African American Newspapers

Project Title: African American Newspapers

Long Title (if desired): African American Newspapers Series 1 and 2, 1827-1998

Project Lead's Name: Jenny Presnell

Project Lead's Email:

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-3937

Project Lead's Division: ULB

Other Team Members and their emails:

  • Mark Dahlquist:
  • Nate Floyd:

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal:

  • Media, Journalism and Film
  • English
  • Comparative Media Studies, Film Studies
  • Film Studies and Global International Studies
  • Global and International Studies (Black World Studies Program)
  • History

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 2,500

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 500

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem:

  1. Problem description: There are many departments within the University that find African American Newspapers essential to their research and student projects. Currently, the University does not have access to any single database that is devoted solely to the African American press and that covers African American life and culture from the African American perspective for the 19th and 20th centuries. To have access to this breadth of coverage, students must browse microfilm ordered through Interlibrary Loan.
  2. Approach to solving problem: This project will permanently add African American Newspapers Series 1 and 2, 1827-1998 to the library's collection of electronic resources. This database includes 350 newspapers from 35 states published by the African American press. These newspapers provide insight into local African American communities during the Antebellum South, the Jim Crow Era, the Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance, and Civil Rights movement, as well as the development of both the Black church and of a political and economic identity. A wide variety of students will benefit from access to this collection including undergraduates, graduate students, advanced undergraduate students and honors scholars, and faculty conducting original research using primary source documents concerning African American culture. Disciplines that may benefit include English, History, American Studies, Black World Studies, Media/Journalism/Film, Marketing, Education, and Women & Gender Studies.
By adding this database, undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff will have 24/7 access and full text digital access through online searching. There is a one-time activation fee for this database will provide Miami University with perpetual access to 350 newspapers. In addition, there is annual maintenance fee that would be paid by the libraries. There are no additional fees: unlike many yearly-subscription databases, African American Newspapers will be available to Miami University students and faculty in perpetuity.

Despite demand for this database, the initial activation price of both Series I and Series II is $36,300 and is something that cannot be easily absorbed into the Library's current material budget. It is for this reason that the library is proposing to use student technology fee funds to acquire a very desirable new resource that will be accessible to all students, and will be used widely in the curriculum of courses in multiple departments. The Libraries are requesting funds $20,000 from the Tech Fee budget to purchase Series I. The Libraries will purchase Series II at $16,300 from Library resources.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: This database would empower students who must now use print and microfilm sources to access the newspapers that served the African American community during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, by providing them with access to high-quality digital primary source materials with a sophisticated search engine.

How will you assess the success of the project: Usage of this database will be tracked as an electronic resource just like the library's other databases, and the usage statistics will be available to view online through regular reports. The library will also track the numbers of students introduced to this database through instruction sessions. Faculty will be consulted to help determine the impact of this resource on learning outcomes for individual courses.

Total Amount Requested: $20,000

Is this a multi-year request: No