On the Road Again: Highlights from the Annual Meeting of the National Digital Newspaper Program

Greetings, all! Fresh from our trip to the Alaska Historical Society conference in Nome, This past week, Anastasia Tarmann and I have visited Washington, D.C. this past week on behalf of the National Digital Newspaper Program annual meeting.

First stop was the National Endowment for the Humanities for the start of the conference, and to meet new NDNP staff. After communicating through email and listservs, it was great to be able to put faces to names!

NDNP

At this conference, I learned a great deal from my colleagues about their day-to-day triumphs and challenges of the National Digital Newspaper Program. Insights included big data projects using Chronicling America, the creation of statewide newspaper repositories, social media endeavors, and many other developments. No matter the funding cycle, from the first-ever awardees to long-term NDNP veterans, everyone had valuable first-hand experiences and stories to share.

In addition to the presentations, roundtables, and talks given by my colleagues from all across the country, I made time to attend plenty of museums and cultural institutions. Most relevant to the NDNP were, of course, the Newseum and the Library of Congress. This incredible museum touches on the dangerous, important work that is journalism. Front pages of newspapers representing each state and territory flank the entrance out in front of the Newseum.

Outstanding exhibits included “Pulitzer at 100” with particular emphasis on prizes in photojournalism, and “1968: the Civil Rights Movement at 50”, and “Make Some Noise” which focused on student leaders of the civil rights movement. The 9/11 memorial, in which reporters and journalists covered the attack on the World Trade Center, and the memorial to all journalists killed in the line of duty were sobering reminders of the life-threatening work these brave individuals undertake as part of their jobs.

On a lighter (and local) note, the infamous “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner, which a group of students from Juneau-Douglas High School students created, “lives” permanently at the Newseum in their exhibit on the 5 freedoms (speech, assembly, press, petition, religion) as outlined in the Bill of Rights.

Newseum 3

On Thursday and Friday, the NDNP conference reconvened at the Madison building of the Library of Congress, just across the street from the Jefferson building with its striking interior:

LOC 1

LOC 2

Also worth noting during my trip: the National Museum of American History included a portion on how a free press helped shaped revolutionary sentiment in the American colonies. This display included an antique paper, the Virginia Gazette, along with a replica printing press:

American Hist Museum

American Hist Museum 1

American Hist Museum 2

The setting of the NDNP conference in our nation’s capital reaffirmed the importance of a non-contiguous state like Alaska’s inclusion in this project. Having heard from my colleagues, and having seen the world-class museums and institutions that Washington D.C. has to offer, I am thrilled to return to Juneau to continue the work that goes into the Alaska Digital Newspaper Project, and to be able to help make historic Alaska newspapers available on Chronicling America.

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