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Since the Nebraska State Historical Society began in the late 1870s, many newspaper editors have served on its Board. Among these was J. Sterling Morton, owner/editor of the Nebraska City News. Morton, and others like him, urged the Society to begin collecting newspapers as early as 1890. The Society's efforts to gather papers from all over the state have resulted in a large and significant historical collection. Researchers use the Society's newspapers today to gather information about historical events, to study the development and demise of communities, and to trace ancestors. Now, the Nebraska State Historical Society and the University Libraries at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln are engaged in a project to preserve and catalog 4,500 Nebraska and ethnic newspaper titles in the collections of the Society and the University.
The Nebraska Newspaper Project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the U.S. Newspaper Program. The goals of the project are to catalog newspaper titles at the Society and the University, and then in the next phase, to catalog collections around the state. In the future, onsite microfilming at newspaper offices may be a possibility. In 1994, an estimated 1,000 newspapers were cataloged and added to the U.S. Newspaper Program union list on OCLC. Interlibrary loan activity has increased at the Society, and more people are aware of the unique resources available for research.