May 21, 2022

Cool! Mapping Texts: Interactively Visualize Trends Found in 230 Years of Texas Newspapers

From The Stanford Report:

An all-consuming public interest in family, religion and football in modern rural Texas is just one of the cultural snapshots that can be culled from Mapping Texts, a new interactive database that generates graphical interpretations of language trends embedded in over 230,000 pages of Texas newspapers from the late 1820s through the early 2000s.

A collaborative initiative between the University of North Texas and Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, Mapping Texts is sponsored by a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


When a visitor to the project’s website clicks on “Modern Texas,” a map of the state appears with a visualization showing the quantity and location of digitized newspapers available for analysis. A box also lists the top 10 topics discussed in the newspapers during that time span.

Government, politics and business make an appearance, but the list is dominated by sports, family and church. A quick look through this history reveals that coverage of sports elbows its way into the top 10 in the early 20th century.

In an era when historical newspapers are being digitized at an astonishing rate, the ability to extrapolate such meaningful patterns with a basic text search simply isn’t feasible. The primary goal of the project, explained Torget, “was to find new ways for people to make sense of the overwhelming abundance of information being made available in the digital age.”


The source material was taken from the Texas Digital Newspaper Program at the University of North Texas Library.

Visitors to the Mapping Texts website can delve into the data through two different interactive visualizations.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.