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Newspaper Research  

Last Updated: Nov 13, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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First Steps

  • Select an event or topic of interest to you
  • Do background reading in the general library collection about the topic, to narrow the time period of interest to you
  • Select newspaper titles of the appropriate time period
  • Be flexible!

Where to Find Newspapers

Center for Archival Collections

Located on the 5th floor of Jerome Library, the CAC has an active newspaper collecting and microfilming program in nineteen northwest Ohio counties. Over 650 titles, covering almost 6,000 microfilm rolls of newspapers are held here. The Guide to Newspapers at the CAC  is available online or in printed form at the CAC. Newspapers are listed alphabetically by their city, then by title. Check the dates carefully to be sure that the dates you need are covered. The BG News is also available in microfilm and in original copy at the CAC. An online index to the BG News is available.

Jerome Library Periodicals and Microfilm (1st floor)

The Periodicals and Microfilm area holds microfilm newspapers of national scope and those which fall outside the northwest Ohio region. (However, the Toledo Blade is available here from 1835-present, as is a microfilm copy of the BG News. An online index to the BG News is available). To see which titles the library holds, check the online catalog.

Your Hometown Library

Your hometown library will probably have newspapers on microfilm or in original form from your hometown and the surrounding area. If you wish to use these resources, be sure to check with your instructor first.


Hints for Newspaper Research

Look over the newspaper layout. How often does the newspaper come out? Is it affiliated with a particular political party? Which one? How large is the community it serves? (geographically as well as in terms of circulation) On what page is the national/international news found? The local news? Commentary? Fiction? Features? What news sources are apparent?

Remember that newspapers are contemporary accounts. They lack our historical perspective--they didn't know when a war would end, or what kinds of events were taking place that we (in the future) might consider important. Some events unfold so slowly (an economic depression, for instance) that researchers must look for "symptoms" of the event, rather than easy-to-spot announcements.

News sources were often different from today's sources. "Wire services" did not exist until about the 1890s. Local newspapers, especially, relied on local people to provide them with news. Letters from hometown men at the warfront (for example) provided both the local perspective and on-scene reporting.

Speed of communication was often slower. Most local newspapers were weekly and had a limited amount of space for their news. Information might miss an edition or be postponed for a week or two until space could be found. Interesting letters found in an attic might appear in print 40 years after the events they describe.

Attitudes and biases of the community are expressed in a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. "Women's Pages" often focus on domestic advice or social news. Racial or ethnic minorities often do not appear in the newspaper except when the news is of an especially shocking or scandalous event. "Filler" items which support biased attitudes are often drawn from places far removed from the local area because they support those attitudes. Editorials sometimes provide examples of the attitudes through their choice of metaphors, even though social relationships are not the subject of the essay. Joke columns and fiction series also reflect community attitudes. A single instance of a joke or news item is not enough to demonstrate a particular attitude, however. Researchers should look for patterns and consistency.

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