Thursday, February 10, 2011

Online Newspaper Resources

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I taught classes on how to use online newspaper archives for genealogical research.  Between both classes it was a total of about 65 people.  I've never done back-to-back classes before, and I was surprised at how tiring it was.  I really enjoy teaching the class, though, and everyone seemed to appreciate the information.  After the Wednesday morning class several attendees went straight to computers and started putting their new knowledge to work.

Two attendees had taken the class before and said they were back because they know I always add new information!  That's the way things work with the Internet -- new stuff goes up all the time.  I update my presentation every time I teach the class with whatever I have come across since the last time.  But how can anyone keep track of everything?

The first time I taught this class, I bemoaned the fact that there wasn't one central resource where all these online archives were listed, so that someone looking for a newspaper online would need to look in only one place.  Before I taught the class the second time, I found something that could come pretty close.

The site that I think has the potential to become this central resource is a Wikipedia page with a list of online newspaper archives.  (I found it when searching for something else.)  The beauty of this site is that it's Wikipedia, so *everyone* can add resources to it.  If you find a newspaper site that isn't listed, add it!  It's impossible for any one person to know or learn about every new resource, but if everyone contributes new listings, we all will benefit.  So far the page has links to content from 42 countries (I recently added Croatia).

A new portal I learned about Tuesday night after the class was over (I added it to the Wednesday morning class) seems to be trying to create the same type of resource, but specifically for U.S. and Caribbean newspapers.  It's the Catalog of Digital Historical Newspapers (NewspaperCat), hosted at the University of Florida.  The home page says that the "goal [is] to include links to as many US and Caribbean newspapers with archival digital content as possible."  They have a search function, but it searches for the newspaper name, not its content.  They say they already have links to more than 1,000 titles (which so far mostly seem to be from Florida and the Caribbean), and they encourage submissions of new links.  The only downside is that you don't get the satisfaction of adding the link yourself.

With these two sites, you can find an awful lot of newspaper content online.  If you want to learn better ways to search that content, you should take my class sometime.  The next time I am teaching it is March 17 in Stockton, California, for the San Joaquin Genealogical Society.

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