Thursday, September 26, 2019

ASA Staff Goes to Washington

The Log Cabin Democrat,
1917, Chronicling America
Arkansas State Archives staff recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in an annual meeting as part of a grant that has allowed the Arkansas State Archives to digitize hundreds of thousands of historical newspaper pages.

“We learned a great deal about the grant and newspaper project from our meeting,” said Brian Irby, archival assistant and project director.  “It was good to spend time with others who had received grants from the program. Some of them were on their sixth cycle, which meant they had been in the program for almost 12 years. They had a lot of advice they freely gave to us.” 

Arkansas State Archives staff learned in August the division had again received a grant from the National Endowment from the Humanities to be part of the National Digital Newspaper Program’s Chronicling America. The program is a joint effort by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress and aims to make historically significant newspaper articles available to the public. Archives was awarded a $250,522 grant for a two-year cycle of 2019-2021 to continue to be part of the program, which focuses on articles published between 1690 and 1963.

In 2017, the Arkansas State Archives received a NEH grant of $208,128 for the grant cycle covering 2017-2019. That grant funded digitizing more than 103,000 pages from 40 Arkansas newspapers, which were submitted to the Library of Congress. The grant period ended on Aug. 31, 2019.

As part of the grant program, Irby and Archival Assistant Darren Bell traveled to Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-12. The meetings were held at the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Irby and Bell attended sessions on topics that included cataloging, microfilming procedures and public outreach. 

Representatives from institutions across the country attended, which allowed attendees to exchange ideas and network. The newspaper project includes 48 states and two territories and has made 15 million newspaper ages available online since starting in 2007, according to a news release from NEH.

“We are pleased to continue to be included in a project that will make historically significant newspapers in Arkansas accessible to people nationwide,” Irby said.