Historical newspaper project NewsEye receives European Heritage Award

The European Commission and Europa Nostra have awarded a European Heritage Award to the NewsEye project in which the University of Helsinki developed tools for extensive analysis of digitised newspapers in different languages and from different sources.

The NewsEye project (NewsEye: A Digital Investigator for Historical Newspapers) provided improved access to researchers, library users and the general public to datasets comprising European newspapers from 1850 to 1950. The Finnish contributors to the project were the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Digital Humanities at the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland. 

In the NewsEye project, researchers at the University of Helsinki developed tools for analysing the content of old newspaper articles. The data comprised approximately 15 million pages of newspaper material digitised by the national libraries of Austria, Finland and France. 

“The tools we developed allow users to, for example, view topics and themes in the National Library of Finland material, which the tools will identify automatically,” says Professor of Computer Science Hannu Toivonen from the University of Helsinki. 

The researchers focused their development efforts particularly in multilingual topic recognition and topic monitoring over time. These tools allow researchers of history, for example, to compare themes related to nationalism in 19th century newspapers in different countries and examine their changes over decades and centuries. 

“We also developed tools to automate the analysis of data and produce a written report of key observations,” says Toivonen.

26 projects awarded

The European Heritage Awards, Europe’s most prestigious awards for heritage, in 2024 go to 26 projects and bodies from 18 countries. They are granted by the European Commission and Europa Nostra and co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. 

“The European Heritage Awards highlight the crucial role of exemplary projects and individuals dedicated to preserving and promoting our rich heritage. I warmly congratulate this year’s winners on their outstanding achievements,” says Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. 

The awards will be presented at the European Cultural Heritage Summit held in early October in Bucharest, Romania. 

Vote NewsEye for the winner of the Public Choice Award

Heritage supporters and enthusiasts are now encouraged to familiarise themselves with the winners and vote online to decide who will win the Public Choice Award 2024. You can cast your vote until 22 September on the Europa Nostra website.