Using Hathitrust to Search 1,000 Historical Newspapers for Free

PictureSource: hathitrust.org

The Hathitrust Digital Library is a magnificent site to find all kinds of digitized information. Like Google Books in a way and also Internet Archive, it is (according to its website):

“HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.”

I wrote an article years ago after I discovered Hathitrust and compared it to Google Books, which I was using a lot for some personal research.

Since that time I have focused on historic newspaper research, and have found several newspaper articles of interest (and pertinent to my personal research) on this site.

The growth of Hathitrust’s newspaper collection has been steady and now is quite sizable. If one performs an Advanced Catalog Search and chooses “All” for Language and “Newspaper” in Original Format, you will get a total (at the date of this article’s publication) 961 total newspaper titles from all over the world, of which 462 are “Full View”. If I choose Place of Publication as “United States” I get 494 total items and 272 as ‘Full View”.

Let’s define the two searching and viewing options:

  • Full View means that a search on the Hathitrust site will enable you to view the actual pages on the Hathitrust site
  • Limited (search only) means that you can search but viewing is not available due to copyright restrictions. The name of the source institution holding the original (or microform) content is listed however.

If you are a regular reader of The Ancestor Hunt then you have probably visited the Newspaper Research Links page.  I have included some but not all of the Hathitrust links for the U.S. in the links for the U.S. on that page of links.

I would encourage you to check out Hathitrust’s online newspapers.  Here is the link to those from all over the world:

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Search/Home?fqor-format%5B%5D=Newspaper&sort=title&page=1&ft=​

Choose your Place of Publication and you can see the list of all the newspapers available for you to view and to search.  There are some very rare, if not esoteric titles, but those may be just the ones that contain the articles that you seek – about a person, event or subject.


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