The database is searchable by key terms, state, language, time period, or newspaper. The Chronicling America website contains digitized newspaper pages and information about historic newspapers to place the primary sources in context and support future research. It hosts newspapers written in a variety of languages. In selecting newspapers to digitize, the site relies on the discretion of contributing institutions.
The project describes itself as a "long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages." Local participants in the project receive two-year grants to scan approximately 100,000 newspaper pages, primarily from microfilm. For newspapers that are not digitized, the website directs users to library locations that are known to have the desired records available.
The first series of newspaper digitization was completed with input from universities in 2007, and included public domain entries from six states and the District of Columbia. The site was launched for public use In March 2007.
In June 2009, the site added support for Web crawlers and API. In May 2011, the site added tools to share its digitized content on social media. As of 2012, Chronicling America had over 5.2 million individual newspaper pages available for viewing and/or downloading, representing 801 titles from 32 states; though the project initially targeted newspapers from the 1900-1910 period, it had gradually expanded so that papers scanned currently span the years 1836-1922. Papers from 4 additional states (Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and North Carolina) were then slated to be added to the collection, and grant-funded projects to scan papers from these states were then underway so that the material could be added to the site in 2013.
By 2014, the website hosted digital newspaper records from thirty-six states. By October 2015, that number had risen to thirty-eight, and it had digitized over 10 million pages. As of 2016, the database had expanded its coverage to include content ranging from 1690 to 1963. Geographically, its coverage had then expanded to 48 states and 2 United States territories. As of 2021, that expanded to support digitization of records from all U.S. states and territories. As of 2020, it had digitized 16.3 million pages.
^"National Endowment for the Humanities Selects UNT Libraries for a Sixth Round of the National Digital Newspaper Program". University of North Texas Libraries. 27 August 2021. Retrieved 30 November 2021. Chronicling America is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress in an effort to build a nationwide, open-access repository of digitized historic newspapers.
^Manne, Kevin (24 October 2021). "A clearer window into the past". The Niagara Gazette. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
^ abLee, Benjamin Charles Germain; Mears, Jaime; Jakeway, Eileen; Ferriter, Meghan; Adams, Chris; Yarasavage, Nathan; Thomas, Deborah; Zwaard, Kate; Weld, Daniel S. (2020-10-19). "The Newspaper Navigator Dataset: Extracting Headlines and Visual Content from 16 Million Historic Newspaper Pages in Chronicling America". Proceedings of the 29th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management. CIKM 2020. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery: 3055–3062. doi:10.1145/3340531.3412767. ISBN 978-1-4503-6859-9.
^ abPreston, Katherine K. (December 2016). "Digital Databases for English-Language Newspapers in the United States". Nineteenth-Century Music Review. Cambridge University Press. 13 (2): 405–419. doi:10.1017/S147940981600001X. ISSN 1479-4098.
^ abcd"About Chronicling America". Chronicling America. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2009-05-10. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
^ abcReakes, Patrick; Ochoa, Marilyn (2009-12-01). "Non-Commercial Digital Newspaper Libraries: Considering Usability". Internet Reference Services Quarterly. 14 (3–4): 92–113. doi:10.1080/10875300903336357. ISSN 1087-5301.
^Sroka, Marek (2017-04-03). "Researching Polish and Polish-American Historical Newspapers and Periodicals in International Digital Collections: Opportunities and Challenges". Slavic & East European Information Resources. 18 (1–2): 33–40. doi:10.1080/15228886.2017.1322377. ISSN 1522-8886.