Finding historical newspapers and their locations

Once in a while we need to get off our butts and get to the archives.  I was in the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library yesterday and had the blissful feeling of going through actual real documents, coming out covered with the detritus of over 100 years of deteriorating paper, glue and leather bindings.

But after getting through all of those documents (I was deep in historical provincial legislative records) I wanted to look at some of the newspapers for the provinces I’ve been working on.  The problem is: I didn’t know which papers existed for the period I was researching.  Searching “Halifax newspaper” for example was a poor approach, and yielded weak results.

How do you find which newspapers existed, when, and where they are located?  It may be a newbie dilemma, but since I mostly did Ontario history for the past 15 years, it wasn’t a big problem for me recently.

But there is an easy solution.

One of our history librarians at Brock pointed me to this good list at the Library and Archives Canada:

Although it lists what the LAC has in its holdings, it is possible also to find where some or all of a particular newspaper is located in other university libraries and public archives.

Follow these easy steps:

1) Use the search field in the top right of the page and search on the specific name of the newspaper.

You will likely get many results, because that search pulls of mention of that title as a phrase in everything. But if you then do an advanced search, search with the name of the paper as a title, and then maybe add a few more limits [for example, date or language or Library vs Archive] you should be able to find a listing for that newspaper.

Now, here is the awesome bit:

2)  Click on that title and it will go to an old skool looking Courier font listing for the paper.

3)  Click the “Locations” button near the top left edge of the page, it will show you which libraries and archives hold it, and the ranges.  These libraries and archives are listed by an obscure code (hint: word beginning with “O” = Ontario, “Q”= Quebec, etc. This is normally what is available through Inter Library Loans, so there may be more stuff at the actual library itself.

4) Click on the location in the left column and it will tell you which institution has this paper.

It is a very useful source for planning research trips, not only to the LAC, but elsewhere, too.  Have fun

(c) 2013 Dan Malleck