By Frankie Meyer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The National Digital Newspaper Program, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, will help tremendously in your search for ancestors.
The program provides free online copies of historic newspapers in digitized form. Its goal is to digitize all newspapers published in all states and territories between 1836 and 1922. Institutions such as libraries, museums and historical societies apply for grants to digitize 100,000 newspaper pages a year. After receiving a grant, each institution selects the newspapers from its state archives.
The institutions are encouraged to start with newspapers that have ceased publication and lack active ownership. Since the program started in 2009, millions of newspaper pages have been digitized.
The Missouri State Historical Society has digitized 300,000 pages; the Kansas State Historical Society has digitized 200,000 pages; and the Oklahoma Historical Society has completed 200,000 pages. Some states, such as Arkansas, still have not digitized any pages. Others, such as Tennessee and Kentucky, have very few.
Because hundreds of thousands of pages are constantly being added, this is a great site to check regularly. Digitized copies of the historic newspapers are online at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
When the site opens, select a state where your ancestors lived and enter the time frame that you want to check. You will then receive thumbnail images of newspaper pages in that state that contain the surname or term that you entered. Because the name or term will be highlighted, you will not need to read the whole page.
The name of the newspaper, the place where it was published and the publication date will be listed at the bottom of each thumbnail image. That information will help you quickly determine the images that will most likely contain pertinent information.
For example, several men named Aaron Quick may have lived in different areas of Missouri, but you are only interested in the Aaron Quick who lived in Ozark County. Consequently, you will want to concentrate on newspapers in that county and surrounding counties.
To select a thumbnail image, place the mouse cursor on it and click. When the next screen opens, click on the plus sign to enlarge the page. The keyword can be found on the larger image by scrolling down the page or placing the cursor on the page and moving the page around. Usually, copies of the digitized newspapers are also found at the website of the institution that does the digitization. To find those sites, enter the name of the state and "digitized newspapers" in the search box.
Suggestions or queries? Contact Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.