My last post focused on the newspaper sources that the VHL holds, both in print and as electronic resources. However, there are a lot more sources of historic US newspapers freely available on the web and in library collections elsewhere in the UK. This post will point you to some useful sites online where you can find some of these.
Chronicling America (Library of Congress)
This is the Library of Congress’s historic newspapers site, and has two distinct purposes. One is the Chronicling America Directory, which provides bibliographic information about newspapers published in the United States from 1690 to the present as well as listings of libraries in the States that have copies. The second is to provide access to thousands of digitised pages of a wide range of newspapers from 1860-1922. Full-text coverage is only for certain states: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. You can restrict your search by state or date range, as well as search within a specific newspaper title. Pages can be viewed online or downloaded as PDFs or image files.
The Library of Congress also provides a couple of different ways into the collection. There is the topics interface, which allows you to browse articles relating to a wide range of topics, from Presidential administrations and events such as the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, to the baseball World Series, Butch Cassidy, or Nikola Tesla. They are also working with Flickr, uploading images of cover pages from the New York Tribune‘s illustrated newspaper supplements. They even make their API available, for anyone wanting to create different ways to explore the data.
Google News Archive
As well as the Google Books project, Google are also digitising thousands and thousands of pages of newspapers, and the Google News Archive page allows you to browse these directly. It’s a very basic interface, with just an alphabetical listing of all the newspaper titles available, and information as to what dates are covered, but once you click on a specific title you are brought to a nice timeline view, from where you can easily browse issues by date. It being Google, the search function is very straightforward, but there is an advanced search available from the very tiny link next to the search box at the top of the page.
Newspapers on Footnote.com
Footnote.com is a subscription website that works with the National Archives to digitise vast quantities of records, images and archival material, as well as encouraging the public to add annotations and upload their own material. They also have a large collection of digitised newspapers, comprising some 4 million pages. You can search the collections without signing up, but be aware that a lot of the content is only available to paid subscribers, so you may not be able to see the full-text if you have not paid over your subscription fee.
NewspaperCat is an online catalogue of digitised historical newspapers from the United States and Caribbean, hosted by the University of Florida. It currently links through to over 1000 titles and is expanding. You can search or browse by title or location.
The Internet Archive is the other major site for freely available digitised material on the web, and contains scanned images of books and journals from many major American libraries, including therefore also newspaper issues. However, tt is not the easiest site to search, particularly for newspapers and periodicals as the search results list doesn’t show you the date of the item, you can’t browse, and there’s no way to limit your search to this kind of material. Worth checking though if you know the title you’re looking for and have struck out elsewhere – you might be in luck!
Various local digitisation projects
Examples on the VHL’s delicious page: http://www.delicious.com/vhllib/Newspapers
More comprehensive listing on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_online_newspaper_archives#United_States
There are a huge number of digitisation projects by University and State libraries, archives and historical societies all over the US, and many of these include newspapers. Some are distinct projects to digitise runs of specific newspapers, whereas others are wider projects that include newspaper articles, pages or entire issues within them. I’ve been saving any I’ve come across on the VHL delicious page, but find more and more all the time. There’s also an excellent listing available on Wikipedia, as well as one provided by Penn Libraries. If I haven’t already found a site that’s useful to you, then it’s always worth checking the website of the relevant State Historical Society and major University libraries. The content available and presentation of the interfaces may vary wildly from place to place, but overall there’s an awful lot of good stuff out there.
Newspaper holdings elswhere in the UK
Between them, libraries in the UK hold quite a wide range of US newspapers, so if you can’t find things here in Oxford or online, you may well be able to track them down in other libraries. The best starting place is the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, and you can search their newspaper catalogues online.
For other libraries in the UK as well, the British Association of American Studies (BAAS) maintains a list of US newspaper holdings on their website, which can be searched and browsed by title, and will tell you which UK library holds what. One caveat about this list is that it relies on the invidual libraries updating BAAS when their holdings change, so you’d be wise to check with the individual library that they definitely do have what you’re looking for before making a trip.