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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498D : Local History in a Global Context

Guide to finding resources on the local experience of global events

On this page:

  1. Overview
  2. How to Find Newspapers in the UIUC Library
  3. Digital Newspaper Collections

And in the sidebar below is information on finding articles in newspapers that have not yet been digitized.

Finding Articles

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. For example, the print (or paper) index for the Minneapolis Star begins in 1970 and is located in a remote storage facility. We have the San Francisco Chronicle Index for 1971-1987 and the Times Picayune Index (New Orleans) for 1970 to 2004. 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),and  the Christian Science Monitor (1950- ). 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

1. Overview

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.

Many newspapers are embedded in larger collections of online resources or in microfilm collections. Examples of "aggregated" 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 Online. They may also be included in microfilm collections, such as the Underground Press Collection (1963-1985, FILM 071.3 Un3 History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library) or Periodicals by and about American Indians, 1923-1981 (FILM 973.049705 P418 History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library).

2. How to Find Newspapers in the UIUC Library

  1. Search "Online Research Resources" to find newspapers online. Type the title of the newspaper in the search box.

  1. Search the UIUC Newspaper Database to find original print newspapers, newspapers on microfilm, and some online newspapers.

  1. Search the Online Catalog (title or keyword search).

  1. See "Quick Links" on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site for specific databases and a list of historical newspapers online.

For more detailed information, visit the HPNL's Newspaper LibGuide.

3. Digital Newspaper Collections

There are many projects underway to digitize U.S. and foreign newspapers, and more newspapers become available on the web almost on a daily basis.  There are many free sites on the open web, but most collections require a subscription.  With a UIUC net id, we have access to some major historical newspapers online, as well as many smaller newspapers in online collections. There is a list of digitized historical newspapers on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site.

Among the historical major metropolitan dailies available to the UIUC community are the following:

These are digital facsimiles of the originals and are keyword searchable. Although retrospective files of other major metropolitan dailies (such as the Atlanta Constitution, Christian Science Monitor, and Boston Globe) have been digitized, the UIUC Library does not yet have access to them.

Locally we have digitized three decades of the Daily Illini and two decades of the Urbana Daily Courier.  These are available in our Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection.  In addition to our collection, a few other Illinois newspapers have been digitized, listed on the HPNL web site under Historical Newspapers.

Digital collections of historical newspapers

American Periodical Series Online (described above) contains several newspapers, including the National Police Gazette and the Prairie Farmer. 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, click the link, 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 1902: 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. It is available on the Library's Online Research Resources page or through the link to "Historical Newspapers" under Quick Links on the HPNL web site.

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. (We hope eventually to purchase the other six available series.) To search the database, go to Quick Links on the HPNL web site.

Approximately 700 newspapers are included in Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers. For many of these titles, only a handful of issues are available, while for others, several decades' worth of issues are included. The database is available through the link to "Historical Newspapers" under Quick Links on the HPNL web site.


Current newspapers online

Links to collections of current newspapers online are available under Quick Links on the HPNL web site. The major databases for current newspapers are Access World News, Newspaper Source (EBSCO), Lexis-Nexis, Ethnic Newswatch, and Press Display. Press Display offers digital facsimiles of 250 current newspapers (with a 60-day rolling archive).