Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, recently wrapped up several large digitization projects and achieved some significant milestones that expanded its Washington Digital Newspapers (WDN) online collection to over 500,000 newspaper pages.
The WDN program selects historic newspapers, prepares them for online searching, and hosts them on the Library’s WDN website as a free public resource. Visitors to the website will find Washington newspapers from the state’s territorial days through the early 2000s, documenting historical events such as World War II, voting rights, and engineering achievements from the perspective of communities statewide. A few titles focus on specific topics such as labor and industry, agriculture, and veterans’ news.
In 2021, the State Library partnered with Newspapers.com to provide newspaper digitization services. This collaboration will enable the State Library, through the WDN program, to select historically significant titles for digital preservation, offer access through the State Library’s newspaper databases, and grow the online collection at a much faster rate. The first available titles include the Daily Sun News (1901-1986), Sunnyside Times (1919-1941), and Seattle Star (1899-1945). Access to Afro-American Journal, Richland Villager, Goldendale Sentinel, and the German American paper Washington Staatszeitung will be available later this year.
These publications are available via the State Library’s Newspapers website with a WSL Library account. To access these additional titles, Washington residents can get a free State Library card by visiting the library’s Reading Room in Tumwater or via remote access from home. Find out how to get a WSL library card here.
Thanks to a National Digital Newspaper Program grant, the State Library digitized and uploaded more than 100,000 pages and 25 titles onto the WDN site this year. The grant program provided federal funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research historic publications and write essays about their influence in shaping our state. Many publishers in the mid-to-late 1800s were advocates for statehood and active voices in economic development. These essays feature many fun facts about their role in Washington’s history.
The WDN program achieved another milestone this year by digitizing 6,101 weekly issues of the Catholic Northwest Progress (1900-2013), including many regional editions for Tacoma, Yakima, and the state of Alaska. Known for its award-winning professional journalism, the Progress covered international and regional northwest issues, mass times, announcements, and social news. The paper also frequently reported on elections initiatives and represented diverse voices within the Catholic community. This WDN project, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Seattle Archives, began in 2017 and was completed a year ahead of schedule.
Digitization of these historic newspapers by the Washington Digital Newspapers program is largely supported through the Library Services and Technology Act, funded by the Institute of Library and Museum Services. This program complements the State Library’s extensive physical newspaper collection, which includes over 6,500 newspaper titles and more than 50,000 reels of microfilm. Additional links to current and historic newspapers on the State Library’s Washington Newspapers site makes it one of the largest collections of Washington newspapers in the state.
For more information about Washington Digital Newspapers and Washington State Library, visit washingtondigitalnewspapers.org and sos.wa.gov/library. To learn more about how to request microfilm via interlibrary loan or set up viewing appointments, visit the State Library’s Ask A Librarian service and make a request.