Newspapers are often considered today to be primary sources for the events they recount - the reporter - or the newspapers' agtent or agency, is on the ground, on site, present in some way, to recount what happened, to whom, when, and so on. And yet the short half life of the newsprint on which they are printed makes the original paper very transient indeed. However, in the 1930s microfilm began to be widely used - an accepted - as a storage and retrieval medium for newspapers. Readers for a number of years were huge, clanking machines which had to be used in the gloom of semi-darkness - And, more importantly, indexes were in paper, had little cumulatoin, and were very scarce - largely limited to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor.
However, since about 1970, those who hold or can acquire the rights to their back files have discovered that they can indeed readily re-sell yesterday's newspapers- in electronic format. . Today, there are a burgeonong number of ongoing projects to digitize newspapers, going back as far in their publication as is possible. Since the electronic content can be searched, the problem of the index were solved, and access to a critical window on the past was opened for scholars and historians.
Princeton University Library has acquired broad access to the electronic form of newspapers, and already had in our holdings extensive microfilm. The electronic copies usually include today's editions, and go far back into the archives of the papers, often to the beginning of publicaiton.
To access a newspaper at Princeton, the followintg steps are recommended:
1. Search Main Catalog by Title. In the Main Catalog on the library homepage, search the title of the newspaper as a JOURNAL TITLE.
Be careful to see that to find the entire back file of a newspaper, it is important to watch the coverage years of various formats which are most often reported in separate records in the Main Catalog. There are several platforms for various ranges of years in electronic format, while the furtherest back file may still have to be searched in Microform.
Please note that some of these sources will be in a "text only" format. When a picture, chart, graph and so on is needed from such a source, microfilm copies as the paper is printed are often available in the Microforms Library on C Level of Firestone Library. Until the film is received, usually six weeks or so from date of publication, paper copies are kept in several other campus locations.
2. Follow a Guide. If aTitle Search in the Main Catalog does not work, then look for help in one of the excellent online guides to Princeton's Newspaper holdings:
3. Request form Another Library When Not Held at Princeton. When Princeton does not have a newspaper in any form, then a search can be made in the Catalog of the Center for Research Libraries, at <http://catalog.crl.edu/>, and failing that,
WorldCat , the union catalog of the several thousand libraries in the U.S. and elsewhere. WorldCat is found under Global Catalogs on the Library hopepage. In WorldCat, use Advanced Search, check off SERIALS as the type of publication, and sort by date before entering the search.
In either case, a request for the microfilm identified from either of these sources can be ordered through a regular Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request. When a loaning library can not be identified, or if this step seems too onerous, it is also possible to make an ILL request without identifying a place to borrow from, and asking the ILL staff to do the research to find a library which owns the material.
Page last updated 27 January 2012 in the Princeton University Library.