Before the internet changed the ways researchers did their work, looking up older newspaper meant that one had to either dig through old print issues or, more likely, use microfilm and, if one was lucky, a print index to track down articles. Now, with cheap digital storage and better internet connections, historic newspaper can be found and searched online.
The JCK Library has online access to many historical newspapers. Researchers can search these newspapers by date, article type, or keyword.
Primary Source? In many research contexts, historical newspapers can be a primary source. While the articles may not provide a direct eye witness account of events, they do provide a contemporaneous account. Newspaper article are often consider the "first draft of history." The articles may contain blind spots, biases, and information that may have turned out to be incomplete or wrong.
Listed here are the three major historical newspaper databases provided by JCKL.
One common way to search the database is to search by a specific date. The Advanced Search is the default search for the historical newspapers databases. Below the search boxes is a Publication Date drop down menu.
The menu provides four options for searching by date: On, After, Before, or a Specific Date Range.
Using the specific date range, a researcher could search the New York Times issues right after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941.
Adding "Pearl Harbor" as a keyword would push the articles on the attack to the front of the search.
NO KEYWORD IS NEEDED FOR THIS SEARCH! Entering the date ranges or a day will deliver the articles from those issues.
If you want to browse a particular issue, enter the date into the Publication Date search. Click on on article and you will see a PDF of the article. (This example uses a random date of August 18, 1963). Beside the citation is an option to BROWSE THIS ISSUE.
Clicking that will pull up a full page image of the newspaper page the article was printed on. You can now browse through the issue page by page using the arrow buttons or manually change the page number.
Each article, ad, or classified column is clickable. Clicking on it will take you to the full PDF of the article. NOTE: Some photos do not have the copyright clearance to be included in the full-text PDF of the article.
There are two types of PDF that can be downloaded from the ProQuest newspaper databases:
These PDFs can be saved, printed or emailed much like any article from JCKL databases.
Keyword searching may not be as useful as in a typical database. Keyword searches should be as specific as possible. Keyword searches work better if done with a date range. A search for "Gettysburg" done from 1860-1865 would provide articles about the town before and after the Civil War battle.
While sometimes hit and miss, using the Document Type Limiter, can create some unique results. Interested in dog food adverting? Try searching "dog food" with the Document Type: Display Ads.
The London Times databases offers similar searches. The Advanced Search pages lays them all out.
The Browse by Date feature provides a calendar where you can choose what date you would like to see.
Pages or articles can be printed or downloaded in a PDF format.