Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Google Unveils Search Feature to Allow Searches of 18th, 19th and 20th Century Newspapers

Yesterday Google unveiled a new feature called "News Archive Search". The new search feature is particularly useful for those interested in local history research -- or any other sort of historical research.

The search feature may be accessed at http://news.google.com/archivesearch/. It allows users to search historical news archives for the last three hundred years. Much of the early newspaper content, however, may be viewed from the search results only on a subscription fee basis or pay-per-view basis directly from the archive services indexed by the Google News search engine. Thus, although search results may reference 18th century items responsive to the user's search query, to view the actual news item, the user may need to purchase a subscription to an archive such as NewspaperArchive.com to see the item.

An interesting feature of the service is that once a search has been performed and search results have been presented, the user can click on a link entitled "Show timeline". The search results are then reorganized and presented in a timeline.

The content included in Google's News Archive Search is somewhat difficult to ascertain. Google says the following in its help section:

"What content is included in News archive search?

News archive search searches across a large collection of historical archives including major newspapers/magazines, news archives and legal archives. Search results include both content that accessible to all users (such as BBC News, Time Magazine and Guardian) and content that requires a fee (such as Washington Post Archives, Newspaper Archive, and New York Times Archives)."

As with any such service, it is a best practice to familiarize yourself with the help section and to use the advanced search features. To read the News Archive Search help section, go to: http://news.google.com/archivesearch/help.html. Advanced News Archive Search tips are available at: http://news.google.com/archivesearch/refinesearch.html. To access Advanced News Archive search, go to: http://news.google.com/archivesearch/advanced_search.

If you would like to try a test search, try the following on the Advanced News Archive Search page. In the search dialogue box marked "Find results with all the words" type Pelham Westchester. Next to "Date" and "Return results published between" type 1600 and 1850. Click on the "Search Archives" button.

You should see a single search result. It is from the October 21, 1845 issue of Huron Reflector, a newspaper in Norwalk, Ohio. The item makes reference to the "Executor of J. Robert Pell, Esq. of Pelham, Westchester". Clicking on the search result link reveals that the item is within the NewspaperArchive.com archive and may be accessed by paying for a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription to the archive.

As time passes, it should become easier and easier to access centuries-old news items through the Google News Archive search.

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