Chattanooga history advocates David Moon of Picnooga and Sam Hall of Deepzoomchattanooga.com said they are planning to make over 6,000 pages of Chattanooga’s historical newspapers searchable online as a free, open resource to benefit researchers, students, genealogists, and the general public.
Mr. Moon said, "One of the most valuable historical assets is local newspapers, which have been available on microfilm at public libraries for decades. But the old process of accessing newspapers on microfilm is extremely time-consuming and tedious, requiring points of reference and manual searching.
Because of these obstacles, wel believe that Chattanooga’s papers remain largely inaccessible to a wider audience. We both have been proactively working to find affordable and sustainable options to bring newspapers online over the past four years. Digitalization can produce accurate keyword search results from tens of thousands of indexed pages within seconds.
"In 2016, the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) provided selected reels of Chattanooga newspapers on microfilm from their collection to be digitized via a 3rd party partner and coordinated by Sam Hall.
"The resulting 6,000+ digitized pages are just the beginning and will be accessible online at chattanooganewspapers.org
. The content is from multiple publications that date from as early as 1854 through 1907."
Mr. Moon said, “We've found an affordable, scalable, and user-friendly solution to make the papers available online. Within a year, we want to include more content to give users a wider selection of titles and dates to search from.
"Access is extremely important—anyone with a computer and internet access can connect and search the archive anytime, eliminating the physical barriers of the Public Library, or any library with microfilm copies of Chattanooga newspapers titles within their collections."
David Moon and Sam Hall said they are passionate "that there’s a great value in providing this information free to the public. We also hope it will create a heightened interest in local history beyond Chattanooga. "
Mr. Hall said he is very optimistic. “A very attainable goal of $1,500 will allow this first batch to go online. We’re hoping this will generate interest and funding to continue the process for hundreds of additional reels to be digitized and placed in the collection.”
Mr. Moon and Mr. Hall said they are looking for investors "who can see the long-term positive value of local digitized newspapers. They hope to attract local organizations and companies to help fund this initial start. But there is also an opportunity for individuals to contribute. All contributor names will be added to the completed website."
Donation levels will include $50 for individual donors or "Friends." $250 for "Sponsors" and $500 for "Partners." Money raised in excess of $1,500 will go to future digital newspaper content.
Visit ChattanoogaNewspapers.org to donate.