Washington State Library to digitize historic newspapers

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The Washington Office of Secretary of State will be adding 100,000 pages to its nationally-recognized project of digitizing historic newspapers, using a grant announced Tuesday morning for $280,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The project will use the award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize culturally and historically significant newspapers from Asian-American, African-American, and World War II-era publications to the Washington State Library’s free public archives.

The grant is the fourth National Endowment for the Humanities award for the Digital Newspaper Project. Under the State Library’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program, more than 300,000 pages of historic Washington newspapers have been added to the 13 million newspaper pages publicly accessible at the Chronicling America website of the Library of Congress.

Though many of the newspapers to be digitized are already available at the Washington State Library in Tumwater, many more will be made publicly available for the first time, said Derrick Nunnally, writer and media relations coordinator for the Office of Secretary of State.

“It is a special privilege to be able to continue our work to preserve Washington’s history and make these invaluable accounts available, accessible, and searchable,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman in a press release. The Office of the Secretary of State oversees the Washington State Library.

“I’m very proud of the work our Library staff has done, and I’m looking forward to seeing more thanks to these funds,” Wyman said.

The Washington Digital Newspaper Project was awarded the grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities’ new Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant program, which announced Wednesday that it was awarding $43.1 million for 218 projects nationwide.

“I’m truly grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities, both for their recognition of our achievements in digitizing historic newspapers and for their decision to fund our latest project,” said State Librarian Cindy Aden in a press release. “We’ll be able to bring the firsthand accounts of bygone eras of Washington’s African-American and Asian-American experiences into the consciousness of new generations, and add local perspectives to their understanding of what it was like living in our state throughout World War II.”

The Washington State Library carries several issues of the Columbia Basin Herald from as far back as 1944 in its publicly available archives, though none are available online. Recent electronic editions of the Herald can be found at www.columbiabasinherald.com. Locally, editions dating back to July 31, 1941 as late as July 2017 can be viewed on microfilm at the Moses Lake Public Library.

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