New U.S. Budget Blueprint May Affect Genealogists

Madge Maril, Associate Editor of Family Tree Magazine, has written a brief article in the magazine’s blog that warns of the proposed loss of one of genealogy’s major tools: the free Chronicling America newspaper search website, used by many genealogists to find information about ancestors and other relatives in local newspapers.

The Chronicling America web site is a service of the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), an independent federal agency funding humanities programs in the United States. Madge Maril points out the new administration’s federal budget blueprint proposes elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities. If that passes, the Chronicling America newspaper search website probably will go offline.

You can read Madge Maril’s article in the Family Tree Magazine Blog at: https://goo.gl/0b0Zlz.

10 Comments

This is quite disturbing. I read Madge Maril’s article and followed the link to the NEH website, which has all the info you’ll need to get in touch with your Senators and the President.

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If this happens, perhaps genealogists and others interested could start a “Go Fund Me” page to raise enough money to keep it operating. We all could help our government trim its expenditures if we contributed to causes that we wanted. Federal govt. expenditures are way out of line. Lets try and be more conservative.

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Based on this excerpt from the Chronicling America web page, I’d say that it looks more like it would stay online via the Library of Congress, but would not be getting further updates: “Supported by NEH, this rich digital resource will be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. An NEH award program will fund the contribution of content from, eventually, all U.S. states and territories.”

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My addition to the standard letters goes beyond Chronicling America as a resource for genealogists.
“Through Chronicling America, supported by the NEH, the Library of Congress makes available to all digitized newspapers, the “first draft” of our history. This important resource helps keep us the knowledgeable populace the Founders counted on to support our democracy.”

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There is really no way to tell what Congress may do with this proposal at this time. However, if you have found the Chronicling America items at the Library of Congress’s website valuable as I have, now is the time to let your Senators and Congress members know! Mobilizing now is needed not when it is too late to influence your Congress persons!

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There is a big gap in policies between proposed budgets that come from any given President, and the final budget. Members of Congress get a good look at how proposed budget cuts affect their districts; their enthusiasm wanes.

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David Paul Davenport January 26, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Please allow me to express my ignorance of websites, but once these papers have been digitized why is money needed to continue to provide them. Chronicling America is part of the Library of Congress website and I really don’t see how CA can be taken off-line without closing the entire Library of Congress. What am I missing?

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    —-> but once these papers have been digitized why is money needed to continue to provide them.

    To pay for:

    The electricity to run the servers

    To pay for the rent and air conditioning and heating or whatever charges are involved in running a very large data center

    Paying several thousand dollars a month for high-speed connections to the Internet backbone. (Most large server complexes typically have 3 or more different high-speed fiber optic connections to three or more different Internet backbone connections for redundancy purposes and in case one connection goes down for a while.

    To pay the salaries of the systems support people who keep the servers running

    To pay the salaries of customer service people to answer questions from the audience and to write instructions on using the site effectively.

    Replacement of the servers, routers, switches, load balancers, uninterruptible power supplies, and other computer hardware as the original devices fail or become technically obsolete. (Most servers and networking gear have a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years.)

    I am sure there are other expenses as well but that is all I can think of at the moment.

    These are typical expenses just to keep the lights ion and the servers running. If there is active development on the site, such as adding new records, then the expenses obviously will be higher.

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