Preserving State History with The Illinois Newspaper Project: A Call for Nominations

Newspaper Preservation

Since its founding in 1987, the Illinois Newspaper Project (INP) has contributed toward the preservation of historical Illinois newspapers. Funded in large part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the US Newspaper Program, the INP’s first phase surveyed cultural heritage institutions, newspaper publishers, and individuals in order to identify newspapers published throughout Illinois history. Newspapers were then cataloged over the course of several years of fieldwork in which many institutions played a role. This collaborative effort led to the creation of the Illinois Newspaper Directory. In 2005, INP staff began preservation microfilming Illinois newspapers held in the University of Illinois collections and other institutions in the state.

Entering the digital era, a new program was founded to lead efforts to digitize previously identified and microfilmed newspapers. NEH grants have funded the INP’s contribution to the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a cooperation founded in 2004 between the NEH and the Library of Congress. This Program ensures long-term preservation and access to the country’s newspaper heritage through Chronicling America, a searchable digital newspaper repository freely available to the public.

Over the years, the INP has contributed over 500,000 pages to Chronicling America. The INP also created a local searchable database for newspapers, the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (IDNC), which currently has issues from 207 newspapers.

Jessie assessing (“collating”) a newspaper on microfilm before sending the reel off for digitization. 

New Opportunity to Participate

Now in its sixth round of partnership with the NDNP, the Illinois Newspaper Project invites Illinois libraries, museums, historical societies, and other cultural heritage institutions to participate in the preservation of Illinois newspapers starting with the selection process. This year, the INP will accept nominations of newspapers submitted by Illinois cultural heritage institutions. An advisory board will review the applications and winning titles will receive long-term preservation and open research access through Chronicling America.

In April 2023, Jessie Knoles was hired as the Newspaper Content Coordinator for the INP. Her role will assist in all aspects of newspaper preservation, including outreach and engagement efforts (because as we say in the information world…what is preservation without use!). Jessie’s goals for this year are to engage cultural heritage institutions across the state in the INP; assist institutions with preservation questions, including questions about the nomination process; and engage various communities in using digitized newspapers for their research and instruction.

By working with institutions across Illinois, the INP can ensure that digital newspaper databases like Chronicling America and the IDNC are reflective of the diversity across the state. Building partnerships across the state will also strengthen efforts to continue preserving Illinois newspaper heritage. Submissions will be accepted through September 30, 2023. To learn more about eligibility and how to nominate, check out our website.

If you have any questions or interest in the project, you can email the INP at or Jessie directly at You can read more about the history of the INP on our website.