The Maine State Library has received a $275,000 federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize over 100,000 pages of historical Maine newspapers.
This is good news for many, including those of us who have ancestors who migrated from Canada to Maine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I have met several people from Maine who are only one or two generations away from Canada.
Maine State Library in Augusta receives $275,000 grant to digitize historical Maine newspapers. Photo: Billy Hathorn, Wikimedia Commons
The project will involve digitizing master microfilm copies of Maine newspapers and optimizing the files so the text can be searched. The digitized content will be uploaded to the Digital Maine repository and the Library of Congress Chronicling America archive.
Maine State Librarian James Ritter said, “Anyone with an internet connection will be able to browse the papers or perform a quick keyword search to look for stories about specific people, places or events from the past.”
Any Maine newspaper printed prior to 1923 could be included in the project provided that the master microfilm is available for imaging. Newspapers printed between 1923 and 1962 might also be eligible for digitization, if the publisher is willing to provide a waiver of copyright to permit the content to be imaged and shared.
Urgent need for additional newspaper digitization efforts
Unfortunately, a significant amount of Maine newspapers will not imaged through microfilm digitization because quality master film cannot be located or may not have been created.
“Some original copies of Maine newspapers are so fragile that they can’t be handled without causing permanent damage,” said Adam Fisher, director of Collections Development and Digital Initiatives at the Maine State Library. “There’s an urgent need to get quality images of these papers today before the information contained in them is lost to time.”
Old Orchard newspapers digitized
To digitize some of the older newspapers that have not been microfilmed, the Maine State Library partnered with Friends of Libby Memorial Library in Old Orchard Beach to digitize two local newspapers from the past, the Old Orchard Apple and the Old Orchard Mirror. These newspapers can be browsed.
The library is working on a similar project with the Maine Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum and the Phillips Historical Society to digitize the Maine Woods newspaper, which will be available online later this year.