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America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1922 from Newsbank Readex

Cover-to-cover reproductions of 1,000+ US newspapers in PDF. Restrict searches to dates/eras, article types (news & opinion, election returns, letters, poetry/songs, legislative, prices, advertisements, matrimony & death notices), region/state, and newspaper name. Based on 5 series of American Newspapers, portions of which are available in microcard.

The database includes African American Newspapers 1827-1998 with full page images from 270 newspapers published in 36 states, including rare and historically significant 19th-century titles that are full-text searchable. Individual pages or entire issues can be downloaded as PDFs. This archival collection offers insights into African-American history, culture, daily life, and attitudes and like many newspapers, provides articles on all subject areas.

Note: The America's Historical Newspapers databases have been created from microfilm using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to digitize the content. Each page is produced in a manner that provides the highest quality possible image from the microfilm. This includes de-skewing and cropping every page image.

As you are searching, keep in mind that newspapers are among the most difficult type of content to digitize because of the wide variety of constantly changing type faces, font sizes, ink quality, article format and more. The older the newspaper, the more challenging this process becomes. OCR works by recognizing shapes on a white background, and by matching those shapes with known letter shapes that are stored in the computer's memory. In some cases, especially in the case of old newspapers, the letters "bleed" into each other, making the shapes unrecognizable or mistakenly interpreted as other letters by the computer. Any problems on the page, such as inkblots, speckles, poor type quality, fading, folds, wrinkles, tears or discoloration of the original paper page, can interfere with the OCR process. When the computer cannot recognize or misinterprets some of the letter shapes on the page this can result in false hits for the researcher and mistakes in keyword highlighting in the results sets.

A few of the most commonly misinterpreted characters are a, o, e, r, i, and n. Researchers can often minimize the problems caused by these misinterpreted characters in OCR databases by using wildcard searches. Wildcard searches enable users to allow for unlikely variations in spelling that might be caused by the OCR process. In America's Historical Newspapers, a single-character wildcard is a question mark and a multi-character (allow for up to 5 characters) wildcard is an asterisk.

For example, a search that included the term majesty might yield a broader result if you use wildcards for the most commonly misinterpreted characters, as follows: m?j?sty. You might even want to try something like this: m?j?sty or m?j?fty, since many of the older newspapers used the old-fashioned elongated s character, which can sometimes be interpreted as an f. You can also use the multi-character wildcard to account for variations in spelling and possible misinterpretation of certain characters. For example, you search for St*nbock, instead of limiting your results to Steinbock.


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September 13, 2010


restricted resource Resource is restricted to current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff. Use Off Campus Sign In if not on the campus network.
licensed for Virginia Tech alumni access Resource is licensed for Virginia Tech alumni access. Use Alumni Library Portal Sign In to access.
freely accessible database Freely accessible database, available to anyone without restriction
mobile interface Mobile interface available, see description for link.
Screencast tutorial available Screencast tutorial available, icon linked to list.
Contents in summon Contents of this database are in Summon.
get VText Resource provides Get VText links to access full text.
gold open access - publishing Resource provides open access publishing opportunities and open access publications.
get VText Resource provides self archiving opportunities and open access documents.


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