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Press Release

October 8, 2015

Contact: Chad Williams
Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-5207

Oklahoma Historical Society Celebrates Contributions to Chronicling America's 10 Million Pages

Free, searchable database of historic newspapers reflects Oklahoma's history

Oklahoma City, Okla. — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) joins the Library of Congress (LOC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in celebrating a major milestone for Chronicling America, a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers. The Library announced today that more than 10 million pages have been posted to the site, which includes 300,000 historic Oklahoma newspaper pages selected to reflect the state's political, cultural and economic history. 

Launched by the LOC and the NEH in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the two agencies and partners in 40 states and territories.

The NDNP awards grants to entities in each state and territory to identify and digitize historic newspaper content. Awardees receive NEH funding to select and digitize 100,000 pages of historic newspapers published in their states between 1836 and 1922. Uniform technical specifications are provided to ensure consistency of all content, and digital files are transferred to the Library of Congress for long-term management and access. The first awards were made in 2005. Since then, NEH has awarded more than $30 million in support of the project.

The Oklahoma Historical Society received the initial NDNP grant in July 2009 and subsequent grants in 2011 and 2013. Through these grants 300,000 historic Oklahoma newspaper pages are available on the Chronicling America website. The OHS was organized in 1893 to collect newspapers. Because of that early start, the statewide organization has more than 95 percent of all newspapers ever printed in Oklahoma, totaling more than 33 million pages in the microfilm collection. Even today, the OHS preserves nearly 200 newspapers every day. The earliest issues in the collection date to 1844 when the Cherokees published a newspaper with one column in English and one column using Sequoyah's alphabet.

"Chronicling America's success in bringing historic Oklahoma newspapers to life was a turning point for the Oklahoma Historical Society's mission to collect, preserve and share the history of the state of Oklahoma," said OHS Director of Research Chad Williams.  "Drawing on our experiences with Chronicling America, the OHS partnered with Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, created by Edith Kinney Gaylord, and the University of North Texas to create the Gateway to Oklahoma History," added Williams.

Launched in 2012, the Gateway is a free internet platform similar to Chronicling America. The goal of the Gateway is to make word-searchable all newspapers published in the Twin Territories and the State of Oklahoma from 1844 to 1922. On Oklahoma Statehood Day, November 16, 2015, the one million page mark will be surpassed on the Gateway to Oklahoma History.

Visit the Chronicling America website at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.

Visit the Gateway to Oklahoma History website at http://gateway.okhistory.org/.

"Chronicling America is one of the great online treasures, a remarkable window into our history and a testament to the power of collaborative efforts among cultural institutions nationwide," said Mark Sweeney, the Library's Associate Librarian for Library Services. "The Library of Congress is proud to work alongside NEH and all our partner institutions to make this vision a growing reality. In the coming years, we look forward to adding newspapers from the remaining states and territories, as new partners join the program."

"We at the National Endowment for the Humanities are proud to support the Chronicling America historic newspaper project," said NEH Chairman William Adams. "This invaluable resource preserves and makes available to all the first draft of America's history so that we can see the ideas and events that shaped our republic unfold in the headlines of their times."

While newspapers are frequently available for general use through microfilm and can be shared among users by interlibrary loan or purchasing copies, digitizing pages and providing full-text keyword access to the content is transformative for research of all kinds. In addition to saving researchers hours of scrolling through reels of microfilm, full-text access allows users to discover connections between research topics and uncover little-known stories in American history. The Chronicling America site includes a broad, curated set of newspapers selected for their historical value that users can browse or search. Through a few clicks they can narrow their focus to newspapers published all on the same day, in the same region, or the entire country. In addition, the content in Chronicling America is available for bulk download and API use, fostering new research approaches through computational and linguistic analysis.

Chronicling America facts:

  • Between January and December 2014, the site logged 3.8 million visits and 41.7 million page views;
  • The resource includes more than 285,000 pages in almost 100 non-English newspapers (French, German, Italian and Spanish);
  • More than 250 Recommended Topics pages have been created, offering a gateway to exploration for users at any level. Topics include presidential assassinations, historic events such as the sinking of the Titanic, inventions and famous individuals such as the Wright Brothers, and cultural or offbeat subjects such as fashion trends, ping-pong and world's fairs;
  • NEH has awarded a total of more than $30 million in grants to 40 partner institutions to contribute to Chronicling America, listed at http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/awards/.

About the Library of Congress: Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library's rich resources can be accessed through its website at loc.gov.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating its 50th anniversary as an independent federal agency in 2015, National Endowment for the Humanities brings the best in humanities research, public programs, education, and preservation projects to the American people. To date, NEH has awarded $5 billion in grants to build the nation's cultural capital - at museums, libraries, colleges and universities, archives, and historical societies - and advance our understanding and appreciation of history, literature, philosophy, and language. Learn more at neh.gov.

About the Oklahoma Historical Society: The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

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