Research with historical newspapers
Digital historical newspaper archives offer a range of search features such as date range limits and document type facets. The library provides access to a selection of newspaper archives on the ProQuest platform, among them the New York Times archive. The research instructions given below refer exclusively to the ProQuest platform. Contact me if you have any questions about the library's digital archives.
New York Times: 1851- (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)
Newspaper archives can span hundreds of years and search results are often overwhelming. However, there is an easy way to reduce the number of search results by limiting your search to a customized date range. Open the Publication date drop-down menu and select On this date or Specific date range. Results will be presented with the most recent matches first but can be re-sorted to oldest matches first.
Daily newspapers are chock-full of commercial and personal ads, obituaries, and all kinds of other announcements which clutter up result sets. The Document type facet offers an easy way to limit search results to articles and editorials. Simply check the types of documents you are interested in. Select Article, Frontpage article, and Editorial to include all news reporting.
The default search field option is Anywhere. This is your basic keyword search and a good starting point for your project. Document title and Author are other useful search fields. Note, that not all newspaper articles have author attributions and that a search for keywords in article titles will radically reduce the number of matching results. DO NOT use Abstract or Publication title. Newspaper archives do not include abstracts and the New York Times is a single title archive which makes the use of Publication title as a search field superfluous.
Most digital newspaper archives offer a range of specialized search features including the following:
- Truncation: the asterisk symbol (*) can be placed inside or at the end of a word to retrieve word variations. Example: fascis* to find fascist, fascists, and fascism and any other words wit the root fascis-
- Wildcard: the question mark (?) can be placed inside or at the end of a word to replace single or multiple characters. Example: wom?n to find instances of woman and women.
- Phrase searching: double quotation marks ("... ...") placed around multiple search terms retrieve exact matches. Example: "air rade."
- Search operators:
AND - retrieves articles that contain ALL search terms
OR - retrieves articles that contain ANY search term
NOT - retrieves articles that contain the first but NOT the second search term
Look for the Search tips link in the digital archive to learn about additional search features. Use these features judiciously. A combination of too many advanced search operators can be counterproductive. Two simple searches are sometimes better than one complicated search.
Digital newspaper archives can obscure the context in which news are published. The reader skims over result lists and no longer sees the original layout of a newspaper as it was intended to be read. Most archives include images of the original page layout but the entry points to this browse option are often hidden. Follow the instructions below for a traditional browsing experience in ProQuest digital newspaper archives.
Start by clicking on Publications:
Select the file that covers the years you are interested in:
Enter the date of a single issue:
Click on the headline of any of the matches on the result list:
Click on "Page view - PDF" or on "Browse this issue" to go to the original page layout:
Use the arrows at the top of the pdf view to navigate from page to page:
Navigating from page to page may be too time-consuming if you are researching a longer time period. If this is the case, start with a sophisticated keyword search to select articles and use the article viewing page to switch over to "Page view - PDF" to view an article in its original context without browsing through the complete issue.
Viewing this article in context shows the amount of coverage about Nazi Germany besides the retrieved article.
Look for the Cite icon to generate references in Chicago-style format:
Generate a list of references from a results folder or by adding check marks to selected articles. Most references for newspaper articles have formatting problems, but the downloaded citations contain all critical information including a permalink that links back to the article.
Here is a sample citation from the archive and what it should look like in Chicago-style: