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NEH awards University Libraries $290,000 to digitize more historic Maryland newspapers

The University of Maryland Libraries will extend its project to digitize historic Maryland newspapers, thanks to a $290,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The award provides funds to digitize and provide free online access to an additional 100,000 pages of Maryland newspapers printed between 1836 and 1922. An advisory board appointed to aid in the selection of titles has identified newspapers from locales across the state, including Baltimore, Cumberland, Rockville, Frederick, the Eastern Shore and more.

Eighteen proposed newspapers selected for the project reflect the state’s geographic diversity, says Jennie Knies, manager of Digital Programs and Initiatives at the University of Maryland Libraries.

Knies says she hopes the project will provide researchers with a sense of the regional variation in perspectives and interests. Newspapers in different parts of the state, for example, provided contrasting views of the Civil War and its effects on the lives of Marylanders.

Digital newspaper images will be created from master microfilm primarily located at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.

“By collaborating with the Maryland State Archives, we’re able to offer not only scholars but also citizens of the state far greater understanding of Maryland’s past,” says Patricia A. Steele, dean of University Libraries.

The newspapers will complement the urban and immigrant perspective captured in Der Deutsche Correspondent, the German-language newspaper that was the focus of the project’s first phase, funded by the NEH with a grant of $325,000 in 2012. Those papers are now digitized and accessible at the Library of Congress database Chronicling America.  

The Maryland project is part of a long-term national effort supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and coordinated by the Library of Congress to develop an Internet-based searchable database of U.S. newspapers.