Searching through old newspapers is not only about history but also has practical applications for genealogists. Old newspaper records lead to names of places, individuals and obituaries.
That aside, a casual student of history can check back and see how the world perceived a momentous event. Say, how did the depression happen and how does it relate to the recent recession?
Thanks to digitization of data, we no longer have to search haphazardly through reams of newsprint. All we need is a search engine and of course, a site that lets you read old newspapers. Here are six:
You can think of it as Open Source to a wealth of information. It might be Australia centric, but that takes very little away from the information that The National Library of Australia site supplies for free. The portal has a long lineup of newspaper ‘titles’ which you can select individually or even refine by state. Further filtering by year and date gives you access to a digitized format of the paper. You can also download it as a PDF.
The “Times Machine” is a browser that can take you from the very first issue of the newspaper (September 18, 1851) to The New York Times of December 30, 1922. It is limited if you consider the number of years it covers, but it still covers a significant piece of history when you see that the time period covers something like the First World War.
With the help of this huge archive of historical newspapers held by the Library of Congress, you can view pages from newspapers belonging to 23 states. The aim of this project (The National Digital Newspaper Program) is to chronicle the newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 by all states in America. There is also a directory that lists information on newspapers published in the United States from 1690 to the present. You can use the very flexible filters to view newspaper pages from a place and time, using keywords to locate specific places, people, and events. The archive can presently serve up 3308613 pages.
This is a site that does not store a continuous archive of old newspapers, but rather a more selective collection that presented important events in American history in the last 400 years. The site is meant for students and educators who want to look at how news has been published since the early days of newspapers. The selection of old newspapers covers the periods from 1700 to 2004. Remember, these are selected news items and not complete newspapers.
The coverage of news items remains selective but the countries covered broadens with newspapers from the U. S., England, Scotland, Ireland & Australia. The site is meant to be a free resource for genealogical & historical research. The archives cover news items from the 18th- through early 20th-century newspapers. The news items are less about globally significant events but of personal announcements (births, deaths, company formations etc) that can be used to trace genealogical clues amongst the citizens of five related countries.
By default we head to Google for our entire search. Try out Google News Archive Search to search for that bit of news in the whole historical haystack. The News archive search can also automatically create timelines which show selected results from relevant time periods that’s really useful for spotting news trends.
Thanks to these online digital archives, news can be preserved for posterity and made available with a click. There’s a lot more trawling you can do on the web…like, check out this Wikipedia page for a complete lists of online news archives from around the world. A lot of these publications have searchable indexes. If you are a history buff, then old newspapers are a valuable tool to trace the footfalls of history.
Would you agree that no news is old news when it comes to history?
Image Credit: Wikipedia