Searching America's Historical Newspapers

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What is America's Historical Newspapers?

America's Historical Newspapers includes more than 1,000 full-text newspapers from the U.S. and covers the years 1690–1922. It also includes:

  •  Hispanic American Newspapers (1808–1980)
  •  African American Newspapers (1827–1998)
  •  Arizona Newspapers (1866-1931)
  •  New Mexico Newspapers (1844-1920)

Research Scenario

You are completing a research project for an 18th Century American History class and you're researching the language used to describe enslaved African Americans in the Deep South.

           

Identify Keywords

What are the best keywords for searching old newspaper articles on this topic?

Search Database

Your Search:
  • In the search box enter: negro slave
  • Click Go!

How many results did you find?

Refine Your Search

1 of 3Look at the tabs that allow you to limit your search results.

Your Turn:

  • Click the Dates and Eras tab
  • Scroll down
  • Under Custom Date Range enter 1700-1783

      

Refine Your Search

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  • Now select the Places of Publication tab
  • Check Georgia and South Carolina

Notice that the map now has red stars on the selected states.

       

  • Scroll back to the top and click Go!

Refine Your Search

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Now how many results do you get?

Explore Your Results

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Look at your list of results and notice the information provided.

The newspaper title is listed first, along with the page and issue number.

What tends to not be included in the description of these articles?

Explore Your Results

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Access the first article by selecting the image. Who is the author of this advertisement?

Explore Your Results

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Let's return to your list of results.

Your Turn:

  • Click the Results link

  

Explore Your Results

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  • Scroll down until you find the first article from South Carolina

What is the name of the publication?

Sorting

1 of 2Your Turn:
  • Scroll up back up to the top
  • Click Advanced Search

       

Sorting

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  • Using the Sort drop-down menu choose Best Matches first
  • Click Go!
  • Access the second  article from May 24, 1783 result by clicking the image

Navigation Tools

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Your Turn:

  • Select Page [3] link from the table of contents

You can view the page by using the navigation tools including zooming and panning.

      

You can also use the frame around the page by clicking the different directions.

Navigation Tools

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Your Turn:

Using the different navigation tools, locate the advertisement with this image:

           

Navigation Tools

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Notice that this article is about a runaway slave, written as two words, “run away."

The article does not include the word “slave.” This means you could search the term “run away” as another option.

Try Another Search

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So far you have limited to the date range 1700–1783 and the place.

Let's say you wanted to search for articles that were published during the American Revolution. 

Your Turn:

  • Click the Results link
  • Select the Dates and Eras tab
  • Clear the custom date range of 1700-1783
  • Click the Eras in American History link
  • Select the check box next to American Revolution (1775 to 1783)
  • Click Go!

Try Another Search

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How many results did you get?

Final Thoughts

1 of 2This database finds text using optical character recognition (OCR), and the paper quality of some of the scanned newspapers is poor.

This means it does not recognize text perfectly and will sometimes miss results or give inaccurate results.

If you find a relevant article, it is often useful to browse the whole issue for related articles that may not have come up in your initial search.

Final Thoughts

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Older newspapers often contain historic spellings and misspellings. If you are not finding many results, try browsing related articles to get ideas for alternate spellings. For example, “flavour” instead of “flavor.”

Typescripts and fonts have historic variations. In particular, “S” looks like “F”. Keep this in mind when you are searching and interpreting your results.

If you need help using this database, Ask Us.