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NEH Event Highlights California Digital Newspaper Project

The Washington, D.C., celebration of a nationwide effort to digitize historic newspapers included Henry Snyder, director of UCR’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research.

(June 16, 2009)

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Henry SnyderEnlarge

Henry Snyder

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC), a project of UC Riverside’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, was highlighted at a June 16 event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The event, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, celebrated a milestone of the National Digital Newspaper Program’s “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers” – the digitization of more than 1 million pages of United States newspapers.

Henry Snyder, director of the UCR Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, spoke at the celebration on behalf of state projects, which, along with the Library of Congress, produce the data.

The National Digital Newspaper Program is a joint effort by the NEH and Library of Congress in cooperation with state projects to develop an online, searchable database of U.S. newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. It builds on the United States Newspaper Program, an earlier NEH and Library of Congress collaboration to inventory all surviving U.S. newspapers and preserve selected titles on microfilm. More than 150,000 titles were cataloged in this 20-year effort.

The California project is one of the first funded by the NEH. The UCR center has digitized 200,000 pages for the national database, which is available at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. These pages and 175,000 additional pages digitized with federal Library Services and Technology Act grants, representing 1.5 million articles, are also being presented at the CDNC site, http://cdnc.ucr.edu.

“This is important for the history of the state,” Snyder said of the California project. “Newspapers are the most important printed source for the local history of our state.”

Regular reporting about the business of agriculture, steamship cargo and actions of the Legislature, for example, detail aspects of California history before and after statehood, he said.

Over the past decade UCR has assembled the largest existing archive of California newspapers on microfilm, some 100,000, 100-foot reels containing approximately 40 million pages of newspapers published between 1846 and the present, Snyder said. The acquisition of microfilm has been funded in part by the Haynes Foundation, the Ahmanson Foundation, UCR’s Tomás Rivera Library, the University of California Office of the President and the California State Library.

By making historic California newspapers freely available through an easy-to-use online system, the project offers a unique teaching and research tool for students, teachers, genealogists and researchers, Snyder said.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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