New tools developed by UNT researchers make online historical newspapers more accessible

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Users of the University of North Texas Libraries' Portal to Texas History are able to browse pages of historical Texas newspapers online, thanks to the National Digital Newspaper Program, "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers."

Thanks to the research of two UNT faculty members, users will now have access to interactive visualizations that offer better ways to explore the content of these historical newspapers than typing words into a search engine.

Andrew Torget, assistant professor of history; Rada Mihalcea, assistant professor of computer science, and their partners at Stanford University's Bill Lane Center for the American West, received a $50,000 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the NEH for the project, called Mapping Texts.

The project, Torget said, "came about, in part, because UNT has established itself as one of the lead universities for the Chronicling America program."

The UNT Libraries became a partner in the program in 2007 when it received the first of several National Endowment for the Humanities grants to digitize the newspapers and place them online. The hundreds of thousands of pages date from the 1820s through the 2000s, offering glimpses of daily life in Texas communities from those decades. Torget and the research team used a sample of 250,000 pages of the newspapers.

"When you can explore hundreds of millions of words, a basic text search simply isn't enough. For instance, if I search the 250,000 newspaper pages for ‘cotton' because I'm trying to find historical information as background for a book, I get more than 71,000 results," Torget said. "Mapping Texts is about solving a big data problem. We need to find new ways for people to make sense of the overwhelming abundance of information being made available in the digital age."

Mapping Texts includes two interactive visualizations built by the UNT-Stanford team:

Mapping Newspaper Quality maps a quantitative survey of the newspapers, plotting both the quantity and quality of information available. Mapping Language Patterns maps a qualitative survey of the newspapers, plotting major language patterns embedded in the collection.

Mark Phillips, the UNT Libraries' assistant dean for digital libraries, called Mapping Texts "a tool that puts new lenses on the content for researchers."

"It's a great example of how UNT researchers are using the content in innovative and creative ways, and shows that libraries need to think about how faculty members can more easily access large amount of content," he said.

Brett Bobley, NEH chief information officer and director of the NEH's Office of Digital Humanities, said that since all of the National Digital Newspaper Project pages are created using the same standards "work like the Mapping Texts project could, in theory, scale beyond the Texas newspapers to other states or even nationally."

"As we scan millions of pages of newspapers and other humanities materials, new methods for searching and analyzing the materials will become critical to scholarship," Bobley said.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Category:

Latest News

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When Josh Gordesky learned that the UNT College of Information would be offering its doctoral degree program in learning technologies mostly online, he knew it was the right academic program for him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Children in grades 8 through 12 can now register for summer camps in the University of North Texas College of Engineering, focusing on robotics, video and computer game development, mobile applications and computer science and engineering.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Katie Koestner, a date rape survivor, will speak at the University of North Texas as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities. The speech will take place at 7 p.m. on April 22 (Tuesday) in the Volleyball Gym located at 1536 S. Bonnie Brae, Building H, Denton.

Six-year old Ryan Lingo relaxes with his mother, Lucia Lingo, at Easter Seals No
Monday, April 21, 2014

Yummy Starts, a healthy eating program geared for kids with autism spectrum disorder, is helping kids with extreme selective eating habits. It's one of four behavioral intervention services offered at the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program, a collaboration between the University of North Texas Department of Behavior Analysis and Easter Seals.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Students of the late painting professor Rob Erdle, regents professor emeritus at UNT, plan to celebrate his life by displaying his work alongside their own.