Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday's Tech Tip: Archive of Americana database

 [I originally did a variation of this post for my library's blog, but I thought the information might be useful for family history research as well.  Many college and university libraries will let non-students/staff use their library resources, including computers, during certain times of the day or week.  Contact your libraries to find out their policies.]


Archive of Americana is a database to which many academic and some public libraries subscribe, in all or part.  It provides access to primary-source historical materials such as newspapers, government documents, and other publications.  The America's Historical Newspapers collections include issues from newspapers from all 50 states.  Many of the newspapers in this collection go through 1922, but my academic library also subscribes to a module through Readex, the provider of Archive of Americana, that includes the Dallas Morning News through January 1984.  Here's a brief demo on using this database for family history research - click on each image for a larger view:
My great-grandfather immigrated to Texas from Lithuania sometime after 1880, so I did a search (above) on his (unusual) last name and limited it to 1880-2012 (see the red box in the image above).

In the image at left, only five of the 132 results are visible.  Click on the "View all [whatever number] link in the bottom left corner (again, in the red box in the image).

This should (it doesn't always) bring up preview images from the documents that include one or more of your search terms.  If you see something promising, you can click on the preview or on the "View Article" link (see the red boxes in the image below).



When you find an article, you will find a number of tools at the top right of the page.  The "Article Bookmark" link opens a new window containing the OpenURL for the article. You can copy and paste this OpenURL information into another application.  The "Export Citation" link opens a new window containing a simple, text-only format of the citation information for the article. You can also Email the OpenURL link for the document.

You can zoom in or out, reposition the image in the viewing pane, view the full page the article was published on, and reset the image view to the default.  You can also open the article as a PDF, open it in a print-friendly view, and maximize (or minimize) the image view pain.

You can also add the article to "My Collection," a temporary saving space that's held until you log off.

Your search term(s) will be highlighted in yellow. There is a check box at the top left of the screen to toggle that feature on or off. 

The database has a very informative "Help" page that explains all of its features.

Give this database a try for your pre-1922 ancestors, as well as Texas family through 1983.  I was expecting to find my grandfather's cousin who lived in the Dallas area (and I did).  I did not expect to find this article (pictured left) about my grandfather, who never lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, but only in Houston and Austin!

© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.

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