Saturday, December 18, 2010

Online Historical Newspapers Galore!


If searching through online historical newspapers for your ancestors and relatives to enhance your family tree is a fun past time, you'll be excited to hear that two major online historical newspaper websites made some great changes this week. And to sweeten the news, both resources offer the digitized newspapers for FREE!

First off, I happened to be working on my Online Historical Newspaper site, adding historic titles from Google News Archives from a .pdf file that one of my website users had kindly put together and sent me. The frustrating thing about Google News Archives is that up until recently, you could not easily find historic titles on their site. Article searches would produce results that included both current news articles (single article in text format only and most being pay-for-view) and historic articles (digitized whole historical newspapers - free to view). There was no comprehensive list of the digitized whole historical newspapers, so you usually only found a historic title if you knew the name of the paper and did a comprehensive search. If you were looking to find a historic title for an ancestral location, but did not know if one existed for that area, or what its title was, you pretty much were out of luck.

That changed this week. While I was working on my site and looking at one of the digitized historic titles I was lucky enough to find, I noticed a link in the upper right corner of the page: "Browse all newspapers." My initial thought was that this would simply take me back to the Google News site, with mostly current, pay-for-view titles. But to my surprise, it was a comprehensive linked list of all the historic titles in Google News Archive, with the dates of coverage!

I have only two beefs with this list: the first is that it does not list publication location of these titles; you must go in and view the paper and find the location on its masthead. The second is that you cannot download the pages or print from the site. You can, however, use your computer's Print Screen function. I hope to cover that in another post.

The second major website is the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site, which made the following announcement this week:
On December 15, 2010, the Library of Congress added more than 440,000 historic newspaper pages to the Chronicling America Web site. This most recent update expands date coverage for many titles already represented in the site and includes a wealth of content in new titles from Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The site now includes more than 3.1 million pages from 414 titles published between 1860 and 1922 in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Since I have already added many of the Chronicling America titles to my Online Historical Newspapers site, I went in to take a closer look. On average, most of the changes are expanded years to existing titles and one or two more new titles for each state. Of course, all this is a good thing!

I am working hard to add all these new titles and updated expansions of years to my Online Historical Newspapers site, and hope the site will prove useful to your research by facilitating and narrowing your hunt!
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