The National Digital Newspaper Program, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress, plans on digitizing 30 million newspaper pages originally printed between 1836 and 1922. The digitized content is planned to be available by 2006. Currently these newspapers are available in microfirm. Digitizing and placing them on the Internet would give people much better access to this slice of history.
This time period (1836 - 1922) was selected because, newspapers prior to 1836 will not be digitized because the typefaces are difficult for optical scanners to read. Newspapers published after 1923 are covered by copyright restrictions.
For more information read this article in the San Jose Mercury News.