The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York


June 15 NEH Chronicling America Data Challenge

How can you use open data to explore history?  NEH invites members of the public to produce creative web-based projects demonstrating the potential for using the data found in the Chronicling America website, available at  Chronicling America is a website providing access to digitized U.S. newspapers and to information about historic newspapers.  The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between NEH and the Library of Congress, produces the site.  Visit the Chronicling America website at  For more about the humanities, visit the NEH website at

What are we looking for?  NEH encourages contestants to develop data visualizations, web-based tools, or other innovative and interesting web-based projects using the open data found in Chronicling America.  There are over ten million pages of digitized newspapers in Chronicling America, published between 1836 and 1922, from towns and cities across the United States.  The newspapers illuminate 19th- and 20th-century American life, with stories about politics, sports, shopping, music, food, health, science, movies, and everything in between.  Entries should uncover trends, display insights, explore a theme, or tell a story.

For example, entries using the Chronicling America newspaper data could:

  • Show how local news in various places covered the World Series of baseball
  • Trace the developing motion picture industry across the country
  • Follow the enactment of amendments to the Constitution
  • Show coverage of a historic political campaign in various locations
  • Map the travels of a president across the country based on local news coverage
  • Show changes in advertising logos or newspaper mastheads over time
  • Track the price or adoption of consumer goods over time in different locations
  • Explore tourism in different locations in the United States
  • Discover how various regions of the country celebrated Thanksgiving at different times

Projects could also create data mashups that juxtapose Chronicling America data with other datasets or translate newspapers into different languages.

The Library of Congress has developed a user-friendly Application Program Interface (API), which can be used to explore the data contained in Chronicling America in many ways.  You can learn more about the API at  Entrants must use this API to access the data, but are welcome to use existing software or tools to create their projects.

Amount of the Prize

NEH will award winning entries $5,000 for First Prize, $3,000 for Second Prize, and $2,000 for Third Prize.  NEH may award up to three separate K-12 Student Prizes of $1,000 each.  In addition to cash prizes, NEH will invite the winners of the competition to NEH in Washington, D.C., to present their work at the National Digital Newspaper Program Annual Meeting and to be honored at the Chronicling America reception given by NEH in September, 2016.  Please see Rules for more details on prizes.