Digitizing Minnesota Newspapers

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Digitizing Minnesota Newspapers

By: grabitsdm | Collection Management | August 23, 2010
Minnesota Historical Society is taking its newspaper collection into exciting new territory with multiple digitization efforts.  The Society has been collecting and preserving newspapers throughout its history and the state’s history – it is the largest single collection of Minnesota newspapers with dates ranging from 1849 to the present day.   To collect, preserve, and provide access to the hundreds of newspapers it receives, the Society has relied on microfilming over the past 40 or more years.  Today digitization is making newspaper collections even more accessible to people throughout the state, nation, and even worldwide.  The Society is embracing the accessibility and the benefits of free-text searching that digitization brings.

Digitizing Current Newspapers

The Minnesota Historical Society continues to collect daily and weekly newspapers from throughout Minnesota.  While budget cuts required that the Society’s newspaper microfilming cease in July 2009, the Society continues to receive current newspapers while it pursues efforts to deliver current newspaper content digitally.  An exciting collaboration is under way between the Society, the Minnesota Newspaper Association, and newspaper publishers to develop a process for collecting the electronic content that publishers create for today’s newspapers in a digital repository that will preserve and provide access to current news throughout Minnesota.  The Society is also exploring the use of ArchiveIt to collect an initial set of Minnesota news content from Internet-only news sources.  This online content will complement the traditional newspaper content collected electronically from publishers.

Digitizing Historic Newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program

In 2007, the Minnesota Historical Society received a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). This program is a partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress to build a national digital resource of newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. The material is full-text searchable and freely accessible through Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, a website developed and hosted by the Library of Congress.

From 2007-2009 the Society digitized 100,000 pages of the Daily Globe, St. Paul Daily Globe, and Saint Paul Globe (1880-1905) and the Minneapolis Journal (1901).  All of these issues are available on Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.  In July of 2009, the Society started a second NDNP grant and will be digitizing three Ojibwe newspapers, the Progress, the Tomahawk, and the Red Lake News; an African American newspaper from St. Paul, the Western Appeal and the Appeal; four Minnesota city newspapers, the Princeton Union, the Bemidji Pioneer, the Warren Sheaf, and the New Ulm Review.   Additionally, the Society will complete the published run of the Globe with the Daily Globe, 1878-1879 and more years of the Minneapolis Journal, 1902-1906.

Common Access Interface

With multiple newspaper digitization efforts taking place, the Society and partners such as Minitex and the University of Minnesota hope to develop a common access tool that will allow searching across different digitized Minnesota newspaper collections.

Other Newspaper Digitization Projects

Still in the planning stages are projects such as the Swedish Language Newspaper Project that the Society will undertake with a variety of partners in Minnesota, the United States and Sweden.  More news on newspaper digitization projects such as this will follow.

Anne Levin
Minnesota Digital Newspaper Project