Searching for Topics in Chronicling America

PictureFrom the Library of Congress

One of the very cool things about the Library of Congress site, besides the over 8 million pages of old newspapers that are indexed and searchable is “TOPICS”.  What are “TOPICS” you ask?

The Library has selected a series of topics from American History and has a page for each topic.  Currently there are over 200 topics that have been created.

What good are they to us family history researchers?  Background and context my friends. Was your ancestor a newsboy? Or a “Bachelor Maid? Did they participate in the Cocaine Epidemic? Do you want to know more about the Molly Maguires or the Los Angeles Times bombing?

The point is that it is quite useful to the understanding of our ancestors lives to go beyond searching for their name in the paper to finding about the world around them. Context is critical to understanding their lives.

And by researching a topic in the site you can see newspapers that explain these topics in great detail.

Recently Chronicling America has added 50 topics to their list.  The list is broken down by the following major themes:

  • American Enterprise, Industrialization and Development
  • Arts, Education and Culture
  • Crimes and Trials of the Century
  • Natural Wonders, Disasters and the Environment
  • Politics, Government and World Leaders
  • Public Spirit, Exhibitions, and Celebrations
  • Science, Technology, and Innovation
  • Sports and American Pastimes
  • Struggle for Human Rights and Freedoms
  • War

I highly suggest that you take advantage of this service of Chronicling America at Topics. They are listed by subject, alphabetically and by date range

Heck – you might learn something! 


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