Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Find Old Newspapers with This Cool Tool!

At the recent Texas State Genealogical Society conference, I attended a presentation by Lisa Louise Cook, who showed us some "cool tools" for finding old newspapers.  I'm just going to talk about one of them in this post, the Stanford Newspaper Data Visualization.

According to its website, "This visualization plots over 140,000 newspapers published over three centuries in the United States. The data comes from the Library of Congress' 'Chronicling America' project, which maintains a regularly updated directory of newspapers."  The site provides some great historical information about the evolution of newspapers in this country.

I use Chronicling America a lot, but was not aware of this great aid for finding newspapers in a particular time and locations (and language).  There's a timeline slider bar at the top that you can use to slide to the era that interests you.  For example, here's how the map looks for 1887:

You can then pan and zoom in to a particular area, and when you click on one of the dots, you can see what newspaper(s) were published in that city or town at that time.  Here's an example for Stephenville, Texas, in 1887:

If I click on that dot, a red triangle points to it, and then I can click on (any one of) the title(s) that appear for that location and date:

When I click on "The Stephenville empire," I get the corresponding page from Chronicling America:

If electronic copies of the newspaper are available in the Library of Congress collection, this page will tell you (scroll down), and provide a link.  If it's not available electronically here (keep in mind it may be available elsewhere), you can then click on the "Libraries that Have It" link to find out some (not necessarily all) of the libraries that may have that title in some format:

I'd caution users of this feature to also use WorldCat (for additional libraries that might have the newspaper), as well as to contact the library in question, to make sure they truly have the newspaper and the years you want.  Note just above that for Tarleton State University, the holdings were last updated in January 1988.  We actually have the newspaper on microfilm beyond 1917, albeit with numerous gaps in the early years.  I also recommend checking our Archive of Americana database to see if it includes digital images from the newspaper and date in question.

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