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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 492C: Historiography and Methodology

A course guide. Describes library resources for conducting historical research.

1. How to Find Newspapers in the Library

  1. Search Online Research Resources to find newspapers online. Type the title of the newspaper in the search box.
  2. Search the UIUC Newspaper Database to find original print newspapers, newspapers on microfilm, and some online newspapers. 
  3. Search the Online Catalog (title or keyword search).
  4. See “Quick Links” on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site for specific databases and a list of historical newspapers online. 

The UIUC Library has a very extensive collection of newspapers, both current and retrospective, in a variety of formats, including hard copy, microfilm, and digital reproductions. Not all of them are included in the online catalog. Most, but not all, online newspapers can be found through the Online Research Resources search on the Library Gateway.

When searching for a particular newspaper title, try searching it first in the online catalog. Look for more than one record for each newspaper, as our holdings may consist of a combination of hard copy and microfilm, for example, and there may be a separate catalog record for each format. Most of these will be located in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library, but in some cases, the material will be found in another part of the UIUC Library.

Some newspapers that are not found in the online catalog may be included in the Library's separate online database of newspapers. This database is searchable by place of publication and by keywords from the title.

2. Newspaper Collections

Many newspapers are embedded in larger collections of online resources or in microfilm collections.  Examples of online databases include African American Newspapers of the Nineteenth Century (see below), America's Historical Newspapers (part of the Archive of Americana), Ethnic NewsWatch (1960- ), and the American Periodical Series  (see below).  They may also be included in microfilm collections, such as the Alternative Press Collection (1963-1985, FILM 071.3 Un3 History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library), Periodicals by and about American Indians, 1923-1981 (FILM 973.049705 P418 History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library), Early English Newspapers (FILM 072 EA76  History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library) or Newspapers from the Russian Revolutionary Era (FILM 057.1 NE  History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library). 

3. Historical Newspapers Online

For digitized historical newspapers, see the master list of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site:

Among the historical major metropolitan dailies available in digital format to the UIUC community are the Historical New York Times (1851-2003), the Historical Wall Street Journal  (1889-1989),  the Historical Chicago Tribune (1849-1985), the Historical Chicago Defender (1910-1975), the Historical Washington Post (1877-1991) and the Historical Los Angeles Times (1881-1985).  These are digital facsimiles of the originals and are keyword searchable.  Among foreign titles, we have access to the Times (London) Digital Archive from 1785 to 1985.  

We also have access to some digital collections of historical newspapers.  These also link from  the HPNL web site under Quick Links:

British Newspapers 1600-1900 consists of two major collections from the British Library, the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection, and the 19th Century British Library Newspapers Collection.  The Burney newspapers were collected by Reverend Charles Burney and were acquired by the British Museum after his death in 1817.  This is the most extensive collection of early English newspapers in the world, representing more than 1,270 titles and nearly 1,000,000 pages, all fully keyword searchable and browsable in this database.  The 19th century collection contains full runs of 48 newspapers, including national and regional papers, newspapers associated with political and social movements, and penny papers, totalling 2.2 million pages.


American Periodical Series Online (described above) contains several newspapers, including the National Police Gazette.  This database is searchable by keyword, but there are no subject descriptors, so you have to use the language of the period in constructing your search.  To get to American Periodical Series Online, go to "Quick Links" on the HPNL web site or type the title in the search box on the Online Research Resources page.

Another important online collection is African-American Newspapers: The Nineteenth Century, which provides the full text (in transcribed form) of seven African-American newspapers published between 1827 and 1876:  Freedom's Journal, Colored American, North Star, National Era, Provincial Freeman, Christian Recorder, and Frederick Douglass Paper (which continues North Star).  This database offers only the transcribed text of the original newspapers, not a digital facsimile of the original. 

The Archive of Americana includes a collection of searchable full-text newspapers called  America's Historical Newspapers.  We have purchased the first of five available series.  Series I provides digital facsimiles of nearly 350,000 issues of 718 newspapers.  (The remaining series will cost approximately $90,000 each.)  To search the database, go to Quick Links on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site

Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers provides access to approximately 700 newspapers (1.7 million pages).  For many of these titles, only a handful of issues are available, while for others, several decades' worth of issues are included.   The newspapers are fully browsable and keyword searchable and display as digital facsimiles of the originals. 

4. Current Newspapers Online

Links to collections of current newspapers online are available under Quick Links on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site.  The major databases for current newspapers are:

5. Finding Articles in Newspapers

For newspapers that have not been digitized, there is very little article-level indexing, particularly before the 1970s.  (The digital versions of historical newspapers are fully searchable by keyword, so you don't need a separate index to use them.) 

Most newspaper indexes begin around 1970 or later, and few of these are online before 1990.  With coverage from 1977, the Index to Black Newspapers (016.0713 In2 and 016.0713 In21) is located in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library).  Note that the print version of the Alternative Press Index (located in the Undergraduate Library) goes back to 1969, whereas the online version starts with 1991. 

Older print indexes include the New York Tribune, covering the period from 1875 to 1906, the Cleveland Plain Dealer (1930s), the Christian Science Monitor  (1950- ), and for Le Monde in the late 1960s and 1970s.  Most of these print indexes are located in the Library's remote storage facility and can be sent over to the main Library on request.