The Atlas of Digitised Newspapers and Metadata: Reports from Oceanic Exchanges
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Between 2017 and 2019, Oceanic Exchanges, funded through the Transatlantic Partnership for Social Sciences and Humanities 2016 Digging into Data Challenge (https://diggingintodata.org), brought together leading efforts in computational periodicals research from six countries—Finland, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States—to examine patterns of information flow across national and linguistic boundaries. Over the past thirty years, national libraries, universities and commercial publishers around the world have made available hundreds of millions of pages of historical newspapers through mass digitisation and currently release over one million new pages per month worldwide. These have become vital resources not only for academics but for journalists, politicians, schools, and the general public. However, these digitisation programmes share a critical weakness: the very creation of national newspapers collections obscures the fact that international news exchange was central to the nineteenth-century press.
The Atlas of Digitised Newspapers and Metadata is an open access guide to digitised newspapers around the world. Its initial selection is limited in scope, being comprised of the ten databases (including the aggregator Europeana) for which we were able to secure access and licensing to the machine-readable data. Nonetheless, it aims to form the foundation of a wider mapping of collections beyond its current North Atlantic and Anglophone-Pacific focus. It brings together their histories and digitisation choices with a deeper look at the language of the digitised newspaper, the evolution of newspaper terminology and the variety of metadata available in these collections. It explores how machine-readable information about an issue, volume, page, and author is stored in the digital file alongside the raw content or text, and provides a controlled vocabulary designed to be used across disciplines, within academia and beyond.