News & Notes

LSU Libraries to Digitize Louisiana Newspapers

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The LSU Libraries is pleased to announce the list of historical Louisiana newspapers that will be digitized as part of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Based on input from an Advisory Board of historians, educators, and archivists, project staff have selected 56 titles representing the main regions of Louisiana, rich with articles on historical events, interesting advertisements, and much more contained in newspapers published from 1860 through 1922.

Project Graduate Assistant, Laura Charney, collects data from each microfilmed page to determine the feasibility of digitizing the reel.

Project Graduate Assistant, Laura Charney, collects data from each microfilmed page to determine the feasibility of digitizing the reel.

“The goal for this first-round selection is to cover a wide range of the places, eras and history of Louisiana,” said Elaine Smyth, Head of Special Collections and project co-director. Continued Smyth, “People will be able to explore the digitized newspapers in ways that are not possible with microfilm. The online version of the paper will be full text searchable, so individuals can search by any term they choose, and go straight to the page of their choice.” Louisiana newspapers will be available for free online at the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website by July 2011.

“From the list of top-ranked titles chosen by the Advisory Board, the staff analyzed every reel in order to identify the best candidates for digitization,” explained Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project Manager Athena Jackson. “A good candidate reel contains images with very little deterioration due to age or sometimes the poor physical state of the original newspaper that was filmed. We need good images to ensure that all the features of online searching are possible.” Project staff carefully reviewed each reel and determined the titles best suited for digitization.

The next step of the project is to duplicate and digitize the microfilmed newspaper.  “This is an ambitious project because there are many technical specifications in a digitization project to consider, as well as providing a useful resource that enriches access to historical newspapers,” said Gina Costello, project co-director.  The digitized images will be converted to keyword searchable files and added incrementally to the Library of Congress’ website.

The project is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress (LC) launched in 2005 to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers.  Currently NDNP has 22 state partners. Louisiana is one of seven added in 2009, to digitize 100,000 newspaper pages. Visit the Chronicling America website to explore newspapers from across the country, and stay tuned this fall for the first batch of papers to begin appearing from Louisiana.

Full title list.

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  • #TBT In recognition of Black History Month, today’s Throwback Thursday image depicts the Harambé student group from 1972. Established in 1971, Harambé (a Swahili word meaning working together in unity) was one of the first African American student groups on campus. Their goals were to provide for communication among people on campus, bridge gaps between the greater Baton Rouge community and Southern University and African Americans at LSU, help black students and prospective black students develop a positive self-image, and develop a highly visible black presence on campus. The Black Student Union fulfills many of these objectives today. In 1972, the Harambé House was established at 3004 Highland Rd. to provide a space for various activities and for interaction between blacks and non-blacks. The African American Cultural Center, established in 1993, plays a similar role today.

    To learn more about student life at LSU, and about our collections at Hill Memorial Library, please visit our current exhibit, Special Collections on Parade, on display through May 30. LSU Libraries Special Collections presents a showcase of things rare, natural, historical, technological, literary, political, comical and otherwise of note amongst the eclectic collections housed within Hill Memorial Library. Selected rare books, photographs, historical documents, sheet music, art, and oral histories are on display from all major collections, spanning seven centuries. Faculty and staff members at Hill Memorial Library curated the exhibition.

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    Image source: Gumbo, 1973


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