Since History Colorado joined the National Digital Newspaper Project (NDNP) in August 2016, project supervisor Kerry Baldwin and project manager Ann Sneesby-Koch have worked with the project’s advisory board to select titles culled from History Colorado’s collection of more than 1,000 Colorado newspapers on microfilm. Pooling the board’s collective expertise in historic newspaper collections, digitization and Colorado history, we arrived at a working list of 18 titles. By September 2018, 100,000 pages from across these titles will be incorporated into Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), the fully searchable online database that provides free access to digitized US newspapers produced by the NDNP (a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress).
Choosing just 18 titles was no easy task. With 470 titles that fell within the range of eligibility for inclusion in Chronicling America—that is, published between 1836 and 1923, situating them within the public domain and not subject to copyright—we further narrowed the list by regional coverage. Cross-referencing our list with the extensive historical newspaper content in the wonderful Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection (CHNC) (https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/), we identified more than 150 titles in History Colorado’s inventory that represented counties and county seats whose newspapers have not yet been digitized for an online platform. We also considered newspapers from counties that were less well-represented on CHNC or elsewhere.
This list of 158 titles was presented to the Colorado Digital Newspaper Project (CDNP) Advisory Board—comprised of archive directors, librarians, professors and professionals with extensive knowledge of Colorado history and newspapers—and we set to work. A set of criteria recommended by the Library of Congress helped guide the advisory board. Particular priority was given to newspaper titles that are: recognized as a county’s “paper of record,” have statewide or regional influence, and are considered important sources of information for specific ethnic, racial, political, economic, religious or other special audiences or interest groups. We also considered titles that provided coverage of significant events in Colorado history and those titles that would provide complementary coverage to CHNC.
These considerations taken together brought us to a shortlist of 18 titles that we believe represent Colorado’s diversity and remarkable history. Here are just a few:
Statesman and the Denver Star: Weekly African American newspapers published in Denver providing coverage of local, state and national news to the black communities of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico.
Jewish Outlook and the Intermountain Jewish News: Published weekly in Denver by the Jewish Outlook Publication Company and the Central Jewish Council of Denver, respectively. While the Outlook ended its run in 1913, the Intermountain Jewish News continues to serve the communities of the Rocky Mountain region.
Chronicle-News: Daily newspaper published since 1877 in Trinidad, Las Animas County. As the paper of record for the region, the Chronicle-News provided local and national news and, notably, employed the only woman sports editor at the beginning of the 20th century: Ina Eloise Young, who was also the only woman to cover the 1908 World Series. This title was chosen in particular for the coverage of the coal mining industry in Colorado, significantly the Southern Colorado Coalfield War and the Ludlow Massacre.
Pueblo Chieftain: Currently the oldest daily newspaper in Colorado, first published in 1868. A paper of record in southern Colorado, the Chieftain covered early industrial development in the region; ranching, agriculture, and water law; and immigration and ethnic groups in early Colorado. Specifically, we hope to provide access to coverage of the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Flood of 1921, and the early years of prohibition in Colorado.
As we continue to make headway, we’ll feature each of the other title selections in future blog posts. We look forward to sharing the wonderful, sometimes wild, occasionally weird, but always unique Colorado history from the pages of:
Bent County Register / Lamar Register
Delta Chief / Delta Independent
Elk Mountain Pilot
Fremont County Record / Canon City Record
La Junta Tribune
North Park Union / New Era / Jackson County Star
Ordway New Era
Rocky Ford Enterprise
Springfield Herald / Democrat Herald
While this is the first time that Colorado has participated in the National Digital Newspaper Program, the program has been digitizing and providing access to millions of pages of historic newspapers from across the United States since 2004 via the Chronicling America website. The NEH launched a new web series, In the Field!, which takes a deep dive into NEH-funded projects and products in the field of the humanities. The debut episode features the NDNP and Chronicling America, as well as a bit of history about the preceding, analog project US Newspaper Program, a nationwide cataloging and microfilming project. Several historic Colorado newspapers were filmed under this project and may find their way into Chronicling America. The episode also describes the rigorous production and technical specifications and guidelines that ensure that the digitized newspapers adhere to best practices for access, preservation, and long-term sustainability.
Learn how it all comes together from title selection to free, public access in Chronicling America:
— Ann Sneesby-Koch