News on the Margins

Published: 
April 2018

The accessibility and survival of historically significant news records created by and for marginalized communities is the responsibility of libraries, archives, and museums today.

The "News on the Margins: Surfacing Marginalized Voices in the Newspaper Collections of Libraries, Archives, and Museums" publication documents the design, methods, results, and recommendations of News on the Margins, a Fall 2017 pilot project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and undertaken by the Educopia Institute in partnership with the Digital Public Library of America.

The News on the Margins project takes as its primary concern the accessibility and survival of historically significant news records created by and for marginalized communities. Our initial pilot project, detailed in the report, has focused on designing and testing a foundation for identifying, gathering, synthesizing, and ultimately acting upon data that document the current state of newspapers (digital, microfilm, and paper) written by and for two marginalized U.S. communities: African American and LGBT audiences. Our goal has been to surface the many African American and LGBT newspapers and periodicals that are all too often hidden from view and difficult to access. These newspapers and periodicals, like those of other marginalized groups, cover a range of important stories, narratives, and perspectives that are omitted from publications by members of the dominant culture. They offer crucial evidence about the broad spectrum of experiences that Americans have had in different historical moments.

This pilot project is a first step in a larger effort that we envision could help to surface and improve accessibility to the newspapers and periodicals created by and for marginalized communities. To promote and inform future work, this synthesis of the project’s findings and recommendations includes 1) observations based on the methods we have deployed and the data we have gathered to date, 2) priorities for aggregation of current digital content, 3) opportunities to partner with commercial entities to expand access to content that has been digitized but is maintained only behind a paywall, 4) priorities for digitization of current physical issues and microfilm, and 5) other tasks that Educopia, DPLA, and many other partners might undertake in the future to increase access to these crucial historical sources.