Using Historic Newspapers – the Challenges

CollectionUsing Historic NewspapersUsing Historic Newspapers – the Challenges

You must tailor your search strategy to compensate for changes in language, society, and journalistic practices that have occurred since 1859, the first year of coverage in this collection.

These cultural changes are not the only changes time has wrought, however. The passing years have also discolored and stained the paper, making the print difficult to read. Many early newspapers used smaller type and narrower margins which likewise add to the difficulty of reading them. In order to create searchable text of these thousands of newspaper pages, an automated computer application called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) generated the text. While normally OCR-generated text is fairly accurate, when applied to older newspapers with small type, narrow margins, and hard-to-read text, it misreads many words, especially unusual names not found in dictionaries. Consequently, some of the searching tips offered below also seek to compensate for the inevitable errors incurred during the OCR process.


Skip to toolbar