Portraits — and Pot-Shots — in Song

Long before we were being sold something (through advertising jingles) or somebody (through campaign ads), presidential campaign seasons brought out the songwriter in many a partisan.  This unique niche of Americana is celebrated in a new Library of Congress exhibition on the web, titled “Voices, Votes, Victory: Presidential Campaign Songs.” The tradition of writing songs […]

Read All About It: Magnificent Milestone

Front page of Call-Chronicle-Examiner after 1906 San Francisco earthquakeMy capacity for metaphors is somewhat limited, so forgive me if I repeat a word I tweeted recently (“tweet-peat”?): Yesterday the Library and the NEH held a news conference celebrating the “odometer” of the Chronicling America program’s surpassing 1 million digitized pages from historic newspapers. Seven new partner states have been added, bringing the total to 22.

This past Friday morning, the site hosted more than 975,000 pages. That same day, the system was updated, bringing the total to 1,249,747 pages. Not to be too specific.

A text-heavy page of this morning’s Washington Post took me about 14 minutes to read, top to bottom. At that rate, I could read day and night for the next 33 years and still not get through every page on Chronicling America.

As I reported last week, the site itself has also been upgraded and enhanced for users.

If you haven’t taken the time to explore Chronicling America, give it a shot — but beware: If you love history, or if you delight in the quaint prose of American journalism circa 1900, you might find several hours elapse seemingly in minutes. As the media have reported (here and here, for instance), there are many great discoveries to be made.

As participants in the event noted, even though the pages are digitized from microfilm, searching them is a far cry from the days of hunching over a microfilm reader and turning a crank in (often vain) hopes of spotting the right article. The database is fully text-searchable, and searches can be restricted by a variety of variables such as date, state and newspaper. It also includes a sprawling listing of 140,000 newspapers published in America since 1690 with details on where to find those that don’t yet exist in digital form.

High-resolution images can be saved and printed, along with basic PDFs, and each page has its own permalink. Wouldn’t it be great to see some of them start showing up on sites like Wikipedia — for instance, the page above linked to the entry about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake?

A few months back, I speculated about what the 1 millionth page might be. Turns out it was too hard to pick just one, especially when so many partners are contributing so much. Instead, the partners picked 11 ceremonial “1 millionth pages” [PDF link], each with an interesting story to tell.

After the jump is an excerpt from remarks made at the news conference by Associate Librarian for Library Services Deanna Marcum. (Below she is pictured at the podium with Acting NEH Chairman Carole Watson in the background. Photo courtesy of NEH by frasierphoto.com.)

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New Flickr Photo Set: Historic Newspapers

Media consumers today are bombarded with imagery of current events — some of them ephemeral, on our TV screens, and some more indelible. A century ago, the use of halftone images was beginning to revolutionize newspapers and bringing the immediacy of photography to the masses. Today the Library launched a new photostream on our Flickr […]

For Posterity … and for You, Too

The Library of Congress has released the 25 recordings selected this year to be preserved for all time as part of the National Recording Registry. They range from the old and classical (violinist Jascha Heifetz’ recordings for Victor Records early in the last century) to more recent rock (The Who, singing “My Generation”) and from […]

Extra, Extra! Chronicling America Newspaper Site Revamp

The Library’s tech elves have been laboring away in their workshop to upgrade the user experience on our Chronicling America website. Over recent weeks, the Library of Congress has implemented changes to Chronicling America that improve and expand use of historic American newspapers digitized for the National Digital Newspaper Program, a joint project with the […]

All Publicity is Good

Ninety-six years ago today, a riot broke out among audience members witnessing the premiere of a piece that changed classical-music history. The composer, Igor Stravinsky, was horrified; the impresario, Serge Diaghilev, was delighted. Feelings ran high at the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris that night, from the very opening bars of Stravinsky’s ballet “The […]

President, Mrs. Obama Honorary Chairs of Book Festival

Both the President and the First Lady will be Honorary Chairs of the 2009 National Book Festival, to be held Saturday, Sept. 26 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. between 7th and 14th Streets, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., rain or shine. This colossal event, heading into its ninth year, lets book-lovers hear […]

A Day at the Beach — Omaha Beach

Memorial Day is upon us again, a time to reflect on American veterans — men and women who sacrificed their lives for our nation. The Veterans History Project (VHP), an oral history program of the Library’s American Folklife Center, was created by Congress in 2000 to collect, preserve, and make accessible the first-hand recollections of […]