searchable Usenet archive to circa early 1990s

I’m aware that Google acquired the vast Usenet archive from Deja, I think in early 2000s, and has been criticized for not handling the archive very well. As late as 2008 I was able to go to Google Groups and search within a Usenet group and get results dating back to the early 90s, which is the target date for the old posts I’m looking for.

Today I’ve been doing some research and need to again access those old Usenet posts, but now Google Groups search seems borked for anything except the most recent material. I’ve googled around for info on “usenet archive” hoping maybe there’s another way to search for earlier posts in a given Usenet group, but ultimately I keep getting directed to articles about how Google acquired the archive from Deja and has been getting criticized for poor stewardship ever since. I tried the wayback machine at by using the specific soc.culture group name I wanted to search but came up emptyhanded, maybe because I wasn’t searching the right way?

Does anyone know a way to search for old (circa early-mid 1990s) Usenet posts that goes not involve using Google Groups, or maybe some kind of workaround or vital info about how to search there that I may be missing? I figure if anybody knows this sort of thing, it’s somebody here. Also, seems like a factual question but if it’s more suited to IMHO feel free to move, mods!

“Not handling the archive very well” includes sometimes all or part of it seems to go missing from the search index.

This posting from 1981 is still available when I look:!msg/net.general/yJn8WHlzc7U/lPyVdYqCXyAJ

Also, Google acquired /A/ vast Usenet archive, not /the/ vast Usenet archive, because there was no such thing, and much of the oldest material was already missing.

Personally, what I find most irritating is that Google doesn’t index punctuation at all, and much of what I would like to search for involves punctuation.

Google’s Usenet search continues to be disempowered (does the Advanced Search no longer exist?) but it’s not quite 100% broken yet. Just now I was surprised I could find some posts I made in 1986 !

The From line of those messages was foo@bar.UUCP and the last part of Path was bar!foo; however searches based on that did NOT find my messages. Instead the search terms “foo bar” found posts quoting mine; I could scroll up and see my posts were there! (I didn’t remember either the foo or the bar that applied in 1986, but was able to zero in on them, first by searching for the company name associated with bar.)

But I was able to find some of my 1988 posts with a similar “foox barx” search. :confused:

With some experimentation, it appears that my 1986 posts are in the archive but not in the index. And now, when I search for a sentence in my post but not in the post that quoted me, the post quoting me shows up as sole result! :confused:

I tried this

but could not find my old comic book posts.

Your link works for me too. I appreciate the distinction between “a” and “the” archive and don’t necessarily think Google or Deja before it really would have “the” archive since as you note some of the oldest material was already missing and may never have been properly archived at all.

My context is that, as mentioned, in 2006 and 2008 I was able to search using a string similar to this:

group:soc.culture.whatever.whatever author:whoever author:whoever

(Except the “whatevers” and “whoevers” actually had the forum and author names I sought, of course.)

That search string was successful as recently as 2008. Now the search doesn’t work at all, even if the author parameters are removed. I don’t doubt that the posts I seek are “there” somewhere, it’s just that apparently there’s no way to find them now.

Yeah, I tried that too. Zilch, for what I’m trying to find.

In fact, maybe I just couldn’t grasp how that site is supposed to work, but I found it pretty useless even for doing other kinds of more general searches not related to the one I referenced in my OP.

That’s interesting! When you say “Google’s Usenet search” do you mean that you were searching at

Missed edit window but wanted to add that I just tried a search at using what I thought (if my memory was correct) might have been a variation on the email name of one of the authors whose posts I was looking for. Voila, a whole string of posts by that author indeed did appear, from 1994, including those quoted by other people. I hadn’t thought of trying a search for the email name itself, and I doubt this is a complete set of results, but at least it’s more than I was getting before. Thanks for describing your own method and prompting me to try a different route!


Just now I tried and found it almost bizarrely useless. Even the most obvious search options seem to be missing. (Of course, a free web-resource can’t start from scratch each search. Building a useful index must be a complicated challenge.)

Bumping this thread to check whether anyone’s found a solution in the meantime.

I can add that there are some free news servers out there, like Eternal September, that have archives going back 10 years for some groups. There’s no web interface, but you can always just use your favourite newsreader to connect via NNTP, slurp up the entire archive of the groups you want, and then search them locally. But of course, this solution doesn’t work for all groups, and it doesn’t work for any groups if you need messages older than 10 years.