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April 10, 1997
Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217
Rick Aspan, Ameritech (312) 364-3570

American History Collections From Across the U.S. To Go On-Line Through Library of Congress/Ameritech Awards

10 Institutions Are First to Add Historical Collections to National Digital Library Program

Ten libraries from across the United States today have been given awards totaling $600,000 through a partnership between the Library of Congress and Ameritech to digitize historically significant American collections and make them available for the first time via the Internet.

As a result, some of America's treasured past from regions throughout the country -- such as 19th century sheet music, photographs documenting the settlement of the Great Plains and first-person narratives of Southern life in the 1800s -- soon will come alive to millions via the Internet.

The Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition, a three-year program made possible by a $2 million gift from the Ameritech Foundation, enables U.S. libraries, archives, museums and historical societies to digitize their collections of American historical materials for inclusion in American Memory, the Library of Congress's on-line collection of primary source materials in U.S. history and culture, available at The Ameritech program is the first effort to make unique collections from libraries across the United States available on-line via the Library of Congress to millions of children, students, educators and lifelong learners.

"We are delighted to be able to offer our support to these exemplary projects," said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. "Integrating these collections into our National Digital Library Program will not only enhance the depth and breadth of available materials, but also make it truly national in scope by providing access to collections in geographically dispersed institutions from our American Memory site, which already includes more than 400,000 items."

"This is wonderful news for anyone interested in our nation's great heritage and rich history," said Lana Porter, President of Ameritech Library Services. "Ameritech is proud that its efforts will help digitally preserve thousands of American items from across the United States and bring them into libraries, homes and schools everywhere for millions to enjoy and cherish. This first-time endeavor truly boosts the national nature of the digital library effort."

The 10 first-year winners are:

  • Brown University, Providence, R.I., for African American Sheet Music. Award amount: $72,193. This collection consists of 1,500 pieces of African American sheet music from 1870 to 1920, providing a window into the daily concerns and pastimes of African Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Denver Public Library, Denver, for History of the American West, 1860-1920. Award amount: $71,250. This collection includes 7,500 photos documenting the lives of the Plains, Mountain and Southwestern tribes of Native Americans and the mining booms in Colorado, plus access to 48,000 previously digitized images in the Denver Western history collection.
  • Duke University, Durham, N.C., for Historic American Sheet Music. Award amount: $64,688. This collection consists of 3,000 pieces of historic American sheet music from the period 1850-1920, representing a wide variety of musical types, including bel canto; minstrel songs; protest, political and patriotic songs; plantation songs; spirituals; songs from vaudeville, musicals and Tin Pan Alley; World War I compositions; and Civil War battle songs.
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., for American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920. Award amount: $33,214. This collection consists of 2,500 lantern slide images assembled to support teaching and student presentations in the field of architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning.
  • New York Public Library, New York City, for Small Town America: Stereoscopic Views from the Dennis Collection, 1850-1910. Award amount: $74,956. This collection includes 11,552 stereoscopic views representing the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo, for The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920. Award amount: $15,628. These collections include more than 900 images documenting the settlement and agricultural development of the Northern Great Plains.
  • Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, for The African American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920. Award amount: $72,844. This digital collection of 22,000 pages of text and images focuses on themes such as slavery and emancipation, religion, public opinion and political actions.
  • University of Chicago, Chicago, for American Environmental Photographs, 1897-1931. Award amount: $67,418. This collection of 5,800 photographic images documents natural environments, ecologies and plant communities in their original state throughout the United States.
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for First-Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920. Award amount: $74,782. This compilation of 100 printed texts documents the culture of the 19th century American South from the viewpoint of Southerners and includes diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts and ex- slave narratives.
  • University of Texas, Austin, for The South Texas Border, 1900-1920. Award amount: $46,945. This collection consists of 8,241 photographs of northeastern Mexico and the South Texas border area, including images of the diverse ethnic groups living in the area, military preparation for the Mexican Revolution and World War I, and the natural and built environment.

The approximately $600,000 in total awards to the 10 winners will be used toward the cost of digitizing specific collections of Americana at the institutions and making them available at the Library of Congress's site on the World Wide Web.

Nearly 80 award applications from 31 states were received for the first-year's competition, which were reviewed by three independent panels of distinguished scholars, educators, archivists, librarians, administrators and technical specialists.

In formulating the competition guidelines and the evaluation process, the Library turned to the National Endowment for the Humanities for expert guidance.

Led by George Farr, Director of the Division of Preservation and Access of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Deanna Marcum, President of the Council on Library Resources and the Commission on Preservation and Access, three successive panels evaluated applications for historical significance, technical viability and the relevance of collections to current and planned American Memory collections.

"Together the projects provide a wide array of compelling new images of people, places and events from the Texas border and the agricultural heartland to the towns and cities of the Eastern Seaboard," Mr. Farr said.

"A marvelous variety of collections was proposed for digitization; we were delighted by the diversity in topics and approaches," Ms. Marcum said.

Additional information on the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition, including summaries of the projects of the first award recipients, is available at:

The goal of the National Digital Library Program is to make freely available over the Internet millions of items by the year 2000, in collaboration with other institutions. Ameritech's contribution will help the Library meet that goal by providing funds to libraries and other institutions to aid them in the critical, yet expensive, task of making their unique American collections widely available to anyone with access to the World Wide Web.

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library, with more than 111 million items, including the papers of 23 U.S. presidents. Its collections are in nearly every language and format -- from Chinese woodblock prints to compact disks. Founded in 1800 to serve the reference needs of Congress, the Library has grown into an unparalleled treasure house of knowledge and creativity.

Ameritech (NYSE: AIT) serves millions of customers in 50 states and 40 countries. Ameritech provides a full range of communications services, including local and long distance telephone, cellular, paging, security monitoring, cable TV, electronic commerce, on-line services and more. One of the world's 100 largest companies, Ameritech ( has 66,000 employees, 1 million share owners and $24 billion in assets.

NOTE: Following are media contacts at each of the libraries that have received awards:

  • Brown University: Mark Nickel (401) 863-2476
  • Denver Public Library: Anya Breitenbach (303) 640-6368
  • Duke University: Noah Bartolucci (919) 681-8065
  • Harvard University: Hinda Sklar (617) 495-4010
  • New York Public Library: Rebecca Churchill or Liz Smith (212) 221-7676
  • North Dakota State University: David Wahlberg (701) 231-8325
  • Ohio Historical Society: Ann Frazier or Maggie Sanese (614) 297-2310
  • University of Chicago: Catherine Behan (773) 702-8359
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Laura Toler (919) 962-2091
  • University of Texas, Austin: Carol Cable (512) 495-4382

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PR 97-64
ISSN 0731-3527

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