Creating a national newspaper collection online

From staff reports

COLUMBUS — The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $248,600 to the Ohio Historical Society to continue the digitization of Ohio’s microfilmed newspapers, an undertaking that will include three historic area publications.

They are the Steubenville True American from Jefferson County, (1855-58); the Cadiz Sentinel from Harrison County (1844-68); and the Carroll Free Press of Carroll County (1836, 1841-58).

This marks the third consecutive national grant the Society has received as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program.

The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio – the NDNP in Ohio – is the state’s contribution to the National Digital Newspaper Program, a program developed by NEH and the Library of Congress. During the two-year grant cycle, from 2012-14, the society will digitize 32 Ohio newspapers – approximately 100,000 pages – between the years of 1836 and 1921 and representing 25 counties.

The NDNP in Ohio is one of only 33 projects around the country participating in this national grant program.

The Ohio titles digitized as part of the two-year project will be included in the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America searchable database at At the end of this grant cycle, the NDNP in Ohio project will have digitized a total of 67 newspapers, representing 52 counties – a little more than 300,000 pages from 10 regions around the state.

The NDNP in Ohio continues to build upon an earlier NEH initiative, the United States Newspaper Program, which enabled the society to locate, catalog and microfilm Ohio’s newspapers. As a result, the society holds the most complete Ohio newspaper microfilm collection in the state, currently comprising more than 50,000 rolls.

“We are helping to create a national collection online – a valuable searchable resource of historically significant newspapers that tell America’s story,” said Angela O’Neal, director for Collections Services at the Ohio Historical Society.

“This digitization project is making Ohio’s newspaper collections more accessible not only throughout the United States, but the world,” O’Neal said.

Digitization is the process of converting analog information into digital format, the goal being to improve access to the materials. In general, most materials become searchable through databases on the Internet.

At least one paper was selected from each of the 10 districts around the state for this grant cycle. The breakdown includes:

Northwest Ohio: Fremont Freeman (1849-53, Sandusky County), Kalida Venture (1845-54, Putnam County), Maumee Express (1837-40, Lucas County), Napoleon Democratic Northwest (1881-97, Henry County), Plymouth Advertiser (1853-55, Huron County) and the Wyandot Pioneer (1845-73, Wyandot County).

Southwest Ohio: Cincinnati Organ of the Temperance Reform (1852-54, Hamilton County), Cincinnati Star (1875-80, Hamilton County), Eaton Democrat (1854-77, Preble County), Greenville Journal (1907-18, Darke County), Georgetown Democratic Standard (1840-45, Brown County), and T-gliches Cincinnatier Volksblatt (1914-18, Hamilton County).

Northeast Ohio: Ashland Union (1852-71, Ashland County), Cadiz Sentinel (1844-68, Harrison County), Canal Dover Ohio Democrat (1839-45, 1863, Tuscarawas County), Carroll Free Press (1836, 1841-58, Carroll County), Cleveland Toiler (1920-21, Cuyahoga County), Medina Sentinel (1914-21, Medina County), Portage County Democrat (1859-64, Portage County), Portage Sentinel (1845-62, Portage County), Ravenna Democratic Press (1868-95, Portage County), Ravenna Ohio Star (1852-54, Portage County), Ravenna Western Courier (1837, Portage County), Steubenville True American (1855-58, Jefferson County) and the Wellington Enterprise (1879-99, Lorain County).

Southeast Ohio: Ironton Spirit of the Times (1853-56, Lawrence County), Jackson Standard (1853-88, Jackson County), Meigs County Telegraph (1851-66, Meigs County), The Portsmouth Inquirer (1850-55, Scioto County), Somerset Press (1873-1882, Perry County.), and the Woodsfield Spirit of Democracy (1844-1886, Monroe County).

Central Ohio: Delaware Gazette (1858-1871, Delaware County) and the Lancaster Gazette (1847-1870, Fairfield County).

To view the full listing of 2012-14 state selections, visit

“The society will continue to apply for NEH funds in future grant cycles in order to ensure that all 88 of Ohio’s counties are represented in the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio,” O’Neal said.

Salamon shared some information about the three local publications.

The Steubenville True American, for example, was short-lived, having only been published from 1855-61. Its publisher was the Rev. Z. Ragan, who stopped publishing in 1861 because he joined the Army as a chaplain.

“Initially, it appeared to support the Know-Nothing (American) Party, but eventually, it supported Republican and anti-slavery interests,” Salamon said.

Founded in 1833, the Cadiz Sentinel ceased publication in 1932. It experienced multiple changes in name and editorship and politically supported the Democratic papers in Harrison County. It would be one of the oldest papers in Harrison County.

The Carroll Free Press, meanwhile, was established in 1832 as the Centreville Recorder, the earliest publication in Columbiana County. This part of Columbiana County became Carroll County.

It focused on advertising more than local news and merged with the Carrollton Gazette in 1834 to become the Carroll Free Press. Politically, it supported the Whig, then the Republican parties. Considered the “official paper of the county,” the publication underwent multiple changes in both name and editorship and today is known as the Free Press Standard, according to Salamon.

It was in 2008, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the OHS $353,069 to begin digitization of Ohio’s microfilmed newspapers.

Over the course of the two-year project, ending June 30, 2010, the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio contributed more than 100,000 historic newspaper pages to Chronicling America. Fourteen titles published between 1880 and 1922 were selected from 10 regions around the state by an advisory group of 18 journalists, historians, educators, scholars, librarians and archivists. Ten of these members represent regional interests.

In 2010, NEH awarded an additional $334,000 to OHS to continue its digitization of Ohio’s microfilmed newspapers. The National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio digitized 26 Ohio newspapers – more than 100,000 pages – between the years of 1845 and 1894, with an emphasis on the Civil War era. This grant effort is one of only 25 projects around the nation participating in the national effort to digitize America’s historic newspapers.

Now the NEH has awarded OHS the additional funding in 2012 to continue its newspaper digitization project into 2014. The $248,600 reward will allow another 100,000 pages of Ohio’s historical newspapers to be digitized for inclusion on Chronicling America, including a short run of a German-language newspaper.

Founded in 1885, the nonprofit OHS provides a wide array of statewide services and programs related to collecting, preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology and natural history.

The society has more than 1.5 million items in its collections throughout its 58 sites and within its 287,000-square-feet Ohio History Center located at 800 E 17th Ave., Columbus.

The society receives a portion of its funding from the state, but relies on admission fees, memberships, grants, donations and other forms of revenue to continue to serve Ohioans in the future.

For information on the OHS, contact Shannon Thomas, its communications specialist, by phone at (614) 297-2317 or by e-mail at The OHS website is

For information about the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio, call (614) 297-2579 or visit the project wiki at