Old newspaper archives online?

Are there searchable (or atleast indexed) online databases of the content of old newspapers (starting around mid or late 1800s; mainly prominent American & British ones)?

There’s always Proquest. It’s a subscription service, and IIRC, it costs boucoup bux. Many libraries have subscriptions, though, so you can always try your local public or university library.


If you have just a simple search or two, I’d be glad to do it. I subscribe.

MsRobyn, was Proquest Newsstand the service you were referring to? If so, it seems the coverage starts from 1980. Is that right?

Thanks for the offer, samclem, but I’ll want to dig in.


Their subscriptions are much more reasonable, and they have a huge quantity of searchable newspapers online. If you have to use Proquest (they have the biggies like the NY Times, Wall Street Journal) you’ll find that most libraries subscribe so you can use the service for free. It’s pretty pricey to get a home subscription to Proquest.

Oh, and Proquest does not just have 1980+ papers archived. The amount archived varies by paper, and they have archives going back into the 1800s on some papers (as does newspaperarchive.com). I think some Proquest subscriptions only let you search 1980+, and the more expensive version gives you the whole range of their archive.

In a previous thread about online databases, I offered

from http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=357993&highlight=proquest+newspaperarchive

If you want to be able to access all the papers in the comfort of your home, doing it on YOUR schedule, note that it only costs $60/year. This is an incredible bargain. Incredible.

I’m still in school, so I have access to a bunch of databases, Proquest included. I was not aware of the sabr.org site.


In the previous thread that **samclem ** mentioned, I suggested paperofrecord.com, which is the only electronic source for the Sporting News. The rest of the papers they have are obscure canadian weeklies, but TSN is invaluable for sports researchers.

Proquest is awesome, perhaps the coolest innovation in human history.

Most public libraries pay for a lot of database subscriptions that their patrons have no idea they can access. It’s really frustrating sometimes. Actually, a lot of state libraries pay for all state residents to have access to certain databases - here in South Carolina we have DISCUS, for example, and Georgia has GALILEO. Don’t pay for a database yourself - call your library first! Most people are really shocked to see what we have to offer that they can access from home with just a library card!

SABR members received an email today stating that their access to ProQuest historical newspaper collection would be discontinued at the end of the year. It said, in part:

Yeah, I’m bummed. It is due to ProQuest’s financial problems, self-inflicted. They may not survive.

I may have to actually get out in the sunshine starting next year. :slight_smile:

I tried out the Proquest service at one of my uni libraries. I am disappointed that I can’t locate the keyword within articles, i.e. if I search for ‘chicago’, it throws up a lot of results, but they are all PDFed images. Often these articles are long, and I have to read the whole thing to figure out where the word occurs. Is there some tool/trick I am missing?

You can search inside a .pdf document. It works like “find” inside a word document or web file. Adobe uses a binocular icon to launch the search.

I haven’t yet used ProSearch, so it may have some weird non-standard version of Abode that doesn’t show this, but it should be in the file menus somewhere.

The PDF files that II Gyan II aren’t searchable because, as he said, they are images, not text files. That’s what results from scanning old newspapers. (It’s possible to scan the pages and then run OCR software on them to get searchable text documents, but the character recognition software is imperfect at best, and on old newspapers will be really inaccurate.)

NewspaperArchives.com does this and any search gives back your term in 99% gibberish. But you can re-search the .pdf’s and hone in on your term. I hadn’t realized that ProSearch didn’t include OCR recognition.

ProQuest does, use OCR technology to index the pages, at least for the major papers that I use most often. That’s the best thing about it, in my mind. I can search on a book title or an author’s name to find a book review. Without it, I have to know when and where the review was published. In doing sports research, I can search on a player’s name to find out when he did something in a game worthy of being mentioned, rather than scanning stories every day for an entire season.