You’re Invited to the Historic Maryland Newspapers Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on May 2!

Today’s post is by Amy Wickner, student assistant and iSchool field study for the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project.

As part of an ongoing initiative to connect digital collections with Wikipedia, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project (HMNP) will co-host a  Wikipedia Edit-a-thon (May 2, 1-4pm) focusing on Maryland newspapers. We’ve set up an event page and advance registration form (strongly recommended) with all the details.

Photo from HMNP’s last edit-a-thon on August 18, 2014, at UMD Libraries.

Liz Caringola and I are working with special collections staff at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, who have been kind enough to provide space, computers, and guided tours of their collections. Maria Day and Allison Rein from MSA will highlight historic newspapers in their collections, while Liz will introduce edit-a-thon participants to Chronicling America and HMNP’s ongoing work. I’ll give short tutorials on editing Wikipedia and adding images to Wikimedia Commons. We’re hoping to draw participants from across the state and DC / Baltimore metro areas. All are welcome, and word-of-mouth promotion would be much appreciated.

Many edit-a-thon pages have a Goals section, conventionally a list of articles needing to be drafted, added, or improved. Our page has such a list, but we’d also like to help participants depart with at least some impulse to continue editing Wikipedia. (We’ll have a day-of participant survey of some kind to get at what brings people to our event.) Sparking a lifelong passion for editing Wikipedia using archival material as evidence would of course be fire, but growing sustainable participation more realistically involves a lot of small steps. Which is why it’s exciting to see that this is just one of many DC-area Wikipedia events this spring, with themes ranging from accessibility to labor to #ColorOurHistory.

Chronicling America surpasses 10 million pages!


The University of Maryland Libraries joins the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities in celebrating a major milestone for Chronicling America, a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers. The Library of Congress announced on October 7 that more than 10 million pages have been posted to the site. This number includes 117,082 pages of Maryland newspapers digitized by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and its content partners, the Maryland State Archives and Maryland Historical Society, from the following titles:

Titles are added on a rolling basis, so check back often, or subscribe to Chronicling America’s RSS feed to receive alerts when new titles are added.

For more information about the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project, please visit our website: http://ter.ps/newspapers.

Reusing Newspaper Data from Chronicling America

The National Digital Newspaper Program’s (NDNP) goal in digitizing U.S. newspapers from microfilm isn’t to simply create digital copies of the film—it’s to make the content of the digitized newspapers more usable and reusable. This is made possible through the creation of different kinds of metadata during digitization. (You can read my post from 2013 for the nitty gritty details of NDNP metadata, or go straight to the source.) The addition of robust metadata means that the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website isn’t just a digital collection of newspapers—it’s a rich data set—and our project’s contributions to Chronicling America represent Maryland in this data.

Newspaper data is being used in exciting ways by scholars, students, and software developers. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Data Visualization: Journalism’s Journey West
Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University
http://www.stanford.edu/group/ruralwest/cgi-bin/drupal/visualizations/us_newspapers

Map of Maryland showing newspapers that were publishing in the 1790s.
Image from http://www.stanford.edu/group/ruralwest/cgi-bin/drupal/visualizations/us_newspapers

This visualization plots the 140,000+ newspapers that are included in Chronicling America’s U.S. Newspaper Directory. Read about the history of newspaper publication in the U.S., and watch as newspapers spread across the country from 1690 through the present.

An Epidemiology of Information: Data Mining the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
Virginia Tech
http://www.flu1918.lib.vt.edu/

Excerpt from newspaper reads

The 1918 influenza pandemic, or Spanish flu, killed 675,000 in the U.S. and 50 million worldwide. An Epidemiology of Information used two text-mining methods to examine patterns in how the disease was reported in newspapers and the tone of the reports (e.g., alarmist, warning, reassuring, explanatory). Visit the project website for more information, or read the project’s January 2014 article in Perspectives on History.

Image from http://www.flu1918.lib.vt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/NLM-Presentation-Ewing-30April2013.pdf

Bookworm
The Cultural Observatory, Harvard University
http://bookworm.culturomics.org/ChronAm/

Graph that shows the occurrence of the word
Image from https://twitter.com/1918FluSeminar/status/577082239479115776

Bookworm is a tool that allows you to “visualize trends in repositories of digitized texts,” including Chronicling America. In the graph above, Tom Ewing of the aforementioned Epidemiology of Information project used Bookworm to visualize instances of the word “influenza” in the New York Tribune between 1911 and 1921. You can create your own visualizations of Chronicling America data using this tool.

Viral Texts: Mapping Networks of Reprinting in 19th-Century Newspapers and Magazines
NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, Northeastern University
http://viraltexts.org/

A visualization of the networks that exist between newspapers based on how the poem
Image from http://networks.viraltexts.org/1836to1860-Inquiry/

In the 19th century, the content published in newspapers was not protected by copyright as it is today. As a result, newspaper editors often “borrowed” and reprinted content from other papers. This project seeks to uncover why particular news stories, works of fiction, and poetry “went viral” using the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) text of the newspapers in Chronicling America and magazines in Cornell University Library’s Making of America.

Everyone is welcome to use Chronicling America as a dataset for their research. There’s no special key or password needed. Information about the Chronicling America API can be found here. For additional projects and tools that use Chronicling America data, see this list compiled by the Library of Congress.

If you reuse Chronicling America data, especially from Maryland newspapers, in your research, please leave a comment or drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

Historic Maryland Newspapers Project receives funding for Phase 2

It’s our pleasure to announce that the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project at the University of Maryland Libraries has received funding for Phase 2 and will continue through August 2016 thanks to a generous $290,000 National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project was first awarded an NDNP grant in 2012 to digitize 100,000 pages of newsprint published between 1836 and 1922. To date, approximately 107,375 pages of Maryland newspapers have been digitized and nearly 86,000 are available on the Library of Congress database Chronicling America. The bulk of these pages is from the prominent German-language Baltimore paper Der Deutsche Correspondent. The time frame of the digitized Correspondent spans 1858 to 1913.The following titles were also digitized during Phase 1 of the project:

Baltimore

  • The American Republican and Baltimore Daily Clipper, 1844-1846
  • The Baltimore Commercial Journal, and Lyford’s Price-Current, 1847-1849
  • Baltimore Daily Commercial, 1865-1866
  • The Daily Exchange, 1858-1861
  • The Pilot and Transcript, 1840-1841

Western Maryland

  • Civilian and Telegraph (Cumberland), 1859-1865
  • The Maryland Free Press (Hagerstown), 1862-1868

During Phase 2, we will complete digitization of Der Deutsche Correspondent (1914-1918) and will digitize a variety of English papers that reflect the regional diversity of Maryland. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues at the Maryland State Archives during the second phase of the project.

See the press release from NEH: http://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2014-07-21.

Now Hiring: Wikipedian-in-Residence

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project is hiring a Wikipedian-in-Residence for the summer months. Our overall goal in bringing a seasoned Wikipedian on board is to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles by increasing the number of relevant citations and links to the rich newspaper content of Chronicling America.

This position will be a little different from the typical Wikipedian-in-Residence gig. Most Wikipedians are brought into an organization in order to teach the staff how to edit Wikipedia, to edit and upload content to Wikipedia or Wikimedia, or to hold edit-a-thons–at least this is what I’ve gleaned while perusing other Wikipedian job listings. Our Wikipedian may do a little of this, but their work will mostly be research-based and will result in a written report of recommendations for our project and other National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) awardees to implement.

First, our Wikipedian will complete an analysis of how Chronicling America is currently being represented in Wikipedia. Linkypedia is one tool that could be used during the analysis. It will be important that our Wikipedian can utilize this and other tools–perhaps even tweak these tools–in order to gather relevant statistics.

The next step will be analyzing these statistics. This step is crucial because the conclusions drawn will guide the Wikipedian’s most significant responsibility–to explore different scenarios, tools, or methods for how we might effectively increase Chronicling America‘s presence on Wikipedia. For example, they may be as simple and low tech as authoring a comprehensive guide for NDNP awardees to start editing Wikipedia; or they could require developers to add some code to the open source application behind Chronicling America in order to automatically generate wiki markup needed to cite a newspaper page in Wikipedia. (The National Library of Australia has built this functionality into their digital repository, Trove.)

Screencap of a newspaper page from Trove, showing the site's ability to generate wiki markup to cite the newspaper page.

The Wikipedian will also have to investigate the cost and resources needed to realize their proposed solutions. The Wikipedian will prioritize and make recommendations for which tools should be implemented in upcoming months based on their feasibility and estimated effectiveness.

In order to accomplish all this in four short months, the Wikipedian will have to have experience conducting research and analyzing data; knowledge of existing tools and APIs for Wikipedia; and a firm understanding of the written–and more importantly, the unwritten–rules of editing Wikipedia. This is a part-time, paid position and cannot be performed remotely.

To view the complete job posting and apply, see https://ejobs.umd.edu/postings/25127. We hope to hear from you soon!

Maryland newspapers now available on Chronicling America!

I’m pleased to announce that the first digitized pages produced by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project are now accessible on the Library of Congress website Chronicling America. Issues from the German-language, Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent are available for the years 1858, 1866, 1868, and 1870-1892. For a tutorial on how to search for Maryland newspapers in Chronicling America, see this post on the Special Collections blog.

Before current funding ends in August 2014, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project will also digitize several English titles published in Baltimore, including the American Republican and Baltimore Daily Clipper, the Baltimore Commercial Journal, and Lyford’s Price-Current, the Baltimore Daily Commercial, the Daily Exchange, the Maryland Free Press, and the Pilot and Transcript, as well as one additional title from Cumberland, the Civilian and Telegraph.

For additional information, please visit the project’s website.