Thousands of issues of old newspapers from across Tennessee will be available to the public online, courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Using grant funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, the State Library and Archives will make available dozens of urban and rural newspapers from across the state.
The State Library and Archives, which is part of the Tennessee Department of State, has been preserving newspapers on microfilm since 1957. The two-year process of converting those microfilmed documents into digital records will be managed by the University of Tennessee.
Eventually, the digital images of Tennessee newspapers will be part of the Chronicling of America website: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
Newspapers from 15 other states are already available for use on the site.
"We are delighted to be a part of this project," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Going digital will enable us to put these wonderful historic sources directly onto computer screens in Tennessee homes and schools. Tennesseans will gain an even greater sense of our history when they read these first-hand newspaper accounts."
The State Library and Archives' vast collection of old newspapers is stored on some 20,000 rolls of microfilm negatives. The collection includes newspapers dating back to 1791, when The Knoxville Gazette was founded as the state's first newspaper.
This phase of the project will focus on newspapers from 1836 through 1922, involving approximately 2,500 microfilm rolls from the collection.
“Newspapers are one of the great hidden treasures of the Library and Archives,” said State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill. “So much information is buried in those pages. From horrible accounts of lynchings to reports about winners at the county fair, they reveal the foundations of life and culture in Tennessee in a very real way.”
For more information about the State Library and Archives' newspaper microfilm collection, go to: http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/history/newspapers/tn-paper.htm
For more information about the National Digital Newspaper Program go to: http://www.neh.gov/projects/ndnp.html
For more information about the University of Tennessee’s role in the project go to: http://www.cci.utk.edu/NDNPgrant