A consortium of librarians and archivists are preserving the Catholic news from the last century, Catholic News Service reports.
As newspapers age, their pages get more brittle and fragile. And outdated technologies such as microfilm and microfiche keep those newspapers from being readily accessible.
Many Catholic newspapers, unlike their secular daily brethren, were not kept, maintained and preserved with the same level of passion, save for some diocesan archives.
To correct this situation, the Catholic Research Resources Alliance has undertaken a project to digitise nearly a dozen of the United States' top Catholic newspapers of regional and national importance – the print runs of which, for some of them, go back for more than a century.
"Creating a Catholic news archive and digital aggregation for Catholic newspapers is something that scholars are very interested in," said Jennifer Younger, executive director of the alliance, known as CRRA.
"We mark the beginning (of the project) in 2011, when we brought together a newspaper committee: 'If we're going to digitise something, what would be most useful?'
Newspapers rose right to the top. Which newspapers? We had to figure out which newspapers existed, which ones were being held (by libraries), which ones weren't being held," she told Catholic News Service.
The committee came up with a list of more than 800 Catholic publications from the United States alone, and another 200-plus in Canada.
Eleven newspapers the digitization project has begun with represent some of the largest dioceses in the nation.
A 12th newspaper recently added to the list is the Catholic Worker, which since its founding in the 1930s is still a penny a copy, as the front-page banner says.
For a national perspective, the National Catholic Reporter and 65 years' worth of newsfeeds starting in 1920 from what is now called Catholic News Service will be digitised.
The digitised material will be made freely available through the CRRA-developed Catholic News Archive.
Digitization project preserving century of Catholic newspapers, newsfeeds (Catholic News Service)