Frequently Asked Questions


Why are there newspapers in the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (IDNC) from states other than Illinois?

In addition to Illinois Newspapers, the IDNC include three subject-focused collections. Farm, Field, and Fireside is a collection of Midwestern farm newspapers. The newspapers in American Popular Entertainment were published for the rapidly growing industry of mass entertainment, including theater, sports, and tourism. Collegiate Chronicle is a collection of college student newspapers.

Using the IDNC

Why are some issues hard to read?

We digitize newspapers by scanning microfilm copies of newspapers. The quality of the scan depends to some extent on the quality of the source microfilm, and consequently on the condition of the original print copy from which the microfilm itself was created. Film created before 1980 tends to have low resolution, and is prone to deterioration, both of which affect the quality of the final digitized image. We do our best to make the final digitized copy readable, but limitations of the source format affect image quality.

Can I print high-resolution images of these newspapers?

During the scanning process, some resolution may be lost. Higher resolution scans are available for images from some newspapers in the collections, but not all. Please contact us (see below) to inquire about specific images.

Are color images available for these newspapers?

Currently most images are only available in either black-and-white or grayscale.

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. (Half-tone and continuous-tone images, like photographs, are especially difficult to reproduce.) One option is to save these images and use photo editing software to enhance them. If you have access to such software, try reducing the contrast of the image.

Why are you missing some issues of this title?

We can only digitize newspapers that have been preserved. Some newspapers were never collected in complete runs; others were never collected at all. Many newspapers were printed on paper that literally crumbles into pieces over time. For these reasons, some issues may be missing. We work to provide the most complete runs possible.

I'm looking for an article about my relative --can you help me?

Use the Advanced Search by clicking Search in the navigation bar. Advanced Search allows you to refine your search by name of publication, county of publication, and date of publication. When searching for names of people, consider using proximity searching. Proximity searching allows you to search for words that appear close together in the text. For example, "John Smith"~3 will find results containing both the words "John" and "Smith" where they are no more than 3 words apart. So as well as finding "John Smith" it will also find "John J. Smith", "John Frederick Smith", "John Fullerton-Smith", and even "Smith, John". You can also browse a newspaper (sometimes a more effective strategy) if you know the place and dates of likely publication.

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 IDNC is free and open to the public.

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 encourage you to correct errors you might encounter while using the collection. Text correction improves the accuracy of keyword searches.


How are newspaper digitization projects funded?

Newspaper digitization projects are funded through contributions from grant agencies, individual donors, and peer institutions. Please see the Acknowledgement page for details.


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.

Which vendors do you work with for digitization?

We have partnered with Northern Micrographics and OCLC Preservation Centers for digital imaging services.


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

We use the standards and specifications established by the Library of Congress in the Chronicling America newspaper preservation program. Standards, technical specifications, and best practices change over time. For this year’s technical standards, see the Chronicling America website.

What metadata standards do you use?

We use the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standards (METS). The 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.