A University of Wyoming project is among 215 humanities projects nationwide selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to receive a total of $29 million in grants.
UW Libraries received nearly $209,000 to be used over the next two years for the Wyoming Digital Newspaper Project, says Amanda Lehman, an assistant librarian in Digital Collections and co-project investigator.
The Wyoming Digital Newspaper Project involves digitization of 100,000 pages of Wyoming newspapers — dating from 1863 to 1963 — as part of the state’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).
“It’s a great chance to support the land-grant mission of the university and to create a permanent record of Wyoming’s history through the Library of Congress,” says Bryan Ricupero, a UW metadata librarian and co-project investigator. “It makes a significant amount of content available to people around the world.”
The Wyoming State Archives and UW Libraries are the two primary repositories for collections of Wyoming print and microfilm newspapers. UW Libraries is digitizing paper copies of the Branding Iron, the UW student-run campus newspaper. To date, over 30,000 pages — in TIFF and PDF formats — are available online from the UW Libraries Digital Repository.
In partnership with the Wyoming State Archives, a selection board, gathered from around the state of Wyoming, will prioritize newspaper titles for the first round of digitization.
Master copies of all microfilmed titles are currently held at the Wyoming State Archives and are available for UW Libraries to duplicate and digitize. Much of this microfilm was created during the National Newspaper Project, to standards compatible with the NDNP.
Given this unrestricted access, experience with digitization projects and the specialized staff needed, UW Libraries is excited to provide the oversight and support for a successful project, Lehman says.
“We see this as a chance to broaden access to Wyoming’s historic record,” Lehman says. “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Wyoming Territory granting unrestricted suffrage to women, this project aims to help reveal diverse histories in our state.”
In addition to Lehman and Ricupero, the project team includes Samantha Huntington Cook, a UW instructional design librarian, as project facilitator. The grant will fund the salary and benefits of a two-year project specialist; a graduate and an undergraduate student; and digitization costs, storage and supplies for the project.
NEH is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television and radio stations, and to individual scholars.