2019 Award for Access

Revista Del Valle, a daily Spanish-language newspaper from Edinburg, Texas, June 8, 1915. Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries. The Portal to Texas History.

“Texas Borderlands Newspaper Collection”

Mark E. Phillips, Associate Dean for Digital Libraries, University of North Texas Libraries

Nominated by: Dreanna Belden, Assistant Dean for External Relations, University of North Texas Libraries

The Texas Borderlands Newspaper Collection provides public access to a significant piece of Texas history and culture. This digital collection spans from 1859 to 1997, representing nearly 66,000 pages of historical newspapers from 18 counties near the Texas border, accessible through the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries’ Portal to Texas History (the Portal). These newspapers provide researchers a window in time during a turbulent but brave period in Texas history. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission awarded the UNT Libraries three TexTreasures grants to fund the project. Mark Phillips, the project’s primary investigator, has received the 2019 CRL Primary Source Award for Access.

Falfurrias Facts (Falfurrias, Tex.) weekly newspaper, June 25, 1937. Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries. The Portal to Texas History.

Before this project, the Portal hosted a large quantity of content from the border cities of Brownsville and El Paso; however, newer collections add representation from rural inhabits along the Texas border. When the project started, materials from these rural counties were scant in the Portal, consisting primarily of maps. There was practically no free access anywhere to historical newspapers of the region.

The counties whose newspapers are being digitized form a solid ribbon up the southwestern Texas border, starting from just north of Cameron County and moving to Reeves County. Each of these counties, though not necessarily heavily populated, has a unique narrative, and the newspaper of each county speaks for the ancestors of the current inhabitants, who come from multiple cultures, primarily Latino and Anglo.

A reviewer for this project said, “Any state would be fortunate to have such a resource for the study of its history. The interface is straightforward and provides visually appealing summaries of the content.” All materials digitized for this project are freely accessible through the online Portal. Users can discover the newspapers through internet search engines, and search the full text of issues in the Portal interface, which has seen enhanced functionality.

Since the Texas Borderlands Newspaper Collection came online, it’s been accessed over 67,000 times. When the final stage of this project is complete, over 75,000 pages will be available.