Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections?

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (IDNC) is a project of the Library at the University of Illinois.  We seek to preserve historic newspapers and make them available to researchers within Illinois and around the world.  With similar projects underway in other states, we are primarily interested in digitizing materials from Illinois and the Midwest, though we offer access to other historic publications as well. 

How are the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections different from the Illinois Newspaper Project?

The Illinois Newspaper Project (INP) is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and administered by the Library of Congress as part of the U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP) and the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). The INP team selects and digitizes historically significant Illinois titles (published before 1923) to be aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress via the Chronicling America database.

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections is a separate collection containing a variety of newspapers and trade journals, some of which were published after 1923. Our digital collections include newspapers and trade journals in a variety of fields, such as American agriculture, the entertainment industry, and college news publications.

For more information on the Illinois Newspaper Project, please visit their website.

Why are some issues hard to read?

Our digital images are taken from scans of microfilm or print copies of newspapers.  The quality of the scan depends to some extent on the quality of the film itself as well as the condition of print copies that have been digitized.  Film taken before the 1980s can be prone to deterioration and low resolution, which affects the images on the website, while older newspapers are susceptible to various condition issues. We do our best to make our images readable, but limitations of the format affect image quality.

Using IDNC

How can I browse the collection by interest?

The IDNC has four distinct collections: the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection, Farm, Field and Fireside, American Popular Entertainment, and Collegiate Chronicle. To browse these collections, please click the Collection link in the navigation bar.

How do I share information from this site with others?

You can share IDNC articles in many ways, including email, Facebook, Pinterest, and other services.  To share an item, first right click the item with your mouse or track pad.  This will take you to a new screen where you will see the item you clicked.  Use the square buttons located on the upper right corner of the screen to share your article through email or social media.

What are the benefits of text correction?

The current text files on the site have been compiled using OCR (Optical Character Recognition). OCR software recognizes the shape of images and assigns alphabetical values to them.  You may notice some text file errors in letters and words due to unusual characters and fonts, as well as hard-to-recognize formats such as charts and tables.  We ask that if you see errors while browsing the collection, to please edit the text to reflect the way you see it on the screen.  Text correction improves the accuracy of the text files and help users yield more accurate search results.

How do I find obituaries?

Type “obituary” in the search bar to explore obituaries across every publication in our collection. To search for an individual, enter the name in quotes, for example “Abraham Lincoln.” Click on the Search link in the navigation bar to use advanced search tools, such as searching within a date range or searching within one publication.

Can I print high-resolution images of these newspapers? Color images?

Our digital images are created from scans of microfilm.  During the scanning process some resolution may be lost. This is especially true for the images found in old newspapers, which were not of the highest quality.  Scans are optimized for the text to be readable, but some issues have multiple scans to provide better quality for images. Please check if there is a copy of the issue with with a clearer picture.  Unfortunately, we are unable to provide higher resolutions scans of the materials that have been digitized.  We scan our newspapers in black and white, so we are not able to provide color scans of the items in our collection. 

I’ve found an image, but it’s a black blob. What do I do?

Some of the images in our collection have become unclear due to material and scanning issues.  One option is to save these images and use photo editing software to enhance them. We currently don’t have a way to enhance unclear images on our site. 

Why are you missing [year/month/issue] of this title?

Our digitized issues of historic newspaper were created from original print copies.  Due to deterioration of paper and loss over time, some issues may be missing.  We work to provide the best access to our collections and digitize all materials as funding and resources allow.

I'm looking for a picture of my relative on this date in the paper - can you help me?

Use the Advanced Search bar by clicking Search in the navigation bar to search for an individual. Advanced Search allows you to search by the person’s name, the publication, its print location and the date, or date range to identify relevant issues. If you know the name of the publication and the date that it was published, please use the browse by title and date tools to find the issue, and search through the pages for any photographs included.

Can you find an article, and send me a digital copy from film and send it to me? How much will this cost?

We do not provide this service at this time.

Are there any fees or costs to visit this site?

No - access to the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections is free and open to the public.


I have historic newsprint that I would like to donate to the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.  How can I proceed?

We would be happy to discuss donation with you.  Please contact us for a list of the newspapers we are interested in acquiring. If your item is not included in the list, we are unable to pay for its digitization, as we have established priorities for our digitization efforts.  We would be happy to consult about costs of digitization and possible funding sources.

Can we send you our print/microfilm?

Our current process does not allow us to digitize material submitted from other sources through our own funding, but we are happy to answer questions related to digitization efforts. 

Which vendors do you work with for digitization?

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections has partnered with Northern Micrographics and OCLC Preservation Centers for digital imagery services.


How are newspaper digitization projects funded?

Newspaper digitization projects are funded through contributions from grant agencies, individual donors, and institutions. The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections have been funded through a combination of sources. Please see the Acknowledgment page for details.

Can I send you my old positive film and you will digitize it for free?

We are unable to provide digitization services without charge.  We can advise you about possible resources to provide for the digitization about your materials, and advise you on costs and the process of digitization.  Please contact us for more information. 


What are the image quality and file standards for the IDNC?

The IDNC uses the standards and specifications established by the Library of Congress in the Chronicling America newspaper preservation program. For this year’s technical standards, see the Chronicling America website.

What metadata standards do you use?

The IDNC uses the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standards (METS).  METS schema is a standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library, expressed using the XML schema language.  Please visit the Library of Congress METS development site for more information about this standard.


If I have a different question, how can I contact you?

Please contact us at with any additional questions.
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