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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498D: The Racial Dimensions of Medicine and Public Health

Learn more about newspapers

Major Digitized Newspaper Collections

Digitized newspaper collections tend to make rather extravagant claims about the documentary value of newspapers. For example, America's Historical Newspapers claims that it "Chronicles the evolution of American culture and daily life from 1690 to the recent past". Commercial newspaper vendors usually argue that historical newspapers offer some privileged view of "daily life" or "social history", or that the old  the canard that newspapers are the "first draft of history", or a "window onto the past", all of which is ironic since, until the past few decades, historians tended to view newspapers as doubtful sources of information.2

More Digitized Newspaper Collections

There are hundreds of freely available digitized newspaper collections. These collections vary wildly in quality, but to the historian hunting down evidence, quality isn't always a top priority: if a collection has the source a historian needs, then he or she will happily use it, especially if it's freely available online. Many states have their own digital newspaper collections, often developed in tandem with the National Digital Newspaper Program. States that have partnered with the NDNP, but that have not developed their own separate collections, are not included here.