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NEH awards grant to University of Maryland to digitize historic newspapers

The University of Maryland was awarded $325,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to make important historic newspapers from the state of Maryland freely accessible via the Internet.

The grant, awarded to the University Libraries, will be used to digitize approximately 100,000 pages from many of Maryland’s historic newspapers. Published between 1836 and 1922, the newspapers relate significant historical events in Maryland, including the growth of Baltimore as a commercial hub and the upheaval of the Civil War—which manifested itself in harsh censorship of Maryland newspapers. Newspapers from the Gilded Age capture the commentary of important local writers such as H. L. Mencken.

“This project will make the state’s history available in a new way to researchers not only in Maryland, but also around the world,” says Patricia Steele, dean of the University of Maryland Libraries. “It extends our land-grant mission in a digital age and exposes the state’s collections to new audiences.”

A goal of the project is not only to capture the historical highlights of the time, but also the texture of everyday life through the local reporting of “papers of record” throughout Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

The two-year project will make the newspapers freely available via the Library of Congress's Chronicling America website (chroniclingamerica.loc.gov).  As part of this larger effort, the project will also better integrate collections of Maryland newspapers with those of neighboring states such as Pennsylvania and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia.

The National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, is a long-term effort to develop an internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information. http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/

The University of Maryland Libraries comprise the largest academic library system in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore area. The eight-library system supports the teaching, learning and research needs of University of Maryland students and faculty.