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Searching Historic Newspapers Just Got Better

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The following is a guest post by Megan Halsband, a reference librarian in the Serials and Government Publications Division:

One of the things you might notice today when you visit Chronicling America is a new feature in the left column linking to a sneak peek at our upcoming redesign, available now for “beta test.” If you follow the link to the new version, you’ll be able to test out some new features, as well as find the familiar ones still in place.  We’ll be running both versions of Chronicling America side-by-side while we get the new version in tip-top shape. During this period, you’ll be able to browse and search all 3.3 million newspaper pages in either version, and we hope you’ll share your feedback (click the [+] sign on the Web site or email [email protected]) with us as you try out the new site.

The first thing you might notice in our new look is the exciting view of century-old history in “100 Years Ago Today.”  You can scroll through the front pages of newspapers from February 16, 1911, and see the headlines from California to Virginia.

In addition to this cool new feature, you may notice some other enhancements on the website. Both the visual presentation and the technical aspects have been revamped by specialists at the Library, and we hope you’ll find them useful and engaging. For the techies out there, the redesign builds on our existing technology framework with the addition of Seadragon Ajax scripts that now handle our pan-and-zoom feature for viewing the actual newspaper pages. You can read more about Tech Specs and other ways to access the data here.

Many of these changes were made in response to requests and suggestions from all kinds of users over the past few years, and we hope that this new look will provide a more powerful, visually interesting experience for users to explore both the digitized newspapers and the U.S. newspaper directory available through Chronicling America.

In addition to “100 Years Ago Today,” which provides thumbnails of newspaper front pages to scroll through on the homepage, there are a number of new features we’d like to point out:

  • The Library of Congress’ share tools have been incorporated, allowing you to share links to the newspaper(s) you find through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, or to email, print or save the file. (The Share Tool will be added back after we work out a bug.)
  • Search functions are available at the top of the page, on every page, so that you can navigate easily from one search to another and are also divided (by tabs) between a very simple place+time+keywords approach and more advanced criteria.
  • Whenever you do a search, you can navigate between individual results, using the Next and Previous links, without returning to the initial results screen.
  • To get the best results possible, you can now choose to view only front pages in your search, or include the entire paper.
  • We’ve also added the ability to view any newspaper page full-screen without extra information on top and bottom, just the basics – use the floating “Full Page” icon on the newspaper image view.
  • Zooming in on the image is faster and easier than before – just double-click on the part of the image you’d like to enlarge.
  • Easily navigate between digitized newspaper pages and the newspaper directory, where you’ll find information about thousands of additional newspapers from libraries across the country.

Whether you’re looking for the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in 1898 or just browsing to find your historic hometown news, we think you’ll find that and a whole lot more. Please let us know what you think about Chronicling America, the redesign or the content. Just click on the Feedback button [+] at the bottom right of the page, or send us an email at [email protected].

Comments (7)

  1. I ADORE Chronicling America! If anyone reading this post hasn’t visited it – do.

    So helpful and yet so very dangerous to my time management skills.

  2. Chronicling America is simply wonderful!! I recently tried googling to find newspapers in a specific region and I got stuck in a big loop of advertisements…this site is so much better.

  3. Congratulations on the new features .. and best wishes on getting the sharing glitch fixed. While you’re at it, could you add a “mobile ” stylesheet to this blog? Or is it there but does not identify my Droid as “mobile”?

  4. I’ve been using this site for over a year and searching non stop. THANK YOU LOC for this new BETA…it is so much more intuitive and faster even….and the zooming is a much needed relief!

    Now I’ll be on here even more…Thanks! I thinK?

    Really…Great job to all.

  5. >> a sneak peak at our upcoming redesign

    Sneak peek. Not “peak.”

  6. Would like to see Front page of Houston Chronical for June 25th and June 26 of 2021.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Dorothy,

      Our historic newspaper collection doesn’t include current papers, but you can always try our Ask a Librarian service, which puts you in touch with a reference librarian, just as if you walk up to a reference desk in the Library. Here’s the link to the newspaper reference desk:

      Good luck,

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