California’s weekly newspapers will be preserved in a searchable archive as UC Riverside expands its massive California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) to include the community chronicles of political, business and social history.
Born Digital, a project of UCR’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, launched in the spring with publishers of eight newspapers providing PDF files that the center will archive in an online database that is text searchable and free to users.
“Small newspapers and libraries increasingly cannot afford the cost of microfilming these publications,” said Brian Geiger, director of the UCR center. “We see this as a way to save California’s printed history. We’re targeting small local weeklies, the ones that are least likely to be saving their papers.”
The goal is to eventually include all of California’s nearly 400 weekly newspapers, he said, an effort that is endorsed by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which featured the project in a spring newsletter. Among the newspapers participating so far are Riverside’s Black Voice News, Marinscope and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Libraries in Minnesota and Florida also are collecting PDFs of newspaper pages, but do not offer the ability to search text across titles, Geiger said. Software developed to process historical newspapers in the California Digital Newspaper Collection makes it possible to archive PDF pages in a way that permits text searches.
The CDNC began as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a joint effort by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress in cooperation with state projects to develop an online, searchable database of U.S. newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. The California collection contains more than 400,000 pages of newspapers published in the state between 1846 and 1922.
A related project, the California Newspaper Microfilm Archive, preserved 100,000 reels of pages from newspapers published between 1846 and the present. It is the state’s largest collection of newspaper microfilm.
The CDNC is supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. The microfilm archive is funded, in part, by the Haynes Foundation, the Ahmanson Foundation, UCR’s Tomas Rivera Library and the California State Library. The center has received three grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize California newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program.
Useage of the California Digital Newspaper Project continues to increase by 15 percent to 20 percent per month in terms of the number of page views and time spent on the site. In May the site had well over 18,000 visitors, nearly 300,000 page views and an average time spent on the website of more than 9 minutes. The biggest users continue to be genealogists and independent researchers; academics represent one of the smallest constituencies, Geiger said.
California’s weekly newspapers are a significant historical resource, he said.
“The interesting information from the Gold Rush era comes from local newspapers, for example,” Geiger explained. “Weekly papers record the history of our communities. Larger newspapers typically don’t cover local events, or smaller communities within larger communities, such as the ethnic communities of Los Angeles. These papers are the voices of California’s smaller communities.”
Direct to California Digital Newspaper Project Search Interface
At the current time, the collection contains 49,802 issues comprising 436,259 pages and 5,328,451 articles.