Library project brings historic newspapers to life
Whoever said nothing is “as dead as an old newspaper” never would have made headlines as a futurist, and never could have dreamed of life in the digital age.
But thanks to the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP), a project at the University of South Carolina Libraries, some of South Carolina’s most widely read newspapers have been resurrected, offering a glimpse into life during some of the Palmetto State’s most turbulent times.
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the SCDNP has digitized 19 South Carolina newspapers published between 1860 and 1922 and made them available and searchable on a web site hosted by the Library of Congress.
Titled “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,” the site features fully accessible issues of The Columbia Phoenix, Charleston Daily News, Keowee Courier, Sumter Watchman and Southron, The Orangeburg Times and Democrat, Marlboro Democrat (Marlboro County), Edgefield Advertiser, Laurens Advertiser, and The Anderson Intelligencer.
Plans call for The Manning Times, The News and Herald (Fairfield County), The Newberry Herald and News, and The Pickens Sentinel to be digitized during the next two years. To learn more about the newspapers included in the project, visit the SCDNP website:
Tom McNally, dean of USC Libraries, said the newspapers provide a new dimension for experiencing history. “These newspapers literally are unembellished stories of communities and the lives of the people who inhabited them, from human drama to the more mundane events of daily life,” McNally said. “They are a fascinating resource for historians, genealogists, sociologists and journalists and anyone who wants to know what life was like during those times.”
The NEH grant, which has been extended for two years, will enable the SCDNP team to digitize additional newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. Plans call for more than 200,000 pages of news and features about South Carolina communities to be digitized when the project is completed in 2013.
An advisory board comprising archivists, librarians and scholars from around the state will select the newspapers for the digitization project and will consider factors such as the title’s historical significance, geographical representation, preservation issues and copyright restrictions, said Santi Thompson, SCDNP project manager.
In the meantime, SCDNP staff members are offering free presentations to libraries, historical organizations, and other groups around the state to explain more about the project as well to instruct users on how to search for historical newspapers.
The SCDNP is part of the larger National Endowment for the Humanities’ National Digital Newspaper Program. To search South Carolina newspapers, as well as those from 24 other states, go to the Library of Congress’ website, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
The initiative is a joint project between Digital Collections and the South Caroliniana Library. SCDNP is housed within the Digital Collections department in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.
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