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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

eResource Review: Access Newspaper Archive

Time for another look into one of the scores of databases my library district has to offer to its members. Today I spent some time with Access Newspaper Archive. Like its expensive brother, Newspapers.com, Access Newspaper Archive allows you to perform searches in hundreds of newspapers around the world, dating back to the 19th century. The searches can be filtered to only bring back results from certain states, countries, cities, and time periods. An image of the newspaper page shows up on your screen to peruse, but it can easily be printed or downloaded as a PDF file if you so choose.

There are several drawbacks, however, to Access Newspaper Archive. First, the word, phrase, or name that you search for is not automatically highlighted within the image of the newspaper page. This means that you will have to read the tiny print on the digitized newspaper page until you find what you were looking for, which can be a difficult task to perform, as newspapers were not as reader-friendly as they are nowadays.

Second, when searching for some of my ancestors in St. Louis newspapers, I found that the newspapers were limited. For instance, St. Louis Post-Dispatch is only searchable in 1945. That’s only one year out of its nearly 140 year history. The same applies for the now defunct St. Louis Globe-Democrat. However, there are some archaic newspapers one won’t find in most other online newspaper archives including 90 years of the St. Louis Christian Evangelist, nearly 130 years of the St. Louis Sporting News, 14 years of the Railroad Telegrapher, the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair newspaper, and the St. Louis Free Press. In Missouri, the Access Newspaper Archive also carries newspapers from Jefferson City, Moberly, St. Charles, Neosho, Joplin, Kansas City, Independence, Maryville, Sikeston, Sedalia, Benton, and Mexico.

Of course, the big difference between Access Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com is that the former is free for library members and the latter requires a paid subscription. Considering Access Newspaper Archives is free, it is worth checking out, if you are looking for primary source articles on news stories of the past, or if you are looking for primary genealogical sources like obituaries, marriage announcements, and birth announcements. However, it may still be worth paying the extra money for a subscription for Newspapers.com.

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