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About the Project

The Historical Newspapers in Washington project is part of the Washington State Library's program to make its rare, historical resources more accessible to students, teachers and citizens across the state.

Historical newspapers are primary research tools for students, teachers, historians and genealogists. They document the daily life of communities in a way that no history book can reproduce, from the grand scope of world events to the minutiae of lost horses and the claims of patent medicines. Business concerns buy space to advertise and legal notices announce the dissolution of partnerships. Births, deaths and marriages appear next to essays, poems and amusing anecdotes. They are a unique resource.

The project is beginning with Washington's first newspaper, "The Columbian" from Olympia. Additional newspapers will be brought online as they are scanned and indexed. Papers in the first phase of the project will be selected from the territorial period and will represent different geographic regions of the state.

Many of these early newspapers only exist on microfilm, and, unfortunately, the microfilm is not of high enough quality for Optical Character Recognition software to be useful. Images are scanned from microfilm and then indexed by staff. Images are converted to the DJVU format and compressed for presentation on the Web. Patrons may search from a subject list or by date, city and county, keywords and personal names.

If you have further questions about the project, contact Judy Pitchford.