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08/06/2012

Library Project Brings Historic Newspapers to Life

Quick Facts

 On Aug. 9, the Pettus Archives and Special Collections is cosponsoring an event with the S.C. Digital Newspaper Program to offer more information to anyone interesting in learning more about the project.
 With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the SCDNP has digitized 19 South Carolina newspapers published between 1860 and 1922 and made them available and searchable on a web site hosted by the Library of Congress.

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Mark Herring
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Whoever said nothing is “as dead as an old newspaper” never would have made headlines as a futurist, and never could have dreamed of life in the digital age.

But thanks to the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP), a project at the University of South Carolina Libraries, some of South Carolina’s most widely read newspapers have been resurrected, offering a glimpse into life during some of the Palmetto State’s most turbulent times.

On Aug. 9, the Pettus Archives and Special Collections at Winthrop University is cosponsoring an event with the program at 6 p.m. to offer more information to anyone interesting in learning more about this important project. The event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

“This is a terrific opportunity for the public to learn more about this exciting venture. Anyone with just a laptop and Internet access can view these papers at no charge,” said Mark Herring, dean of library services. “Researchers, historians and laypersons will find access to these newspapers a godsend for learning about this part of our state’s rich history.”

The Rock Hill Messenger, among others newspapers statewide, has already been digitized and is available for viewing. The weekly paper for African Americans in the Piedmont was published from 1896-1921.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the program has digitized 19 South Carolina newspapers published between 1860 and 1922 and made them available and searchable on a web site hosted by the Library of Congress.

Titled “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,” the site features fully accessible issues of The Columbia Phoenix, Charleston Daily News, Keowee Courier, Sumter Watchman and Southron, The Orangeburg Times and Democrat, Marlboro Democrat (Marlboro County), The Rock Hill Messenger, Laurens Advertiser, and The Anderson Intelligencer.

Plans call for The Manning Times, The News and Herald (Fairfield County), The Newberry Herald and News, and The Pickens Sentinel to be digitized during the next two years.

The NEH grant, which has been extended for two years, will enable the SCDNP team to digitize additional newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. Plans call for more than 200,000 pages of news and features about South Carolina communities to be digitized when the project is completed in 2013.

An advisory board comprising archivists, librarians and scholars from around the state will select the newspapers for the digitization project and will consider factors such as the title’s historical significance, geographical representation, preservation issues and copyright restrictions, said Santi Thompson, SCDNP project manager.

In the meantime, SCDNP staff members are offering free presentations to libraries, historical organizations, and other groups around the state to explain more about the project as well to instruct users on how to search for historical newspapers.

The SCDNP is part of the larger National Endowment for the Humanities’ National Digital Newspaper Program. To search South Carolina newspapers, as well as those from 24 other states, go to the Library of Congress’ website, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The initiative is a joint project between Digital Collections and the South Carolinian Library. SCDNP is housed within the Digital Collections department in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.

For more information, contact Herring at 803/323-2232 or Gina White, director of archives, 803/323-2210.

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