Texas Newspaper acquires funding to digitize, partners with Oklahoma Historical Society

Saturday, 04 July 2009

The front page of the Sept. 10, 1900, issue of the Houston Daily Post contained an eyewitness account from a Houston businessman of "the great disaster that had befallen the nearby city."

In the account, the newspaper reported that "at least 1,000 people" had been drowned, killed or missing.

Individuals nationwide can now log onto the Internet to read this historic source of information about the hurricane that destroyed Galveston on Sept. 8-9, 1900 — and ultimately killed more than 6,000 people, thanks to the University of North Texas Libraries’ Digital Projects Unit (http://www.library.unt.edu/digitalprojects/).

The UNT Libraries (http://www.library.unt.edu/) is one of 22 state partners, and the only partner from Texas, to receive National Endowment for the Humanities (http://www.neh.gov/) funding to digitize newspapers from the late 1800s and early 1900s for the National Digital Newspaper Program (http://www.neh.gov/projects/ndnp.html), "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers." (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/)

The National Digital Newspaper Program, or NDNP, is a long-term effort from NEH and the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/index.html) to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with select digitization of historic papers.  NDNP will create a national digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The UNT Libraries first received a two-year $397,552 grant from NEH in 2007, which allowed the Digital Projects Unit to digitize 108,000 pages of newspapers published in Texas. In addition to pages of the Houston Daily Post, which was established in 1885 and ceased publishing in 1995, the unit digitized pages of:

* the Brownsville Daily Herald

* the Jefferson Jimplecute

* the Palestine Daily Herald

* the Jewish Herald, now published in Houston as the Jewish Herald-Voice;

* and the defunct Fort Worth Gazette, which was also published as the Fort Worth Weekly Gazette and the Fort Worth Daily Gazette.

The earliest pages of these newspapers date to 1883, and the latest to 1910.  All of the pages are now available on the Chronicling America (http://http//chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) web site and will be placed by the end of the summer on the UNT Libraries’ Portal to Texas History (http://http//texashistory.unt.edu), which provides students and others with a digital gateway to collections in Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies and private collections.

The UNT Libraries recently received an additional two-year grant of $399,790 to expand its digitization of historic Texas newspapers, with pages from as early as 1860 and as late as 1922 digitized, said Cathy Hartman (http://faculty.unt.edu/editprofile.php?pid=1091&onlyview=1), the UNT Libraries’ assistant dean for digital and information technologies.

In addition to providing those interested in Texas history with local perspectives of national news stories, such as the 1900 Galveston hurricane and World War I, Hartman said the 19th- and early 20th-century newspapers included human interest stories.

"They covered things that newspapers don’t cover any more, such as whose relatives came by for tea," Hartman said.  "That gives us a glimpse into what life was like in that community. The advertising is interesting as well."

Dreanna Belden, coordinator of grants and development for the UNT Libraries, said the style of reporting in these newspapers is also interesting.

"You read stories about murders and crimes, and they were so graphically written," she said.  Belden said a committee of scholars will decide the next round of Texas newspapers that will be digitized. These papers are on microfilm at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University and other locations throughout Texas.

The UNT Libraries are also are a partner with the Oklahoma Historical Society (http://www.okhistory.org/), which received a $307,000 grant from NEH to make 100,000 pages of historical Oklahoma newspapers available to the National Digital Newspaper Project. The Digital Projects Unit will provide the technical expertise for the OHS, which has 85 percent of Oklahoma newspapers ever published on microfilm, Belden said.

"In 1844, the Cherokees published the Cherokee Advocate, which was the first newspaper in what is now Oklahoma," she said.

"Three newspapers existed in Indian Territory prior to the Civil War, related either to missions or tribal government, and 28 newspapers appeared between the war and 1889, the opening of the Unassigned Lands in the state to settlers. For the first time, these newspapers will be made available to the general public."

Last Updated ( Sunday, 05 July 2009 )