From the Source: Historical Full-text Newspapers and Periodicals
The purpose of this class is to show you selected online historical full-text newspaper and periodical collections. The focus will be on American and British sources since they are the ones that have been digitized and made available. However, we have managed to identify a number of French and Italian sources, and we’ll end our class by looking at those.
All of the resources discussed in this guide can be accessed in two ways:
- Via Watsonline, the library catalog, by title or keyword.
- From the Library’s website, where you’ll be able to find a list of Newspapers and Periodicals on the E-Resources page.
We will cover the following American resources:
- Early American Newspapers
- Ancestry Library Edition
- American Periodical Series
- New York Times
- Chronicling America
- Other American Resources
Early American Newspapers is a subscription database which allows one to search the full-text of over 710 American newspapers, from 1690-1876. Met staff and volunteers can access it remotely.
Using the drop-down menu, you can search the full-text of newspaper articles or limit your search to the Headlines. You can also limit your search to Dates and Eras, Article Types, Languages, Place, and Newspaper Titles.
1) This search is for biographical information on an American portrait sitter.
We are going to look for information on the individual Jasper Ely Cropsey who has been identified as the sitter in a miniature by Ebenezer Mack from the Met’s collection; accession number: 2000.70.
- Enter the following search: jasper cropsey
- Approximately 45 results are retrieved.
- The result from The Mercantile Advertiser, a New York paper, from November 14, 1801, indicates that Jasper Cropsey is the contact for the sale of the sloop Nancy, and that his address is 266 Greenwich Street.
- The result from another New York paper, The Commercial Advertiser, from May 23, 1804, announces the departure of the schooner Hamlet, whose Captain, Jasper Cropsey, is described as a master and a regular trader.
Thus, through these results and others, our curators were able to find out that Jasper Cropsey was both a sea captain and privateer.
2) This search is for the artist Benjamin West’s obituary.
- Enter “Benjamin West”.
- Limit the search to 1820, which is his death date.
- Under Article Types, select “Death Notice”.
- One result is retrieved. It’s a death notice from The Concord Observer of May 8th, 1820, which lists the deaths of several individuals. West’s death notice is on the bottom of page 2. The notice tells us that West died in London at age 82, that he was the President of the British Royal Academy of Arts, but that he was born in Pennsylvania in 1738.
Ancestry is a subscription database which can only be accessed onsite. It is a genealogy resource, covering the U.S. and the U.K., that contains census data, immigration records, and family histories. It also includes some newspaper and periodical records in so far as they relate to genealogy.
Please note that Ancestry does not include the full-text of newspapers, but rather extracts the salient information from the newspaper and presents it to you within Ancestry. So technically, it is not a full-text newspaper source, but one still useful to know about.
- From the Ancestry home page, click on Search in the top menu to search through the newspapers.
- Click on “Newspapers and Publications” from the drop-down menu.
- From the “Newspapers and Publications” page you can enter a person’s name or keywords to be searched in the entire newspaper collection. If you scroll down, you can view the list of individual newspapers and their dates of coverage.
- Run a search for Nicholas Smith.
- From the results list, select the California Newspaper Records.
- The result is for a notice of Smith’s marriage to Emma Huffmaster in 1876 from California’s Weekly Colusa Sun. You are not getting the full-text of the notice, but you are getting salient information which may help you verify your facts.
American Periodical Series Online 1740 – 1900
Let me continue this discussion with two subscription resources that are highly useful as historical primary news sources and that can be searched separately or together.
The first is The American Periodical Series, which is a collection of over 1500 full text periodicals that range in time from colonial days to the early 20thcentury and in content from the scholarly to the popular. Some of these periodicals existed for only a few months or years while others went on for decades.
Some of the periodicals included are Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine 1741-1741; Scientific American 1845-1908; Scribner’s Monthly 1870-1881; Dial 1880-1929; Puck 1877-1918; and Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Ladies’ Home Journal, Godey’s, etc.
Let’s take a look at the American Periodical Series (APS). The proquestinterface to this database is also the one used for the New York Times. I will only check off APS though I could elect to search either or both together.
To browse the publications, click on the Publications tab. You can search by different criteria or click on the Show all publications link . If you click on “H” and select Harper’s Bazaar you can then look at the Title Information, which includes content description such as who wrote for the periodical and what topics were covered. You can also Browse specific issues by clicking on the name of the periodical and selecting an issue.
To perform a search, select either the Basic or Advanced mode, type in your search words, and if you wish, limit by publication title, author, document type, year range, etc. Let’s look for pieces about Eastman Johnson’s famous painting “The Old Kentucky Home” a search used in another guide. The search is eastman johnson “the old kentucky home”. I know that he had painted it in 1859 and he died in 1902, hence, the date range. Note that I elected to do my search in the basic mode. I got 7 results, all relevant. In the result pool, the search terms are conveniently highlighted. If I sort by relevance this article comes near the top – Painting and Sculpture at the Centennial. It describes paintings contributed by Eastman Johnson to the Centennial and goes on to discuss other American artists and their contributions.
The New York Times Historical Newspaper 1851 – 2006
This was one of the Library’s first newspaper subscriptions and to many in the Museum, it will be the most familiar. It provides access to a fully searchable digitized image of every page of The New York Times from its first issue in 1851 through Dec 31, 2006. Coverage advances by one year, every year.
Although the title contains “New York”, the Times is considered a national newspaper and is one of our best sources for major American news from 1851 on.
As you may know, the New York Times website, nytimes.com, does provide free access to a portion of its archives. Articles published between 1851-1922 are in the public domain and available. Articles published between 1922 and 1987 are on a pay-for basis (unless you are a home delivery or Times Reader subscriber, in which case you can view 100 articles a month from the paid archive for free). Articles published from 1987 to the present are free but generally in text rather than PDF format, and images are not included.
As a reminder of the kinds of a things you might find in searching the New York Times, I’ll mention some of the results for a search I did on the furniture designer “charles rohlfs”. My search terms in the Basic search are “charles rohlfs” furniture with a date range of 1870 to 2010. My results numbered 28 and included an article about his wife/anniversary, his obituary, several articles about design and criticism, an announcement of an auction including his furniture and a display ad. The results, in chronological order, show no articles after his death in 1936 until the 1970′s, when he seems to have become more famous.
Under the ProQuest interface, both the American Periodical Series and the New York Times offer PDF’s, Citations, Printing, emailing and copy link capabilities.
Chronicling America is a free resource and the result of a a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchabledatabase of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. Both the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC) are involved in this project.
As of now, the period covered is from 1860 to 1922 and there are nineteen states and D.C. included. Two of the newspapers selected for New York are the New York Tribune and the New York Sun. Ultimately, all the states and US territories will be included and coverage will extend back to 1836.
On the home page of Chronicling America, the See All Available Newspapers link lets you see which newspapers have been digitized for which time periods and is an entry to browsing. There is a Search Newspaper Pages link and a Search Newspaper Directory link. The Directory allows you to search by newspaper name, place of publication or date. The directory includes thousands of titles of newspapers which might be useful in tracking down some historical person or event reported on a local level.
A sample browse would be to link on See All Available Newspapers, choose California, then choose the Los Angeles Herald, and choose a date from the calendar. You may then click on the image of the newspaper page for that date to zoom in on various articles. You may also search newspaper pages by going to Search Newspaper Pages and entering search terms in the appropriate search fields. A sample search could by stieglitz photograph* in the “with all of the words” box. One of the results of that search was an article from the New York Tribune from May 14, 1899. Search terms are highlighted. Please note that there are tools to zoom in on a page as well as to see the page in PDF format.
Other American Resources
The five resources discussed so far are probably the ones that would be first consulted in research on an American subject and the choice of resources would depend very much on dates and the type of material desired. Following are some other (mainly) American resources that are worth mentioning.
Newspaper Archive is a subscription resource that is only available within the museum. The time period covers as far back as 1700 and goes to the present but there may be only a few pages of one newspaper and a decade run of another paper. Newspaper Archive also adds European and other newspapers to a mostly U.S. base.
This is a resource that contains over 100 million pages that are being added to all the time. However, the interface is less than smooth and there are presentation problems that may be fixed by an upcoming release. Although it is an imperfect vehicle now, with the volume of content, you can often be lucky in your search.
If you do a search on “charles rohlfs” furniture, one of the results is an article from the Des Moines Daily News, May 13, 1909. This was when his wife who wrote mystery novels was more important in the news than he was – hence the title. The article talks about his “furniture making genius” and a room of furniture he designed. This is local reporting before the New York Times knew about him and that is often what local newspaper collections offer the researcher. I also found contemporary display ads showing his furniture.
JSTOR in collaboration with the Met, the Frick and Brooklyn Museum has digitized more than thirty rare 19th and 20thcentury American Art periodicals. These journals contain art news and criticism of their times; some contain artists’ works. Although there is no special search for this group of periodicals you can specify a specific journal or time period or just search all the art periodicals. The 19th and 20th century American Art periodicals are included in JSTOR’s Arts and Sciences VIII Collection. For instance, notice 291 a periodical associated with Alfred Stieglitz and The Crayon, published from 1855-1861.
Google News Archive Search searches across a large collection of historical archives including major newspapers and magazines, news archives and legal archives. Search results include both content that is accessible to all users (such as BBC News, Time Magazine and Guardian) and content that requires a fee (such as Washington Post Archives, Newspaper Archive, and some New York Times Archives). A complete title list is not currently available from Google.
Articles related to a single story are “time-lined” to allow users to see a broad perspective on the topics they are searching. This is a source for British and other English language news as well. A sample search of free articles on chicago “columbian exposition” delivers a timeline showing this topic in the news from 1890 to the present. By selecting May 1892, a year before the exposition, you can see the articles on the topic for that month. One result, Architecture at the Columbian Exposition, from The Century was found on the American Memory website.
More American Resources
Civil War in America from the Illustrated London News
This website contains all the material that pertained to the Civil War, American social history, and political history published from January 1861 through December 1865 in the Illustrated London News. The website has clear illustrations and is easy to use.
Newspaper pictorials: World War I rotogravures
Newspaper Pictorials: World War I Rotogravures, which is part of the Library of Congress’s American Memory website, makes available images from the pictorial sections of the New York Times and the New York Tribune. These images, which cover the years 1913 to 1919, present a vivid and compelling picture of American life and opinions during the years of the First World War.
State Resources. Many U. S. states have undertaken to digitize their newspapers. A web search on “historical newspapers online state name” may help you find a particular state’s resources.
- British Newspapers 1800-1900
- The Word on the Street
- Internet Library of Early Journals
- Times Digital Archive, 1785-1985
This section includes some free resources followed by the one British subscription resource the Library subscribes to, the Times Digital Archive.
British Newspapers 1800-1900
Let’s start with British Newspapers which includes 49 newspapers from all areas of the UK that have been digitized by the British Library.
Most of the newspapers in this collection are on a fee basis but two are free, The Penny Illustrated and The Graphic. These newspapers are “general audience” British Newspapers, that is they are not niche or specialty newspapers. You can limit your search to just the free newspapers. You can also search all newspapers and see snippets of the fee based ones with your search terms. This may serve as an index as to what information is available or you may choose to purchase articles.
On their site, you can see what publications are included by using the Publications List tab or the Browse By Location tab. Topical Articles includes context and then selected full text articles from many newspapers, e.g., there is a topical article on the Crimean War.
- from the home page enter “henry cole” in the Find box
- check the box ”Display only free content”
- for dates click on “On” and supply the year 1882
- from the results see the article Sir Henry Cole, K.C.B, from The Graphic on April 29, 1882. Henry Cole was a collector and promoter of art and instrumental in establishing the South Kensington Museum, later known as the Victoria and Albert Museum. This was one of the obituaries written about his life.
The Word on the Street – Broadsides at the National Library of Scotland
The Word on the Street is a collection of eighteen hundred Scottish broadsides from 1650 to 1910. Broadsides, or single sheets printed on one side, were an early medium for the transmission of news, public notices, speeches and songs to the general public. They could be posted or read out loud; they delivered the news, hence the website’s title: “The Word on the Street”.
Many of the topics of the broadsides range from the mundane to the tabloid as you might guess from the homepage and from some of the categories on the Search and Browse page. For instance, there are 40 broadsides on Body-snatching. The “Broadside regarding suitable attire for Edinburch Citizens to wear when meeting royalty“ (from the clothing and dress subject group) is a quaint broadside published in 1822 recommending a “Uniformity of Appearance as highly desirable for the approaching Visit of His Majesty”. Broadsides are presented on the website with transcription and PDF’s as well as context. An appropriate one, if found, might be a worthy or lively addition to one’s research.
The “Internet Library of Early Journals” was a joint project by the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford completed in 1999. Its six journals cover quite early periods including three magazines published in the 1700’s. On the website, the “what is ilej” page explains the project, why these journals were chosen, and gives the journal profiles. The six journals are also included on Watsonline.
From the website you can browse or search. The search is limited; you can only search one journal at a time and the search is essentially a keyword search with no other delimiters. But if your subject is within the years covered, these are interesting primary sources.
- from the home page choose Search
- Choose the Gentleman’s Magazine
- use painting in the Subject Index
- there are several results including one from August 1737 under the Title of Foreign Affairs that discusses prize paintings being shown in the Louvre and visited by the “curious of all nations” .
The Times Digital Archive is a subscription database which allows one to search through the complete digital edition of The London Times from 1785-1985. The entire newspaper is captured, including all articles, advertisements, illustrations and photos. This resource is available remotely to Met staff and volunteers. Please note, however, that it can only be accessed by one user at a time. If you cannot gain access right away, try again later.
- Search for information on the Art Treasures exhibition held in Manchester in 1857. This is considered to be England’s first blockbuster exhibition and it included paintings from English private collections, many of which are now in the Metropolitan Museum.
- Enter the keywords: “Art Treasures Exhibition” and Manchester
- Select to search “in entire article content”.
- Limit by date to 1857.
- Click on Search.
- The results are sorted chronologically. You can also view them by newspaper category.
- Look at the article entitled “Exhibition Of Art Treasures At Manchester” from Friday, May 22, 1857. It discusses works in the exhibit from the Venetian school, as well as who contributed them. The article provides interesting provenance and exhibition history information.
Other British Resources
Original Historical Texts
On this site users will find a small selection of digitized texts taken from newspapers, covering the years 1588-1666 and pertaining to six specific historical events. All of the articles have been digitized from the original and are easy to read.
Nineteenth Century Serials Edition
A collection of selected nineteenth century periodicals and newspapers spanning a variety of subjects and readerships.
Gallica is a free digital library of historical documents, including newspapers and periodicals, produced by the National Library of France. It contains searchable full-text. Please note that image-quality varies and images are sometimes slow to load.
- From the Gallica home page you can search for a specific newspaper or periodical title by clicking on the Periodicals tab.
- You can also browse a list of titles by clicking on Periodicals in the Browse menu. This list includes many French daily newspapers like Le Figaro, Le Temps, La Presse, Le Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, etc.
- Clicking any of these titles will bring you to a page where you can search or browse the title.
- Select Le Figaro.
- Navigate to the April 15th, 1900 issue, which reported on the first day of the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in Paris.
- Navigate to page 2 of this issue to view a plan of the exhibition pavilions.
- It is possible to zoom-in on the plan using the Gallica image viewer on the top menu.
Google Books is a good place to look for the full-text of historical periodicals and newspapers – in any language. It has a nice advanced search and relatively good image quality.
- Go to the Advanced Search.
- Look for the periodical Gazette des Beaux Arts as a title search.
- Select “Full view only” to only retrieve full-text results.
- Click on Search.
- Select any of the results to view the cover page of a particular issue of Gazette des Beaux Arts. Use the Contents drop-down menu to jump to other parts of the issue.
- Click on “About this Book” on the left, to view a page with further information on the periodical.
Mercure de France
Mercure deFrance was the title of both a newspaper and a periodical that are unconnected to each other as publications.
- The Mercure de France (newspaper) covered fine arts and archeology and ran from 1672-1832. One can find selective full-text issues of the newspaper on Gallica.
- Watson does not have a full print run of this paper, but we have digitized the index to the Mercure de France newspaper. One can find a link to that index from the Watsonline record.
- The Mercure de France periodical was a literary review associated with the symbolist movement and published from 1890-1965. One can find full-text issues of the periodical from 1890-1935 on Gallica. In addition, the Watsonline record provides a link to Gallica for the available issues.
Other French Resources
Journal de Genève (Le Temps)
French-language newspaper from Switzerland published between 1826-1998. Complete full-text available online .
Les Gazettes Européennes du 18e Siècle
Full-text collection of French language government gazettes from 18th century Europe, including Gazette de Leyde and Courrier d’Avignon.
- Periodici Italiani Digitalizzati
- L’Emeroteca Digitale (Braidense National Library in Milan)
- L’Emeroteca Digitale (Augusta Library in Perugia)
- Le Gazzette Bolognesi
This is a database from the Archeology and Art History Library in Rome (Biblioteca di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte in Rome). It contains full-text for approximately 117 historical art and archeology periodicals from Italy, including Emporium, Pegasus andValori Plastici. You cannot search the text of these periodicals, though you can browse them. This database does have a nice image viewer and zoom function, but the images are very slow to load, and in some cases the text is difficult to read.
- Clicking on “Tutti I Periodici” from the home page will display a list of titles.
- One can then select a title and browse through it by date.
This is a digital newspaper database produced by the Braidense National Library in Milan (Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milano). This collection includes the full-text of 900 north-Italian historical newspapers and periodicals held at the Braidense and other institutions. The content of this database is browseable, but not searchable.
- Clicking on “Catalogo” from the home page will display a list of titles.
- One can then select a title and browse through it by date.
This is a digital newspaper database produced by the Augusta Library in Perugia (Biblioteca Augusta di Perugia). This collection is in process, but it currently includes approximately 100 full-text historical newspapers and periodicals from Umbria from the end of the 18th to the mid-20th century. The content of this database is browseable, but not searchable.
- Using the English interface, clicking on “Headings Index” at the top of the home page will display a list of titles.
- One can then select a title and browse through it by date.
This site, produced by the Archiginnasio Library in Bologna (Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio), provides full-text access to the Gazzetta di Bologna, a 17th and 18thcentury newspaper. From this site, you can browse selected issues of the newspaper from 1645 – 1796. The content is not searchable and the text can be quite hard to read.
- From the L’Unita website archive you can browse the entire run of the newspaper from 1924 to the present.
- You can also search the newspaper at http://cerca.unita.it/, but only starting in 2001.
- The site also provides access to a historical photo archive.
Note: There are many more online historical newspaper resources and a web search may help you locate a particular country or time-frame. For instance, there is a formidable list of online newspaper archives on wikipedia.
Deborah Vincelli and Renée Watson, September 2010