Monday, June 17, 2013

Newspaper Archives--Google's archive... and beyond

Searching through newspaper archives is a bit like emerald mining--you can get rich, if only you know where the gems are hidden.  

Some recent changes have made Google's newspaper archive a bit more hidden than it should be.  So I wanted to let you know how to find the (still up and running!) Google newspaper archives.  Sure, you can search for it, but the best result is a bit hidden, so let me give it you up front and easily accessible. 

http://news.google.com/newspapers 

This is the link you want to bookmark or remember.  


As you can see, there are a LOT of papers in this collection. (2,463 different papers by my count.)  Note that the collection is very spotty.  It may contain the entire run of all issues of an important paper, or it might have just one or two pages from a hundred-year run of another. 

Thing is, NO single collection is complete.  You still, as a search-researcher, will have to sift through multiple newspaper collections as you do your searches.  

The next best resource I know (and use!) is the Wikipedia master list of newspaper archives.  



As they helpfully point out, some local public libraries subscribe to some online newspaper archives that you can use... often limited to their physical location.  In many cases, your access may be restricted to searching the archives when in the building itself (such an odd 20th century notion), or in some cases to library card holders through their portal.  



The Wikipedia list notes which are free, and when known, what the size and scope of the collection is. Note in particular that they list a great deal of international resources (the majority of the Google collection is North American-centric).  

Remember that most newspaper archive collections are OCRd from the original scans, and as a consequence are full of inevitable errors.  There are many time you just need to go look at an article.  Unlike many databases, OCRd texts from newspapers is just an unreliable transcription.  Go look for yourself.  

And enjoy.  These collections make for fascinating reading.  

Which newspaper collections do YOU like the most? 


Search on! 


6 comments:

  1. Dan,

    I serve as the newsletter editor for a local genealogy society. May I reprint your post in the next issue?

    As a retired law librarian, I really enjoy this blog. I have a query proposal for you if interested.

    Susie.

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    1. Hi Susie -- You have my permission to reprint. Absolutely!

      And I'd love to see your query proposal. Please msg me directly at dmrussell@gmail.com (don't post it here or everyone will see it before it's ready!)

      Delete
  2. Daniel,

    One of the best collections for American newspapers is the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/), which you likely already know about. "Pages Available: 6,025,474" O_O

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    1. Yes... this IS a great resource. (And it's listed in the Wikipedia list until United States.)

      In truth, the one *I* use the most is specialized for California--the "California Digital Newspaper Collection" (CDNC) -- you can find it at http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cdnc

      And it too is in the Wikipedia list.

      (You've got to love the lists on Wikipedia. They often are pretty complete and direct you to a plethora of resources.)

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  3. Have you looked at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk? There are currently over 6.9M pages (from 227 titles). There is great coverage of local and regional titles, and they claim to be adding up to 8,000 new pages added every day. The best bit? . . . All pages are fully searchable by keyword (thanks to the work undertaken to run the digitised pages through the 'optical character recognition' process)!
    The pricing is very reasonable given that previously I would be unable to access this material without extensive travel costs (I live in Scotland), let alone be able to search by keyword - surely I would have to know firstly exactly what page (issue, date and title) I was looking for and then scroll through microfilm or original bound volumes at a local library archive? I feel that this opens up the archive to so many and am personally more than happy to pay the price for this invaluable resource!

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  4. Daniel...thanks for your post. I'm a real newspaper archive geek and have (and frankly, saddened by how user-unfriendly Google's own newspaper archives have become, but that's a post for another time).

    For now, I wonder if you could say more about your work as an anthropologist of search? That's a topic of great interest to me as well. I suspect we're somewhat kindred spirits in that regard.

    Looking forward...

    David Sarokin

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