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NEH Awards $325K to UMD Libraries for Newspaper Digitization

Project Preserving Maryland’s Historic Papers Reintroduces Voices of Marginalized Groups

By University Libraries Staff

Newspapers collage

Photos courtesy of University Archives

The University of Maryland Libraries has been digitizing historic Maryland newspapers since 2012. This new round of funding will support the digitization of newspapers from immigrant and other marginalized communities.

The University of Maryland (UMD) Libraries was awarded a $324,683 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support an ongoing collaborative effort to digitize select historic Maryland newspapers published before 1964.

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project, which is a collaborative state-wide digitization initiative associated with the National Digital Newspaper Program, funded by the NEH, brings the UMD Libraries together with other libraries and archives across the state to add Maryland papers to the Chronicling America digital newspaper collection at the Library of Congress. Chronicling America, the largest digital collection at the Library of Congress, provides free access to over 18 million American newspaper pages from 49 states, two territories and the District of Columbia for use by academic researchers, K-12 students and teachers, genealogists and the general public.  

“Partnering with the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for Humanities on a project of this duration and magnitude is a privilege,” said Robin Pike, manager of digital conversion and media formatting at the UMD Libraries. “We focus on making accessible newspapers not previously digitized, which has led us to rediscover historic titles overlooked by major, for-profit companies.”

These titles often represent smaller towns, industries or immigrant communities that are excluded from the traditional historical record in archives, she said. “Through the inclusion of these newspapers, we facilitate social justice by reintroducing lost voices back into the digital historical record. Collectively, all state partners telling stories from lost voices on a national scale can have a large impact for historically marginalized groups.”

The National Digital Newspaper Program began in 2006, and the UMD Libraries has been involved since 2012. To date, the UMD Libraries has been awarded nearly $1.5 million in federal grants to develop this resource and has digitized approximately 100,000 pages of historic newspapers, including from The Maryland Suffrage News (1912-20), Der Deutche Correspondent (1858-1913) and The Cecil Whig (1841-1922). 

This new round of funding will support the digitization of newspapers from immigrant communities such as The Jewish Times (1919-62), Jedność-Polonia (1918-46), three German titles from Frederick, Cumberland and Hagerstown (1798, 1801-25, 1891-96), and The Italian Journal (1933-34). The project also includes titles from military bases with a focus on WWII and later war history to enhance local perspective on international events.

“This work on a large-scale, national digital project aligns with the University of Maryland’s land-grant, public service mission and helps the Libraries meet its goals to include more diverse perspectives and histories in UMD’s distinctive collections,” said Adriene Lim, dean of libraries. 

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