2020 was an extraordinary year for many reasons, all of which have been immortalized in catchy headlines and sensational news stories.
Future generations will marvel at these stories and wonder how we coped during these extraordinary times. Much like how we look back on years past and wonder about the issues and challenges our recent ancestors endured.
Yet thanks to the Washington State Library’s Washington Digital Newspapers (WDN) program – funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) – we can more than wonder. We can read for ourselves and learn firsthand.
Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, has digitized over 450,000 pages of historic Washington newspapers for the WDN website, including over 27,000 new issues that have just been released and are now available and free to the public.
These include issues of the Anacortes American (1985-2000) and Catholic Northwest Progress (1957-1966), which were made available by the City of Anacortes Museum/Skagit Publishing and the Seattle Archdiocese, respectively. Essential to these and all WDN collections are partnerships with museums, libraries, archives, and publishers from across the state to preserve newspapers and our communities’ cultural heritage.
In 2018, the Washington State Library received a $324,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) by digitizing 100,000 more pages for Chronicling America, a national newspaper site hosted by the Library of Congress that has over 15 million keyword-searchable pages. With the help of students and staff at the University of Washington Suzzallo and Allen Libraries, many new titles are now available including: Spokane Woman, Southwest Washington Labor Press, White Bluffs Spokesman, Vashon Island Record, Fairhaven Herald, Filipino Forum, the Scandinavian American, and many more. Each title includes a contextual essay about the publication’s history and available date ranges.
All of the newspapers on Chronicling America are in the public domain and free for public use. Chronicling America is perfect for historians, genealogists, journalists, educators, and anyone who wants to learn more about the events that changed the world. In addition, the Library of Congress’s NDNP Extras page offers comprehensive search tutorials and excellent educational resources. Teachers and students can also learn more about the NEH’s National History Day contest for projects that use newspapers as primary resources to explore specific areas of history.
Washington State Library’s physical newspaper collection in Olympia includes more than 6,500 newspaper titles with more than 50,000 reels of microfilm. Educators and researchers will find it’s one of the best “go-to” places for Washington newspapers.