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 all 50  states 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 For search box enter: negro slave
  • Click Search 

How many results did you find?

Refine Your Search

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

Reminder: You need to find out about the language that was used to describe enslaved African Americans in the 18th century Deep South.

Which two would be the most useful for you, given your research topic?

Refine Your Search

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Your Turn:

  • Click the Dates and Eras tab.
  • Under Custom Date Range enter 1700-1783
  • 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 Search

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 preview 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?


1 of 4Your Turn:
  • Scroll up back up to the top
  • Use the drop-down Return menu and choose Best Matches first
  • Click Search


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  • Access the first result by clicking the preview image

Notice the table of contents on the left side of the page. This advertisement is on page 3. 

Your Turn:

  • Select the underlined Page [3] link to view the entire page
  • Find the advertisement that has an image in it and click on it



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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.

To be safe, it is best to search it as a two-word phrase since this is how it appears.


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What would be a good revised search?

Try Another Search

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Your Turn:

  • Select the underlined Results link near the top of the page to return to your results
  • Click Add Search Field


Try Another Search

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  • Type the following in the search boxes:
    • slave
    • OR "run away" - (Use the QUOTES)
    • AND negro
  • Click Search

Try Another Search

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Select the Search button. How many results did you get?

Try Another Search

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Is the database still limiting your results to the date range and places of publication you previously selected?

Try Another Search

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

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

Your Turn:

  • Select the Dates and Eras tab
  • Delete 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 the Search button again

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.