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LSU Libraries granted additional funding for digitizing Louisiana newspapers

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In July, the LSU Libraries’ Special Collections division was awarded $285,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize an additional 100,000 pages of Louisiana newspapers published from 1836 through 1922.  This renewal grant continues support for the Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project (DLNP), which began with a similar grant to Special Collections in 2009.  Between the two awards, the division has received a total of $636,380 for the project.

The 2011-2013 grant award will fund digitization of newspapers from microfilm, including important French-language Louisiana titles.   A new feature of the renewal grant is the support it also provides for targeted outreach efforts around Louisiana. We are taking the show on the road!

“Since our first batch of titles was made available on the website Chronicling America, users from all over the state and elsewhere have been eager to explore the titles online,” said Gina Costello, Director of the project and LSU Libraries’ Digital Services Librarian.  “From genealogists to history buffs, there truly is something for everyone in these historical newspapers.”

And that body of documentation will now grow even larger, both in quantity and scope.  This fall, an Advisory Board made up of historians, teachers, librarians, archivists, journalists, and genealogists who are knowledgeable about Louisiana history will begin assessing newspapers from as early as 1836.  For the first time, they will also be able to consider titles published in languages other than English, which were previously excluded by NEH’s guidelines.   The addition of non‐English language newspapers will illuminate the unique aspects of the state’s heritage and the process of acculturation as it played out in nineteenth and early‐twentieth‐century Louisiana.

“With this renewal grant, Louisiana will be able to highlight important French-language newspapers that contribute to the rich cultural history of our country during the mid-19th century,”  said Elizabeth Joffrion, NEH Senior Program Officer.

Ultimately, users will also be able to research older papers that were not eligible to be included in the first phase of the grant, when only papers published between 1860 and 1922 could be considered.  Since the scope of the renewal project allows the board to select ones published starting from 1836, we have more content to include.  “As a result of this expanded timeline, we will be able to add to Chronicling America Louisiana newspapers that highlight a time when the state was of major economic importance to the United States,” said Project Manager Athena Jackson.

As part of the grant’s outreach component, project staff will offer at least ten information and training sessions for the general public at libraries, higher education institutions, community centers, schools, and similar venues throughout Louisiana.

The Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project website http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/cc/dlnp/ links DLNP titles to their Chronicling America records. Currently, a list of titles can be viewed alphabetically or by parish.   In addition, essays explaining individual newspapers in place and time are also featured, and a hyper‐linked map of Louisiana which provides a visual sense of the geographic coverage of the titles chosen for the project. The list will be updated as new titles are selected for the 2011-2013 grant cycle.

Louisiana is one of twenty-eight states to receive funds for this digital initiative.  Project Manager, Athena Jackson, notes, “Having the support of a group of awardees from all over the U.S. has made this a successful endeavor for the past two years. Moreover, our local support at LSU Libraries and our intrepid graduate students enabled us to put forth a strong application. It’s a group effort with extremely rewarding results.”

Sigrid Kelsey is the Director of Library Communications and Publications at the LSU Libraries.

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