PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota State Historical Society is digitizing archival newspapers to preserve state history and give researchers online access.

The society is using a nearly $300,000 two-year federal grant to work with the Minnesota Historical Society to modernize the records, The Daily Republic of Mitchell reported. The society will digitize 100 rolls of microfilm from newspapers that stopped publication in 1922 or earlier.

“We have to select newspapers that have an end date of 1922, so it’ll be earlier newspapers that qualify,” said Chelle Somsen, a state archivist who’s overseeing the project. “A committee is going to meet and decide which title to start with, so no decisions have been made yet.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities grant allows South Dakota to participate in a Library of Congress project that aims to develop a searchable online database of selected U.S. newspapers. The Chronicling America Project allows researchers to search the database for free.

“The funds we received will help preserve and promote South Dakota’s rich history,” Somsen said.

Although the digitization will be done out of state, members of the South Dakota and Minnesota historical societies will check each image to ensure they are easy to read. Others will help create histories for each newspaper that’s digitized and study the publications to create searchable databases for each page.

“Otherwise, the vendor would only digitize the pages and we’d end up with images. We’ll make sure the images are readable and searchable,” Somsen said.

North Dakota and Iowa began digitizing their newspapers last year.

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