Thursday, October 12, 2006

Google News Archive Searching

A recent post on the soc.genealogy.computing newsgroup by James W. Anderson highlighted the ArchiveSearch ability at Google - the ArchiveSearch link is here.

I worked for about an hour in this archive today and found it fairly useful, especially for obituaries before about 1980. Many public libraries permit home access to ProQuest newspapers or Newsbank newspapers of recent vintage, but few have access to earlier articles. Ancestry recently included access to ProQuest Historical newspapers to their home subscription clients, but not in Ancestry Library Edition. Some genealogy societies (e.g., New England HistGen) allows access to the ProQuest Historical newspapers and other news sources.

At the Google Archive Search site, you get a mixed bag. Some articles that come up on a surname search provide an abstract of the article, and some provide only a few lines of the article, and some provide a small picture of the page and an OCR transcription. In each case, there is a link to a newspaper database that will charge you a per-article fee or a monthly or yearly fee for complete access.

All in all, this is a pretty good search site, especially if you use the advanced search capabilities to limit your search to certain years or publications.

2 comments:

D.L. Maclaughlan-Dumes said...

I've been a regular user of this Google newspaper archive search for several weeks. Sometimes I use it in conjunction with the subscription service newspaperarchive.com. Each has slightly different search parameters. Once you get used to interpreting the occaional OCR "hash", it can be helpful. I discovered the circumstances of a family "black sheep" and also found a business my grandfather had in 1925, all previously unknown to me!

Mel said...

I've been using Googles News Search for a couple of weeks. It's great that this is available but I've found a couple of quirks in the search engine. First, if a name falls on two lines, the search engine does not see them as a phrase. Second, I found that sometimes it pulls up results that aren't exactly what you were looking for. The surname Breilh brought up several results where the actual word was breath. Third, some words are garbled. Either the scanned page was unreadable or the search engine couldn't make it out. You sometimes have to use very creative searching to get the results you want (but this is the case with most search engines) Keeping that in mind I have found a ton of articles and obituaries that I have never had access to.