UNT Libraries offering project awards for digitizing historical newspapers, other collections

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 16:34

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Directors of archives, libraries, museums, historical societies may apply for project awards valued at $200 to $1,000 to preserve their collections via digitization and place them on the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History.

The UNT Libraries, which administers the portal, is accepting applications for its Rescuing Texas History program through Aug. 15 (Thursday). Twenty awards, which are the value of the digitization services provided by staff members in the UNT Libraries’ Digital Projects Unit, are available. Ten of the awards will be given specifically to newspaper archives. The other 10 will be given to other collections consisting of print photographs, photo negatives and print or handwritten documents.

Tara Carlisle, project development librarian for the UNT Libraries, said the Rescuing Texas History program was first offered in 2006 and was initially funded by the Summerlee Foundation. Since that time, the program has provided awards every other year. This is the first year that project funds will be given to newspaper archives, said Carlisle, who noted that the small awards have had a great impact.

“One significant reason is that many archives and cultural heritage institutions need to create high-quality digital copies of their historical items that are at risk of decaying because of their fragile conditions,” she said. “But these archives and institutions do not have the resources that the UNT Libraries has, such as skilled staff, equipment and software, to support a full-scale digitization project.”

The archives, libraries and organizations that receive the awards “reap the benefits of having their collections on The Portal to Texas History, which is indexed by search engines like Google,” Carlisle said.

“As a result, many of the collections are being discovered by researchers from far and wide, and featured in documentaries, books, magazines and mainstream news,” she said.

The Portal to Texas History was created in 2002 by the Digital Projects Unit to provide online access to books, photographs, artifacts, maps, newspapers, letters,  and other historic materials from archives, historical societies, small and large libraries, museums and private collections from all areas of Texas. With more than 4 million pages of materials, the Portal incudes many primary source historical materials, such as diaries and personal accounts of events and daily life

In April, the Portal received the Wayne Williams Library Project of the Year Award from the Texas Library Association, and in February, the UNT Libraries celebrated one million pages of historical Texas newspapers being available on the portal. 

The archives that have received Rescuing Texas History awards during the past seven years include the Dallas Municipal Archives, which used its award to have 404 photos taken by the Dallas Police Department in 1963 during its investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination digitized by the Digital Projects Unit staff and placed on the Portal. A division of the City of Dallas City Secretary’s Office, the Dallas Municipal Archives held all of the original investigation files except for those that were transferred permanently to the federal investigation collection held at the National Archives.

Applications for the Rescuing Texas History awards are available online. Recipients will be notified by Sept. 1.



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