Saturday, February 14, 2015


Finding and Using Digitized Historical Newspapers for Your Research
RootsTech 2015 LAB1884 2/12/15 (Thursday) 3:00 PM - 251E 2/13/15 (Friday) 4:00 PM - 251B
Brian K. Geiger, Director
California Digital Newspaper Collection
Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research University of California Riverside
Riverside CA 

Frederick Zarndt, Secretary IFLA News Media Section Coronado CA 92118
Over the last decade digitization of historical newspapers has exploded. Around the world there are hundreds of freely-accessible collections of digitized historical newspaper, some as small as one title and thousands of pages, others containing hundreds of titles and millions of pages. By one estimate there are more than 140 million pages freely available to the public. If one includes titles digitized by companies and locked behind paywalls, the amount increases enormously. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to find or use these collections. Genealogists in particular, though they tend to be the single largest user group of these repositories, often don’t have access to resources to help them find and use digitized newspapers. This lab will survey what’s available to genealogists and give hands-on experience using some of them. 

We can’t possibly introduce participants in this lab to every freely-available site. Instead, we will look closely at a select number of the largest and/or most innovative in terms of user interfaces. These include but aren’t limited to Chronicling America (, Trove (, Europeana Newspapers (, and CDNC, the California Digital Newspaper Collection ( We will also discuss some sites that attempt to aggregate content from these repositories or list digitized titles and where they are located. We will briefly discuss some commercial sites, but because they require subscriptions to access, will not cover them in detail. See the list of resources below.
Working closely with lab participants, we will collectively delve into a few sites and explore how best to search them, particularly those with large amounts of content. Finally, we will end with a survey that asks participants what sorts of features they would find to be most useful in digitized newspaper collections.
At the end of the session participants should have a sense of what kinds of resources are available, how to go about finding them, and how best to search them. 

Lab Instructors
Brian Geiger has managed the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) since 2007. He has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and a PhD in American History. He is active in a number of national and international newspaper projects and organizations. You can follow developments at the CDNC at its Facebook page.
Frederick is current secretary and former chair of the IFLA News Media Section (formerly known as Newspapers Section). Frederick Zarndt has worked with historic and contemporary newspaper, journal, magazine, book, and records digitization since computer speeds, software, technology, storage, and costs first made it practical. Frederick has experience in every aspect of digitization projects including project requirements development, project management, conversion operations (both in-house and outsourced), acceptance testing, software development for production and delivery of digital data, and digital preservation. 

Free Newspaper Collections
Chronicling America: ChronAm is a joint project between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. A list of participating states can be found at Contains more than 8 million pages and growing. 

Europeana Newspapers ( A three-year project of 18 European partners running until January 2015. Europeana Newspapers will aggregate 18 million historic newspaper pages and convert 10 million newspaper pages to full text in several European languages. 

Australian Newspapers Online ( A project by the National Library of Australia that contains nearly 15 million pages and growing.
Papers Past ( Contains more than three million pages of digitized New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 90 publications from all regions of New Zealand.
California Digital Newspaper Collection ( Approximately 1 million pages of digitized California newspapers from 1846 to the present. 300,000 pages are also available through Chronicling America; the rest unique to the CDNC.
Utah Digital Newspapers ( A project of the University of Utah that contains more than 1.5 million pages, 350,000 of which are also available through Chronicling America. 

Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection ( The CHNC currently includes more than 600,000 digitized pages, representing 160+ individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. None of this content is duplicated in Chronicling America.
Texas Digital Newspaper Program ( A University of North Texas project, this collection begins with pages from 1829 and continues through the present. Much of the collection is not available through Chronicling America.
Aggregators of content from other newspaper collections
Elephind ( A Google for digitized newspapers that indexes collections around the world. 

Newspaper collection with subscription fees A project of, this site contains nearly 85 million pages. Some content comes from state partners like the CDNC and will be available through those sites as early as 2016, but much content is unique to
Newsbank: Its Readex division sells numerous newspaper collections to libraries. Its site offers access to some titles to genealogists.
Notable User Features 

User Text Correction: Trove, CDNC, and a few other collections allow users to correct errors in the computer-generated text of the newspapers. Especially useful with older issues for which software was not able to able to accurately recognize text. Corrected text is indexed and then discoverable by other users. 

Page Clipping: A feature that enables users to crop a section of a page and then save and print it.
Lists: Available in Trove, Elephind, and other sites. Lists allow users to save collections of articles and pages. Lists can be either public or private.
Tagging: Available in numerous sites. A way for users to apply keywords to articles or pages to identify content they contain. 

Search Histories: Not yet available in many sites. Provide a way for users to save and organize searches.