NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Utah Digital Newspapers Program has received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for digitizing Utah's local and state newspapers.

The AASLH Annual Awards Program, now in its 59th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of local, state and regional history. The 102 award winners will be honored during the AASLH 2004 Annual Meeting in St. Louis on Sept. 30.

The Utah Digital Newspapers program is operated by the U.'s J. Willard Marriott Library, in partnership with Brigham Young University, and contains 200,000 digitized pages from 25 newspapers in 14 Utah counties, printed between 1879 and 1956. Their Web site can be accessed at

The digitization process developed at the U. delivers high-quality images and accurate keyword searching at low costs and puts the U. on the leading edge of newspaper digitization, according to the association.

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"With this program we can open up long-forgotten Utah history to a whole new generation of Internet-savvy users. And since we're a public institution funded with state and federal monies, it's all free. Our eventual goal is to have a robust, statewide collection that will satisfy practically any newspaper researcher's need," explains John Herbert, program director.

New titles and issues will be loaded constantly over the next two years, the most prominent of which is the first 50 years of the Deseret News (1850-1899). The News will be loaded onto a server at the Lee Library at BYU, and then combined electronically with the newspapers already at the U. The result will be a single searchable database, allowing patrons the ease of searching across all the Utah newspapers at once.