Chronicling America Dispatches: Scanning for Arizona's History

January 22, 2013
Scanning Arizona Digital Newspaper Project QR Code
Photo caption

The QR codes featured on Arizona Digital Newspaper Project bookmarks can be scanned using any QR code scanner app on your smartphone.

Courtesy of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

From time to time, we like to highlight dispatches from our state partners participating in the National Digital Newspaper Program, a joint sponsorship between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress to create a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922, from all states and U.S. territories. The following dispatch comes from our Arizona state partner, the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

Quick Response (QR) Codes, those strange squarish bar codes embedded in advertisements, posters, and magazines, typically direct the public to learn more about a commercial product or business.  But what if they could also help people learn about their state's history?

Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records (ASLAPR) has recently embarked on a project to create Quick Response (QR) Codes for quick access to twelve of its more widely recognized Arizona historic newspapers.  The QR codes allow the public to access the digitized AZ newspapers with their smart devices.  Using a free website to develop barcodes that link to the URL’s of each individual newspaper, ASLAPR has been able to create various platforms for outreach related to the project.

Screenshot of the Arizona Digital Newspaper Project and how it is interfaced with QR codes.
Photo caption

By scanning the QR code, your smartphone's web browser is taken to the main page for the newspaper featured on the Arizona Digital Newspaper Project's website.

Courtesy of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

As part of a National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC), ASLAPR, a division of the Secretary of State's Office, has been digitizing Arizona historic newspapers published during 1859 to 1922. It is made accessible on the LC’s database Chronicling America and Arizona Digital Newspaper Program (ADNP).

With a simple scan using the camera on a device such as a phone or tablet, readers can be directed straight to an information page where they can browse the pages of newspaper titles such as the Tombstone Epitaph , Arizona Republican, or Mohave County Miner.

Beginning with a quick guest blog on the ASLAPR blog “Arizona Archivy”, 100 hits were received the day of the ADNP QR Code post.  Interest in the QR Codes has since been building.

A screenshot of QR codes linked to various digitized newspapers.
Photo caption

Scan each QR code to go the main search page for each Arizona Newspaper.

Courtesy of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

The QR Codes have been placed in the Reading Room at the Archives building for patrons.  Going forward the intent is to use the QR Codes for conferences and presentations.  ASLAPR is also marking its calendar for February 14th 2013, Arizona’s 101st year of statehood.  A large celebration occurs every year for this significant event, so ASLAPR hopes to deliver large quantities of QR Codes to the assembled crowds and inspire the group to learn about Arizona’s fascinating past through its historical newspapers. 

This emerging technology attracts many smart device users.   QR Code Reader Apps are readily available and once downloaded, scanning is easy.  Use of QR Codes provides large storage and quick access to information.  ASLAPR is excited about developing interest in the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program through the use of this new implement. 

For more information about Arizona Digital Newspaper Program, please visit us at