Project News

National History Day

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced the creation of “a new contest to encourage middle and high school students to use Chronicling America in their projects for National History Day. This will include cash prizes for exceptional use of the newspaper archives for junior and senior students in all submission categories. All National History Day participants who incorporate Chronicling America in their project research will receive certificates of recognition.”

Each year, students in grades 6 through 12 prepare exhibits, websites, papers, performances, and documentaries, on historical topics related to the National History Day theme. The theme for 2013 is “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” The entries are judged first at local level (Tennessee is divided into six regions), then state level, and finally national level.

Earlier this year I was invited to be a judge at the East Tennessee regional contest. The standard of entries was outstanding. This contest inspires students to engage with history, while learning invaluable research and presentation skills that they can apply to other aspects of their studies. I was truly impressed with the level of work I saw. Can’t wait for next year’s contest!

Tennessee has a great track record at national level too! This year, Rebecca Derby and Rachel Emond from Sevier County High School were awarded the gold medal in the Senior Group Exhibit category for their project, “Ignition of a Revolution:  The Fire that Changed America.” Also, Springfield student Brittany Wilharm, was awarded “The Legacy Prize” sponsored by the Creativity Foundation.

For more information on Tennessee History Day visit:

Hurrah for the Fourth!

In celebration of the Fourth of July, may I recommend a delightful, day-long steamboat excursion along the Mississippi? If you can’t make the daylight trip, plan on taking the romantic moonlight excursion. And enjoy the band!

Memphis Public Ledger. July 3, 1874

Keep Cool

Temperatures reached record highs in East Tennessee over the weekend. 105’F!!

If only we could order from the past …

Memphis Public Ledger. July 2, 1872

Historical Newspaper Portal

If you’re interested in searching historical newspapers from further afield (as well as American papers), take a look at

The portal makes it possible to search all of the world’s digital newspapers from one place and at one time. (Okay, not ALL but they’re working on it.) To date, these include newspaper collections from Australia’s and New Zealand’s national libraries, the Upper Hutt Newspaper Archive in NZ, and in the United States: Cambridge Public Library, MA, Chronicling America, the University of California, and the University of Richmond, VA. And it’s FREE.

Elephind was launched recently by the New Zealand-based company, Digital Library Consulting Ltd. The portal uses Veridian, the company’s own software, developed specifically for accessing digitized historical newspapers online.

Here’s a snapshot of the Advanced Search page. Click on it to visit to the page.


Today’s News, Tomorrow’s Men (1946)

While working on the Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project I’ve had the chance to explore and research many aspects of newspaper history. One of my favourite subjects has been “newsies” … the boys and girls who brought the newspapers to the street, and later, to the readers’ doors. I’m working on a short compilation of photos set to music, which I’ll post here soon. In the meantime …

Another fascinating subject is newspaper technology. From the earliest steam-powered printing presses and linotype machines, to the first teleprinters used to relay the latest news across the world. See what it took to make a newspaper in 1946 in this extract from the film “Today’s News, Tomorrow’s Men,” filmed here in Knoxville in 1946. It was made by Knoxville-based filmmaker, Sam Orleans. The film encourages young boys to become news carriers in order to learn good business practice and to achieve a sense of responsibility. This extract focuses on the staff and machinery involved in producing the newspaper; it was filmed at the Knoxville News-Sentinel.


I love coming across details in 19th century newspapers that you don’t see anymore. Here are two examples.

This market rates column uses a symbol to represent the word “per”. At least, that’s what it appears to mean. The word “per” is also used in the column so perhaps the symbol has a more specific meaning? Also, the “lb” abbreviation for pound has a horizontal line across the two letters.


And here’s a nifty abbreviation for et cetera: