The libraries of the State Historical Society of Iowa are working to digitize 100,000 pages of Iowa newspaper content published prior to 1923 with help from a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The project is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program and has been designated a National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” project. “We the People” initiatives encourage the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture through the exploration of significant events and themes in our country’s history.
Iowa is and has been throughout its history a strong newspaper state and the State Historical Society of Iowa over the years has been a leader in collecting, preserving and providing access to Iowa’s newspapers. In 1976, the Historical Society began the Iowa Newspaper Project, serving as the pilot state for the United States Newspaper Project, a project to identify and locate all of the nation’s newspaper holdings. In 1980 the second, preservation phase of the Iowa Newspaper Project was begun and many of the state’s endangered papers were microfilmed. Now with our participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program we will greatly expand access to these historical resources.
While 100,000 pages of content sounds like a lot, in fact it comprises only a small fraction of our deep collection of Iowa newspapers. The first phase of the project will be the difficult process of selecting the titles to be digitized. An advisory board of 12 individuals from around the state and various institutions will assist with this process. Once the content has been selected the digitization process can begin. At the conclusion of the two-year project (August 2014) the digital content will be freely and widely accessible on the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America Web site.
The libraries of the State Historical Society of Iowa are excited to offer this access for genealogists, historians, academics, students, National History Day participants, and cultural and historical institutions who appreciate the great historical value of Iowa’s newspapers. We look forward to future initiatives that will continue to preserve and break down the research barriers to Iowa’s newspaper content.
If you have questions or comments about this project contact Carol Kirsch, library supervisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 335-3936.