FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 21, 2023
Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room secures grant funding from National Archives’ National Historical Publications and Records Commission
TACOMA, WASH.— Tacoma Public Library's Northwest Room local history and archives center has received support from the National Archives' National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to launch a $200,000 digitization project. The project, titled “Below the Fold: Revealing Hidden Stories Through Digitization of a Newspaper Photograph Archive,” will fund large-scale digitization of the photo archive of The News Tribune. The collection of photographs was transferred from the newspaper’s offices to the Northwest Room in 2021.
The photographs cover a wide range of subjects. Some images appeared in the paper, but there are also thousands of shots that never made it into a story. Subjects range from Pierce County and Tacoma-area events and industries to politicians and key local figures.
Significantly, some of the images contribute to the Northwest Room’s work of mitigating silences in the historic record, as they document local Indigenous tribes, including the Puyallup and Nisqually, leaders of underrepresented communities, and generations of immigrants and refugees who have come to Tacoma from all over the world.
“This funding from NHPRC is important because it gives TPL the opportunity to surface content that helps draw connections between Tacoma’s past and present,” stated Neighborhood Services Manager for Archives and Special Collections Anna Trammell.
“These are valuable resources that can help us as a community examine the challenges currently facing our city. For example, images of floods, forest fires, oil spills, and the impact of pollution can serve as tools for examining climate change; Images of protests, strikes, and demonstrations can be reference points in thinking about more recent activism; Images reflecting changing neighborhoods and community displacement allow us to study gentrification and housing affordability,” continued Trammell.
Northwest Room staff began digitizing these materials soon after TPL received them. As each item is processed, it is labeled and made publicly accessible through the Northwest Room’s online database, Northwest ORCA.
This project will culminate with a public event and exhibit highlighting the digitized images. The photos have already begun to be integrated in city-wide programming, K-12 classroom visits, and public history projects across Washington state.
Once completely digitized, it is estimated that over 10,000 photographs will have been added to the ORCA database, providing key context and information to generations to come.
Learn more about the work and collections of the Northwest Room on the Tacoma Public Library website.
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