In 2002, the UNT Libraries began planning The Portal to Texas History, a digital gateway to historical materials from private collectors and collaborative partners, including libraries, museums, archives, and other historical groups. Our goal was to structure the Portal in a way that would ensure long-term sustainability.
With a ground-swell of support from interested parties, we received a Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund grant from the State of Texas to begin the project. By the end of 2004, the Portal was online with five collaborative partners and over 6500 digital images. About 1,000 visitors a month were using the online collections.
In 2005, we launched Portal Services for Educators, providing a variety of materials for teachers. In 2007, with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), we began digitizing Texas newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). These newspapers are available to the public via the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website and via the Portal. We also established the Texas Digital Newspaper Program (TDNP) to assist communities whose newspapers were not in the scope of NDNP.
Each year more partners, funding, and content were added, and our collections continued to grow. By 2018, the Portal hosted more than 10.5 million digital images from some 379 partners. Every month visitors from around the world use the online collections more than half a million times.
- Began work to create a technical structure for the Portal.
Portal to Texas History launched.
Aubrey Area Photographs Collection added to Portal.
Portal Services for Educators launched. Later renamed Resources4 Educators.
Pilot project with Ferris Public Library to digitize early issues of The Ferris Wheel newspaper.
- First Rescuing Texas History project.
Began digitizing Texas newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).
Established Texas Digital Newspaper Program (TDNP) to assist communities whose newspapers were not in the scope of NDNP. Our goal is to create access to Texas newspapers from any community, of any date.
Launched the Interface Optimization for Genealogists (IOGENE) project with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Second Rescuing Texas History project.
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) included Portal on EDSITEment website as one of the best online sources for education in the humanities.
Redesigned Portal based on research from the IOGENE project.
Texas State Historical Association became 100th Portal Partner.
Third Rescuing Texas History project.
Purchased Mekel Mach V scanner to allow in-house digitization of newspapers from microfilm.
Clyde Barrow Gang Collection added to Portal.
Texas General Land Office's Historic County Maps added to Portal.
Fourth Rescuing Texas History project.
The Cherokeean Herald from Rusk, Texas, became the first "born-digital" newspaper added to the Portal.
Fifth Rescuing Texas History project.
- Cathy Nelson Hartman Portal to Texas History Endowment founded.
Kennedy assassination materials added to the Portal.
Quartz A0 planetary scanner purchased to allow scanning of physical newspapers in full color. The Meridian Tribune is the first newspaper digitized on the new scanner.
1 million newspaper pages available on the Portal.
Portal featured in D-Lib® Magazine.
Completed third cycle of Texas newspaper digitization for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).
Sixth Rescuing Texas History project.
Portal named first service hub in the southwest by Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
2.5 million newspaper pages available on the Portal.
Seventh Rescuing Texas History project.
Installed Digital Transitions Phase One camera system to increase the Digital Projects Lab's ability to digitize large photographic negative collections.
First Portal to Texas History Research Fellowships awarded.
Combined digital collections (The Portal to Texas History, the UNT Digital Library, and the Gateway to Oklahoma History) reach 40 million uses.
Barbara C. Jordan Archives collection added to the Portal.
Eighth Rescuing Texas History project.
Installed i2S Digibook SupraScan Quartz A1 HD scanner in the Digital Projects lab to image materials up to 24" x 43".
4 million newspaper pages available on the Portal.
Selected for fourth, two-year cycle of the NDNP to digitize Texas newspapers.
300th Partner joined the Portal.
Ninth Rescuing Texas History project.
5 million newspaper pages available on the Portal.
Tenth Rescuing Texas History project.
Increased production capacity in the Digital Projects Lab with i2S CopiBook OS book scanner.
National WASP WWII Museum collection added to the Portal.
One-millionth item added to the Portal.
Sony camera transmissive materials work station purchased for digitizing photographic negatives.
6 million newspaper pages available on the Portal.
Eleventh Rescuing Texas History project.
UNT history professor Andrew Torget lectured on Texas history for more than 26 hours straight--attempting to set a new Guinness World Record while raising funds for the Portal endowment.
We are grateful to the organizations and agencies that have provided more than 2.4 million dollars to fund newspaper digitization and more than 1.5 million dollars to digitize other content, support research and development, and enhance educational resources related to the Portal. You can learn more on our Grants page.
2010--Dallas Genealogical Society Heritage Preservation Award
2013--Texas Library Association Wayne Williams Project of the Year
2015--Finalist, Institute of Museum and Library Services National Service Medal
2018--Texas Historical Records Advisory Board Archival Award of Excellence to UNT Libraries for preservation of the NBC 5/KXAS television news archive
Staff Members Contributing to the Success of The Portal to Texas History
Cathy Nelson Hartman*
Sarah Lynn Fisher
Programming and Development
The Portal has also been sustained by the work of more than 200 graduate and undergraduate assistants. These students have contributed in the areas of digital imaging, metadata creation and editing, graphic design, administrative support, and reference. Without their energy, enthusiasm, and hard work, the Portal could not continue to grow.