yesterday’s news is a brilliant blog from the minneapolis star-tribune which highlights old items from their archives. it’s a brilliant idea that every newspaper should adopt. especially the los angeles times.

it sounds like the star tribune doesn’t have its archive digitized, and the blog’s writer is working from microfilm. you can access the archives of the los angeles times going back to 1898 online (but only from the central library), and back to 1986 from anywhere.

i wonder what it would take to get the archives of some of defunct newspapers of los angeles online, like the los angeles herald-examiner and its predecessors. the library has it on microfilm. but you can’t really do a full-text search of microfilm. (what would be ideal is images of the pages and plain-text of each of the articles. pulling out clean text of articles is obviously a lot more work than just doing an optical-character recognition job on the page images to do a by-page full-text index.)


Thanks for the kind words about the blog. You're right: The Star Tribune's archives prior to 1986 are not digitized. It's an expensive proposition. A few years ago we received a couple of bids topping a million bucks each. Those kind of numbers don't work for smaller papers.

Big papers with national reach have been able to digitize their archives for two reasons: Archival companies gave them a huge price break to get the concept out in the market, and the audience for big collections like that of the New York Times can generate a lot of revenue. Papers like ours will have to wait until the technology improves and the price drops to a workable level. Meanwhile, I'll continue to browse the microfilm and keep my typing hands limber.


Ben Welter

» Ben Welter » november 28, 2005 10:03pm

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