The government has announced that anyone with a computer will have access within a few years to millions of pages from old newspapers. Available in 2006 will be the first of what's expected to be 30 million digitized pages from papers published from 1836 through 1922.
"Anyone who's interested -- teachers, students, historians, lawyers, politicians, even newspaper reporters -- will be able to go to their computer at home or at work and at a click of a mouse get immediate, unfiltered access to the greatest source of our history," said Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He announced the project in a speech at the National Press Club.
The Library of Congress already has put together a small sample. It has digitized issues of the U.S. military newspaper "Stars and Stripes" during World War I, February 1918 to June 1919.
The National Endowment for the Humanities is working on the project with the Library of Congress, which has embarked on a broader project to preserve records of American newspapers dating from the late 1600s.
The span of the joint project is limited because type faces of printers used before 1836 are too difficult for optical scanners to read, and copyright restrictions are in force on papers published after 1923.
This huge addition to the newspaper preservation project should be great news for genealogists.