America's Historical Newspapers

.  What is it?  Describe its form and contents.
This particular collection is entirely contained online and takes the form of a specified database.  Contained therein is an extensive collection of newspapers and newspaper articles from American history; specifically the timeframe ranges from 1690 to 1922.  Everything found in newspapers from this timeframe can be found, ads, editorials, news stories, obituaries, etc.  The amount of information is quite vast and is equally varied.

2.  When was it made?  By whom?  Why?

America's Historical Newspapers is a database compiled by a company called Newsbank Inc. which specializes in providing information services to colleges, business, the government, and others.  It organizes vast databases of varying fields for easy access, for a fee of course.  This particular database does not contain a creation date but seems to be updated when new information or sources come available as the company is constantly creating new databanks. 

3.  Who appears in it?

As can be surmised by the title of this data collection no one person or organization is focused on in this resource.  Instead this is a collection of historical newspapers from all over the United States covering a wide time span.  Certain features of the database allow you to sort information by Presidential term and you can certainly search for individuals, anyone who found their name in a newspaper can be found in these ways.

4.  How is it organized.

Although the amount of information contained in this database is truly massive it is organized in an easy to use manner.  There are five primary subdivisions of the overall database within which to search, 1) dates and eras, 2) article types, 3) languages, 4) places of publication, and 5) newspaper titles.  Under each subdivision are additional ways to specify exactly which type of article one is searching for.  The search bar is ubiquitous on all the subdivisions and allows you to search for keywords in a site encompassing search or within the more specific page.  While the specific subdivision pages are too numerous to list here is an example from the dates and eras section: a search engine broken down by Presidential term, a range defined by important events, all available dates, or your own timeframe.

5.  How do you use it?

The database is organized in a very user-friendly manner.  Information is broken down logically and in easy to understand, broad categories.  Several features of the search apparatus, such as the menu that allows you to search using your own time frame, also allow the user to set their own search parameters.

6.  How do you get access to it?  Where is it physically located, and what strictures are placed upon access?

Access for this database is both very simple and easy since it is online.  To use simply go the Bowdoin Library homepage and type "America's Historical Newspapers" into the search bar for keyword.  Once accomplished it is the first entry to pop up.  I am unsure if access to this database is free, something tells me it is not, so accessing it from a non-Bowdoin network may prove difficult.  Physically speaking the database does not exist other than a major server located either in Vermont, Florida, or Texas.  Other than perhaps needing to be on the Bowdoin network, or perhaps some other subscription paying entity's, there are no constraints upon your access.

7.  What kinds of questions can it answer?

The great thing about a resource such as this are the infinite questions it can answer or help illuminate.  Any issue that would have at least partly played out in the printed medium of the day or can be inferred from what was printed can be answered with this database. 


Andrew Edwards