Leah Weinryb Grohsgal
Senior Program Officer
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Digital Newspaper Program Manager
Library of Congress
“How can you use open data to explore history?” That is the question the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) asked recently in the Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers Data Challenge. The challenge was intended to boost excitement for a historic newspaper data collection and to demonstrate the value of collaboration between libraries, information technology professionals, and researchers. Chronicling America is an open access, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers, produced by a long-term partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress. It includes millions of pages of digitized newspapers and descriptive information contributed by states and territories across the country. The Library of Congress provides open access to the data through a well-documented API to enable exploration of the collection in a variety of ways beyond the site’s popular web interface. To spur this use of the API and collection, NEH recently hosted a contest to get researchers thinking about creating interesting projects, big or small. The results demonstrate exciting possibilities for both creation of digital collections and reaching out to the research communities that use them. This presentation will describe the data available in Chronicling America and the mechanisms researchers and students can use to access it. The session will then explain the goals of the challenge and provide snapshots of the six winning projects to give a taste of the variety of projects made possible, including important humanities themes and technology including visualizations, maps, tools, and data mashups. We will then discuss broader lessons for establishing connections between content holders and the research and educational community.