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Published: Tuesday, 6/3/2014

Database preserves 17 Ohio newspapers

Grant allows for digital access

BY JENNIFER GERSTEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ohioans now have extra, extra news to read all about — from the 19th century, that is.

With a $248,600 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress awarded in 2013, the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, a program of the Ohio History Connection, has added 17 historic Ohio newspapers to the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America Web site. The program plans to use the grant to digitize an additional 100,000 historical Ohio newspaper pages published from 1836-1921 by August, 2014.

“What’s really great is that it gives people access to resources that are sometimes impenetrable for people,” said Jenni Salamon, coordinator of the National Digital Newspaper Project in Ohio. “Very few newspapers on microfilm have indices you can look through. When you have it online, and it’s searchable, you can instantly find results. People are really excited that they’re not behind a library wall.”

The newly digitized pages are part of the third grant cycle of Ohio’s newspaper digitization project. Presently, more than 200,000 pages from more than 40 newspapers from across Ohio are available on the Library of Congress Web site from the project’s first and second grant cycles.

Toledoans can now read through their neighborhoods’ historical headlines in the Kalida Venture, from 1845 to 1854, and the Maumee Express, published from 1837 to 1838, which continued after a change in leadership under the name Maumee City Express until the 1840s.

While it is not the program’s primary aim, Ms. Salamon said that she and her co-workers have been helping local institutions learn to prepare their own newspapers for digitization.

Before the microfilms are sent away to be digitized, Ms. Salamon and her team review them for quality issues, paying careful attention to newspaper titles that have changed over time.

“I think people are forgetting what value newspapers add in terms of how they cover what’s going on in history,” Ms. Salamon said. “It’s a different picture than you’ll get in history books.

“When you read a paper, you’ll really get a full spectrum of how people were thinking,” she said. “It really makes history come alive.”

Those still hoping to see Ohio’s historic newspapers in their printed pulp will find the largest existing collection of Ohio newspapers at the Ohio History Connection’s Ohio History Center in Columbus, which has 4,500 titles, 20,000 volumes, and more than 50,000 microfilm rolls in its archives.

Contact Jennifer Gersten at: jgersten@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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