Saturday, May 3, 2008

Digitized newspapers in Champaign County, Illinois

If that headline doesn't make your heart go pit-a-pat, then you're reading the wrong blog! IMHO, digitized every-word-searchable newspaper images are the gold standard, and a gold mine. So it's a happy day when the Scout Report brings word of the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Right now the collection offers the UIUC student newspaper, the Daily Illini, from 1916 to 1936, with 1936-1945 promised soon; and the local daily, the Urbana Daily Courier from 1916 to 1925, with 1902-1915 and 1926-1935 promised soon.

Here's some of the tech part:

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (IDNC) is a project of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library. The IDNC is a repository of digital facsimiles of historic Illinois newspapers. Using digital imaging technology, we have converted microfilmed newsprint into preservation quality image files. Equipped with Olive Software's Active Paper Archive platform, the IDNC delivers access versions of the image files through the customizable user-friendly interface. The interface allows users with internet connections to browse the newspapers by date or search by keyword across articles, advertisements and photo captions. Users can print, download, or e-mail individual articles. And it's free! We plan to add additional years of Illinois newspapers to the repository as funding becomes available.

The genealogy part doesn't need much explanation. I've already found a fascinating account of a second cousin on my mother's father's side (with the unhelpful surname Aye) who gave an impassioned speech to the local WCTU about alcoholism. He is described as a "newspaperman, and a former Methodist minister," and someone "whose experience for the past twelve years covers every phase of the evil, both from the inside and the outside." Hmmmm...

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