Grant to help digitize Louisiana newpspapers
The practice of preserving history for future generations has moved into the digital age, and Louisiana State University is joining other universities and institutions in adding a digital aspect to its archival preservation of numerous state newspapers.
The LSU Libraries’ Special Collections division has been awarded a grant of $351,380 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize 100,000 pages of Louisiana newspapers published between 1860 and 1922. The newspapers digitized during this two-year grant will be freely available via the Library of Congress’s “Chronicling America” Web site.
The project builds on more than 60 years of work done by LSU Libraries’ staff to preserve Louisiana history by microfilming the state’s newspapers of record. Today, Special Collections continues to produce archival-quality microfilm for 90 Louisiana newspapers that are not commercially filmed. As a result of the grant, microfilm will be digitized, and the images will be processed using optical character recognition software to create full-text searchable files that will be made available for public viewing by the Library of Congress.
Newspapers of record are those that serve as official journals for government entities.
The Jennings Daily News serves as the official journal for several government bodies in Jeff Davis Parish – publishing public notices and information that may be of interest to a community, such as minutes from government meetings, election returns and legal notices.
Elaine Smyth, head of Special Collections, emphasized the importance of having free, keyword-searchable access to this information via the Internet. She noted her excitement to begin adding Louisiana’s newspapers to the Chronicling America project.
To create the digital copies, Special Collections is using equipment originally obtained through a grant from the Board of Regents, including a microfilm scanner, capable of digitizing an entire microfilm roll to digital files in a few minutes, and a digital overhead scanner, which is used to capture images of regular newspaper pages.
An advisory board made up of 12 scholars, educators, archivists and librarians from across the state known for their expertise in Louisiana history will help select which newspaper titles will be digitized in this initial project, which will end in June 2011.
Already, some of the oldest newspaper issues from all 64 Louisiana parishes have been digitized and included in the Louisiana Digital Library, www.louisianadigitallibrary.org.
For example, a copy of the Welsh Crescent can be found on the site dating back to Oct. 26, 1888.
“The advantages now offered in Southwest Louisiana are unsurpassed,” the front page of the edition reads, under the headline “Health, Climate, Cheap Homes and Fertile Lands.”
The article continues, “No section of the country produces so nearly everything as the great prairie of Calcasieu …”
Expect many more timeless editions – from newspapers throughout the state – to make their way to the World Wide Web real soon.
To learn more about this project, contact Elaine Smyth, head of LSU Libraries’ Special Collections and project co-director, at 225-578-6552 or e-mail esm...@lsu.edu.
Short URL: http://www.jenningsdailynews.net/?p=4091