Monday, September 8, 2008

Google News Archive Search information

Google and ProQuest had a press release today about the Google News Archive Search. You can read the full press release here on Dick Eastman's blog. The main benefit to genealogy researchers is that

"ProQuest has formed a partnership with Google that has the potential to bring millions of pages of newspaper content to the open web. The program allows web access to archives of both large and small newspapers. Without this initiative, these newspapers might never be digitized."

and later...

"ProQuest will contribute content to the partnership, and will introduce newspaper publishers nationwide to the program. ProQuest will also supply from its microfilm vault newspaper content that can be delivered effectively in the less formal framework of the open web. The company currently holds more than 10,000 newspaper titles, most of which are pristine master film copies. This high level of microfilm quality allows for the creation of better scanned images, which will ultimately deliver more accurate OCR results for users. "

Please read the whole press release.

The Google News Archive Search is available at http://news.google.com/archivesearch.

Naturally, I had to check it out. I input "frederick * seaver" into the Search box (with quotes around the name) and received 34 matches, all from newspapers and other new outlets. The outlets included (dates are for articles noted):

* New York Times (1875-1911) - 4 items, free
* New York Times (1891) - one item (subscription to NewspaperARCHIVE required)
* New York Miscellaneous Reports (1929) - 2 items (pay-per-view at Loislaw required)
* World War I draft registration cards - 2 items (subscription to Ancestry.com required)
* Christian Science Monitor (1911) - 1 item (subscription to ProQuest Archiver required)
* List of persons whose names have been changed (1893)- 1 item (requires an Ancestry.com subscription)
* The North country (1932) - 2 items (requires an Ancestry.com subscription)
* Historical sketches of Franklin county NY (1918) - 2 items (requires an Ancestry subscription)
* Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel (1931-1962) - 9 items (subscription required for NewspaperARCHIVE)
* Lowell (MA) Sun (1940) - 3 items (subscription required for NewspaperARCHIVE)
* Sesquicentennial of Malone, 1802-1952 - 1 item (subscription required for Ancestry.com)
* Malone (NY) Press-Republican (2002-2005) - 5 items (subscription required at Newsbank)

You get the idea - the Google News Archive Search collects information from some of the free and subscription newspaper and genealogy web sites and lists them all in one place.

The questions are, of course:

1) Does Google search in the complete newspaper collection on these sites?

2) What resources does Google News Archive Search use? We see the free New York Times archive, subscription sites NewspaperARCHIVE and Newsbank and pay-per-view sites ProQuest Archiver and Loislaw, and the subscription Ancestry.com site.

I did a check for "William * Seaver" and had over 300 matches, which revealed these other archival web sites: Google News Archive (free), Access-My-Library (free with registration), Cornell University (free?), and I'm sure there are others.
It's interesting to note that some newspapers and records were listed from Ancestry.com, but not census, vital or other records. Somehow, they cherry-picked the databases to search and list.

My first opinion is that the Google News Archive Search will be very useful as a "finding aid," at a minimum. It will point to news articles in freely accessed newspapers (e.g., the historical New York Times) and to articles on subscription or pay-per-view web sites. If the researcher doesn't have a subscription, s/he could access a free library site with the subscription, go into a library or FHC if necessary to view it for free, or pay the nominal cost for the article. For instance, NewspaperARCHIVE is available to me with a local library card.

The press release claims that ProQuest and Google will continue to add content. This is a win-win for everybody involved - from the individual researcher (who can find items easier) to the subscription companies (who may make money from subscribers). My guess is that libraries will use this resource extensively.

1 comment:

FamilyTwigs (Sheri Bush) said...

Beat you to it! Me, Kleenex, Vicks and hot tea spent a good part of the night there. What a great resource!