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NEH announces Chronicling America Data Challenge

National competition calls upon hackers and data enthusiasts to delve into historic newspapers

NEH Chronicling America data challenge


WASHINGTON (October 28, 2015) — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today launched a nationwide contest, challenging members of the public to produce creative web-based projects using data pulled from Chronicling America, the digital repository of historic U.S. newspapers.

The Chronicling America database, created through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, provides free digital access to ten million pages of historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922.

In a competition posted at, NEH encourages contestants to develop data visualizations, web-based tools, or other innovative web-based projects using the open data found at Chronicling America.

Chronicling America is an invaluable resource that preserves and makes available to all the first draft of America’s history,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “We at NEH would like to invite hackers of all ages to put their talents toward uncovering and presenting the many treasures to be found in this remarkable collection.”

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 covered the baseball World Series
  • Trace the development of the motion picture industry in the United States
  • Follow the enactment of amendments to the Constitution
  • Analyze coverage of historic political campaigns
  • Map the travels of a president across the country using local news coverage
  • Show changes in advertising logos or newspaper mastheads over time
  • Track the price or adoption of consumer goods through history
  • Explore tourism in different locations in the United States
  • Examine how Thanksgiving was celebrated in various regions of the country

The Library of Congress has developed a user-friendly Application Program Interface (API) to explore the data contained in Chronicling America data. Entrants must use this API to access the data, but are welcome to use existing software or tools to create their projects, or combine Chronicling America data with other datasets.

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, winners of the contest will be invited to Washington, DC in September 2016 to present their work at an annual National Digital Newspaper Program meeting at NEH headquarters. 

The contest closes on June 15, 2016. NEH staff will review entries, and will send the top submissions to a panel of expert judges. NEH will select a judging panel consisting of three outside experts, chosen for their achievements in the humanities and digital humanities. Contest winners will be announced in July 2016.

All contest details, including eligibility and submission requirements, are available at


About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

Media Contacts: Paula Wasley at (202) 606-8424 or