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Old News is Good News: Historical Newspaper Databases

Earlier this month, I attended a retreat for UW Madison campus reference librarians. One of the presentations that day by librarian Barbara Walden was on historical newspaper databases. Turns out we have some pretty neat stuff for both the casual history buff and serious researcher.

The following full-text databases are all publicly available from any UW Madison campus library, including the Law Library:

  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Times, 1851-2002 & Chicago Tribune, 1849-1985
    Both the NYT and Chicago Tribune have excellent national and international coverage. Particularly interesting are the ads, editorials, comics and editorial cartoons. Business and legal researchers may find the stock quotes and daily weather especially useful.
  • Times (London) Digital Archive, 1785-1985
    The newspaper of record during this period, the times has excellent international coverage. Check out the "Picture Gallery" in the advanced search for some great illustrations.
  • NewspaperARCHIVElite, 1753-Present
    As a Wisconsin history buff, I find this one is particularly fun. It covers local and small town newspapers from across the United States. Coverage, however, is sporadic since many newspapers only have a few issues included. This is a great source for genealogists.
  • HARPWEEK (Harper's Weekly), 1857-1865
    Harper's Weekly was the pre-eminent American weekly magazine in the 19th century. History buffs and scholars will appreciate this source, especially for the wonderful illustrations. Unfortunately, we only subscribe to the Civil War years.
Source: Handout provided by Barbara Walden