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Finding Information

Gain an understanding of different information formats, including the ways they can be used in research.

Introduction

This page was designed to help you:

  •   Understand when to use a newspaper for research
  •   Select articles using major databases

Newspapers are a valuable type of material for research and are used as both primary and secondary sources. The Brown University Library has numerous newspapers across a variety of time periods, from diverse perspectives, and in different formats. This guide will assist you in searching for and accessing digital content.

Choosing When to Consult a Newspaper

Newspaper articles can help provide a firsthand account of a particular event or show what issues were on the minds of newspaper readers from a particular time or place. Articles from a variety of sources provide multiple points of view on an issue or event.

Newspaper databases offer collections of newspapers from particular eras, countries, or ethnic groups. Most databases offer full-text searching, which can be used to pinpoint individual articles. Some databases allow you to see the newspaper as it appeared when it was published, which can be helpful as it allows you to see headlines, page layouts, and advertisements from particular days.

Searching for Newspapers

For tips on constructing a search, see the Guide to Searching

Searching by Title

To search for a particular newspaper title, start with BruKnow, the Library catalog. Enter the newspaper title into the main search box. If the Library has digital access to the newspaper, the title will appear either as a “best bet” at the top of the search results, or as one of the first few results in the list.

We often have access to digital newspapers on multiple platforms. When you view the record for a newspaper, take note of the dates of coverage for a particular access point. Here is what this looks like for The New York Times as of August 2021.

image of get access links in BruKnow for New York Times

Newspapers by Date

The Library subscribes to a number of historical newspaper databases; a more detailed list can be found on the full Guide to Newspapers:

Examples on This Page:

ProQuest Historical Newspapers

advanced search screen in Proquest Historical Newspapers

Example

Let’s try a search: We will compare newspaper accounts about Jackie Robinson that appeared in the mainstream and the African American press.

In the main search box for Proquest Historical Newspapers, type “Jackie Robinson” (using quotation marks will search the name as a phrase) and Baseball:

search for "jackie robinson" and baseball

Let’s narrow our search down by using the limiters on the left side of the page. One of our options is publication date, on the left side of the screen:

search results with keywords highlighted

Click on "Enter a date range" and choose 1947-01-01 to 1948-12-31. Then click on the Update button:

search results with date filter of 1947-1948

Our set of results is now greatly reduced. In this list we can see several African American newspapers, such as the Atlanta Daily World and the Los Angeles Sentinel. Further down the list, there are also links to mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times:

search results with keywords highlighted

To read an article, click on the Full text – PDF. You may then download, save, or print your article:

full text PDF view

Early American Newspapers

Front page of Early American Newspapers

Chronicling America

Home page of Library of Congress Chronicling America

Citing a Newspaper Article

A newspaper citation should include the following information:

  • Author/byline
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Title of article (in single quotation marks)
  • Title of newspaper (in italics – capitalize first letter of each word in title, except for linking words such as and, of, the, for).
  • Edition if required (in round brackets).
  • Day and month.
  • Page reference.

Each of the databases listed above will help with citations. See the Library’s Citation Tutorial for additional assistance.

Learning Objectives

This page was designed to help you:

  •   Understand when to use a newspaper for research
  •   Select articles using major databases
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