Chronicling America database. One hundred thousand pages of Illinois newsprint, published before 1923, will be digitized during each two-year cycle of grant funding.
Over the years, the INP has received funding from a number of sources, including the following:
- The National Endowment for the Humanities , administered by the Library of Congress as part of the U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP)
- The National Endowment for the Humanities , administered by the Library of Congress as part of the the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) .
- The Institute for Museum and Library Services, administed by the Illinois State Library.
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.