Historic Chattanooga newspapers to be digitized, project seeks investors

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Authored By Sean Phipps

About 6,000 pages from various Chattanooga newspapers have been scanned. (Photo: Contributed)

Founders of two online Chattanooga history organizations are asking for help to make over 6,000 pages of historic newspapers available online.

ChattanoogaNewspapers.org will feature a searchable online database with “free, open resources to benefit researchers, students, genealogists and the general public.”

Picnooga founder, David Moon, along with Sam Hall, founder of Deep Zoom Chattanooga, are seeking investors who see the “long-term positive value of local digitized newspapers.”

The content is from multiple publications that date from as early as 1854 through 1907.

From a release:

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, Moon and Hall believe that Chattanooga’s papers remain largely inaccessible to a wider audience.  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 Hall.

“We’ve found an affordable, scalable, and user-friendly solution to make the papers available online,” Moon said. “Within a year, we want to include more content to give users a wider selection of titles and dates to search from.”

Donation opportunities are available here. Levels include $50 at the “Friends” level. “Sponsors” can give $250 and “Partners” start at the $500 level.

“A very attainable goal of $1,500 will allow this first batch to go online,” Hall said. “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.

Read more about the past efforts to digitize historic Chattanooga newspapers.