Thursday, February 26, 2015

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

I thought that highlighting a different research website or database each month would offer a fresh perspective for the blog. Today's website, Chronicling America is brought to you by the National Endowment for the Humanities and is available for FREE via the Library of Congress. This site has  over 7 million digitized historic American newspaper articles. The collection includes papers from 1836 through 1922, although newspapers published after December 31, 1922, are not included due to copyright restrictions.

The beauty of a site like Chronicling America is that it offers a vast collection of primary sources that might get overlooked during a research project. Sharon Slater brought the site to the library's attention when juniors were first starting their junior history paper last fall. She feels that Chronicling America allows researchers to approach one topic from a variety of angles via different voices across the country from the same time period. For instance, if you were to search the database for Lincoln's assassination, you could retrieve articles from Connecticut to Kentucky. Thus a student could construct a truly holistic approach to whatever her subject may be.

Another cool thing about the site is called "Topics in Chronicling America". From the homepage in the upper left corner, there is a tab linking to widely covered subjects in the American press of the time. From topics like Bat Masterson to Ouija boards to the creation of the Boston subway....(the latter might need to be updated, haha!)

SO, if you have had enough reading about your circle of friends' trivialities on twitter and facebook this winter, maybe try leisurely perusing some newsprint from a particular era. Not only will you find contemporary articles that were published as events happened, and learn what was important in the area and era, but you can also check out announcements of marriage and death notices. From a historical perspective, obituaries can speak volumes about a time and place. The advertisements, editorial and social columns are often what catch my interest. Like this advertisement proudly announcing a prescription for infants that "contains no opium or morphine"! What a relief!

If you would like more information on how to navigate the Chronicling America site or any database for that matter, just ask one of the librarians on duty at the desk. We will kindly oblige!

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