North Texas Daily

History portal named medal finalist

History portal named medal finalist

History portal named medal finalist
March 26
00:14 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has named UNT’s Portal to Texas History a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The online database is one of 30 finalists named and features content focusing on many aspects of history, from pre-colonial times to present. Texas history is its primary focus, but it also features historic documents from all 50 states and nearly 100 different countries.

“Everything in it is unique,” Assistant Dean for external relations Dreanna Belden said. “We have materials originally found only on paper. It’s a great resource for research on a new level.”

The Texas Portal is a collection of historical primary sources including newspapers, letters, maps, photographs and film.

Planning for the portal began in 2002 and was structured in a way that would ensure long-term sustainability. It was created and is maintained by UNT Libraries’ Digital Products Unit.

The Portal hosts nearly 6 million digital files and more than 900,000 digital images from 130 partners. It receives more than 150,000 visitors from around the world each month.

“We do it at a scale that is seen at very few places,” Belden said. “It’s one of the top four content providers to the Digital Public Library of America.”

The IMLS named the Portal as a finalist due to its vital contributions to the local community.

“We look for programs that understand the community’s needs and address those needs and look to highlight those organizations,” IMLS public affairs officer Giuliana Ballard said.

History professors Todd Moye and Andrew Torget teach a class that depends heavily on the portal for much of their research.

The course, known in the catalog as the Civil Rights Movement in Texas, is researching the 1956 Mansfield High School integration crisis and building an online museum dedicated to the event. Students, both graduate and undergraduate, use the portal to look at political documents, old newspapers and video footage from the Fort Worth TX station KXAS.

History Junior Ben Bell has also used the database for his studies and appreciates its availability.

“It’s really cool that it’s something we get,” Bell said. “For the first time, all these parts of Texas history in paper form are online. You could be one of the first people to read one of these newspapers in hundreds of years. It’s cool to see what people of Texas back then thought about.”

Featured Image: Construction of Willis Library in 1969.  Willis was the third library building after Sycamore Hall and Curry Hall. Photo courtesy of Portal to Texas History

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