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History Research Guide
Newspapers are one of the best primary source collections for many topics, but should not be considered scholarly or impartial.
These serve as a reflection of popular thinking and exhibit strong biases based on editorial policies.
Starting your search
When you consider that newsprint has an approximate shelf-life of 50 years, that explains why so many older newspapers are found on microfilm (shelf-life of 200 years.) Knowing this doesn't make microfilm easier to use, but here at CSUSM, we have indexes to the newspapers when available and have installed microfilm reader-printers that will allow you to scan and save the page you are viewing to your H drive or email page scans to yourself.
This page is devoted to historical newspaper sources. All newspapers (current or historical) that are available in full text at CSUSM in either paper, microfilm or electronic format can be located by a GENRE search in the library catalog. Just type the word newspapers in the search box and change the type of search to genre/form. The list is returned in alphabetical order by title. If you are interested in certain types or geographic divisions of papers, you can do a subject search on 'newspapers' and look through the available subdivisions that reflect more focused topics. Here are some examples of subject headings and sub-headings:
- Newspapers--African Americans--California (newspapers about African-Americans in California)
- Newspapers--Albuquerque N M (newspapers published in Albuquerque)
- Newspapers--Bannock Indians (newspapers published by and about a particular group)
- Newspapers--Boston University (school newspaper, generally student-run and written)
- Newspapers--Chinese--United States (Chinese can refer to the subject group or language of publication)
- Newspapers--India (newspapers published in another nation)
- Newspapers --Indians Of North America--South Dakota (Native American newspapers published in a particular state)
- Newspapers--Popular Culture--San Francisco Calif (newspaper on a topic with regional subdivision)
Historical newspaper research in backfiles (the term used for older issues) is likely to require that you visit a newspaper 'morgue', the library located in the area you are researching, or a local historical society. Any of these organizations may provide access to older issues. Many newspapers are not yet indexed or digitized and will require consultation with a librarian or history expert to locate pertinent materials.
We have the following titles in full text, on the 4th floor of the Kellogg Library, unless otherwise noted. For papers without extensive archives, contact information has been posted for possible archival access. For San Diego area papers not listed here, contact information can be found here.
Los Angeles Times (1881- on)
CSUSM users can access the searchable database Los Angeles Times (1881-1988)
Print: Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-2
Current issues: ProQuest Direct
New York Times (1857-on)
CSUSM users have access to the online collection New York Times Historical Collection (1851-2008)
Print: Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-3. NON-CSUSM users--You can use the NYT archives search to access free full text (prior to 1923) or bring citation information to access the article in our microfilm collection.
Current issues: Proquest Direct database
North County Times (San Marcos city edition)
Print: Latest 2 months in paper
Business Office: 207 Pennsylvania Ave. Escondido, CA 92025 (760) 745-6611
San Diego Union Tribune (1871-on) Note this title has changed several times over the years.
CSUSM users have access to the online collection from February 2, 1992 in ProQuest Direct
Archival Collection Online: 1872-1983 San Diego Union Newspaper Archive
Print: Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-1
San Diego Voice and Viewpoint
Print: Latest 2 months in paper
Business Office: 1729 N. Euclid Ave. San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 266-2233
Wall Street Journal (1980-on)
CSUSM users have access to the online collection (1984-on) in ProQuest Direct
Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-4
Microfilm Collection F-144 for years 1916-1988 (some gaps)
1992-on in Lexis Nexis database, or 1995-on in Proquest or Factiva
Early American Newspapers
Microfilm Collection F-47 Click here to view the 22 titles and coverage.
Lower California Frontier: Articles from the San Diego Union, 1870, (book) edited by Florence C. Shipek located in 4th floor Stacks at F1246 .S2 V.2 This provides selected articles from the Union published in 1870 prior to the microfilm series.
Full Text Online (Free)
Older California newspapers are available in the California Newspaper Project's California Digital Newspaper Collection. Titles include The Californian (first California newspaper in 1846) and regional titles.
Chronicling America at the Library of Congress is the clearing house for the National Digital Newspaper Program. The California Newspaper Project is a part of this nation-wide effort.
A very comprehensive and detailed listing of full-text historical US newspapers is at Penn State's Historical Newspapers Online.
Google News Archives (the archive is closed to additions, but contains a good range of papers). To get to the older archives newspapers:
Conduct your search, then in the left bar under ANY TIME select ARCHIVE or CUSTOM DATE RANGE to be more specific. Note items with the term "Pay-per-View" are in licensed databases. We have major titles such as the New York Times, but others you may have to request through Interlibrary Loan.
Ancestry.com Historical California Newspapers
Requires registration but you can view the list of titles and date ranges available without registration.
Student Newspapers (for others in California, check the USPNL list)
- The Cougar Chronicle (California State University San Marcos) Library Microfiche collection C-937 (no index). Previous names were Pioneer and You Name It. See the CSUSM Library Catalog for links to current and archived sources.
- Daily Aztec (San Diego State University) search the archive from 1996. Previous names for the SDSU student newspaper were the Normal News, the Paper Lantern, and The Aztec and most are found in the SDSU Special Collections.
- UCSD Guardian (University of California San Diego) has archives available online from January 2001. Older holdings (1967-) are available at the Social Sciences and Humanities Library on microfilm. Note this publication has undergone a number of title changes, starting with the Triton Times in 1967.
- The Stanford Daily has archives available from 2001. Use the general search box.
- Cornell Daily Sun (Cornell University) has been digitized from 1880-on. Both searchable and browsable.
Indexes do not provide full-text to the articles, but act as a directory to tell you when an article was written addressing your research topic. Even weekly newspapers have so many different articles is one issue and cover so many topics in one issue, it is difficult to locate the desired information unless you have a specific citation. Indexes provide a faster means to your information goal as opposed to guessing at a date and browsing the issues.
Individuals in the news are normally indexed in last name, first name order and remember there might be more than one subject heading label for your event or interest.
If you have a citation with date, issue and page number(s) and cannot find the article available in full-text, the next step is to visit a library that owns the newspaper (generally in microfilm) or request the article through Interlibrary Loan.
Ayer's Directory of Newspapers
While this does not index publication content, this is a valuable tool is researching publication titles, circulation numbers and more about newspapers and periodicals published in the US from 1869-1919. As stated in the introductory matter, the PDF files are large (50+ mg) but offer a search function. Be aware that the scanning has not been proof-read and words like 'German' may appear to the computer as 'Crerman' in some cases.
Google News Archive
With Google's typical wide-net search, you can search over 200 years of newspapers ranging from the Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, to the Guardian Unlimited and BBC as well as some online sources. Much of the content access is fee-based. Click on the date or year in the left column to narrow articles to a specific time period. Note that this collection will not be added to as of May 2011.
Lists maintained by the Special Library Association for US and foreign newspaper archives. Some are free-access while others are fee-based access, but most indexes are free.
California Newspaper Project Public Access Catalog
A catalog of newspaper titles and publication dates from around the nation. This will not provide information on content, but which libraries own copies. Specific articles may be requested through Interlibrary Loan.
Fairfax County Public Library Historical Newspaper Index
Although full text must be ordered (at a fee) from this site, the resources indexed are a valuable collection of material from the 18th, 19th and 20th century Virginia newspapers.
New York Times (1857-on)
Paper index for 1960-2007 located in the Newspaper area at AI21 .N44.
- Microfiche index for 1851-1959 found at C-503,
- Online Article Archive for 1851-present (index of full text articles, with limits on how many articles you can access, but we have the microfilm for full text.)
- CSUSM researchers have access to the New York Times Historical Collection (1851-2008) database.
- NYT from 1980-to present is indexed in ProQuest Newspapers Database and Lexis Nexis Database.
Northwestern California Newspapers
Indexing of newspapers from Humboldt, Del Norte and Klamath Counties from the 1850s to the present. Additional essay material on Northern California newspapers is also available.
San Diego Union Tribune (1871-on)
Note this title has had several changes over the years and has no print index. If the event was of enough importance, you should be able to check the Los Angeles Times or New York Times indexes to narrow the publication dates.Proquest Direct database has 1992-on in full text.
Texas Newspapers Collection
Online index to a large number of Texas newspapers. The main index must be downloaded for access. Fees are charged for copies of specific articles.
U.S. Newspaper Project
A Federally-funded project for each state and affiliated territory to microfilm its newspaper holdings. Some projects are working on indexes or fully-searchable images. Different projects are at different stages of completion, check the website provided under each participating institution for what is available. Good examples are Georgia and Illinois. The Illinois project provides a search page that can be used for all the projects. Some projects have full text and are listed in the full text section.
Wall Street Journal (1980-on)
Paper Index for 1980-2007 is located in the Newspaper area at HG1 .W26
Ireland Belfast Newsletter Index 1737-1800 An index to the early years of the oldest continually-published English-language newspaper.
Canada Saskatchewan News Index 1884-2000 Index to newspapers from the region. A limited number of full-text articles are also available.
Australia TROVE: Digitised Newspapers and More